Storytime with Aila: Life Before ARC’s

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.

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 actualfinished work of art in your hands.

Always with love,


41 thoughts on “Storytime with Aila: Life Before ARC’s

  1. Oh Aila, how this post makes me smile. I am the same way– I often have to pay for books with my own money so I save up and do everything you did. I agree that ARC envy is kind of inevitable and it felt so weird. This post is so relatable and I want to share it with the world! So I will.

    1. Aw man, thanks so much Jess! ❤
      But yeah, and it's good to know that we're not alone out there, that these things DO happen and many, many people still experience it. At the same time, it kind of makes it easier to let go of it in a way.

  2. This was such an amazing post, Aila! All of it is so very true. I’ve been blogging for a year and some now, and I’ve only received a handful of ARC’s. While it’s undoubtedly a great feeling to be given an ARC – it really isn’t everything. Like you said, eventually you’ll be able to read it. In the meantime there’s literally THOUSANDS of other books you can read. There is no shortage. Thanks for writing this, I’m sure plenty will take joy and comfort in it!

  3. I have only been a (book) blogger for a few months now, and, I admit, that seeing these ARC reviews on someone else’s blog fills me with envy. Then I remember that I don’t do reviews much anyway, that I don’t want the pressure of having to read and review a particular book before a set deadline, and that feeling of envy disappears.

    This post reminds me of the joy of reading for pleasure. There are literally thousands of published books yet to be read. Why covet for an ARC that will be drastically different from the finished product anyway? Better start on your TBR pile than angst on that ARC.

    If you get an ARC, lucky you. If not, cry a little, then get over it.

    This is such a great post and I love reading it! Gonna share it so others can relate, too.

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! And I agree, it’s like “No ARC? Well, less work for you then!” Seriously, in the end we’re all heading to the same destination at the same time, so it’s really no use to make such drama out of it.

      Thank you so much for sharing! ❤ I hope others will realize that they're not alone too.

  4. Such a lovely post and take about ARCs! I love that story about convincing your father to let you buy books and making lists, since I used to do that as well (I still make the list today). You are so right when you said ARCs are not worth the drama, the book is still going to come out anyway. There is no need for all the negativity and the jealousy 🙂

    1. Exactly! And thanks so much. I still make lists today too! They’re different than the ones from years ago, but still keep me organized haha. If we’re all ending up in the same destination in the same time (aka release date), then there really is no need to make a big fuss of it. So glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂

  5. I love this post to bits! I am sometimes envious of people who get great ARCs as well and I think it’s a normal feeling, but you are absolutely right in saying that it shouldn’t matter if you get a review copy of a book or read it when it comes out a little later. Ever since I started reviewing books, I found myself feeling differently while reading, as if the review that I have to write later on already affects how I feel even though I should just enjoy the book. It is odd how our feelings can change, but I like that you pointed out why we started all this in the first place – our love for books! And that’s all we should think about ❤ Great post!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed! And sometimes I just have to think back to the days before book blogging to truly appreciate how much I love reading. I mean, in the end we’re all heading towards the same destination in pretty much the same time (aka release date) so there’s really no need to make a big fuss over it.

  6. Such a heartfelt post Aila! 🙂 I smiled throughout the post. I think we all bloggers suffer from the ARC envy, that’s why now some bloggers are starting to stop reading them permanently. That’s why if I don’t get an ARC, I don’t get sad or upset anymore because I know it might be not soon but I’m going to read it one day. And because of the arc pile I can’t start reading the books I already have, so I’m going to try and minimalise them as possible. Great post! 🙂

    1. Aww haha I’m so glad it made you smile! 🙂 And yes, what you’re doing is awesome. I still like to enjoy ARCs here and there, but I really only request ones that I KNOW I will read (and hopefully enjoy). And exactly! We’re all going to read the book we want one day, so there is no point in making a big deal out of it. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post Poulami 🙂

  7. I LOVE this post. I went through a lot of similar feels regarding ARC’s (and still do, let’s be honest) so to see that other people have felt the same way is a huge relief. I think it’s important that we be honest with ourselves regarding why some things are so important in the book community and try to remember that it’s even a privilege to be here (considering how few people have access to such a privilege of reading/writing reviews). Great, great post! 🙂

    1. Thanks so much!
      Honestly at this point, what I felt was so ridiculous that I don’t even request many ARC’s these days anymore. I’m really glad you know that you’re not alone though; sometimes being in a community grabs you into the mob so much that it’s hard to express different opinions on something you might feel others wouldn’t really understand. So glad you enjoyed!

  8. Aila, wow! What a great post! This is such a real situation with ARCS. I remember starting my blog this year, soon later finding out about ARCS and then proceeded to sweep the Internet to find them! While I’ve never acted particularly crazy or had any ARC envy, I totally understand the phase of obsession with ARCS. Mine was short lived, however!
    It’s true, ARCS are a small portion of book blogging and I think it all comes down to if you know what your purpose of reading an ARC is. I only request an ARC if I genuinely am interested in it and really want to know what it’s about. Sometimes I will request hyped up ARCS to give my take on whether it is worth the hype. But never do I request them because I want to read a book without paying for it. 😊
    Wonderful post!

