I know I’m not alone when I say I’m behind on books I have for review. Sometimes it’s because my eyes were bigger than my … eyes? (Yeah, that metaphor doesn’t work for books the way it works for food.) Or sometimes it’s because a book that I really wanted to read somehow lost its luster along the way and I wasn’t excited about it anymore. For whatever reason, not every book I have for review has gotten read. But recently I’ve been making a concerted effort to read some of those older review titles that have been waiting for me.
Some strategies I’ve used lately to catch up on those review books:
- Sign up for blog tours.
Nowadays, when I sign up for a blog tour, it’s almost always for a book I already have for review. So, why bother signing up for a tour, you ask? Because then I have a deadline. I mean, you could argue that the release date is a deadline anyway, but no one’s checking my blog on release day to make sure I posted that review. And no matter how much I tell myself that I need to get the book read before release, sometimes … I don’t. But I always have a review up for my tour date. Plus, I get to offer up a giveaway for my readers, so it’s really a win all around!
- Listen to audiobooks.
Here’s a weird thing: In my mind, audiobooks are like “bonus” books. They aren’t required reading, and I don’t push myself to get them done faster. Anything I read via audio feels to me like just extra use of time that would otherwise be ignored (like while I’m in the car or while I’m sorting laundry or doing dishes). I get lots of “extra” reading done via audiobooks, but lately I’ve also been finding audiobooks at my library that I have for review that I never got to. I listen to them and it feels like I somehow snuck an extra review book in! Plus, this strategy is great for books that I was originally excited about reading but then sort of lost interest in for one reason or another—especially if it’s because some so-so reviews came in and people said the book was slow. I’ve discovered that I have a way higher tolerance for books with pacing issues when I listen. Probably because I listen in snippets anyway, so the pacing isn’t as critical. Plus, listening to a great narrator read to you is just generally entertaining.
- Request WAY less.
Obviously, I can’t ever catch up if I keep requesting at a ridiculous rate. Lately, I’ve been a whole lot better about this, though. Which brings me to my next point…
- Review one book for every one I’ve received.
Some of you have seen that I do this because I have it as a goal in my monthly wrap-up posts. I’ve made it a point this year of making sure that I’m reading at least one review book for every book I receive for review (even if it’s unsolicited). This way, I don’t get even further behind. As of November, I was ahead of the goal on this, so it’s been working well.
- Clear out those really old books.
Okay, so there are some books that I’ve had for years that I’ve never reviewed. Some of them are from events like BEA, some are random unsolicited books that were sent to me, and some are NetGalley books I accepted early in my blogging years but never got to. I had good intentions when I took these books, but at some point, I just have to cut my losses and realize that I’m not going to manage to read them all. I finally took some of the physical books off my shelf and donated them (much guilt was involved). For the NetGalley ones, I’m doing my best to read one now and then, even if I’m fairly certain I’m not going to like it, but I’m giving myself permission to skim read if one really isn’t working for me. If I can’t give it at least three stars, I put a basic review in Goodreads and move on. This gleaning of books has been a semi-painful process, but it’s necessary.
I’m good about keeping up with review books because I don’t like things hanging over my head. I use a lot of the strategies you mention. ? I think the biggest strategy I use is not requesting too many books at once.
I’m proud of you for being organized. I learned long ago that organization isn’t my strong point, and I’ve learned to accept it for the most part. Still, solid schedules (like for blog tours) help me a lot.
I have been signing up for tours of books I have. Never thought of it as a way to motivate me to review the book, but it definitely does. My subconscious was telling me something there, huh? I have also started listening to audiobooks for past due reviews (doing it right now, as a matter of fact). I do, as a rule, review every book I read, but sometimes I don’t review as fast as I read.
I review almost every book I read, but now I don’t review books that wouldn’t be at least rounded up to 4 stars, so that means a few less reviews (though not many, since I tend to end up at 4 or more stars a lot).
I definitely try and accept a lot less books, though I don’t get asked to review a ton…so really it’s down to me not requesting things on Netgalley (and again, I don’t get accepted for a ton; I find it’s hard for me to get YA books for example) so overall, I feel like I’m doing well. I definitely want to do even better in 2019 though so I can keep reading all those books I own, though I’ve certainly had to cull some of them that I just know I probably won’t ever get to.
For me the conference books are the worst when it comes to culling. I hold onto them because I feel guilty, but there are some that I finally had to just admit I wasn’t interested in reading anymore for one reason or another.
