My Reading Life + Social Media/Internet Influences

Little history of my bookish internet life: I’ve been book blogging for almost 4 years and I was really heavily involved with Goodreads since 2008. It’s definitely changed me as a reader (you can read about some of those ways I’ve changed as a reader in this mini series I did). It’s been amazing because I’ve found a place where I belong. Where I have friends who read and get as excited as I do about books. I’ve found people who don’t side eye me about what I’m reading. I’ve discovered amazing books and done awesome things and it’s just generally been the best thing for my reading life.

But there are some days where I think about my reading life pre-Internet and 2 big things stand out for me that have been hard to reconcile sometimes (though obviously do not affect me THAT negatively because I freaking love the online book community):

1. There is ALWAYS an opinion on a book I’m currently reading or trying to decide if I want to read/buy/add to my TBR: It is very very rare that I start reading a book and I don’t see an opinion of some sort. There are some books I’ve read very early so I didn’t have much influence (We Were Liars). Sometimes the opinions of people are just things like, “I LOVE THAT BOOK” which YAY and sometimes I will just be getting ready to start a book and someone will say how they didn’t like it and that is fine but MAN what a buzzkill when you are starting a book. Sometimes it’s not even a person telling me their opinion…sometimes it’s that I’m looking to add a book or I’m on the Goodreads page of the book I’m getting ready to read and I glance past star ratings and, even without reading their words, I SEE OPINIONS. A book I was really excited about? I could get very unexcited if I see trusted people giving it not so many stars. And then, as hard as I try NOT to, my mood changes toward the book. I’m so very influenced by opinions now, as much as I try to NOT let it affect me, because they are so readily available to me. Not at ALL so before the days of my reading life & the internet combining. Also, it really, really hard to go in blind to books these days..related to this point.

On the bright side: Sometimes I get to avoid books I probably I wouldn’t have loved by easily being able to access the trusted opinions of my friends at a glance. Also, nothing makes me even more giddy when lots of the opinions are YAYS.

2. Authors & their personalities are up in my grill. I don’t mean this in a bad way. But before the internet, I had no idea what my favorite author’s opinions were on day drinking or politics or that they feeling strongly about this or that. I didn’t know their family life or how they spend their days. I didn’t KNOW their personalities. They were just magical unicorn-like people who wrote books. I knew they were people but, man, social media makes them PEOPLE. I’m not the kind of person who really gets involved with author-reader drama but it’s hard not to notice when it’s all up in your grill. If an author has a crappy personality (or sometimes it’s just a bad DAY maybe!) or if they are rude or say something that rubs me the wrong way…it becomes hard to separate their books from who they are as hard as I try (because I really do understand that authors are humans who do make mistakes or have bad days or have opinons contrary to mine). That was never a problem before because I didn’t have to see it…I just saw the words in front of me. I personally have not had many BAD interactions but sometimes this does affect me or there is pressure there for me to balance them vs. their work (which is why I’m very choosy about the authors I follow).

On the bright side: AUTHORS ARE AMAZING. I love being able to connect with them. Seriously. It’s awesome to be able to be able to shout HEY I LOVE YOUR BOOK and they can say HEY THANKS or you can bond over your mutual love for a band or not wearing pants. For me, it’s mostly only ever been positive! And in some cases, interacting with an author has made me bump their books WAY up on my TBR list. For example: Recently I’ve had some fabulous interactions with Corey Ann Haydu and honestly? It really made a great impression on me and I started her book (Life By Committee) the very next day (it was fabulous by the way).

LET’S TALK: Has the internet/online bookish communities affected you in any way as a reader? Either the two things I mentioned or  something else?? I would love to hear about your experiences!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 30 year old married lady who is in denial that she's actually that old. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, listening to music with oversized headphones and having adventures with her husband and dog.

Comments

  1. I love the way that social media has opened up the breath of my reading experience. I’ve made contact with smaller publishers too, and felt like I’ve unearthed some lovely, lovely books that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. These are the ones I love shouting about in particular.

