Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What the heck has become of this community?

My title seems pretty self-explanatory.  This is pretty much just me ranting so if that’s not what you want to read, you should probably stop reading this post now.  You have been warned!

If you read my last post or have paid any attention to the blog, you know I have taken a break from blogging.  Part of it was stress and lack of time and part of it was because I honestly just got fed up with how I’ve seen book bloggers acting this past year.  I’m sure it’s not just book bloggers but since those are pretty much the only people I pay attention to online, it’s really noticeable to me.

It seems like every time I login to Twitter, it’s a competition.  Let’s be real here, blogging has always been about the books and no matter what people say, it’s always been about the ARCs for some.  You can see who those people are just by logging in and checking out the BooksForTrade hashtag on Twitter.  That started out as a great way to spread the ARCs around and clean off your shelves but that is not what it has become.  It’s almost impossible to trade books now because people have wishlists of books that aren’t even available.  People want only specific ARCs of either much older books or books that haven’t even had ARCs made yet.  They also are only willing to trade their books for those specific books.  Then there are the people who go to conferences and get really popular books and then post them on the hashtag.  Pretty sure that’s not what those conferences are for but what do I know, I’ve only been attending them for the past 5 years.

Here’s another thing that the BooksForTrade hashtag really brought to my attention: the lust for ARCs.  What the heck?  I can understand wanting an ARC of your favorite book but I don’t see the need to have ARCs for every popular series out there.  It’s pretty easy to see who wants the ARC for their collection and who wants it just to show the rest of the world that they have it.  If your wishlist consists of nothing but really popular books and in ARC format, good luck with that.  Pretty sure you’re completely missing the point of not only the hashtag but the whole reading thing in general.  Don’t get me wrong though, if I thought I could trade someone for a Harry Potter ARC, I’d put my firstborn child up for trade.

I swear this next part is my last little rant but I have got to say something about Instagram or as us bloggers know it, bookstagram.  I used to love going on Instagram to see what books people had bought or received or were reading but I can’t really stand it much anymore.  Every other post is sponsored by someone or something and the posts that aren’t sponsored are trying really hard to get sponsors.  For something called bookstagram, it doesn’t seem to focus much on the books anymore.  Most of the pictures that are supposedly about books focus more on the accessories or props that are with the books in the photo.  And don’t even get me started about the books.  It’s clear which books are popular at the moment and those are pretty much the only books you are going to see photos of on Instagram.  It’s well known that the popular books are the ones that get the most likes in photos.  Why would anyone post photos of lesser known books if they know they aren’t going to get them more likes or followers.

I know not everyone is going to agree with me about the things posted here but this is my blog and these are my thoughts.  This is how I feel and it’s a big reason why I took such a step back from social media.  I know these are very generalized statements and I’m not saying that everyone does this.  There are bookstagrammers that I adore and people who use the BooksForTrade hashtag for its original purpose.  It just seems like everyone wants what other people have. When did it stop being about being grateful for what we do have?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Blogging vs. Bookstagram: Is It Really A Competition? | Discussion

Talk Blogging

The title here really says it all.  I want to know if blogging, book blogging in particular, is going out of style and being replaced by the ever-growing Bookstagram.  For the longest time, blogs were popping up left and right.  It was the thing to do.  At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it (let’s be real here, it means more competition) but I realized that the addition of new blogs to the blogosphere was a good thing.  The addition of new book blogs proved that we were making an impact and it showed that other people wanted to do the same.  Now, on the other hand, I don’t see a ton of new blogs pop up and I actually see a decrease in the ones that currently exist.

I’ve been blogging for over 7 years now and I’ve seen a lot of blogs come and go.  I’ve seen the growth of Booktube and I’m now watching the growth of Bookstagram.  While I love the addition of new mediums, I hate the thought that blogs are getting pushed to the side.  I find it funny that we are all self-professed lovers of reading and yet the blog is going out of style because people don’t really want to read them anymore.  Pictures and videos are much preferred these days.

