It's hard to go through book blogosphere without bumping into a blog in which the author wants to "read deliberately" for the year- focusing on different types of deliberateness, such as reading slower, reading different genres, reading more classics, or reading books by authors of different ethnicities. It's really interesting to me because, while I set goals I'd like to accomplish, I really just like to read for me and see where my whimsy takes me. Then Amy wrote a post about Being a Public Reader, and how our reading choices impact the world around us that really got me thinking that maybe I am supposed to put more thought in my reading choices.
But... how much do my reading choices impact anything? I think it's wonderful to consider your reading choices and reflect on how you do your choosing, but I don't think that I greatly impact anyone else's reading decisions through this blog.
Let me give you an example from my own experience. Last year, I read and reviewed Wish Her Safe at Home, by Stephen Benatar. I raved about this book. I would use awkward segues to bring the book up in conversation ("Yes, I really like this beer, but let me tell you about this book that has nothing to do with beer..."). I listed it as my top book of 2009. I have compared other women's literature to it. I have pretty much exhausted any resources I have at my disposal to get people to read. that. book.
And yet, from what I can tell, no one that follows this blog (except my friend Sudha whom I gave my copy to borrow) has read, reserved, purchased or checked out this book, and I have seen no other reviews on the blogs I follow.
If you want to miss out on an excellent book, that is your prerogative ;-) I'm just using this as an example because I don't think my reading decisions have much, if any, influence over other people's book choices. So, while I may be a public reader, I don't think I am an impactful reader.
And I completely understand because I don't think other people's reading choices have a huge impact on what I decide to read today. There are countless books that go on my Amazon wish list after I read a positive review (or five). But I never buy the book immediately. I rarely make an effort to obtain a book ASAP, unless it's one that I am already eagerly anticipating. I may eventually get the book and read it, but that could be years from now, long after I remember what initially drew my attention to it in the first place. And even if I get the book, that doesn't mean that I'll read it in any sort of reasonable time frame.
So really... how much influence do we really have? Enough to change our own reading habits in the hopes of influencing other people's?
It saddens me because some books really are worth the trouble to acquire, and are deserving of blog movement and attention. Some excellent books (The Help, The Professor and the Housekeeper, The Hunger Games, etc.) get so much attention just by being available on Shelf Awareness or through Amazon Vine or LibraryThing Early Reviewers, or because a very influential, highly followed and "recommendations viewed as gold standard" blogger brings them to our attention and everyone sits up and takes note. Other excellent books are unloved in the corner just because the publisher couldn't afford to give away copies on a book newsletter, or because mid-level book bloggers rate it highly on their blogs.
I truly believe that for a blog to really impact someone's reading choices, it has to be part of a movement. That's why there are those blog tours, when you hear about the same book so many times in a month-long period. That's why so many professional reviews are posted so soon after a book is initially published. It is only when you get a "high-level" reviewer to mention the book positively- whether it be a New York Times reviewer or a book blogger that really has an influence or someone who recommends certain books to all her friends- that you are going to get people to move on actually acquiring the book.
I say this, but I still hope that my reading decisions will positively influence the sales of a book I truly believe in, however minimally. That is why I am starting the With Reverent Hands segment on my blog, showcasing books that BookLust readers feel have been overlooked by the masses. And that is why I am a co-host of the Spotlight Series, which brings blogosphere attention to great books published by small press publishers that can't afford the huge marketing pushes larger publishers can (Have you signed up yet to participate in the Spotlight on Unbridled Books yet?! You should!).
But at the same time, I understand that old (and annoying) adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink." So all we bloggers can really hope, I feel, is that we at least put the title of a book in someone else's head and that eventually, that book is read and enjoyed by someone else as much as it was read and enjoyed by us.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with me? And why?