    I also love the enthusiastic and generous spirit of book people on social media (reviewers, publishers & authors) – it’s sooooo infectious!

    • YES the book community is so good! I am a different reader because of the online bookish communities. I read WAY more stuff. Lots of good stuff — though I do sometimes have these two things to reconcile.

  2. I totally get what you’re saying about the opinions. I kind of miss being able to go into a book COMPLETELY blind. I try hard not to let opinions affect me, but it’s hard not to. And I know that hype has killed a few books for me. I also sometimes wonder if I had not heard negative things about a book if I would have enjoyed it more. You know what I mean? But even with all that, I wouldn’t trade it because I love discussing books with other bloggers/readers!

  3. GREAT post, Jamie! I definitely agree with the whole opinion thing – I get so bummed when I’m excited for a book and then I see low star-ratings for it! However, they can also be a good thing as you mentioned.

  4. Ha, I wrote a post about that first one, and it’s why I’ve gone pretty radio silent when I’m reading books. The worst is if you tweet about how much you’re enjoying the book you’re reading and then someone goes “that book, it sucked hardcore.” Which omg let me enjoy this thing and also that’s just rude. Bleh. And then if you like the book, you know they are judging you. The positive comments feel like peer pressure, but at least they’re meant well. I turned off the setting on GR that sends my updates to Newsfeeds and that has helped tremendously.

    Getting to know authors is both wonderful and terrible, depending on the context. I’ve only had a couple be awful to me. I think the saddest thing is learning that some of them are terrible people and being torn between loving their books and not wanting to support them. Like, will I ever read more of the Ender’s Game series? I just don’t know. :/

  5. Social media can really help or kill the life of a book. It’s crazy that you can not only find static information about the books you read on the web (whereas once upon a time you could only find this info in magazines, bookstores or the library) but now you can also jump on social media and almost always find someone actively talking about individual titles, as well. It’s… yeah. I guess it makes it easier to shop when the info is so accessible. But it also makes books seem more “personal” – like, if you know the author on FB or Twitter, it’s almost as though you’re reading the accomplishment of a friend, and not so much that magical unicorn-person as you described. It’s… weird. Because I remember very well, only recently, what it felt like in “the before” versus “the now”.

    I try not to be swayed too much by what I hear on social media. I actually *do* manage to separate author personalities from their books, in much the same way that I separate celebrities from the roles they play on screen. Most of the time I dislike celebrities but enjoy their films, whereas most of the time I absolutely love authors PLUS love their books!

    I feel you, though. While I LOVE the relationships I have built with authors and other readers online, I do sometimes feel nostalgic for the days when books were just about the BOOKS and the contents within them.

  6. I used to be a terrible, TERRIBLE book snob, but being a blogger and seeing how all types of books impact the lives of readers from every walk of life has really cured me of that. So, I guess, it’s been a positive change, overall.

  7. I actually stopped using goodreads and switched to librarything because of that. Some things bother other readers that don’t bother me, but I would notice it if I saw it was a complaint first. It also over hyped some books for me and I didn’t enjoy them as much as I would have before.

    Luckily, I haven’t really had any bad experiences with authors. I have just found out that they are absolutely amazing, which makes me want to buy all their books even more!

  8. Yessssss. These two things are why I generally don’t tell anyone what I’m reading until I post a review (and, if I’m being honest, because I’m horribly lazy when it comes to updating Goodreads) and why I only look at other people’s GR ratings if it’s a book I’m buying for me, not review. On the other hand, I wouldn’t have discovered some of my favorite books without glowing recommendations so I call it a win.

    I am with you on the author thing too. I love authors and I love being able to get to know them a little through social media but it’s the worst thing when someone’s work I anticipated/respected is tarnished by [insert theoretical personal situation here].