  9. Yes! I love this! Great perspective. It’s always good to remind myself of the easy days when I didn’t know ARCs existed and life was chill and I could walk around the bookstore and pull books off the new releases section. Of course, it’s hard when people are talking about books that you really want but couldn’t get your hands on early, but it’ll be out in a couple of months and, like you said, they’re just words on a page. Reading it early won’t give you a long-lived sense of satisfaction and increase your quality of life. So why not sit back and just chill?

    1. Totally – I love your use of the word “chill.” Just keep calm guys, and carry on reading the book you already have in your hands. It kind of makes me laugh that it’s actually a CHALLENGE to read backlist books, when that’s the norm for everyday readers. And even the satisfaction OF having ARC’s isn’t really that momentous either. So yes, let’s sit back, grab a book from the shelf, and chill. 🙂

  10. When I read long compositions, I usually scan them and look for the good stuff or focus on the highlighted parts. But Aila, this post is an exception. I read from top to bottom. The inspiring words are overwhelming!

    Living on the outskirts of US/CAN/UK aka countries with the best chances for ARC, I’ve never owned an actual physical copies, just e-copies. This post is so inspiring! I can relate a lot to what you said about getting envious to those who always gets ARCs. But you’re right, there’s so much more to read than just a book that will eventually be published. Great post! 🙂

    1. Oh my gosh Trisha I love to hear that. 😀 I would’ve probably skimmed over my own paragraphs of words (but hey I bolded some stuff to make it easier).
      I’m so glad you like the post, and I still need to remind myself of my own words; but in the end, we’re all arriving at the same destination at the same time. 🙂

  11. This was such a great post!
    When I first started blogging about 10 months ago I thought arcs were the worst thing on the face of planet Earth (okay maybe I’m exaggerating) but I thought they were basically the book except there were portions cut out of it (idk where I got this idea from xD) Then I actually found out what they were and I went a little cray cray with requesting (which I regretted a little bit later…)
    Anyways I occasionally have arc envy but then I get myself to remember that, like you said, it’s just pages of written words. I can survive a few months w/out the book in my hands.
    Thanks for sharing Aila! ❤

    1. It’s my pleasure Faith. 🙂 LOL at what you thought was an ARC in the beginning! I admit, I was fairly confused, too. But definitely Faith, it helps to realize that in the end we’re all arriving at the final destination at the same time. I’m so glad you enjoyed this post!

  12. Great post! I am reducing my requests for ARCs this year because I have piles of my own books to read and I don’t want ARCs to takeover my blog or my love of reading. I celebrate my 2 year Blogoversary in March too!

    1. That’s so awesome Lekeisha! That also sounds like a great plan – sometimes it’s easier to let go of ARC’s when you think of the happiness you already had reading before blogging. I’ve been only requesting the few ARC’s that I KNOW I’ll read and (hopefully) enjoy.

  13. First of all, can I just say I love the pun in your title 😀 😀 I’ve been book blogging for a while, but I’ve never much felt inclined towards reviewing more. I’ve read one eARC so far? I’m crossing my fingers on a few others, but because I’m international, I’m not even that bothered about physical ARCs — it’s not like I could get them otherwise. Besides, ARCs aren’t free — reviewers spend so much time writing reviews and building their blog in other ways! I might dip into the ARC fervour in 2016, but only for like one or two books.

    Thank you for commenting on The Devil Orders Takeout!

    1. Thanks so much hehe. 🙂 You’re exactly right! It’s crazy how much reviewers can do – me? I’m just a go with the flow kinda gal. I’ve been requesting ARC’s only occassionally, and this time for books that I KNOW I would read and (hopefully) like. Fingers crossed for the other e-ARC’s that you’ve requested!

  14. This post is everything Aila! I remember before ARCs were out, I used to enjoy binge reading series and picking absolutely ANY book off my shelf before obligations. Those were the days when I truly enjoyed reading for what it is. And that’s what I hope to bring back in 2016. So many feels from this post Aila – you are right, if you don’t get an ARC, and you really truly want it – why not just wait for it to come out and just buy it like everyone else?

  15. ARC envy is really annoying sometimes, and it makes me really sad. Even I get it sometimes, and I try to let it go. I think I’ve gotten better, though I know it was never as bad for me as some others I know. But still, I think my days about not knowing about ARCs were better hahaha. If I didn’t know about them, I wouldn’t be reading so many “meh” books now! I know people don’t have money to buy all these books, but there are always other alternatives. Like waiting until there’s a deal for it, or borrowing it from a friend, or from the library.

    Super awesome post Aila!

    1. Thanks so much Valerie!
      And I really have to agree with you on this one. I love the occasional ARC here and there, but more often than not I find myself rather disappointed in them. I do enjoy publicizing books either way, but it still takes away reading time from books that I may actually enjoy.

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