For the fifth in my series of seven book bloggers is Lindsay Healy aka The Little Reader Library. I got to know Lindsay via Twitter and really enjoy reading her reviews.
Why do you blog about books? How many books do you read per month on average and has blogging about them changed the way you read?
I started writing reviews of books a few years ago, placing them on Amazon, then writing them for Newbooks magazine. Then I began to notice and read a couple of book blogs and one day decided to try it myself, as a way of collating the reviews I wrote for different places into one site.
I blog because I enjoy books and I enjoy writing about them, and I’d like to write my own book one day.
The quantity I read varies a lot. It can depend on a lot of factors, but especially on mood. Some months I have read twelve books, others only three or four, and it depends on the books themselves, how I feel, and so on. I wish I could read faster but I can’t otherwise I miss things and have to re-read.
Blogging has meant that I have read a lot of new authors, I’ve started to read e-books, I’ve read books I would very likely have never come across otherwise.
What are the high and low points of reviewing books for you?
Highs – I love sharing the excitement when I’ve just read a book and thought, wow! It’s wonderful to think that someone might read my blog and pick up a book because I’ve written about it recommending it. It’s lovely when people say that they saw a review on my blog and went and bought the book because they thought they’d like it too; a really rewarding feeling.
I’ve also had the chance to ‘meet’ (virtually at least!) some lovely authors who have featured on my blog; this is an aspect that I didn’t anticipate – I thought it would just be book reviews but now I feature author guest posts, interviews and excerpts from books too.
By reviewing books, I have received some lovely books pre-publication and I feel very fortunate to have had the chance to read some of these releases early.
Getting to know other book lovers through their blogs and through twitter has been great.
Lows – I really enjoy writing my blog but there have certainly been things that have made me enjoy it less sometimes as time has gone on. There can be pressure from authors/publishers to review their books within a certain time span and having certain expectations and this has reduced my enjoyment of reading and made reading and blogging feel more like a job and not a pleasure. This is something I am really aware of now and I am trying to get back to the feeling of reading being a joy and not a stress otherwise it will be ruined for me. I guess partly if a book blog is doing well then it will attract a lot of requests and I was too eager to say yes to want to please everyone and I’ve realised I need to say no a lot more now in the hope of being able to feel less stressed about it. Unfortunately there is never enough time to read all the books we might want to read. Blogging has introduced me to so many new books and new authors which is wonderful, but it means that I sometimes have read books that I feel I ‘should’ read instead of ones I would like to read. I’d like to change that back.
Regarding the pressure to review more books than you can manage, have you thought of (or heard of) setting up a book bloggers collective, where you ‘share out’ the books? I’ve just discovered Bloggers Recommend in the USA, which seems to bring a number of bloggers together in one place. Smart idea?
I hadn’t heard of the book bloggers’ collective before but it sounds like a clever idea; I think a lot of bloggers must have numerous books around the house that they perhaps will never read and it’s great to pass them on to other keen readers rather than them languishing forgotten. What I’ve done myself on my blog recently is I’ve invited book-loving friends who I’ve got to know online through a book forum to read some of my review books and write an occasional guest review for my blog. I think and hope that this has worked well and offered a different perspective and style from my writing too for readers of my blog, and it has given some readers a chance to have a go at writing a review too.
I do empathise with the feeling that book blogging can start to feel like a job, and of course an unpaid one at that. It’s a lot of effort to craft a well written review, more so than a general blog post. It amazes me how many people do this. Would you ever consider reviewing professionally, or adding some kind of revenue stream to your site?
I appreciate what you’ve said about it being a lot of effort to craft a well-written review. I’ve often spent many hours writing my reviews, and thinking about what I want to say. Sometimes I’m really pleased with how a review has flowed, other times I just can’t seem to put together what I want to say very well. I am my own biggest and harshest critic. I don’t know if there are many opportunities for bloggers to move into reviewing professionally, and whilst on the one hand it might sound ideal because I am already reading and reviewing a lot, to be able to earn some money through my love of books and reading, on the other hand reading then really would be equated with work, and it has never been about financial recompense for me. Plus I suppose I’d worry if the enjoyment and relaxation that should come from reading may be lost even more then.
What would you say is your taste in books? What makes a book good for you?
When I was younger I read lots of classics and loved novels such as Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and Thomas Hardy novels, and then as a student I read lots of German and some French literature. Now I tend to read a lot more new books, and I have quite broad tastes; I can enjoy reading a cracking crime novel one week and an historical novel the next, but I’d like to return to some of the classics one day. It’s hard as there are so many wonderful books and the more involved in the book world you get, the more books you find out about, and the ones you wish to read just spirals out of control!
A good book is one that has characters who fascinate me whether I love or hate them, a storyline that I am intrigued by and desperate to continue with, a beautiful use of language, or it may call out to me personally.
So many people this week have cited Jane Eyre as an all time favourite book. What is it about this book that has stayed with you?
I think it’s because it’s a captivating story that has got a bit of everything; love, passion, desire, friendship, loneliness, poverty, sadness, cruelty, madness, tragedy, wit, such vivid, memorable characters and all against the superb backdrop of the wild and rugged Yorkshire moors landscape. I grew up not that far from Haworth and have visited quite a few times, walking the steep cobbled streets and exploring the Parsonage and it was exciting to think such talented authors had lived there.
What is your point of view on the star rating system of book reviews? What, for you, do 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 stars mean to a prospective reader?
When I started my blog, I did use star ratings, but for a long time now I haven’t used them. I do add my book reviews to amazon and goodreads, and some on waterstones, and obviously then you are compelled to give a star rating, and I do so using the terminology they supply as a guideline.
I stopped using stars on my own reviews for a few reasons. One, because I think it is very difficult to give totally different books from different genres a comparative rating. Another reason is that I felt that people would just have a quick look at the rating, and not read the actual review I’d written, which is the true indicator of what I thought.
Also I think that people view them very differently, so what you rate a book may be interpreted differently by someone else. I saw an author comment about how to see a three star rating on goodreads as a good thing once. Well, three stars on goodreads means ‘I liked it’ and is a good rating, but evidently some are not happy to receive this. Also, a lot of bloggers/reviewers have different interpretations of what the star ratings mean; I know some bloggers who very rarely give a five star rating, others who give this for most books, so how can it be very helpful to compare them.
They can be a good guideline, but the words of the review and the fact that the reader trusts the reviewer is much more important.
Recommend me three books that have blown you away.
The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman – an intelligent, brilliant and important novel that made a big impression on me.
The Last Summer by Judith Kinghorn – I became completely immersed in the world of this beautiful novel.
Into the Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes – I found this book absolutely compelling and utterly convincing.
Thank you, Lindsay for coming by to chat.
If you’ve enjoyed this post, don’t miss the others in the series: