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Sunday Salon: Yet More Reupholstery

June 12, 2011

The Sunday Salon.comSince my regular blogging now consists of short review-type posts, I thought I’d change my Sunday Salon approach to more general reading topics, a kind of ‘bookish musings 2.0’. I’m still trying this out, so bear with me through the rambling phase.Also, I plan on adding to this throughout the week, which is why it’s longer than my new limit. Also, since I’m no longer blurbing books, I had to figure out a new plan for cover illustrations; today I’m displaying the books I read this week.

I’ve definitely emerged from May’s reading slump! Looking back over the year, I seem to be on a rollercoaster, going from months where I read tons of books to months where I barely crack open a cover. Let’s hope I manage to keep on a high note for all of summer at least. :)

I’ve requested quite a few Netgalley books, so Athie is nice and full (not to mention, added yet more freely available classics!). I definitely have mixed feelings on review copies in general, and book blogs being used as ‘publicity machines,’ but I’ve found Netgalley to be a much more independent blogger-friendly system than physical review copies. I can easily request a book, and if I’m approved, I can read the first few chapters and decline without feeling bad; it’s pretty much no effort to the publisher (ebooks aren’t finite copies, after all) so I don’t feel any imagined guilt. My favourite part about Netgalley is that a few university presses are on it, which means I get to read some marvelous academic nonfiction that my public library (rightfully) wouldn’t purchase. My least favourite aspect is that the vast majority of authors are white native English speakers; that’s not exactly a surprise in the publishing industry, though. I just hunt extra hard for the exceptions!;)

If you have an ereader, I’d suggest you give it a try, even if like me you’re averse to physical review copies. I didn’t think I’d use it at all, but due to the easy ‘decline’ option to deal with the duds, it has definitely enriched my reading. (For newbies to the site, I’d highly recommend browsing by publisher; recently, they’ve added quite a few ‘speciality’ type publishers that make it difficult to browse by ‘recent’ without feeling overwhelmed and their genre sorting is atrocious, with the same book in both a fiction and nonfiction category.) And since my library’s ebook selection is not very extensive, Netgalley fills a definite gap for me (it’s nice to have nonfiction and diverse fiction to read when my muscles can’t hold a book open!).

Athie saw a first this week too: I actually paid for an ebook! I’ve read and enjoyed two of Susanna Kearsley’s novels, but my library doesn’t have any others of her now out-of-print backlist on its shelves (and in fact, I had to ILL my second read). So when I saw that The Winter Sea was just $3 from Sourcebooks, I couldn’t resist. Even my wallet didn’t mind. ;) As my last comment on my Nook, this is why I am not a techie. It annoys me that now there’s a new version with a super-long battery life that’s also super-light (my only two quibbles with Athie, although I’m still very happy I chose him over a Kindle). Hmph. (Although I comfort myself that the new version isn’t nearly as pretty and touchscreens do drive my crazy. )

Of course, I’m still reading piles of physical books from the library. I’m trying to keep my checked out books to thirty or less (compared to maxing out at fifty regularly), which seems a good number for me. I could probably get it down to twenty if I tried harder, but I like having a variety of books for different moods! And for the record, I definitely don’t read all of the books I get from the library (I’ve had some comments on Library Loot posts wondering about that). Some I just don’t get to in time, but most I start and realise aren’t for me. I find that to be a huge upside of library books: being able to abandon books without thinking about wasted money!

In fact, for me the only downside is that I prefer trade paperback and most library books are hard cover. Definitely a small price to pay for such a wide variety of free literature. And I’m not just praising my library because I happened to win the first drawing for the adult summer reading program and brought three books (Hungry Woman in Paris, Grave Goods, and The Mystery of Grace) home with me for good on Wednesday! I know some people get a real thrill out of owning lots of books, but I’m not like that. My ideal home library would be a carefully curated place, with room only for tried-and-true authors. So even if I had book spending money, I’d still be a huge library patron.

My return to blogging is going even better than I expected (on my end at least)! I definitely miss being able to write long posts, and my attempts to write about every book I read, but my new approach really makes it all feel effortless. It might not be ideal, but it’s definitely sustainable, which is what I was missing before. For the first time in four and a half years of blogging I’ve got all of next week scheduled already (except my vlog, because I haven’t been to the library)!

Soon, I’ll try doing a short non-review post so I can start mixing things up on occasion, but I’m loathe to cut back much farther on the number of review-ish posts I’m doing each week, since that means fewer titles get blogged about. Speaking of which, I’ve triaged my backlist of reviews, listing down the books I most want to blog about (it turned about to be precisely twenty, perfectly divided between fiction and nonfiction, without me paying any attention!), which makes me feel better about the obsceneĀ amount of unblogged reads from this year (eighty, in case you’re wondering, which is about two-thirds of my total *blushes*). Do you tend to run a ‘review deficit’? I think I’m rivalling the Greeks. ;) (And if you don’t mind, do tell me what you think of my new style! I’m definitely open to changing things.)

30 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2011 6:40 am

    Oh, I’m so glad that you’re back! I do like the new style. I, personally, like to WRITE long reviews but READ shorter reviews if that makes any sense. I have a short attention span so the minis are easier for me to grasp, I guess. ;O)

  2. June 12, 2011 6:51 am

    I’ve had an uber busy week so I haven’t had the opportunity to welcome you back, Eva. Sure am glad you’re with us again. I feel terrible about your fibro flares. Especially since it’s truly been effecting your life like it has. When were you first diagnosed? Total bummer and life change, man.

    Netgalley is superb. It makes checking out review copies so much easier. (And secretly I am more confident in what books I wish to purchase for my own library!)


    • June 12, 2011 4:33 pm

      I began having health problems when I was 15; I think I was diagnosed w fibro at 16. So it’s not new, but it is definitely escalating.

  3. June 12, 2011 6:58 am

    I try to write up something for each book but I do have posts scheduled for the next month and a half or so :) I’m so glad you are back and talking about the books again. I was on NetGalley but never remember to read the books. I had NO IDEA that university presses were on it so I am going to check that out now! ALSO yes, isn’t it frustrating that there are so many white american authors and little diversity in current publications? It is frustrating sometimes.

    • June 12, 2011 4:32 pm

      AND white British authors: there are always plenty of them available too. ;)

      Yep, I think if you check out the uni presses, there’ll definitely be some nonfic you want to try. I’m reading one about Jerusalem during the change from Ottoman to British rule!

      And seriously: you have reviews to last you six weeks?! Way to make me feel like a nincompoop. lol

      • June 13, 2011 5:43 am

        Why of course. We mustn’t forget them either I suppose ;)

  4. June 12, 2011 7:01 am

    You’ve hit upon the very reason that I like Netgalley. I’m pretty choosy about the review copies I accept because I don’t want outside forces dictating my blog’s content. Plus, I’d rather review copies go to someone who will enjoy them more/review them more quickly than I will. (The comments from publishers and bloggers who accept more copies at Book Blogger Con did help me see that any guilt I feel about non-reviewing is imagined, but I’d still prefer not to have the physical copies around if I’m unsure about them.) With Netgalley, I’m much more likely to give something I’m uncertain about a try. And I’m impressed with the variety they offer. It’s not just second-tier stuff. And the access to smaller presses that don’t send out so many review copies is great.

    And I like the new format!

  5. June 12, 2011 8:25 am

    I like the new format, Eva. Personally, I don’t feel as overwhelmed now when I see your posts. I think it’s better not only for you physically, but also for your readers mentally for the smaller posts. They’re much easier to digest.

    As for the Nook, I’m completely with you in that I’m not a fan of touchscreens, but I do feel a twinge of jealousy, especially knowing B & N probably now won’t update the old Nooks. There are a few tweaks needed and now probably won’t happen with the focus on their new ones.

  6. June 12, 2011 8:26 am

    I don’t ever have much of a review deficit, but I don’t read nearly as much as you do either. I like to schedule reviews to post two weeks after I’ve read the book, so I have time to think about what I’ll say, write and re-write and cut and cut and cut. I still try for two reviews a week and usually mange to make it. But if I don’t, no biggie.

    And I’m glad to have you back posting so many reviews. You are one of the better sources for interesting non-fiction reads.

  7. June 12, 2011 8:27 am

    I don’t like feeling pressured to review books, and until recently, I was going with the flow. The requests are picking up, however; so I’m using my standard “rejection” line, which is time constraints. This is true…but I also don’t like the “required reading” aspect of reviewing. So I’m very selective.

    I do review all the books I read, though, which is fine, since I’m doing it for myself and other bloggers.


  8. June 12, 2011 12:31 pm

    I’m glad you’ve found a level of blogging that works for you, because I miss it when you don’t post.

  9. June 12, 2011 12:57 pm

    Netgalley sounds interesting – I wish more publishers would use ebook as ARCs as I really want to use my Kindle more often but the “real” books keep dropping through my letter box! Thanks for sharing this one.

  10. June 12, 2011 4:35 pm

    Thnx for all of the reassurances everyone! :)

  11. June 12, 2011 4:36 pm

    Glad to see you back Eva, and I like the new format. Like iwriteinbooks I like to write long posts (occasionally very looooooong) but often prefer to read short ones. :-) And yours are always thoughtful no matter the length.

    Netgalley sounds interesting. I’m hoping for an ebook reader for my birthday, so perhaps I will give it a go then. But it will only add to my review deficit, which is *huge*. Honestly it makes me feel very bad to think that I write about less that 20% of what I read, and I don’t read half as much as you.

    • June 13, 2011 1:34 am

      No guilt! Your posts are always so rich, it doesn’t surprise me you can’t get to all the books you read. :)

  12. June 12, 2011 8:40 pm

    I think it ate my comment. In short, always love your blog, Eva. The format is still great, and can’t wait to read what you thought of The Postmistress.

    • June 13, 2011 1:36 am

      I probably won’t do a post about Postmistress, just because I have to pick and choose, but I can’t say I was a fan. But then, I avoid WWII lit and am not a fan of that style of writing, so it was me rather than the book! ;)

  13. June 12, 2011 8:58 pm

    My reading year has been so like yours…I’ve just felt off this year when it comes to reading in blogging…need to get back on it!!! And I’m totally with you on NetGalley :D I love them!

    • June 13, 2011 1:35 am

      It seems like this has been an off year for quite a few bloggers! definitely myself.

  14. June 12, 2011 9:01 pm

    Glad you have found Net Galley to your liking. I like the library for the same reasons you do. I usually check out more books than I have a chance to read but I never feel guilty because I know I can check them out again another time. Glad you are getting used to your new blogging style and have your week already done!

  15. June 13, 2011 4:21 am

    I’m been curious about The Summer of the Big Bachi for a while so looking forward to your review!

  16. June 13, 2011 7:01 am

    The amount of amazing books available for free in ebook form is amazing. I’m trying out my dad’s Kindle at the moment and have uploaded a ridiculous amount of books ;) But I don’t think I’ll ever choose an ebook over a real book if it’s not for free, so I’m not sure it would be worth buying an e-reader for me (not that I’m not tempted at the moment ;) ).

    Perhaps you can get a reader card fro the uni library in the area? Can’t imagine not having access to the UP books.

    • June 14, 2011 8:21 pm

      For me, the hundreds of free classics (and unexpected Netgalley perks!) have MORE than justified the $100 price tag (I grabbed one during a sale). I’ve only bought one ebook, because I couldn’t get ahold of it easily through the library and it was so much cheaper than paper; before I got my Nook, I couldn’t imagine ever choosing ebook over paper book. Now I’m not so sure! :)

      I’m not sure if the universities here do reader cards; the nice thing is, I can ILL things through the public library and get ahold of university stuff that way!

      • June 15, 2011 4:31 am

        Who knows, maybe I will steal my dad’s kindle after all (he has been looking worried about that ;) ), but only for those free ebooks I wouldn’t find in the library.

        Your ILL sounds great, we have to pay extra for things like that here, so I’m very attached to my uni library card.

  17. June 13, 2011 4:11 pm

    I have recently begun giving Netgalley a try. It was one of the university publishers that convinced me to give it a go. A book got me very excited. I don’t have an ereader but I have tried reading on my netbook and it’s small enough that it’s comfortable. Now I want an ereader though!

    I don’t have that big a backlog of reviews, usually about three to write and post. But I also am not in pain all the time….

  18. June 13, 2011 6:52 pm

    Great to see you back again Eva and glad to hear you are enjoying your new way of blogging. I haven’t had a chance to give Netgalley a chance. I have an account but have only requested one book. My poor Kindle is collecting dust! I keep saying that I’m just waiting to use it on vacation :)

  19. June 14, 2011 10:03 am

    I like Netgalleys a lot, but I don’t take advantage of their “decline” option enough — I tend to feel when I request something that I need to review it. But of course, I don’t. So I may head over there and decline a couple books I don’t think I’ll actually read!

    • June 14, 2011 8:23 pm

      I can usually tell within a few pages if a book is going to drive me crazy, so I love the decline feature for that! And it just makes it so much easier to abandon the books. ;)

  20. June 14, 2011 12:34 pm

    good see you back Eva ,I m always going through waves of reading from a book a day to a book a week but tend to read more in summer ,all the best stu

  21. June 15, 2011 8:22 pm

    I’m just going to reiterate how glad I am that you are back. I’ve stayed away from Netgalley so far only because I don’t have an e-reader and because I have too many review copies as it is. I really enjoy reading reviews of books that weren’t published just in this year and I like to read books that were published before 2011 as well. Even if it is just from the previous year…I don’t want my blog to be only about new releases. And I have no self control when it comes to books so I’m scared to request books from Netgalley :)

Thank you for commenting! For a long while, my health precluded me replying to everyone. Yet I missed the conversation, so I'm now making an effort to reply again. It might take a few days though, and there will be times when I simply can't. Regardless, I always read and value what you say.

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