I definitely have a problem with books losing their luster. If I don’t read a book within a few weeks of getting it, there’s a good chance that it will sit on my shelf for a year before I force myself to read it. Smaller hauls are going to be my plan next year.
Yeah, sometimes you’re really excited about a book, but then if you don’t get to it right away, the excitement fades. It’s very sad!
I’m definitely behind on review books. It’s really hard to keep up at times. Back when I started blogging/reviewing Netgalley didn’t keep up with percents or anything like that so I requested a lot of books. Books that I never should have requested. I really need to do what you’re doing and skim some of them to get them reviewed. This year I have a goal to at least keep up with my new arc’s for 2019! I’m hoping I can at least do that this year. It’s really hard when I’m sent dozens that I don’t request for each month. We shall see. Great post and I love your ideas on how to get caught up!
Now that I only review books on the blog that I would give at least 4 stars (or at least round up to 4 stars), I feel less pressure to keep reading books I’m not enjoying. I’m not great at DNFing, but skimming seems to work well for me.
I am working hard to get caught up with all of my old arcs. I seem to think that I can read more than I actually am able to. I have been putting a lot of thought into my plan to get caught up in the next year. I want to limit the new review books that I take on to one per week or 52 for the year. I already have a spreadsheet set up to help me keep track of this. The other thing that I just started at the beginning of this month is to rotate a new review book, then an old review book, then whatever I feel like. When it is time to choose a new book to start, I must pick from whatever category is next on the list. I hope that by the end of the year, I should get a lot of these books cleaned up. Blog tours do help me get done by the deadline and I have been using audiobooks to catch up on books as well.
I think that rotation is a great idea—and the spreadsheet. I just might do that next year as well!
I am hopeless when it comes to being caught up on reviews. Every once in a while I get on a reading jag and then all of a sudden I have 20 books that I’ve read … and not one review. I’ll have to come at it from some other angle.
Have you ever noticed if you’ve lost something and you look for it, and think about it, and look for it, and worry about it. The more you look (and worry), I think we might not notice as much as per usual. Then I go do something else for a while and all of a sudden, voila, the ‘thing’ is back. Although, I guess my “something else” shouldn’t be reading a book….
I sometimes do that too where I have a bunch of books I’ve read but haven’t reviewed. We have good intentions, but sometimes it just feels impossible to stay on top of everything! And I think that if you’re going to do “something else” reading a book is a great choice. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your tips on how to catch up on review books. I just did a clean up of two books that I had from Netgalley from a couple of years ago that I am not interested in reading anymore.
I never thought of it before but I can see how joining a blog tour can encourage me to post reviews on time. I think I may adapt this in the future.
The one that I try apply on myself now is to request books one at a time. It’s a first in, first out kind of thing. Once I got approved for a book I won’t request another until I posted a review for the first one. But sometimes I don’t have enough self-restraint to follow self-imposed rules like right now, I have two books in queue instead of just one.
That is a very good review policy—one at a time is definitely the best way to do it if you can be self-disciplined enough to stick to it.
I can see how signing up for the blog tour would – because then you have a deadline. But then again, then you have a deadline. LOL Audiobooks are awesome. I almost always have one in the works. I’ve virtually stopped requesting arcs at all. I have a very small handful of favorite authors that I’ll request from but otherwise… nothing. I miss reading my own books on my own schedule and it feels good to get back to that. 🙂
I like that I have a freer reading schedule now, but I definitely want deadlines for my review books. I just plain NEED them. 🙂
It’s funny, because I have been signing up for blogs tours so I actually write the reviews! Like- I am boss at reading them on time- but not so much the actual reviewing and posting! I only do it if I liked the book of course, but this way I KNOW I have to schedule the review, like you said. It’s really handy! I had been doing a really good job of requesting less. Until I didn’t. Idk what happened but somehow I ended up with 10 books that all come out on February 5th? It’s… a mess.
And if I am being completely honest, I do not even count conference books or unsolicited books as “for-review” because otherwise I’d die. Like unless it is a MUST-read, sorry books!
Yeah, tours just give me that extra little push I need to get the review written (and the book read, honestly). I need to know that someone is specifically checking my blog on a certain date in order to force me to stay on schedule.
I consider audiobooks as bonus books too. Lately I’ve been listening to them at the gym instead of music and it’s awesome! Good luck catching up!
Yes, it feels like you got in “extra” reading when you listen to an audiobook.
