Friday, July 27, 2007

The End Of An Era

OK, that's probably overstating since the era began in 1999. I have handed in my official resignation over at The Romance Reader and The Mystery Reader. And I can assure you I didn't come to this decision without feelings of guilt and much dithering on my part.

I started reviewing shortly after I rediscovered romance (although my flirtation with the genre when I was a teen was very brief). Because of this, and the snail's pace I tend to read at, readers are always shocked by how many Big, Huge, Colossal Authors I have never, ever read. Hey, I'm sure Julie Garwood is great and all, but I have this pile of midlist and debut writers I need to read and write reviews for thankyouverymuch. But it was fun. I discovered great authors (Susan Wiggs, Maggie Osborne, Emma Holly, Maureen McKade, Megan Hart, and many others). I also read very good books that I probably wouldn't have discovered on my own (mostly romantic comedy or books with cartoon covers). The flipside is that I slogged through books that made me want to stab my eyes out with a spoon.

But for a while the good did outweigh the bad, and frankly it looked great on my resume. Plus when I was losing my mind working as a library branch manager, one who had no time for collection development because I was too darn busy unclogging toilets and having people scream at me about their overdue fines, reviewing "kept my hand in" so to speak.

But now? Now I'm just tired. After almost ten years it's become too much like a job. I love my kick-ass library job (buying fiction for 33 libraries is no hardship), but I'm currently suffering from Death By Committee (the un-fun part of this job). Seriously, my brain is draining out through my ears. I also have succumbed to a serious case of TBR anxiety. I think the time has come to read through some of the books I've collected over the years - and to, oh I don't know - read what I bloody well want to.

The Boyfriend thinks I should keep on chugging along with the reviewing gig - mostly because of the whole "looks good on your librarian resume" thing. And he has an extremely valid point - but it doesn't make me any less tired. I used to look forward to getting review books in the mail - now I have this overwhelming sense of dread and exhaustion when I see a package sitting up against my front door.

And how wrong is that? Getting books in the mail is supposed to be fun!

I'm not saying I'll never go back to reviewing in some sort of official capacity. It's just for now I'm taking a very long, possibly permanent, break from it.

But you're probably wondering - what does this mean for the blog? Well I'm still going to be reading, so I'll still be posting reviews here. It's just for a while you might not see a whole lot of "new" books featured. I really, desperately, need to get my colossal stack of books under control, which means reading through some of the backlog I've accumulated. Hey, which could be just as fun because not all the books I have at home are out-of-print and who doesn't love adding to the used bookstore shopping list?

Will I be taking review requests for the blog? Maybe - but I don't suspect I'll accept very many, and it's something I don't suspect I'll instate anytime soon. While I admire what Jane and Sybil are able to feature on their blogs, I'm one lowly little librarian (cue the violin) - one who is freakin' exhausted. So if you're an author, feel free to e-mail me (see sidebar), but I might turn you down. It's nothing personal. Either way, I really should post some sort of "review guidelines." For the time being, the grading scale on the sidebar is just going to have to do.


Kerry said...

Good for you, Wendy. No, really! Taking breaks is good for the soul, and it's not like your reviewing skills expired aand someone kicked you out of a guild once you handed in your resignation. Enjoy your TBR list and your break--you've earned it!

AAR Rachel said...

Wendy, I feel your pain. I've only been reviewing online since 2001 and do very few reviews now for AAR. I seriously slowed down in 2004 (because of having a child), but was in process long before. It had gotten to the point that I'd get a package in the mail and think, "I wonder if any of these don't suck," rather than, "Wow, a package! Can't wait to get to these and see what the treasures are."

That's not a good attitude to have, if you're a reviewer, both because you're going in with a certain already established negativity, and because it's just no fun anymore.

I do other things for AAR so they keep me around and every once in awhile I submit a review, but even after a two year break from reviewing, I haven't recovered my mojo and now doubt that I will.

As for the TBR, I'd save up a big one for when I was home, figuring I'd need books at odd times and then there'd be all these potentially great ones waiting. But being a SAHM, I want to get out of the house and go to the library more than ever, so I haven't made much of a real dent. It's still all there, and I'm beginning to think I should weed it down.