Blogging is extremely time consuming.  It’s not just the act of actually blogging that we have to worry about, we also have to count time spent reading all those review books.  I don’t know about you guys but it can sometimes take me an hour to get a post drafted, formatted, and scheduled.  It doesn’t usually take me quite that long but sometimes there are reviews where I just can’t say enough or can’t quite get the words right.  It’s a huge undertaking when you start a blog and I honestly don’t think people realize or really appreciate that until they have their own blog.  Now try running a blog and all the other social media accounts that go along with it.  It’s not easy to balance that and have a life.  (Come on, we all know I don’t really have a life outside my blog.)

Speaking of other social media accounts, I’m attempting to grow my Instagram account and make it a dedicated Bookstagram to go along with my blog.  I will freely admit that I have no skills with a camera and editing is not my forte.  Everything I am doing, I’m doing on my own.  I’m attempting to figure out how to frame the perfect shot, place the right props, and set it against the perfect backdrop.  Not to mention get the lighting right.  It’s pretty cloudy here in Colorado sometimes so natural lighting isn’t always possible.  I realize now that I’m trying to learn this stuff that it’s not as easy as grabbing a phone, taking a photo, and posting it to Instagram.  It may seem like that at first but it’s not the case.  Bookstagram does take skill and a pretty good amount of time depending on how many shots you take and if you choose to edit those photos.

Bookstagram

One thing I have noticed about Bookstagram and what’s hard not to notice is the follower counts.  Bookstagram accounts range from a couple hundred followers to close to a hundred thousand followers.  Blogs have never had that kind of popularity and it’s hard not to get discouraged by that.  No matter how many times we try to stress that follower count isn’t the most important thing ever, it’s obviously a pretty big deal.  We wouldn’t be spending all this time writing blog posts if no one was reading them.  To be honest, these days it sometimes feels like that is what we are doing.  I will even admit that I check Instagram a lot more often than I check my blog feed.  It’s just more convenient and everyone knows that people are all about the convenient option these days.

However, I think instead of being a bad thing for blogs, Bookstagram can be a great asset.  If you have the skills to post pictures that draw people in and use the caption to attract those readers to a blog post, your traffic can definitely be boosted.  Those huge follower counts can really work in favor of your blog, if you have one.  The really tough part is going to be consistently posting good pictures to grow that follower count.  You also have to take into account that no matter how many hashtags you use, people aren’t just going to stumble upon your page.  You have to reach out and create connections by checking out other accounts and commenting.  It’s just like trying to grow traffic to your blog when you first start it.  It’s kind of like starting over.

Do you think blogging is going out of style?  Do you see Bookstagram and Booktube taking over and blogs getting pushed aside?   Do you blog, vlog, or bookstagram?  All three?  Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Let’s Get Personal | Discussion

With BEA just around the corner, I thought I’d talk about something kind of related to that but more just something that’s been on my mind for a while.  While it does have to do with blogging, it isn’t about books so I’d understand if you didn’t want to keep reading.

I’m a very shy person.  I can sometimes act like I’m not when I’m online and even at some book events but a lot of the time, I stick to myself.  I feel like I miss out on a lot because of this.  I sometimes come across as bitchy or stuck up but that’s not how I really am.  I don’t know how to interact with people I don’t know.  Heck, I don’t even know how to act around people I do know.  I’m extremely awkward and I’m always afraid to say the wrong thing.  Once you get to know me, I will talk your ear off and you won’t be able to get rid of me fast enough but that takes quite some time.

awkward

I’ve also noticed that I sometimes come across the same way online.  I use Twitter a lot but I don’t have the same relationships with other Twitter people that I see some of my fellow bloggers have.  I wish I was able to form quick bonds and just make online friends like that but it’s never been that easy for me.  I get so jealous seeing all these bloggers that are amazing friends with each other because I sometimes feel like I’ll never have that.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some of my Twitter friends IRL and consider them awesome friends but I still get nervous just messaging them and I wish I knew how to keep in touch with them better.

Here’s where the blogging part really comes in.  I worry that if I don’t become more personable on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, my blog is going to become irrelevant.  It seems like everybody these days really wants to know the person behind the blog or the Instagram and let me tell you, there isn’t much to tell about me.  I’m not an interesting person.  I don’t have a whole lot to show other than lots of books and a crazy puppy.  I want to keep up with the times but I don’t know how to go about doing that.  I’m a total people pleaser and I want everyone to like me, no matter how impossible that actually is.  I feel like so often I’m trying to tailor my blog and Instagram to what other people want, rather than what I want.  I don’t want to do that but I understand the need to make things appealing for readers since otherwise there isn’t really a point to me putting all this effort into a blog that no one reads.

