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Our Reading Lives

2019: The Year I Stopped Paying Attention to Bookish Buzz

Laura Sackton

Senior Contributor

Laura Sackton is a queer book nerd and freelance writer, known on the internet for loving winter, despising summer, and going overboard with extravagant baking projects. In addition to her work at Book Riot, she reviews for BookPage and AudioFile, and writes a weekly newsletter, Books & Bakes, celebrating queer lit and tasty treats. You can catch her on Instagram shouting about the queer books she loves and sharing photos of the walks she takes in the hills of Western Mass (while listening to audiobooks, of course).

It happens all the time: I see a fellow Rioter jumping up and down on bookstagram about a buzzy title coming out next month. I get news that that author who wrote that kickass debut two years ago has a new novel coming out this spring, and everyone is squealing with excitement. Someone tells me that the second installment in that YA fantasy series that everybody is raving about is finally out this summer, yaaaay!

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My instinct, every time the bookish internet starts buzzing about a new book by an author whose work I have ever enjoyed even a little bit, or about the sequel to a book that I once liked, even if I can’t even remember the main character’s name, is to run as fast as I can to the nearest “request” button.

It’s so exciting! There’s no time to lose! I definitely need to put that book on hold at my library ASAP, or pop over to Edelweiss to see if I can snag a review copy, or recommend the audiobook to my library via Libby so I’ll get on the waitlist as soon as the library buys it. I have done all of these things more times than I can count. I hear about a new book, my brain says “must have!” and a few weeks or months later, I’m reading a book that, while perfectly good, I’m not really in the mood for at all.

Until recently, I never stopped to think about whether I was actually excited about the book, or if I just thought I should be because other people were. Then, a few weeks ago, I heard about a book coming out this summer by an author whose first book I enjoyed. I was at my library’s homepage, my finger hovering over the request button, when it suddenly hit me: did I really want to read this book the moment it came out? Was I really that excited about it? Sure, I enjoyed this author’s debut novel. Sure, I was intrigued by this new novel and would probably want to read it one day. But did I need to have it right now? No. There were other books I wanted to read more. I took a deep breath and closed the webpage without requesting the book.

It felt like freedom. I was giddy with it. It was like I’d gotten away with something! Everyone else was jumping up and down about a book, but it turned out that I didn’t have to be one of the first hundred people to read it. I could wait a month, or a year, or five years, and that book would still be there, patiently waiting for me.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of new releases. It is exciting, after all, and buzz is good for authors, and I’m not a grinch who is never going to read a buzzy new release in the year it is published ever again. But I’m done letting other people dictate what I should read next. I’m done looking longingly at the books on my Goodreads to-read shelf, before sighing and going back to the stack of library books on my counter that I requested in a fit of  “must have now.”

2019 is the year I’m letting the buzz go. This doesn’t mean that I’m ignoring it entirely. It just means I’m no longer blanket-requesting new books. Now I actually make myself think about the new book everyone is talking about. Did this author’s first book utterly floor me? Have I been anxiously awaiting this sequel for years? Is this an author whose work I love so much that I sometimes scroll through their Twitter (even though I’m not even on Twitter) desperately trying to learn when their next book is coming out?

If the answer to these questions is yes, I still cannot hit that request button fast enough. But if the answer is no…well, goodbye, buzz. I get to decide what I’m excited about and what can wait. I read what I want.