Being a Blogger

silverlinings-2Today I'm here to talk about something I've been thinking a lot about recently, particularly in how it relates to my reading. Has being a book reviewer and blogger changed my tastes, criticism, and general experience relating to books?I'm an intense personality when it comes to this - young adult literature and publishing - and seeing myself as I am now compared to four (!) years ago is positively astonishing.I never would have guessed that I would have gotten the opportunities that I have today, and I consider myself blessed. But it was only when I started scheduling when I had to read certain books, planned around my upcoming SAT and AP Bio tests, that I truly began to wonder how much it's changed me as a reader.For one, I'm more aware of books before they come out. I never go into a bookstore without running into titles that I already know about. Being a book blogger, a lot of my job is knowing what's coming out and where the industry's headed, and really predicting what might be good. Now if I go into a store and see a book I don't know, it makes me doubt it; I'm not sure whether I should take a risk or not. A part of me misses flipping through random pages, not knowing author names and statistics. (But I love this so much that I can never go back.)I attribute part of the blind-reading loss to Borders shutting down because the YA section in my Borders was HUGE and so I was always stumbling upon new titles. Barnes & Noble, and my local indies, have significantly smaller selections. I'm still in mourning over Borders closing.I'm more critical in reading. I've read almost a thousand books since starting this blog. That's a lot of reading material, a lot of characters and informations. I can notice patterns and similarities, trends and writers that go off the beaten path. I like to think of myself as being a decent blogger and making those connections is what allows me to feel successful in my recommendations; at the same time, my reading style's changed pretty drastically because I don't just sink into the book with no semblance of why I enjoy it. I analyze characters, plot devices, tropes and ideas and beautiful prose for what it was that made it stand out to me, what might appeal to other readers. As I venture further into my academic life, that analytical eye has helped me with rhetoric and arguments, granting me access to valuable skills. At the same time, I feel like there are some books I'm unnecessarily critical of, but would otherwise have enjoyed if I hadn't been exposed to all the background knowledge of the bookish world.While it's something to think about in regards to my reading/writing/thinking, I still enjoy books just as much as I did when I was the awkward eleven-year-old reading on the bleachers at recess. I just enjoy them a little differently.I'm less shy. Honestly, I am so proud of myself for this. Blogging has given me so much more confidence in my abilities, my voice, and myself as a person. I struggled a lot in middle school - as everyone does - and because I have something to ground me, it's really helped. I'm an introvert for sure, although because I write, it doesn't always show. Because I've gotten used to having an audience, it's improved my public speaking, ability to share my work, and even being brave enough to talk to people that I never would have normally. Obviously, it's a personal process and I'm still very very shy but that's juxtaposed with my ability to talk about it.I'm so grateful for this blog. It's really changed me as a reader and as a person, so thank y'all all for sticking with me through it! Let's see what October brings.