And since I started this post mentioning BEA, let’s get back to that.  I’m so nervous even though I’ve gone to BEA for the past 5 years!  Every year there are new people and as I’ve mentioned, I’m not good with new people.  I’ve been trying so hard this year to come out of my shell but I’m still a little afraid for how I’m going to act at BEA.  Last year was my first year not going with a group of roommates and my first day was really tough.  I almost booked an early flight home because I was so miserable and didn’t know how to change that.  Lucky for me, I met some amazing bloggers who adopted me into their group and let me tag along for all their fun stuff.  I wouldn’t have made it through without them and I’m happy to say that a bunch of them are actually going to be rooming with me this year which makes me feel at least a little better.  I don’t want to just tag along this year though.  I want to take charge and meet all the people I want to meet and not be afraid to do it.

cheese

Not even kidding, this is me with new people.

So now that I’ve completely rambled on about my awkwardness and total lack of social skills, let’s chat.  Do you guys have social anxiety or any quirks that make it hard to meet new people?  And actually, I’m kind of okay with the meeting people, it’s getting them to want to stay friends with me that’s the hard part.

Friday, March 18, 2016

How do you make time to read? | Discussion

You guys know what this is?  The first discussion post I have written in ages.  Topics are hard for me to come up with but this one has definitely been on my mind for a while.

Most of you probably don’t know this but I got a new job back in January.  The first month was a lot of learning and a lot of stressful days.  It slowed down a bit in February but I was just recently given some more work to do and now my days are just packed.  I come home and I’m so tired that I don’t want to do anything.  Never mind the fact that I’m trying to get back in the habit of going to the gym.  Needless to say, there isn’t a lot of free time in my life to read and let me just tell you, that sucks.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to make time to read and short of adding more hours to the day (or just not sleeping) I haven’t really come up with any.  I used to read before bed but now I’m so exhausted that any time I try to do that, I fall asleep.  I try to read at the gym but it’s kinda hard to run on a treadmill and keep the page in focus.  Really, I’m just struggling here.

However, I have been testing out new things and I’ve found some things that work for me.

Ipod

First, I shut off all electronic devices (unless it’s my ipod) and put them in another room so I’m not even tempted by them.  I don’t want my notifications popping up and distracting me all the time.  I also find that if I put on some movie soundtracks (I love the Harry Potter film scores) I can really focus on the book I’m reading and get out of my own head.  Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about other things that I should be doing that I find myself reading the same sentence over and over again without taking in a word of it.  Music surprisingly helps with that.

schedule

Second, I give myself a schedule.  I work from 7 to 4 every day and I’m usually home no later than 5.  I go the gym for an hour and when I get home I can read.  I set aside 1 hour reading time and if I can get in more than that, great, but if not, at least I’ve got that hour.  Sometimes I do take breaks for snacks or whatever and get a little distracted but most of the time I can at least read for 45 minutes of the hour.

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Third, I’ve learned that audiobooks are great for driving or for the gym.  I can’t focus on them if I’m doing anything super productive (like cleaning) but if I’m just driving to or from work or hanging out on the treadmill, they are perfect.  I still don’t like them all that much but I’m trying.  I feel like I just haven’t found the right narrator yet.  I’ve heard that the narrator for the Harry Potter audiobooks is fabulous so maybe I’ll re-read those a different way this year.  (Yes, I try and re-read them at least once a year.  I don’t see this as a problem.)

books

Last, I have found that I have to have something interesting to read.  I tried to force myself to read a book that I just wasn’t feeling and it really made me not want to read at all.  I put that book aside, picked up a different one, and now I’m hooked.  I want to make time to read this one, unlike the last one I was trying to read.  A good book can make all the difference in whether or not you feel in the mood to read.

What do you guys do when you find that you don’t have a whole lot of time to read?  Do you stay up later than normal so you can at least read a chapter a day?  Do you do the audiobook thing and if so, who is your favorite narrator?  How do you feel about music while reading?  

