Speaking of Habits…

Here’s a bad habit we haven’t talked about yet:  not reviewing books we read.

I confess that I seldom do this, for these reasons:

  • If the book’s been around for a while and already has a gazillion reviews, I don’t figure it needs one more.
  • If I don’t particularly care for the book, I feel compelled by professional courtesy to keep quiet about it. This is true for authors I don’t know as well as those I do.
  • If I do like it, it probably already has enough reviews and doesn’t need one from a nobody like me.
  • Laziness. If I’m reading for pleasure, I don’t want to add the work of writing a review afterward. What, am I in school or something?

Occasionally someone will ask for a review. When that happens, I’ll usually comply, but not always. A couple of times I declined because, well… my mother always taught me if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. On one occasion, the book was so bad I couldn’t even read it.

All in all, I’m not usually eager to write reviews. But shame on me! As an author, I know how important reviews are. No, Stephen King doesn’t need my help, but small-potatoes authors like me need all the reviews we can get. Many promotional services won’t accept a title that doesn’t have a certain number of Amazon reviews. Larger numbers of reviews help improve a book’s Amazon ranking, making it more visible. And bookstores are more likely to stock a book with a higher ranking and many reviews. So you see, we authors don’t crave reviews just to stoke our egos; they’re absolutely necessary for a book’s success.

If reviewing books intimidates you, rest easy. It doesn’t have to be difficult! In most cases, there’s to required format, and reviews don’t have to be long and involved. Take Ane Mulligan’s Amazon review of Stillwaters, for example:

Where should you post your reviews? Amazon, certainly, and also Goodreads. Those are the biggies. But if you feel inclined, you can post reviews to Barnes & Noble, Booktopia, other places online where books are sold, or your own blog. But Amazon is primo.

Am I writing this post for the purpose of begging for reviews? Yes. Absolutely. I need reviews!

But I’m also resolving to start reviewing books more often myself. In fact, I recently posted a review of a nice little book I ran across not long ago, Faith Unexpected: Real stories of people who found what they never imagined.  It is exactly as the title describes, and I won’t elaborate other than to say I enjoyed the book. If you look for it on Amazon, you’ll see my review.

It’s the sort of book that would be good to give as a gift to someone who’s “on the fence” as far as following Christ is concerned. A person who’s antagonistic toward the gospel wouldn’t appreciate it, but someone who’s curious probably would.

I don’t read as much as I’d like to, but I hereby resolve to make more of an effort to review the ones I read. At least, new books. I don’t think I’ll bother reviewing old classics.

Do you post reviews on Amazon? If you haven’t yet, would you please review mine (if you’ve read any)?

Yes, I’m begging—with apologies for the lack of dignity.

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No, not that kind of habit!

Yes. That’s what I’m talking about.

As you may observe, I’ve fallen into the habit of neglecting my blog. Whether that’s a good habit or a bad, I think I’ve finally straightened out the technical difficulties that have been plaguing me, so maybe I’ll break the neglecting habit and start posting every now and then.

I’ve been thinking about habits recently, so that’s why I’ve chose to write about them today.

I’ve long observed that good habits take diligence and determination to form, whereas bad habits can get started with just one repetition. But bad habits, though easily acquired, are difficult to break, while it’s ridiculously easy to fall out of good habits. Why is that?

I won’t venture an opinion. I’m just making the observation.

Sometimes, it’s hard to say which category a habit falls into. Several months ago, I kicked the caffeine habit. Is caffeine bad for you? That seems to depend on who you talk to. I can’t say that I suffered any ill effects from caffeine consumption, but it bothered me that I was dependent on it—and there’s no question that I was. I was a bona fide* caffeine addict.

*I just now learned that bona fideis two words. Interesting tidbit!

Where was I? Oh, yeah… I was addicted to caffeine for many years. Now I’m not. I’d say that’s a good thing, in that I no longer require my morning coffee in order to feel well. But neither am I anti-caffeine. About once or twice a week, I’ll indulge in a little—a cup of coffee here, a Coke there, the occasional bite of chocolate.  So I guess it’s good. No addiction, no obsession the other way. It’s quite freeing, actually.

It seems breaking a bad habit takes as much or more effort as forming a good habit. It’s kind of the same thing, when you look at it. Forming a good habit in place of a bad one is the same as breaking a bad habit.

What make a habit “good” or “bad”? Today’s society doesn’t like to speak in those terms. Maybe I should talk about “healthy” and “unhealthy” habits instead, because it seems to be bad these days to say anything is bad.

Because I’m paying rent on this server, I might as well make use of my blog. So, for the sake of fiscal responsibility, I’m going to work on developing the habit of blogging more regularly. You can expect to see posts more frequently, but don’t expect them to be very meaty. I’m not quite ready to form the habit of keeping my efforts focused.

What unhealthy habits would you like to break? What healthy habits have you formed after much effort? Do you find it a continual struggle to maintain the healthy ones? What habits enable you to fly?

In order to encourage myself to keep up with this blog, I’ll provide my own answers to those questions in my next post. But if you’re willing to share  your thoughts in the comments, I’d be happy to hear them!

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