The Pressures of Social Reading

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Hi, readers!

I’ve had something on my mind lately, and I wanted to share it with you. As a “social reader,” I’ve been feeling a bit of pressure lately about the books that I’ve been reading and the content that I’ve been posting. While this might sound silly and superficial, it’s a real thing, and I want to discuss it to sort out my thoughts on the topic.

Here’s the thing: life is short and time is fleeting. As readers, we have ever-growing TBR lists, which can quickly become overwhelming. This is especially true for social readers — those of us who post about our reading lives online via book blogs, BookTube, or Bookstagram.  While this can greatly enrich our reading experiences, it can also cause undue pressure and stress. 2018 has been my second year as a book blogger and my first year on Bookstagram, and while I’ve loved being involved in the bookish community, I’ve felt some of the pressures that social readers talk about. It’s gotten to the point where I have occasionally stopped reading altogether. And that’s just not okay.

The Pressure to Read Enough Books

For some reason, there is a bit of an unspoken stigma that says that our clout as readers is determined by the number of books we read per month and per year. This just simply isn’t true. And if you’re a mood reader like me, this is next to impossible to keep up with. Some months, I’ll read 4 books and some months, I won’t read a single one. While I can be a fast reader when I’m in the mood, I’m often distracted by other things, such as Netflix binges or crochet marathons. Such is life. But as a social reader, there is pressure to keep reading and to get 👏🏼  those 👏🏼 numbers 👏🏼 up 👏🏼.  Moving forward, I’m going to make an effort to be more purposeful about the quality of books that I read, rather than the quantity.

The Pressure to Read the “Right” Books

As social readers, we are constantly bombarded with the latest and the greatest in the literary world. We see fellow readers get their hands on books even before they come out in stores. Just like anywhere else, there are trends in the bookish community. There are books and genres that are popular, and there are those that are less talked about. I’ve noticed that there is a large group of people who read fantasy and YA. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with either of those genres, they just aren’t my cup of tea. This makes me wonder: am I reading the “wrong” books? I enjoy thrillers, true crime, memoirs, and middle-grade — none of which get much coverage in the social reading internet presence. But that’s okay. It’s all okay. We should be able to read whatever we want to read and feel confident doing it.

The Pressure to Post Regular, Quality Content

Okay, so this is a pressure that is put on entirely by myself; nonetheless, I feel like it’s worth discussing here. One of my current goals is to build my internet presence through blogging and Instagram. I would love to have a group of internet friends with whom I can discuss all things literary. However, in order to do that, I know that I have to post fairly regularly. But the problem is that I’m a recovering perfectionist. I will often publish a blog post, only to delete it later. I’ll take countless photos for my Instagram, only to have them take up space on my phone, unedited and unpublished. Nothing is ever good enough or up to my personal standards, so I logically post nothing at all. What does this accomplish? Nothing. But it makes me feel like perfection is still attainable. So my blog and my Instagram continue to stay stagnant, and I don’t share anything with the world. I truly hope that I am able to overcome this personal roadblock and allow myself to be imperfect.

So tell me: have you felt any of these pressures as a social reader? How do you cope with them?

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