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xxxHolic 01 by CLAMP

Armchair BEA
May 23, 2011
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Comments for Armchair BEA: Reading by the Numbers

Armchair BEA: Reading by the Numbers: 05/24/11

Armchair BEA logo - designed by yours trulyAt the end of 2010, Patrick Brown, a GoodReads blogger took a look at the reading habits of GoodReads members as a whole. The title for his post said it all: "Almost 2011?! We're Still Working on 2009" and it sums up perfectly how I read and review here.

In 2009 I decided to step away reviewing for publishers and publicists. I felt like I was losing my focus and drifting from my mission statement of sharing the joys of reading. I was becoming too commercial without seeing any benefits. To be a happy blogger and therefore a better blogger I had to go back to reading what I wanted to read, when I wanted t read it. I also had to review what I wanted to, how and when I wanted to.

As a reader, I have never been on the leading edge of trends. I don't know who is the new hot debut or what series is the next best thing. It's just not me. Instead I read things off my book shelves at home (often times bought second hand) or I check things out from wishlist by getting them from the library.

What this means is that i'm always months, if not, a full year behind the leading edge of what's new or popular. For instance, this year, I've only read seven books published in 2011. As I don't review as soon as I finish a book, there's an extra lag built into when I post things. I haven't posted a review for a single book published this year. Most of the reviews I've published in 2011 are of books published last year.

Compare my chart to the one posted on the GoodReads blog. You'll see it has the same year behind spike.

Armchair BEA 2011 reading and reviewing

With that in mind, what have my favorite reads been this year?

  • Children's Chapter Books: Adventures of a Cat-Whiskered Girl by Daniel Pinkwater — it's the third in a surreal series of books that started with The Neddiad. I will be reviewing the entire series later in the year.
  • Children's Monster Books: This is a toss up between Rick Riordan's books and the xxxHolic manga series.
  • Children's Picture Books: While not exactly picture books, the biggest hit this year have been the Elephant and Piggie early readers by Mo Willems. I will post reviews of them later in the year.
  • Fiction: Hands down my favorite is the historical fiction, baseball story Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace.
  • Graphic Novels & Manga: I'm enjoying (addicted) to two manga series: xxxHolic by CLAMP and Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa (reviews of volume 1 and volume 2)
  • Mysteries and Thrillers: I'm currently addicted to Penny Warner's Party Planner series. Her newest one, How to Survive a Killer Seance is set in the Winchester Mystery House. It was a a lot of fun and a tricky mystery. I've reviewed the previous two: How to Crash a Killer Bash and How to Host a Killer Party.
  • Non-Fiction: Two favorites that jump out are The Phone Book by Ammon Shea and Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien. I will post reviews of both later in the year.
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy / Horror: Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones is the 5th Crestomanci book and so much fun to read. My favorite "new to me" author is Elizabeth Hand. I will be reviewing a bunch of her books later in the year.

What about you? Are you on the leading edge of reading or a year or so behind like me?


Comments (60)


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Comment #1: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 03:35:30

lisa (the little reader)

oh, i'm definitely more like you. i do some early reviews, but i mostly read off of my own shelf or from the library and prefer to read books i know i'll enjoy, rather than what's hot.

i know that feeling of commercialized book blogging can be alluring and works great for some bloggers, but i agree with you that reading at your own pace and discretion is more fulfilling.

Comment #2: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:20:33


There was a time when getting the ARCs in my mailbox was exciting. And there's the temptation with the e-galleys available now but I've found I'm most happy reading to my own quirks, especially while I'm in school.

Comment #3: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 08:57:46

Joe Wallace

I, for one, eagerly await your review of Diamond Ruby! (Thanks, Sarah....)

Comment #4: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:24:25


It's written. I'll bump it to the top of the pile of reviews to post.

Comment #5: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 09:45:49


I am new to the book blogging world, but am already finding myself getting stressed out about what I read and post. I too am way behind, as I like to haunt second hand stores and libraries for my books, though I do buy new ones too. I have had to think about who I am doing this for and have decided to say no more often when people ask for reviews, especially on timelines.