  9. YES. SO MUCH YES to this post. On the reader opinions thing…just last weekend, you, me, and Gillian were talking about a book – she ended up really meh on it, so I was prepared to be meh, too. And then I really liked it…so I’m glad that those opinions didn’t affect me, even though I really appreciated hearing them…I’m so conflicted by the other reader opinions thing, because I want to be unbiased, but it’s pretty hard in this day and age.

    Ugh, the authors and their personalities thing. UGH. Like you, I try to separate the work from the author. I was just reading this article about John Green and fandom, and he pretty much sums up my feelings on the subject, much more succinctly and articulately than I can, so I’m just going to leave this here: “I’m also interested in the weird relationship between the things we love and the people who make those things. Because often, of course, the thing is much better than the person. Usually the thing is better than the person or at least easier to love than the person, because people are complex and flawed and troubled. I think in the age of the internet—in the age of social media—it’s just much harder to separate the artist from the art. Particularly when the artist is constantly inserting himself into the conversation on Twitter or Tumblr or whatever.”

  10. If it’s a book that has received a lot of hype, and I know I want to read it, I try to stay away from serious convos on the book. I’ve even been known to stay away from twitter when a book is released because there’s potential for spoilers. And it may not even be a huge spoiler like say, what happens at the end of a book. A spoiler for me could even be seeing someone’s overall opinion of said book. Especially if it’s a negative opinion, it puts a bad taste in my mouth & then I feel like I can’t experience the book with my own fresh thoughts. But man, the internet is FANTASTIC to talk books. So I guess there’s a flip side to it as well. Just know your boundaries and don’t click links you’re worried may be potential spoilers, ha.

  11. Goodreads has changed how I read books. I think in addition to seeing other people’s opinions on books before I read them, just having such a large stack of STUFF I WANT TO READ can sometimes affect how engaged I am in what I’m currently reading.
    With regards to authors, I’m not on twitter or facebook so I don’t have much contact and I kind of like it that way. The mysterious unknown is my preference on that one.

  12. Everything you said is right on. I really hate it when I’m stoked about a book but get on to GRs and it has an average of 3.5 stars or lower. I try not to let that influence me because I’m all about going against common norms from time to time but it’s hard not to let it affect my opinon. At the same time I have gotten to where I won’t buy a book unless I’ve consulted GRs first so really I only have myself to blame. *le sigh*

  13. Tahleen says:

    I usually don’t trust anyone else’s opinion but my own if I can help it, since I’ve disliked books everyone has loved. I will these other opinions into consider though, especially when it comes to whether or not I buy a book for my library’s collection. In those cases, popular opinions trump my personal opinion.

  14. I can definitely understand the two things you discussed. I was affected by the opinions of others for quite a while and didn’t read certain books because of it, but I think through blogging I’ve also learned to not care what others think. Like, I tend to like really girly contemporary books and I know a lot of people aren’t interested in that, at least amongst my friends, and I used to be so worried that other bloggers/readers would judge me for that. But social media has also taught me that there are ALWAYS going to be people that disagree with me, and that’s ok. What’s most important is that I’m being true to my interests and if someone thinks I read horrible books, well, that’s their problem, not mine.

  15. Yes! So I’ve actually started finding myself drawn to a book if I haven’t heard/seen anything about it. This applies both if I get early access and for books that are just lesser known/not being promoted as much/from a smaller pub/etc. It’s so funny to me to look at my TBR stack to decide what to read and realize there is a direct correlation between how much I’ve heard about a book (good or bad!) and how much I want to read it and it is definitely a negative correlation strangely. It’s like anti-hype, haha.

  16. In regards to the negative-reviews community, I think when I’m feeling iffy on a book (like if I’m not sure if I’m the only one thinking it’s a piece of shit) it’s nice in an odd way to feel validated when people agree with you. On the other hand, books that I’ve enjoyed are marred by the fact I’ve stumbled across a one-star review and that reviewer posts all the flaws. It’s just a bit heartbreaking (especially if I really loved the book,) but I do think those reviews should be out there, if that makes sense.