Monday, January 25, 2016

7 Years| Why I Love The Blogging Community

heart

Guys, I’m about to get personal so if you don’t like that, you’ve been warned.

I started Katie’s Book Blog 7 years ago.  I was a senior in high school at the time.  I was just as nerdy back then as I am today but I didn’t accept that part of me.  I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere and I had some people in my life who only made that worse.  I was severely bullied my last year of high school by people I had called my friends for the previous 2 years.  They didn’t like that I was graduating a year early and they thought I thought too highly of myself because I was smart enough to do that.  It didn’t matter that I had to graduate early to move across the country with my family.  They knew everything about me, my strengthsm my weaknesses, and all my insecurities.  One of my biggest insecurities was what people would think of me if they knew how nerdy I really was.  They did everything they could to make me ashamed of my love of literature and knowledge and my smarts.  I missed so much school because I was afraid to face them.  I went home in tears so many times.  I missed a lot and those girls succeeded in pushing me even further into my shell.  However, Katie’s Book Blog got started because of that shell.  I was afraid to share my love of books with people in my life so I decided to share it with strangers on the internet.  It was a pretty great idea, if I do say so myself.

So here we are, 7 years later, and my life is so different.  I literally wear my love of books on my sleeve (I have a Harry Potter tattoo on my wrist.)  I couldn’t be more proud of all the reading I do and the love I have for authors and publishers and fellow readers.  I keep my business cards handy for anyone who might need some book recommendations.  I wouldn’t say I’m extroverted or anything that drastic but I’m not afraid of people anymore.  I’m not afraid to be myself anymore.  All of these things are because of the people I’ve met through my blog.

Nobody in this community looks at my like I’m weird.  Nobody tries to make me feel bad for my intelligence.  Nobody tries to tell me what is cool and what is not.  Nobody judges me if I love a book and don’t want to shut up about it.

Everybody encourages me and lifts me up.  Everybody tries to put a smile on my face if I’m having a bad day (no matter how crappy their own day might be.)  Everybody makes me feel welcome and loved and that was not something I ever thought I’d find.

This community is my home.  It’s where I can be who I’ve always been and always wanted to be.  It’s where I can grow and learn and not be afraid and I love you guys for that.  Thank you for 7 years of acceptance and here’s to many more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Blog Most Likely To Choose A Reread Over a New Book + Giveaway

In celebration of Huntley Fitzpatrick’s upcoming book, The Boy Most Likely To, Penguin asked bloggers to have a little fun and be part of this awesome campaign.  I spent quite a bit of time thinking about the prompt and decided that I’m definitely the blog most likely to choose a reread over my crazy TBR pile of new books.

Rereading is something I do quite often.  I love revisiting some of my favorite characters and there are certain books that I will never get tired of reading.  For instance, I’m rereading the Harry Potter series right now and it’s got to be the 7th or 8th time I’ve read these books.  I catch  new things with every reread.  Ella Enchanted is also right at the top of my reread list.  I’ve had to replace my copy of that book at least twice because it got so worn out.  I’ve also got plans to reread The Raven Cycle books next month so if anyone wants to join in my reread, let me know!

Speaking of rereading, I’m actually going to be rereading My Life Next Door, checking out What I Thought Was True for the first time, and devouring my copy of The Boy Most Likely To as soon as I get my hands on a copy.  Let me know if anyone wants to do a readalong with me for My Life Next Door and What I Thought Was True!

Giveaway

 

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Discussion: How Do You Decide What To Read?

Back before I started blogging, I never had trouble deciding what I wanted to read after finishing a book.  It wasn’t even really a problem for the first few years of blogging either.  Nowadays though I can’t decide what to read, ever.

I used to be a mood reader.  I would decide what to read based on whatever mood I was in at the time of finishing one book.  I still do that sometimes but it’s rare.  Every now and then when I’m in a bad mood I know I need a fluffy contemporary novel and can pick one of those from my shelves.  I also know that when I’m in a reading slump, I should pick one of my old favorites and give it a re-read (think Ella Enchanted or Harry Potter).  However, that only takes care of about one book a month (and I do tend to read a bit more than that).