Comment #6: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:25:34


If it's a hobby, there should be no "behind." Post what and when you want to. Don't let it stress you out unless you're being paid as a professional reviewer or blogger.

Comment #7: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 11:28:41


The thrillers sounds great, will go read your reviews.

Comment #8: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:28:12


The Penny Warner books are more cozy than thriller but they're excellent nonetheless.

Comment #9: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 11:49:14


I wouldn't say that I'm on the leading edge. I pick up most of my books from the library, so I'm often behind, also. I do include the occasional ARC from time-to-time, too, but I don't really bother to read the ones I wouldn't pick up from the shelf at the library. The words in the book aren't going to change while it waits for me, so I'm not usually in a huge rush to get to the next new thing.

Comment #10: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:30:14


Right. I only pick ARCs that sound interesting to me. But even those, I'd often prefer to wait and read library copies than try to get them reviewed before they're published.

Comment #11: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 12:03:02


I try to review a mix of old and new. If I only reviewed new, I'd miss reading my old favorite authors. I seem to have found the right balance.

Comment #12: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:32:20


Reading from the wishlist seems to give me the right balance between old and new. I just also need to remember to include books from my at home TBR.

Comment #13: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 13:29:37


Very, very cool to read about your reading/posting habits. What is more cool is that you are addicted to Fullmetal Alchemist. Now, you are reading the series whereas my addiction lies with the Anime. I posted about this addiction of mine here.

Comment #14: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:33:32


I'm addicted to the manga because I've seen all the anime I can. I'm waiting for Part 3 of Brotherhood from Netflix. So while I wait, I read.

Comment #15: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 13:51:27


I only posted three books I've read this year as favorites. One was published in America this year, one is from 2007 and one is from 1967. So, yeah, a lot of my reading is not the new, hot book.

Comment #16: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:39:35


All of the books I listed were published this decade but only one was published this year.

Comment #17: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 13:55:58

Marie Burton

I think many book bloggers eventually follow your path, and at least try to get themselves to the point where they are not swamped with review books. (waves!)

I am looking forward to this summer when I can read some oldies but goodies that have been collecting dust on my shelves. Jean Plaidy/V Holt, and Georgette Heyer to name a few. And then onwards to those 2009 reads =)

My 2011 List is here, if you like Historical fiction, here are some good ones.

Comment #18: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:42:35


I have some Holts on my TBR pile too.

Comment #19: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 13:59:54


I am literally never up to date with books! I almost never read them as soon as they came out, and the newest book I've read this year is Room, which, I realise, I'm basically a year behind with! And I've never really minded this, to be honest.

Comment #20: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 11:45:35


I know what you mean. It seems like Room just came out and now I remember hearing about it while I was working for the Census. That was last year!

Comment #21: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 16:03:01

Ann @Semisweet

Hi, I love your post! Can I just ask, do you think that your reviews became more...honest, or candid perhaps when you stopped writing for publishers/publicists? I'm just wondering, I in no way mean it as a judgement. Although now saying that makes it sound like maybe I do...oh sheesh... ha ha.

Comment #22: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:46:00


No. I'm a terrible liar and a worse suck-up. What has changed is the perception of honesty. And I don't mean by readers of the blog but perhaps to the overall outside perception of bloggers being in it for the "swag."

Comment #23: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 16:09:53


Because of work, I read a lot of brand spanking new works. For pleasure, I tend to go way back or if I find an author that I really liked, I will read all of his or her works in a streak. I guess that is my long winded way of saying that I am all over the place.

Both you and Chris touched on finding a balance in your comments. That is really key when you have been doing it for a while. I still struggle with it.

Comment #24: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:51:00


If I end up working in a library (and I hope I do), I can see my reading being more current too.

Comment #25: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 16:41:44


Oh, a year or so behind... for sure! It's impossible to keep up I think!

Comment #26: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:55:04


I could keep up if I wanted to completely ignore all the other books I've wanted to read. I don't, however, want to do that.

Comment #27: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 16:54:57

Laurel-Rain Snow

I like your reading approach. While I do read some new books, they're not the "hot" trends, but tried-and-true authors.

Thanks for visiting my blog.