  17. Great post! I agree with you on interacting with authors…I’ve found that some of these people who are so much more important than I will ever be really take the time to thank you for good reviews and interact with you. And, that makes me really want to do everything I can to promote their books if I like them. The other thing I love about social media is that I’m reading so many books that I never would have stumbled across without being able to access such a wide variety of sources for great books!

  18. I have the same problem with seeing opinions, especially with goodreads as a lot of the reviews on there are very passionate. And it can be hard to tell what to think when half the reviews on a book give it one star and the other half give it five.
    I’ve actually considered recently just not reading full reviews on a book I have yet to read, because I don’t want the opinions to affect my own reviews at all. Maybe just go back to what I’ve done to chose books before: personal recommendations and whatever I feel like picking up. But then I feel like I’ll miss good books. The struggle, right?

  19. Well, for a start I find a TON more books! Goodreads is wonderful, but it’s also caused my to-read list to be out of control. Oh, well.

    Otherwise, I enjoy reading author blogs. I don’t care if they never/rarely post about books or writing – I just want to see what they’re like.

  20. YES to both of these (and so many others too haha)
    #1 — I LOVE hearing other people’s opinions about books. I mean, that’s half of the book blogging community, right? But it does get hard for someone like me (and looks like you too!) to go into a book blindly, as I so often try to! Even just little things “spoil” a book for me (or maybe not a whole book but a certain part) and it’s mostly unavoidable being that we’re all on social media and not everyone either thinks it’s a spoiler/people don’t care about spoilers/I’m the last person to read Allegiant and people think it’s okay to talk about major plot points LOL.
    #2 — YES with the author thing! I had an author on my “favs” list on Twitter and had to remove her because she has strong political options that were VERY different than mine. That’s not a bad thing and it didn’t make me think any less of her of course, but it was really hard to read things that I just didn’t agree with alllll the time. She’s still an awesome author AND a really great person but she has THOUGHTS that I know about haha. I still follow her on Twitter, of course, but I just don’t have her on a “favs” list anymore. It does change the way you interact with authors for sure!
    Then there are the positives where the more I hear about an author I’m like “OMG WE SHOULD BE BESTIES” haha. They just grow more and more appealing and awesome each day which turns out to be an awesome thing!
    Definitely goes both ways for both points!

  21. Hiya Jamie

    I couldn’t agree more with your post. I think part of the problem is that being online and have instant access to social networking sites means that it’s super hard to be surprised by things. The worst is when someone inadvertently spoils something for you – especially when it’s something that’s been released earlier in one country and not the other just yet. Another big thing for me is that sometimes, as much as I love, love, love the online community, I sort of feel pressured to keep up with everyone.

    Not by anyone’s fault, but more because I keep thinking everyone else is getting it right, while I’m doing something wrong (this is a whole post on its own).

    On the other hand, the good by far outweighs the bad and meeting and connecting with book lovers from all over the world via social networking, blogs, goodreads, twitter, etc is something I get excited about every day. And yes, it’s also a fantastic way to discover books that I haven’t previously heard of. ^_^

    Now if someone could just tell me the secret to managing life/blogging/work/social networking then things would really be awesome. 😀

    Great post Jamie!

  22. Sarah R. says:

    I’m not a blogger, so it can be frustrating to be really excited about a certain book, but then see all of these early reviews that say it’s terrible because then that causes me to significantly lose interest by the time it gets released. On the one hand, I’m grateful to all of the bloggers who “screened” these books for me, but on the other hand, it affects me in ways I wish it wouldn’t. The book I have in mind in particular is Dear Killer. The premise sounded amazing, but I’ve seen a million negative reviews because so many people got eARCs from Edelweiss… and so when it came out, I didn’t even buy it as I had planned. I got it from the library instead, and it’s been sitting on my shelf for a couple of weeks and might even get returned unread. I know that if I hadn’t seen so many early bad reviews for it, I would’ve definitely read it by now because I was anticipating it so much!

