Life in 1000 Books

Originally posted on GoodReads on August 9, 2015.  I’ve since removed the post from GoodReads since this is a better forum for my ramblings. I’ve included a few minor edits which don’t detract from the original.

I’m going to use this spot for a little bit of reflection for my own posterity – and anyone else who happens a long and gives two twigs about my thoughts.

So, late last week I noticed my “Read” shelf surpassed 1000 books. It was kind of a WOW moment, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what that means to me.

Now, in my life I’ve read thousands of books spanning many genres. My GoodReads 1000 is entirely different. I joined GR in 2013 – but in 2012, I started what I call “My Epic Voyage of Smut.” This is when I started (almost exclusively) reading romance and erotica. Before joining GR, I kept track of books in a series and authors I liked in an Excel spreadsheet…oh how I love spreadsheets. Then I discovered GR and realized there was a much better way to keep track of my books and the authors I like, and I don’t remember the last time I touched my Spreadsheet O Books. I have no intention of adding any books outside of the Romance or Erotica genres to my GR shelves…I love Shakespeare, Faulkner, and hundreds of other authors – but they’re not invited to this party.

A quick look back

In 2012, I was married – as of 2013, I’m (happily) divorced. In 2012 thru part of 2013, I barely had two pennies to rub together – now finances are much, much better. In 2012, I lived in Georgia and was hundreds of miles from family. Now I live in my home state of Virginia and family is very nearby. In 2012, I read my digital smut books on a computer screen in my home office or the Kindle app on the little screen of my iPhone. In 2013, I bought my first kindle. Two days before Christmas of 2014 I accidentally dropped it, shattering the glass – so now I’m on my 2nd Kindle…and it goes everywhere with me.

A lot has changed.

I think back to the books I read back in the early days of My Epic Voyage of Smut. Because I was broke, I mostly stuck to free reads; or sometimes I’d treat myself to a book $1.99 or less – and yeah, back then that was a splurge. Free and cheap reads are a crap-shoot when it comes to quality. I remember finding some gems – but for the most part, the things I rated 3, 4, or 5 stars back then probably wouldn’t get the same rating today. What I look for in a book hasn’t changed much, but I’d say the quality I look for has definitely been elevated to a higher expectation.

Back then, I read MF contemporary almost exclusively. These days, I’m really into MM almost exclusively. I’m still stuck on contemporary – but every once in a while I’ll read fantasy or paranormal, and that’s usually only if it’s by an author I like who also writes contemporary.

Back then, I didn’t review books. I’d rate them and shelve them (I think I have a pretty creative shelving system). I moved on immediately from book to book. Now, (just starting this year) I review most of the books I read. I started this back in April 2015.

The reviewing of books started with a huge disappointer of a read from a book in a series I’d been following since 2012. I couldn’t keep my trap shut about my disappointment. I realized how easy it is to spout negative – and that if I was going to take the time to voice my negative opinion, I needed to take the time to voice positive opinions too. So, I started reviewing nearly everything I read – even if it’s only a few words…except I’m rarely a woman of few words once I get started.

Now, I look forward to reviewing books. I find it cathartic. If it’s a book I really enjoyed I get to stay with it a little longer. Either way, it works to clear my head before I start the next book.

I’ve found I’m a more critical reader now that I’m reviewing because I’m already thinking about my review while I read. So yeah…some of the books I read in 2012 & early 2013 probably wouldn’t want my thoughts now.

When I joined GR I wasn’t too interested in interacting with my fellow readers. It took me nearly a year to put up a picture on my GR account; it took a little longer for me to fill out my profile. It took me even longer before I ever “liked” another person’s review. (I’m almost painfully introverted, not shy; I just usually prefer to be on the fringes and observing rather than jumping into the fray.)

Now I have two friends and one two [one just happened!] followers (shoutouts!!) and I belong to two groups; and, where I only used to follow authors – now I follow a few other reviewers ‘cause I kept seeing them around and I liked what they had to say. I don’t interact with the groups so much…just get ideas on stuff to read. One of my GR friends I know in real life and our taste in books is, um, not quite similar and I’m not sure I want to know his thoughts on what I read. The other friend reached out to me out of the blue – and I’m so glad she did. The interacting is really awesome and I like seeing her thoughts and what she’s reading in my news feed…and the ‘likes’ I get from her are pretty nifty too. Some of my reviews have gotten “likes” from other fellow readers and that’s a huge thrill. I also love how interactive the authors are around here. Plain ol’ coolness everywhere around GR.

I have a few real-life smut-reading girlfriends I’ve been begging to join GR – mainly because they keep asking me what I’m reading – come see already!

So, in the past 1000 books, I’ve evolved as a person, a reader, and as a GR member. Lots of changes…all of them good.

What do I want for the next thousand? I want more great books to read!

Also, I want to participate a little more, look to make a few new GR friends, join a few more GR groups. I’ve decided to join a beta reading group and hope to be part of the process to help authors along their way – that’s going to happen soon, I think.

It’s been one hell of a ride so far, and the voyage can only get better.

Tell me what you think!