Have fun in your retirement. I hope your TBR yields some great reads for you.

Alyssa said...

I don't blame you a bit. I quit reviewing once I had my first story published. For me, it was partly a time issue and partly what you said--it was starting to feel too much like a job.

I looked forward to receiving the books, but once I opened the package, the "now I need to get to work" feeling would set in. As much as I enjoyed parts of it, and as difficult a decision that was for me, I had to stop.

Karen Scott said...

I don't blame you one bit Wendy, I don't do many reviews, but I find that the minute I'm asked to read a book for review purposes, it totally kills the buzz for me. So I tend not to review these days, unless I want to.

Rosie said...

I know this was a tough decision for you, but I bet you feel relieved. Next thing we know you'll be plowing through those HHs right and left.

Also I totally get the TBR anxiety which is why I now have mine in tubs as well. Not so stressful when you don't see the book piles.

Kristie (J) said...

I've seriously considered doing reviewing but in the end figured I'm not really reviewer type material. If I'm not enjoying a book when reading for entertaining, I can not finish it and turn it into a UBS. If I reviewed books - as opposed to just giving my thoughts on a blog, I'd be obligated to finish it. And finishing a bad book and then having to write about it just doesn't sound all that appealing. Free books in the mail sounds great, but HAVING to read them - not so much.
If you weren't enjoying it anymore, then I think you made the right decision for you.
Of course soon I won't be able to
Wendy, Wendy, Wendy you when you say you haven't read such and such a book *chuckle*

ReneeW said...

I don't blame you a bit. Sounds like the fun went out of it and that's probably a sign it's time to move on. You stuck with it a long time. Being forced to finish a sucky book sounds like pure torture. I'd give it a DNF and toss it in the trade pile. Too many books, too little time and my TBR is already out of control. But I have appreciated your reviews. You have pointed me to some wonderful books that I never would have read without your recommendation (one that comes to mind is The Nightingale's Song). Have fun with your TBR. I hear from Kristie that there are some great reads in there :)

Sherry Thomas said...

Way back when, LLB invited me twice to join AAR as a reviewer. I was honored, but I couldn't do it because I set aside 90% of the books I start without finishing them. It is a fine, efficient way to sample books, and anything I actually finish is usually an A for me. But it would have made me a horrible reviewer who'd probably assign low grades left and right just because I'm peeved I have to read less than engrossing books from beginning to end.

So I have nothing but admiration for people who can actually finish books below a B+ grade. And I'm totally amazed you stuck it out that long. Hats off to you. And enjoy your well-earned new freedom to read whatever the heck you want and not whatever the postal service brings.

CindyS said...

The good news is it's permanently on your resume. All that work shows intense commitment so I wouldn't worry about the resume.

I couldn't imagine reviewing in any formal capacity because you just can't say 'well, that sucked'.

So relax and enjoy the freedom to read what you want! And it's fun for those of us who have read older books to remember through others.


Wendy said...

Thanks everybody!

KristieJ: Yeah, finishing sucky books was the worst part of the job - but there is a certain catharsis in then writing reviews for them :)

Sherry: Yeah, I suspect that I should just take the "F" grade off of my sidebar. The only books I have ever given "F"s to were books I was assigned to review and had to finish. On my own time and dime, if the book is that horrible, or just not working for me, it gets a "DNF" (OK, I might skim the last couple of chapters) and it hits the UBS bag with a thud.

CindyS: More than anything I think The Boyfriend was concerned that me not reviewing anymore would hurt my "networking." And while reviewing did garner me some "name recognition" early on - by and large people associate me with this blog nowadays. Doesn't hurt that I've been running off at the mouth for over four years :)

Lil sis said...

Everyone needs a break. :) I know break was not as relaxing as I wanted - but it did give me insight. If you want to stay connected use LinkedIn - just start inviting people to join - it's really easy and you can keep your contacts in one place. I received a few job offers through LinkedIn - people who knew people, or just saw my profile.