Comment #28: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 14:56:05


I certainly give my favorite authors preferential treatment when chosing what to read next. When I do read a book that's currently "hot" it's usually completely by accident.

Comment #29: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 17:40:53


Of course I'm years behind! I do like to mix some brand-new-releases in with the rest of my reading; it's best for my library patrons, for one thing, if I have some clue of what's coming out right now. And, when I purchase and process new books, I can't help but get excited about some of them sometimes. But certainly the minority of the books I read have been published in the last two years. Heck, I'll never be caught up on the classics, no matter how hard I try; and I could never read all the new buzz books either. I spread myself around just as I please. :)

Comment #30: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 at 15:00:14


If the day comes that I have patrons (and I hope it does) I will do my best to keep up to date with the new releases and I will do it with enthusiasm. For the moment though I am happily reading as I please.

Comment #31: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 19:20:59


It sounds nice to be reading what you want when you want to. I pine for those days. I've requested and accepted way too many books from NetGalley so I have to finish those. But there are so many books on my TBR list that I'd love to read today, not weeks from now. I still have books from 2010 waiting to be read.

But I like visiting blogs that have reviews for books that have some of these older releases so that I can find books I might have missed or books that have gotten lost in the push of new releases.

I'll definitely be stopping by to check out some of your reviews.

Comment #32: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:24:32


Even though you requested the NetGalley copies you're not obligated to review or even read them. I requested a bunch too but I've found the reading process disastifying and often times not a very good representation of the final product. I probably will stop requesting and reading via NetGalley.

Comment #33: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 22:13:29

Michelle @ The True Book Addict

I actually read a lot of older books too. I've read 16 books so far this year (I know...a disgrace!) and only 2 of them were 2011 releases. With my massive home library of 3000+ books, I have enough books to last me the rest of my life without reading any new releases. *L*

Comment #34: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:28:21


Zero books would be a disgrace. Sixteen is a decent number. There have been years where I've only read a couple dozen.

Comment #35: Tuesday, May, 24, 2011 at 23:13:14


I am definitely on the leading edge more and more often. I used to lag behind dreadfully but am trying to get better about reading and reviewing books near their release date.

Thanks for sharing some of your favorites!

Comment #36: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:31:31


Until I get paid to review books in a professional manner, I'm not going stress over getting reviews out by release date.

Comment #37: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 00:18:49


My kids love the Elephant and Piggie books. We like to take turns reading the character's lines and act out the parts with puppets.

Comment #38: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:33:01


Sounds like fun. We could even make our own puppets first.

Comment #39: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 00:57:12


This is a very interesting point.
I like your view of this. I even like how you put a chart in there :)

Comment #40: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:33:01


I put the chart in to show how similar my reading is to the GoodReads general population. They posted a chart in the blog post I linked to.

Comment #41: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 01:30:52

The Book Mystress

I like your way of thinking, i frequent the book section of my opshops and the second hand book fair is a must for me, i do also like the newer ones, i pretty much read every genre and i like the smell of new books and being a part of the crowd that makes a author "the next big author." i love how every one is different in how they read

Comment #42: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:37:13


I get the newer ones via my library or through my BookCrossing friends. The older ones I either already have on my shelves at home or I can find through the charity or used book shops.

Comment #43: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 01:58:06

Bonnie Jacobs

I'm not interested in being "on the leading edge." I have accepted only one book from a publicist this year, and I haven't reviewed it yet. I did, however, mention it as a book I was reading. As I say on my blog, I read to explore ideas, and to do that, I don't have to have books published this year. I have never wanted to be "commercial" about my blogging, so I read what I choose and review only when I have something to say.

Comment #44: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:46:15


It's nice to just keep track of what I'm currently interested in or what I'm reading for school and not worry about current trends.

Comment #45: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 02:41:52


I'll admit that I like to try and stay on top of things. :) I do like to try and read older books too, but with so many great releases coming out in such a steady stream, I'll admit that most of the time, the older books that I do pick up are often from earlier in a series for an upcoming release. I also try to read and review books that I've owned before I created my blog as well but will admit that usually I'm fighting to keep up with upcoming releases--not that I mind too much. :)

But I can agree that it's definitely about what you truly enjoy reading, not what's hot and new.