Recently, I’ve created a TBR jar (or in my case, bucket) and I’ve found that it is actually really helpful for me.  It takes all the guess work out of deciding what to read next and it’s kind of fun to just have no clue what I’ll be reading next.  Tons of bloggers have suggested I do this for years but I only just recently caved.

The only problem I have with a TBR jar is that it doesn’t really allow me to stick to a review schedule unless I were to create a separate jar for each month.  I know I’m pretty much a horrible blogger anyway when it comes to reviewing on time but I really do like to have some kind of schedule so I can get a few new releases reviewed each month. I’d love to reach some kind of balance where I can read review books but also draw some titles from the TBR jar and get to some of the books on my shelves that have been there for way too long.  (Seriously, it’s embarrassing how long I’ve had some of the books on my shelves.)

Do you ever find yourself just standing in front of an overstuffed bookcase trying to decide what to read next?  How do you pick?  Do you read based on your review schedule?  Do you like or hate the idea of a TBR jar?

Feel free to leave suggestions or helpful tips in the comments.  I have really got to get back to some kind of reading schedule this year now that school isn’t going to require quite so much of my time.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

ARCs & What You Do When You’re Done With Them!

I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now.  That’s a long time to be getting books.  Not only do I purchase books I want to read but I also get quite a few for review.  Some of them are finished copies but a lot of them are ARCs or Advanced Reader Copies.  The thing about ARCs is that you can’t sell them.  That puts a crimp in my style since I usually just take the books I’m done with to my local used bookstore and sell them for store credit.  So clearly you can see my dilemma.  What do I do with my ARCs when I don’t want them any more?

Over the years, I’ve found a few different ways to get ARCs off my shelves.  It’s not always the easiest thing to do but I always manage to find some creative way to get rid of them.  First off, I know some authors don’t want their ARCs getting around once the book is actually published but I tend to pass mine along anyway.  I know they are unedited and things get changed between ARCs and finished copies but I just can’t throw away a book.  I know so many people who can’t afford to buy their own books and don’t get the chance to go to a library very often so if I have the chance to provide them with some new reading material, I’m going to go for it.

So here’s the first thing I do with my ARCs: give them to friends!  Through work and school I’ve met some awesome people who love to read YA but don’t have the resources to get new books.  I love re-reading books just as much as any other person but you can only re-read a book so many times.  When I first met some of my friends, all they were doing was re-reading the books they had on their shelves.  I definitely remedied that pretty quickly.  They know they’re unedited advanced copies but to them, they’re still just books.  It’s something new for them to read and that’s good enough for them.

Second, I donate to my local library.  ARCs cannot be shelved at libraries but there are still ways for them to be used.  My library has a Teen Advisory Board and they love getting advanced copies to check out and recommend.  It’s a good way for the librarians to find out what to order and sometimes the teens even write mini reviews that get placed with the books on the shelves.  They also sometimes use them for prizes for any teen event they hold at the library.

Another option is to donate to a local hospital or children’s hospital.  I actually work at a hospital so this one is really easy for me.  The waiting rooms have tvs but sometimes people prefer to read and so now we have small shelves in the waiting rooms where visitors can pick up a book to read while they wait.  The volunteers also put books on their carts so when they make rounds, patients and family members can take some books to read during their time at the hospital.  However, some hospitals can be very picky about the conditions of the books so keep that in mind.  Most of mine are like new so they’re usually okay with them but if they’re not in the best shape I would recommend finding something else to do with them.

There are a few more options that I’ve heard about but have yet to try out.  I know some teachers love to get ARCs because they can keep them on their classroom shelves which may not otherwise get a ton of new books.  Womens shelters and other shelters in the community might also be willing to accept ARCs.  Oh and there is always the option of just trading your ARCs with other bloggers or donate them through ARCycling. There’s also the option of recycling your ARCs but I haven’t been able to do that just yet.

So, there you go.  Clean off your shelves and find something good to do with your ARCs!  Feel free to leave more suggestions in the comments!  Like I said, I’m always looking for new ways to get rid of some books!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Has blogging changed the way you read?

