There was a time, not too long ago, when I didn't actually write book reviews. I just read books I liked (lots of them) and then told anyone who would listen why they were or were not wonderful. I worked in a bookstore; I had a captive audience.
In the 2+ years since these little verbal reviewlettes became this full-fledged blog, I've come to love blogging. And reviewing. I've found other outlets for my writing - from reviews on Bookgasm to my recent article over at Bibliobuffet - and I am thrilled to have not only places to share my writing, but a whole host of things to write about.
It's that writing about that's starting to rub me the wrong way, though. I no longer read my daily newsletters solely for my own enjoyment. Instead, I read them with a mind to what might make an interesting post. And even worse, I read books that way too. Reviews quite literally form in my head as I read. Sure, it makes the reviewing easier, especially when I actually take the time to write those little review blurbs down for future reference - but part of me is starting to wonder what it is I'm missing by reading as a reviewer instead of as a pure reader.
Maybe it's not fair to say that's worse. Maybe I can be fair and say the verdict is still out on this. After all, I now read books sort of like I did back in college; I read with a critical eye and an analytic brain. But at what cost? Am I too judgmental, pushing for something to critique in every book I read? Am I missing the book for the page? Am I missing the success of one book by struggling to place the book and its author in context; or vice versa, am I missing the context by defining the book as a standalone item?
I feel like I'm treading into the waters of book-reading philosophy here, and I'm no philosopher. I love this blog. I love having my own corner of the interwebs in which to place my bookish thoughts. I love reacting to others' corners of the interwebs, or to others' reactions of my own thoughts. I love reading books. I love thinking about books. I love reviewing books. I even love reading and reviewing books I don't love.
But they say the grass is always greener on the other side, and right now, the non-analytic reading experience is looking mighty appealing. Too bad I can't seem to turn my reviewer brain off every now and again.