04 August 2009

I Only Read Free Books

When I started this blog, I thought that I was a book blogger. After a few months of reading Sunday Salon posts, I realized that this blog resembles a book blog about as much as my personal blog (Straddling the Century Line) resembles a mommy blog. I read books and I blog about them, but I don't know much about blog tours and ARCs. I don't have publishers contacting me to ask me to review their books; I can't even get ARCs when I ask for them. That's OK, though. I don't have room for a bunch of extra books around here, anyway.

So what's with the title of this post? Well, there seems to be a kerfuffle that makes the rounds of the literary part of the blogosphere every so often about whether the reviews written by bloggers who receive ARCs are biased. I am not about to jump into that fracas, but it made me think that I may not have mentioned lately how I get my books. So here goes:

"I only read free books" means that 99% of my books come from my local library. The main exception to this is really old books that I've read online like Justine or Good Conduct Well Chastised. I've only received one ARC since this blog has been in existence, and I didn't even review it here; I gave feedback on Harper Collins' website (I didn't understand that they were giving away books to get advance buzz -- duh!).

When I originally started this blog, it was about me reading classics that I never read in high school or that I would have read in college had I gone. These older books are available at the library or online, so why buy them? I like reading the new hotness from time to time, but I find that I especially enjoy reviewing books after all the hype has cooled down. In my mind, I am helping readers (especially those living in Gaston County, the coverage area of my local library) to find good books that never got the mainstream buzz of the Harry Potter series.

I wonder if there is a badge for bloggers who only review library books?


JoAnn said...

I don't receive ARC's either. Books I review are either mine or from the library and I, too, prefer classics or older works to the hot new releases.

Beth F said...

You are not alone, I'm sure.

JoAnn said...

I also read lots of free books, from my wonderful libraries. What a bargain!

I do read quite a few book blogs where the bloggers get lots of ARCs, from publishers or Amazon Vine, and it seems that they always give the books 4 or 5 stars......I rarely see them pan a book. This makes me very suspicious.

I think I would rather just use the library.

(another) JoAnn

Dani in NC said...

As I said in my post, I don't want to get into that fracas! The one thing that everyone agrees on in this issue is that full disclosure is key. So I was doing my part with this post and letting my readers know where my books come from. No judgment against the ones who do receive ARCs implied :-).

Lisa said...

I"ve been using my library more and more lately. 4 years ago I never did, because I wanted to OWN and HAVE books. My TBR was large, but not scary. Then I joined paperbackswap.com and discovered that I could give my books away and not be sad, unfortunately, I got as many back as I gave away. I'm slowly weaning myself off PBS and onto my local library, which is great for books, not so great for staff. I still buy the occasional book, maybe 1 or 2 a year if you don't include sewing and crafty books. I probably buy 6 sewing books a year, but those are reference books to me, so don't really "count".

(No, you didn't ask, but I answered.)

Dani in NC said...

Lisa, I don't count crafting books and cookbooks when I say I don't buy books. I have several shelves of knitting and crochet books. Like you, I view these as reference books. Two of my daughters knit and my son likes to cook, so they hit the shelves for information often. Novels are only read once for the most part, so buying those is a waste of money for us.

Stephanie said...

You're definitely not alone! I've received a handful of ARC's- four or five, maybe, but that's about it (and with the amount I read, that's nothing!). I've gotten them by requesting them from various sources, but I only request things I think I'll like, because I don't want to waste my time on something I'm iffy about (plus, I have guilt issues and would feel bad trashing a book! That's why I usually don't go there either). The vast, vast majority of what I read comes from the library- and the rest come from thrift stores and yard sales.

I'm a cheap reader. :) (And yeah, I don't like reading that uber-popular, everyone's-reading-it book either. I like to wait til the hype has died down.)

Dani in NC said...

Stephanie, I only feel guilty about trashing newer books or books by new authors. For instance, if I didn't like a Neil Gaiman book I wouldn't feel bad saying so. He already has an established fan base and has made a comfortable living. I wouldn't be mean for meanness' sake, but I would feel freer to say what I thought. With a newer author, I'd be afraid that my review might turn someone away that would enjoy the book more than I did. Not that I am all-powerful or anything, but when you are first building up a following, every reader counts.

Reading the latest buzz-worthy tome is tricky. If you don't catch it at the right time, you just become a voice in the crowd. I started reading Harry Potter at the right time -- the books were building a devoted following, but the mainstream media wasn't talking about it yet. I could read it and make my own judgment. On the other hand, I feel like I've missed the boat with "Twilight". If I tried to read it now, it would be difficult to be unbiased. Furthermore, anyone reading my review would have trouble believing that I was unbiased. If I say I like the book, I will sound like I've been brainwashed by the moony-eyed Edward lovers. If I say I hate the book, then it will look like I've been converted by the snarky anti-Edward camp and never gave the book a fair chance.

Susan said...

I think you can be sure that no matter how popular a book is, your opinion of it does matter - I'm talking about being late for the Harry Potter craze. Sure, you aren't the first one to talk about it, but maybe blogging about it now and why you liked it, will convince someone who hasn't read it to try it. I think that's what's so important about our blogs. And now that you've said your free books come from libraries, I bet you'll be offered some arcs! I haven't been offered any arcs yet, and I frankly don't have time to read books I wouldn't normally read. So I don't mind.

I love the 'free books' from the library, I have some out too!!!