Before I became addicted to NetGalley, I didn't read a book unless I was in the frame of mind for its genre. I used to be a die-hard mood reader, and straying from that path had catastrophic results. If I was in the mood to read fantasy, and I picked up a mystery book, the odds were stacked fairly high on me disliking the book or DNF'ing it. If I wanted to read romance and I pushed myself to read a horror novel, I would have the same results. This would all lead to unfinished and lowly rated books that I knew I would enjoy under my “usual” reading circumstances, until I would fall into an eventual reading slump that would last weeks, if not months.
I had been a member of NetGalley years back, but I'd never really given it the attention that it deserved. But once I started my reading blog, I picked up speed on my use of the site.
I've also dabbled in similar sites like Edelweiss+ and BookSirens, but NetGalley is home.
While the genres available in NetGalley are plentiful, I stick to my favorites of fantasy, mystery, romance, sci-fi, thriller, historical fiction and horror. The age group that a story is geared towards doesn't matter to me, but I poke along those seven groups as a rule.
Here's the thing, though: once you request a handful of books that you want, and they're different genres, and they're granted to you—which means that the publishing house is now counting on you to read that book, rate it, review it, and tells others about it—you no longer have the luxury of being a mood reader if you want to take this seriously and be trusted on future requests.
I keep a spreadsheet of all the books that I request and their release dates, so that if they are ARCs, I can try to read them then post a review on Goodreads and here on my blog. Since this means that I read them in chronological order, I might read a horror book today, and in two or three days when I'm finished, my next book to read might be a romance. Or a sci-fi story for middle graders. Or a historical fiction novel about WWII. If I want to get through that list of books to be read, I have to shove aside my propensity for being a mood reader and get out of my comfort zone a little bit.
My instant fear was that I wouldn't be able to do it. I figured—prematurely disappointed in myself—that this wouldn't work, that eventually I would have to get over the ARC requests, and that I would go back to living my common reader's life (it's a thrill to read a book before its release, I won't lie!). But, I challenged myself, and it worked.
Regardless of how much fun I have browsing through those newly listed books in NetGalley on a daily basis, keeping track of my future reads, internally freaking out about being rejected for a novel, writing reviews and being as organized as possible with it all...ARCs changed my reading habits. I don't know when it was that I picked up the pattern of reading a book only if I was in the mood for that genre—which lasted months sometimes—but I stuck with it for years. Often, this habit would keep me from reading books that I'd been wildly interested in when they released, because by the time that I was ready to read it, I no longer wanted to do so until I was “in the mood” for it again.
Now, I tackle my next read with the same enthusiasm that I did before, but without worrying about the category that it falls into. All that I care about is enjoying the book, finding its little special nugget of goodness that makes a story special, and letting others know about it so that they can hopefully appreciate it as much as I have.