I have been more actively involved in the book blogging community in the past 12 months. Recently after reading my lovely friend Sofia’s, blog post titled The Pressure to Read, in which she discusses the pressure to read leading to book slumps I decided to talk about the reservations I’ve had over the past months regarding the book community that have been erking me too.
Aesthetics of books and TBR videos
I stopped actively catching up with BookTube / book bloggers a while ago. It seemed to be that every other video or blog post I clicked on mentioned the word: ‘TBR’ (to be read) in which said individual gushed over the aesthetic of a book e.g. ‘OMG, I just can’t the cover, it gives me feels’ or said ‘my TBR is so big it makes me want to cry’ or ‘I can’t believe *said book* came out in another cover, I HAVE to buy that now too’.
How can you have an opinion of a book you haven’t read? Why does having lots to read make you want to cry? You don’t NEED 2 copies of the same book. Why can’t you tell me about the book after you’ve read it?
I want to make a self-righteous statement like ‘the only aesthetic you should really worry about is the setting the author has created in the story’. But I won’t cause that isn’t true. Book covers matter. Not all the time but they do.
My issue is the amount of focus on the aesthetic of books. The need for them to be pristine, shiny and new. Although I don’t believe the intention behind TBRs is for anyone to spread book shame to those who don’t have pristine, shiny new copies it is a difficult message not to send when nearly every other booktuber / blogger is talking about tons of the very latest brand new release. Not everyone can afford new books and even if you can we shouldn’t forget to support our libraries and charity shops.
Books don’t need to be new. The first book I owned was Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix which I received as a present from our Guardian ad Litem. Every other book I read before this was from my local library which I visited every Saturday with my siblings and Mother.
Being superficial and are you really a bookaholic?
You don’t need to have hundreds of books to be a booktuber / book blogger. You need something to read, a camera (booktubers) and the internet. Hoarding books shouldn’t be a thing. If you are buying books and not reading them you aren’t a bookaholic, you are a hoarder. You are simply buying pages covered in words topped with a glossy cover, you aren’t being educated or expanding your imagination. You are missing out on the key part of the book: the writing, the content, the world’s beyond this one. A quote from a BookTuber: ‘Just like spending a lot of time on Pinterest makes me hate my clothes, spending a lot of time looking at other people’s brand new books makes me dissatisfied with my shelves.’
Books are supposed to have bent spines and sometimes-possibly-never bent wayward pages, maybe even slight tears. Books are supposed to be shared and post-it noted over. Our bookshelves shouldn’t mimic the shelves in Waterstones, they should be our books, loved, well thumbed and borrowed to friends without tame threats to break all ties should the book cover look any less glossy upon return.
I have in the past few months made a conscious effort to only ask for the books that I want to read and say no to others. I have tried to buy fewer online and support my local stores. I have also tried giving away books I won’t read again or borrowing books without worrying the other person is going to drive a bus over them. This possessiveness is wasteful. To think only one person, me, will only read the books I own once makes me sad. I want as many people as possible to read books, especially those I own.
Hype is unnecessary and why you don’t need every ARC / Proof copy
Reading on trend annoys me very much. I actively avoid the hype around books. We don’t need to read every book that comes out before the release date. It is actually okay if you don’t have a proof or ARC. It is equally okay if you don’t read the book in the same year as its release. Many of us feel pressurised by the commitment to read books that get sent to us. Reading should first and foremost always be enjoyable. Saying no to proofs and ARC is okay and anyway wouldn’t you rather support a few authors and read their books than all of them and read nothing. Reading shouldn’t have a time-limit or a deadline for review. Unless someone is paying you, you are your own Editor, blogging and making videos is your hobby, you do you.
The emphasis on owning books seems to have surpassed actually reading. It is more important to read a book than have your own copy. TBR videos, book hauls and bookshelf tours are all a things of the past for me. I will continue not to watch them but I welcome blog posts / reviews and BookTube videos that explore the books they read, their themes and create discussion and promote the content inside.
Read. Share your opinions about them. It doesn’t matter what the cover looks like or how many you read.