I remember being in middle school and convincing my dad to buy me fantasy books from Amazon for my birthday.
When he finally consented, I was over the moon. Before that, all the books I’ve read were either from the school library (which was quite limited) or borrowed from friends. But to own my own books, start my own collection? Something I’d never thought possible. Back when I only had the school library, I made it my goal to read almost every science fiction or fantasy book in it.
Let me tell you straight up, that is HARD. I would check out books and keep reading their blurbs and really couldn’t get into some of them. I read books published as far as from 1973 (The Dark is Rising sequence) to the more popular and recent ones (like the pile of James Patterson books that dominate middle school literature). The ability to search for books outside the realm of my library was wonderful and eye-opening. I could now find books that really interested me, beyond a simple “Oh this sounds good” to a more profound “ZAYUM I need this book in my hands.”
I remember how I used to pull out a calculator and estimate what I could buy to save the most, make lists for books that I would buy later, and getting into my eBook phase.
Since my mom isn’t a large proponent of reading, eBooks saved my life. Not only were the majority of them cheaper than physical books, but I could read it last thing before going to bed and first thing after waking up. They’re also probably why my eyesight is absolutely atrocious, but I have no regrets staying up all night and reading until I fell asleep. I know both eBooks and physical books have their ups and downs, but it was so convenient to be able to read whenever I wanted without worrying about ruining the conditions of my books. Oh! And I also discovered checking out eBooks from the library – of which there was a much larger variety of books to choose from.
I remember the first time I met authors in real life, freshman year of high school.
It was a tour called YA Chicks Kickin’ It, and although the name of the event wasn’t really my style, I was quite intrigued with the books featured. The authors that visitied were Anna Banks, Christina Farley, Jessica Brody, Amy Christine Parker, and Jessica Khoury. Fun enough, they actually came to my school – a backwater school that can’t even spell “Ketchup” right on its labels. It was so eye-opening, being able to ask questions to the authors and discover the behind-the-scenes on publishing books. Some of their books weren’t my style, but I did end up loving others. They were some of the very first reviews I posted on this blog.
I remember being introduced to Goodreads, and spending a whole night adding books that I’ve read, making non-reviews on them (more like comments on how I liked them), and adding weird bookshelf names.
This was also around the time the authors came over to visit. Seeing people’s reviews on Goodreads and meeting those authors were the two factors that sprung up the inspiration for a book blog, which started around March 2014. That’s right – almost two years ago. I posted reviews about once a month, never got comments, never commented back, and never knew that there was a sphere of bloggers around reading. It’s actually kind of embarrassing. I don’t have a blogversary because technically the day I started blogging wasn’t the day I started blogging, if you know what I mean. My first post is all sorts of embarrassment.
I remember first creating a Twitter, and discovering all the amazing things the book community had to offer.
I’m not even sure what made me blog more insistently, but it happened December 2014. My post count rose from 2 the previous months to about 10. All reviews, too! Some were classics that I read for English, while others were just ones that I chose and read at my leisure, depending on my mood. But then I started commenting back on blogs, and getting people to comment on mine, and doing fun features, and before I knew it, I was part of this awesome community that I (as I think about it now, subconsciously) sought when starting my blog.
I don’t remember when I first heard of an ARC, or where or why or how or which ARC.
All I remember is one day I’m staying up until 12 am to download Champion by Marie Lu on my Kindle the DAY IT CAME OUT and reading it then and there, and the next day I’m looking at people review books that don’t come out until after three months. I was so confused, and I remember Googling “What are ARCs” to get a better idea of what these bloggers were vying for.
I remember thinking, “Hm, that’s cool that we get to read books before publication, but I still have so many published books in my TBR right now haha.”
And moving onto the next topic. It wasn’t a revelation for me, nor was it all “Hallelujah” chorus. You’re talking to a girl that reads a book the day it releases and waits another year or so for the next to come out. I shrugged the matter off and laughed a little because my patience knows no bounds (or so I thought).
I remember first experiencing ARC envy.
It was… it was weird. Like, I knew I had an unexplainable obsession to own this ARC. I entered all the giveaways I could for it, stalked all the reviews, and even debated to beg for a copy from reviewers who gave it low reviews. God, thinking about how I acted is embarassing in and of itself. I was so petty, you know? Getting this dumb emotion of envy when other people have been working hard for their copies, or are just lucky with giveaways. I never really felt malicious thoughts towards a person or author, it was just my own sense of distrust towards the world in general. The feeling of, “Why not me?” All for 400 pages of written word.
I remember getting that book in hardcover the day it came out and finishing it that day. I also know that each time I look at that copy, I get a new wave of embarassment towards the way I behaved months prior to its release.
The book was A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas, and in the end I gave it 4.5 stars. It was a good book! But so, so not worth that angst. The funny thing is, all that angst played out in my head, affected my body. Each time I saw I wasn’t a giveaway winner, it was my stomach that felt the ache of disappointment. Each time I saw a negative review, it was my head that felt a tornado pass through it, all with the raging thought of “Why not me then?” This all happened internally, and I never complained about it aloud or made a big deal about it – except for in my head. It’s funny, knowing that what you’re feeling is irrational yet still feeling it nonetheless.
I know that the feelings you have towards not having the ARC you want is inevitable sometimes (face it, we’re all human), but it is fleeting and it is not worth the drama that plays out in your head or with other people.
Especially with other people! Okay, books have been my salvation since I was able to read, but let’s look at it from a broad perspective. You’re envious of a pile of papers with words on them that may or may not entertain you for a couple of hours to a couple of weeks, depending on how fast you read. In the meantime, there are countless of other books, maybe even similar to the ones you covet, at your disposal.
I bet that no one in the blogging community can look at their library and say that there are NO books in their TBR there. If so, I can help you rectify that immediately with recommendations.
ARCs are fun to have and read, and helping out publishers and authors by spreading news of them is also a plus side, but unless blogging is your job and occupation, I don’t see why we should let ARCs dominate our blogging career. Even if it is, it shouldn’t be the cause of such animosity, drama, or stress.
I remember a time when I didn’t know ARCs existed, and I read the books that I wanted to read.
So I had to wait a couple more months for a book to come out. BIG DEAL. I could’ve done something productive in the mean time, just like you can.
I know most of this post is pretty repetitive to what others have been saying, even more so since I’m a relatively small blogger who doesn’t even get that many ARCs (lol), but I wanted to share my own experience with this matter and let people know: you’re not alone. The next time you feel like raging about a particular ARC you don’t own, remember the times before you knew when ARCs existed, and look forward to the day you hold the actual, finished work of art in your hands.
Always with love,