Re-posting from the “main” blog. Writing can be many things. For some, it’s therapeutic, to others it’s an unexplainable passion and some people communicate best by expressing feelings on a blank piece of paper that becomes their canvas. Blogging began for me as nothing more than a place to cultivate my scribbling’s and “spread my wings” in a sense, to see how well I could get along writing by standing on my own two feet.
In this past year and a half, all of the opportunities for bloggers who were avid readers opened an entirely new vista – one that is challenging but also has become a virtual place for friends to meet over coffee and enjoy some good old fashioned book talk. After getting “settled” into a routine of sorts, it wasn’t long before I was able to connect with some book bloggers and find many fabulous programs for bookworms. Not only has this opened that entirely new world, it is also an excellent teaching instrument – believe it or not. Reviewing has taught me much about my reading habits – ones that I needed to confront.
Anyone who may have seen my Twitter timeline from the last couple of weeks will have seen comments about the tedious process I am going through in “weeding” out my book collection. One of the ways that I’ve found is a good test of simplifying life is to de-clutter! And trust me, I am in grave need of doing that. As my mother is so fond of saying, we need keep only the things that there is a proper place for. Reviewing fiction has taught me that I need to – and in fact can be, more selective in what I read. Here are some of the things now easier to objectify.
Lessons learned from reviewing:
Selection: If you are willing to look a little harder – beneath the cover, as it were – there is a really wonderful selection of books. Just taking an intense look at the Christian market, it has grown leaps and bounds since I first started discovering it over ten years ago. Janette Oke gradually transitioned into Lori Wick and then I got really “brave” and tried a suspense set of books that are “classics” of their own kind, The O’Malley series. Since then, the market has expanded and is no longer endorsed as just the sort of fiction your grandmother might read. There is such a unique, all-encompassing variety nowadays. Thinking otherwise means you have lumped Christian fiction into one box and don’t feel as if it can be anything else but “sweet.” Trust me, it can be – and is!
Space: As said beforehand, a popular saying at my house is that you should only keep things that you have room for – if there isn’t a place for something (or if you haven’t used it in a number of years), you really don’t need it. This, I have found is truer for my fiction than I thought. There was a time when I’d have stubbornly refused to be rid of any books (they were all loved for certain reasons) I had been gifted and bought over the years. How wrong that philosophy was! It’s been a tedious, long project but in sorting through them, I’ve gotten three or four boxes full to give up and have been shocked how “easy” it was. Never having the urge to pull out something afterwards is a great feeling. And none of them will be missed.
Selective: Before reviewing, I was of the opinion if one book by an author was good, then the rest would be equally engaging. Or because I first fell for ChristianFic through the wholesome Janette Oke stories then naturally, western and prairie fiction was my thing. That is definitely not the case. Reviewing has made me lots more critical. But this is a good thing. Not only do I need to be accountable for reigning in which and how many novels I read but I also need to realize which genres are the “right” ones. It’s tiring to force yourself through a book if it’s not really “connecting” with the reader – and that is something personally that no longer is appealing. Among the opportunities to try authors you may have been curious about but skeptical to try, the review programs have become a wonderful way to define which books are good and which aren’t.