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I’ve always been a big reader.  I mean, obviously.  That’s one of the many reasons why I started my blog.  However, I haven’t always been such a picky reader.  These days it seems like a lot of books just aren’t grabbing my attention like they would have in the past.
Back before I started my blog, I owned one bookshelf with only two full shelves of books.  That was it.  I’d go to the library every week and check out a pile of books and just read those.  I lived in a small town so our library had a pretty limited selection so I’d read whatever I could find, from murder mysteries and romance novels to YA.  My love for YA actually started because of some of the books I found hidden in those library shelves.
These days I clearly still love YA, probably even more than I did back then.  However, I’ve never been as picky with what I read as I am now.  Sure, my Goodreads shelf has over 3,000 to-read books but that doesn’t mean I’m actually going to read them all.  If something catches my eye, I’ll add it, just so I don’t forget.  Usually though I’ll go through my shelves and start clearing off books that really don’t appeal to me after a closer look.  It used to be that even if it didn’t really immediately appeal to me, I’d read a book just for the heck of it.  Now though I have to seriously consider if I think I’m going to like a book or if I think I’m going to be wasting time I could use to read another book.
I also have trouble reading without analyzing every little detail now.  Even when reading a book that I have no intention to review, I look at things like I am going to review it.  I can’t escape that.  I can’t just sit down and read a book with no thoughts toward the writing, the characters, the setting, etc.  Sometimes, I really wish I could still do that.
Another side effect of looking at things as a reviewer and not just a reader is that I’ve started to dislike a lot of books.  I’ve read so many fan-freaking-tastic books that the mediocre and crappy ones really stand out.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have a much higher average rating than a lot of bloggers but I’m slowly starting to dislike more books and DNF more books.  Before I started blogging it never even crossed my mind to DNF a book but nowadays I just can’t make myself read something I know I’m not going to like.  I figure it’s at least better to try to read a book and give-up on it than to never pick it up.
What about you guys?  Has blogging changed your reading habits?  Has it made you a more critical reader?
Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Blogger Jealousy: It Happens!

Green-eyed monster!
Recently I read one of the most honest posts over at Book Brats.  It really got me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts and personal experiences.
Jealousy is something I’ve always struggled with.  I’m not talking just with blogging, I mean in real life.  I’ve always wanted what other people have whether it be my brother, my friends, or some complete stranger.  I know I have a wonderful life and really there is nothing that I need that I don’t have.  My parents spoiled me rotten and  yet I was one of those kids that always wanted more.  It wasn’t always something tangible, sometimes I was jealous of an idea someone had or other crazy things like that.  Maybe joining the blogosphere wasn’t the best decision for me but at the time I didn’t know it would only add to my jealousy.
When I started my blog, jealousy wasn’t really a problem.  I didn’t know about free books, ARCs, traffic, comments, and all that.  All I knew was that people took the time to share their thoughts on the books they read and that I wanted to do that too.  And that was enough for me.  It was fun just to get my thoughts out there and if someone happened to read and comment on my review, that was fun too.  Blogging was just something I did to pass the time and entertain myself.
Nowadays, everything is a competition.  Sometimes literally.  As if it’s not bad enough that we already compete with each other for books/followers/traffic/comments, etc. now we actually have awards where people can convince their multitude of followers that they’re the best and they should win the award.  Really?  Does anyone actually think it’s a good idea to have awards like this in an already super competitive blogosphere?
Personally, it’s not the ARCs/books that I struggle with jealousy over.  I will never lack for reading material.  I know that.  It’s the other stuff that gets to me; the awards, the followers, the traffic, the memes.  I wish I was creative enough to come up with some awesome meme that tons of people would participate in.  I wish I won awards for my blog.  Heck, I just wish I was nominated for awards.  I want to be a “big blogger,” one of those bloggers that just automatically is associated with all things YA and all things awesome in the blogosphere.  However, trying to actually achieve that goal hasn’t been easy and when I see other blogs that started way after me achieve that, heck yes I get jealous.
What I’m trying to say with this post is that it’s okay to get jealous.  It happens to the best of us.  Admit it, get over it, and heck, maybe even use it as motivation.  Just don’t let it run your life or your blog.
How do you guys feel about book blogger jealousy?  Does it happen to you?  If so, how do you combat it?