How NetGalley Ruined My Life

I know I’ve been a poor blogger and a bad blogging-friend this summer, for I’ve been all but absent (basically). I’m sorry, I really am! But it’s NetGalley’s fault.

Okay, that’s mean–and untrue. It’s not NetGalley’s fault but my own, and my life wasn’t ruined but my summer certainly was. You see, what makes NetGalley so addicting is the idea of all these books just waiting for requests from bloggers, and I can’t resist that. Literary temptation is always my downfall, and my binge on galley requests from months before almost tanked me.

Words of advice: If you don’t have to do it and you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.

What I used to look upon as an exciting privilege turned into a nightmare. It destroyed a hobby that, in the past, provided relaxation and escape without fail. I entered summer with the prospect that, because school couldn’t interfere, I could and would enjoy all the books at my disposal. How wrong I was. You see, all these books I’d requested jumped up and tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Hello.” There was some eyebrow-wiggling, a groan, a gasp, a sigh. Lots of groaning. Groans of regret. Sighs of disappointment.

I was approved! But I wanted rejection! Oh no.

If you take a fun activity and turn it into a job, if you feel like it’s work, then something is wrong. And something was wrong. Speed-reading through this and that NetGalley-approved book became my summer chore, and when I wasn’t trying and failing to churn out a review on non-NetGalley books, I wasn’t reading. I couldn’t read because every book I picked up reminded me of the x number of galleys left–but then it got worse. Enter: Early Reviewers.

Over at LibraryThing–a website that I still cannot navigate without perplexing question marks sprouting around my head–runs a neat giveaway. Each month an ARC stash goes up for Early Review members. Similar to GoodReads’ First Reads, if you win an Early Review book, you should review that book lest you mar your chances for future wins. I won two books, read one, reviewed zero.

Is it all right if I scream? Reading should not feel stressful, but for this summer, it did. If anything, at least I can say that I have made it through the bulk of my NetGalley stack. Only two galleys remain, which gives me some peace of mind. Then, of course, there is a physical to-review stack of giveaway-wins that I feel obligated to review…  at some point…

to-review stack

The good news is that my hate for reading is dissolving. I’m no longer picking up a book only to sit it down after trudging through ten pages. I am actively reading The Ask & The Answer as well as Peter Pan–both of which I find easy to engage in, what with a surprise at every page-turn that Ness throws and the magic J.M. Barrie gives. So long as my to-review stack is reviewed, the pressure to schedule (gross) books and reviews–the pressure I felt from NetGalley books–is non-existent. With only two galleys left, my new direction as a reader and blogger is to steer clear of that ‘organized constraint.’ I want to put the fun back in reading. I want the freedom to read what I want when I want, which–as a mood-reader–is important.

And after three months of fret and fuss, I’m finally getting there.

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Top Ten Tuesday #2

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday list is: Top ten posts on your blog that give the best picture of you — both as a reader and a person. As a blogger who’s nearly reached 60 posts (3 more posts to go!), I considered opting out this week. I’m just beginning to collect a decent post number and establish a sense of routine here at midnight coffee monster. And, for honesty’s sake, the idea of people possibly browsing through older, yuckier posts unnerves me.  (You mean people do this already? Oh.)

By all intents and purposes, this blog is my personal e-space largely dedicated to books. As such, I occasionally but appropriately post book banter. Whether I want to discuss my current hoard (and there is always a hoard), mourn the end of favorite stories, or share excitement for upcoming books, these posts represent my every day. When I come home or when a free hour finds me, I look forward to an abundance of literature.

But from an abundance of literature choices arise, and I’m one of those people who find difficulty in deciding. I start one book, read 20 or so pages, and allow a different book to distract me. I try to keep monogamous relationships, but I’m easily a cheat. It doesn’t help, then, that I constantly look for new reads and make library requests. I won’t say how many items I have, but there are 13 on hold, an extra 2 pages of unavailable items, and my TBR list remains a gargantuan monster. (If it weren’t for libraries, I’d drown in a debt so large that would take five lifetimes to pay off.)

Hence: I love memes for their interesting prompts and allowing me to discuss past reads.

Library Loot (co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) is among my top favorite and most frequently abused memes. Books pictured in this particular loot post show my favorite haul since doing the meme — for one: ever since I met THG’s end, I can’t get enough of YA dystopia. (I’m still working my way through this pile, too… 2 books to read!)

I admit that I’m lax with WWW Wednesdays (hosted by Should Be Reading), but I enjoy it just the same. Because I can’t review all the books I read, WWW Wednesdays give me an opportunity to share thoughts about recent and current reads. From this (and other memes, such as Recommend A…), it’s easy to gather my tastes.

I like to keep genre and style varied, as I believe diverse interests beat a narrow one! I’m open to new experiences, though I of course have preferences. As such, I enjoy participating in fun reading challenges, as they help push me to read books I’ve waited too long to start. Additionally, I get to discover new wonders and better define my inclination toward certain styles, genres, stories…

And what kind of “book blog” would midnight coffee monster be without book reviews?

Things I’m willing to do to grab the first copy of Hartman’s Dracomachia… I’d even snatch a draft if I could. Where the rich fantasy found in Seraphina pleasantly surprised and left me eager for more, Shadow & Bone equally excelled; albeit, it is fantasy though much more light. (I also confess that I fell for the Darkling. When I forced myself to take reading breaks, I considered the Darkling’s future role — both as a Grisha leader and a love interest, and whether he was “evil” or “good.” I knew where he would land, but I tried to convince myself otherwise. Damn you, Bardugo.)

I cannot say that Gray’s Ostrich Boys will ever become a favorite read, as the experience left me disappointed. I do, however, love a good coming of age story.

…Then moments present themselves in which nothing book-related has a home:

(I advise everyone to never take me too seriously. I exaggerate often and enjoy poking fun at life and myself. Reading, however, is serious business.)