    I also get really self conscious sometimes when I love a particular book that everyone else thinks is really bad. I feel like if I give it a five-star rating on Goodreads, I’m going to be judged by others for it or something!

    But… at the same time, it is SO much fun to have other people to talk to about books on Twitter, etc. because none of my friends in “real life” read very much. And without book bloggers and other fellow readers online, I would have never picked up certain books like Anna and the French Kiss that have become favorites. So I agree–social media is both good and bad when it comes to reading!

  23. When I first started using goodreads, I was always shocked when people hated some of my favorite books. And I would start to feel bad for rating so many books highly. But I’ve gotten over that and I don’t really care anymore.

  24. I love your discussion posts 🙂 Well I mean I love all your posts 🙂 But I definitely agree, other peoples opinions definitely affect me and how I feel about a book. If I’m not feeling a book and people tell me it was just okay, or they didn’t like it that definitely doesn’t help me finish it lol. But sometimes if they say that book is awesome or it just gets better or something positive, it definitely persuades me to want to finish it. When people ask for an opinion I do like to share but am sometimes afraid of putting I didn’t like it to bring their enthusiasm for it down, or over hyping it and then they go in with expectations! About the author thing, I definitely love following and interacting with authors and definitely like them more if I see their personality and makes me want to support them more. Like Morgan Matson, Rainbow Rowell, Sarah Dessen, and Alexandra Bracken are a few I can think of that I love their personalities so it makes me love them and their books more! It has backfired… there’s this one author that I just think her books are okay. One I didn’t like, one was okay, read a couple short stories – but then I was following her on twitter, and I just didn’t like her personality – one of my favorite guilty pleasure shows is the Bachelor/Bachelorette and she would live tweet it and just said some rude things to be funny. So that makes me like her books and her even less. I unfollowed her. However, there’s a favorite author of mine that people have bashed for not acting the best, and to me she’s just human and I just don’t see her in a bad light. But I have already gotten a comment on my goodreads on one of her books people showing me a blog post about the things she’s done. Generally I like to separate the art from the artist, but I think it just depends on the situation. Great post and topic!!

  25. I have absolutely been affected in the ways you’ve mentioned! I definitely think that social media + blogging have changed the way I read to some extent, as well as the way that I discover books or even choose to talk about them with other people.

    For Point #1, I tend to be very careful about this. I like knowing that people have really liked (or even really disliked) a book I’ve read, as I value other people’s opinions. BUT I do try to avoid exposing myself to more specific thoughts (via reviews ANYWHERE) so that I don’t get too affected when I’m going into the book. And if I feel like I’ve been way too exposed that my feelings towards the book are slowly tilting one way or the other, I just don’t read the book for a while. I literally wait 4-5 months before I actually read it (sort of like how I read Allegiant for instance), because that way I don’t feel influenced by anyone and can go into it just excited (if it’s a new addition to a series) or curious (if it’s a completely new book).

    For Point #2, I am thrilled that I can actually talk so easily with my favorite authors. While it’s kind of disconcerting to know all about their daily lives sometimes (especially when your opinions clash), it’s also kind of nice too. I like knowing that authors are real people, and that they have lives they lead to. I basically also feel kind of strangely encouraged by this. If they’re real people who can write these amazing books (and not magical unicorns of talent! though I feel that way about them), I can do it too!

    Whew, okay. That’s my comment now! Apologies for the length and babbling 🙂

  26. I try really hard to not let opinions from social media sway me one way or another, but I am a huge fan of goodreads.com. I am constantly on there looking up books and reading people’s thoughts. I’m not gonna lie when I see a whole lot of YAYs and Loved it…it definitely makes me more excited to read the chosen book.

Trackbacks

  1. […] the internet and social media changed who you are as a reader? I definitely think so, since it is the internet that has gotten me into blogging in the first […]

  2. […] Jamie muses about the influences of social media on her reading life. […]

  3. […] her. I really enjoy how she doesn’t just post reviews, but personal posts. For example, like how social media has affected her reading life. It’s something that we can all relate […]

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