It sounds like you have some solid strategies! ♥ I’m happy when I’m organized lol, so I usually have my review finished before I even start that next book. I’ll write it out really quick and then I will tweak or state my thoughts more clearly when I’m reading that next book. I let myself skip a few reviews a year, books I don’t have much positive or negative to say, and usually they are Kindle Unlimited books but I’ll still give them a rating on Goodreads.
You are MUCH more organized than me. I’ve stopped trying to fight my true nature, though. 🙂
I finally realized the only thing that will work for me is requesting way lesser than what I usually do. I have been doing that and catching up on some of the backlist books this year. And more or less I have been happy about it.
I’ve been pretty good about requesting less, but I’ve definitely had my moments of weakness. 🙂
I can identify with your dilemma. I have some NetGalley books from 2015 that I still haven’t read…
In the new year I intend to request much less (unless it is a favorite author of mine)
My review commitments as of today stand at 188.
I probably have a few that go back that far as well. I’m determined to get them off my plate!
I like to set artificial deadlines… for some reason that helps me get to past books. I don’t have that many but have been wanting to clear my plate and have none so have worked on that in December… I’m almost clear!! Good luck Nicole, these are other great ideas I need to try.
I set artificial deadlines, but they don’t work nearly as well as actual deadlines where someone is literally waiting for my post and checking up on it. I always find myself sliding on the ones that I set for myself.
I love the tips that you shared for culling the review pile. I can relate to requesting less books for review. As I cut back on the number of review requests that I accept, I’ve also been sent less request, which is helpful since (1) I don’t have the temptation to over-request and (2) the ones that I do accept are for books that I’m more invested in.
A tip that I can especially use is the audiobook one since I commute over two hours round trip every weekday for work.
I also like the idea of reading an old Netgalley ARC now and then. I only just realized how many old Netgalley books I never got to in my early days, and it’s been bothering me, though I know I should cut my losses. I’m going to set the goal to open one each month because it’ll make me happy to see that number of un-reviewed books go down 🙂
I started reading an old NetGalley one yesterday, and so far I’m enjoying it a lot more than I expected to.
I try to stay focused on reading for a review and most times it works out. I don’t like getting too involved in reading just to review it for a tour. I like the option of reading what I want to read and not having that deadline. But, it’s nice getting a newer book to read once and a while.
I just find that I’m not disciplined enough to keep up with my review books without that extra deadline that a tour gives me. That’s just me, though.
I have so many books from past conferences like BEA, and now from last summer’s ALA.I’m also trying to sign up for tours that I do reviews on for books I already have if at all possible. Other than romance books, I sign up for authors that I love on those. But for YA, I have so many ARCs that getting scheduled on a tour makes me kind of accountable to read them. Great post! I’m like 8 books behind for the year, and I’d really like to get them all done before 2019.
Exactly. I need that accountability.
Great tips! I have found that clearing out books that I picked up on a whim but am no longer interested in helps with my anxiety around my TBR stack immensely!
Yes, I have such a hard time with that, but it helps a lot if I can manage it! 🙂
I’ve gotten to the point where I only sign up for blog tours where I already have the ARC as well. Having that added deadline really helps me too. You’ve got some great strategies here. I’m actually caught up with my review books at the moment but I know I’ll fall behind again soon so I’ll be keeping these in mind. Great post!
I’m so impressed (and jealous) that you’re all caught up. I’m getting closer, but I don’t know that I’ll ever completely catch up!
*Reading* the review books isn’t a problem for me, actually *reviewing* them though seems to take me forever! I think it’s because I like to throw myself into a review, and I don’t always have the time or energy to do that!
Lately, I don’t feel like I have the time or energy to read OR review. It’s been a bit of a dry spell for me.
Umm… I am terrible with keeping up with review copies :'( I have lost interest in reviewing ebooks which is really sad, because I have so many! I am much better at keeping up with my physical review copies because I usually have a deadline and I feel pressured to send back an email with a link because it actually goes to the publisher and receives a reply. I recommend ebook review copies a lot LOT less. Like, maybe once every three months, and then I actually review those ones. But I have a lot of old copies I need to clear out and at some point I am going to have to tackle them. I know that and hopefully I can apply some of these tips!
I’m actually horrible about remembering to contact the publisher when I review (unless it’s a publisher that I’ve specifically emailed—I’ horrible when it comes to unsolicited books). I have to get better about that!