Comment #46: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:50:24


I'm just oblivious to the upcoming releases. It's not just books, it's pretty much everything. I couldn't even tell you what's currently playing in a movie theater or coming out soon without looking it up first.

Comment #47: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 04:02:47

Jennifer A

I totally understand where you're coming from.

I'm a new blogger, and I'm just barely finding my blogging style - what feels right to me. My goal is to blog the way I want to. I read what I want to, when I want to.

I think my blog is focused on the more popular stuff, because that's what I want to read, not because someone told me to.

I have read a couple books for the authors themselves, but only because I really wanted to, and with the stipulation that the review would be honest.

Comment #48: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:50:24


Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. Have fun. As long as it's a hobby, don't let it become a chore.

Comment #49: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 06:38:06

Booklover Book Reviews

I am often about 6mths behind publication dates, I have so many great books waiting for me on my shelves at home. Since I got my Kindle and found NetGalley that has brought me closer to current, and has not helped my TBR pile! Completely agree with you on the review roundabout. I am very selective about what I agree to review also - I make sure I am reading what I want too.

Comment #50: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 10:57:03


I don't have an ereader but I have to do a lot of PDF reading for school on my computer. After all that time looking at a screen the last thing I want to do is read a book for fun (or review) on a screen. I've decided it's probably best to stop taking most review requests.

Comment #51: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 08:51:46


Thanks for stopping by my blog!!

Great post! — I've definitely been reevaluating my own reading since I've started blogging, too — I love finding bloggers like you — Oftentimes it seems like so many of us have read the books before they're even on the shelves, and it can be really easy to get caught up in that. But reading what I love and being able to share it with other readers is what makes it worthwhile to me :D

Comment #52: Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 11:01:25


Library school has made me re-evaluate how I think about reading. I'm glad you like my blog. I look forward to exchanging comments in the future.

Comment #53: Wednesday, May, 25, 2011 at 15:18:09

Bob Reiss

Thanks for this post.

One thing I always remind myself is that I am doing this for fun. It's one of the reasons I don't have a lot of negative reviews on my site. If I dislike a book that much, why bother continuing, For audiobooks, I usually have about a two hour cutoff.

I have worked with a few publishers, but usually for books that I pursue. If I don't think I would like it, I'm not going to listen to it, whether it's free or not.

Comment #54: Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 13:34:51


I will post negative reviews for books I expected to like but didn't. But most of my reviews are three and four stars out of five stars.

Comment #55: Thursday, May, 26, 2011 at 08:26:36

Meg @ A Bookish Affair

I get a lot of my books from the library meaning that I usually read things from prior years since I can't get the new books right away.

Comment #56: Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 13:34:51


Except for the most popular novels, my library runs nine months to a year behind release dates. But I don't mind.

Comment #57: Thursday, May, 26, 2011 at 13:12:46


I like to be somewhere in between. I do enjoy reading a new release now and then, but I also like to read what's already on my shelves (mostly books from the last 15 years) as well as some classics. I think everyone has to find the balance that works for him/her!

Comment #58: Thursday, May 26, 2011 at 13:40:31


Your reading sounds exactly like mine. Some new, a lot of off the TBR (mine goes back 20+ years) and some classics.

Comment #59: Saturday, May, 28, 2011 at 09:23:03


I do a little of both- backlisters and new releases- and I enjoy getting ARCs so I won't be giving that up anytime soon. Besides, all backlisted books were new releases at one point, right? :) I can certainly understand your feelings but I'm not sure I'd agree with your characterization of it as a "librarian's approach" to blogging, as you said on my blog. I don't know about you but I know as a librarian myself I need to stay on top of what's new so I can share it with my patrons.

Comment #60: Saturday, May 28, 2011 at 18:52:32


I was just trying to say that my blog isn't completely focused on new releases. It's a mixture of new, recent and old and a large portion of what I read (around 60%) comes from my local library system. Part of why I don't read releases as they are first out is that I have to wait for them at the library. My library can take anywhere from three months to a year to purchase a book after it's first released. As I'm not reading ARCs, I'm not a blog focused on posting reviews before a release date.