Discussion: Beating Bookish Intimidation

Lately I’ve been dealing with a major bout of bookish intimidation: that feeling you get when you really want to read a book or series but you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by the hype/length/commitment of it all.

Thankfully it’s unusual for me to feel bookish intimidation, but when I feel it…dang. A bunch of my friends have been gushing about Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changeling series lately and y’all know that I hate being the odd one out when it comes to a great series, so I want to get in on it. But there’s something about starting a series that’s so popular and so long that’s been putting me off. What if I don’t like the series? What if I do, and then all I read for a month or two is one series? That isn’t even considering the intensity of its fandom!

I’m similarly intimidated by some of the bigger books on my shelves, like Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. It’s not that I’m intimidated because it’s a classic; I had to read lots of those in university and enjoyed most of them. And I know I’ll like it once I get into it, since it’s a story of revenge and murder (yaaasss). The problem is the sheer size of the thing! How on earth am I going to find the time to read a book with more than a thousand pages in between all the new releases I want to get to?

I like to think of myself as someone who’s pretty damn difficult to intimidate, but even I feel apprehensive about starting a 15-book series or reading a 1200 page book! But I don’t want to let that stop me from reading the books I’m interested in, so I do what I always do when faced with a large, engrossing task: I take it one step at a time. 

I tried out the Psy-Changeling world in a low-commitment way, by reading the first book in a spinoff series called Silver Silence, which is the only book in the spinoff that’s currently released. Way less pressure than 15 books, right? Well, I adored it…and now I feel much better about starting such a long-running series. Still don’t know what my plan is for The Count of Monte Cristo though!

So here’s what I want to know: do you ever experience bookish intimidation? Are there books that you want to read, but they’ve got a reputation for being insanely popular, too long, or notoriously difficult to understand? Does the intensity of a series’ fandom ever intimidate you? How do you beat your bookish intimidation?

Tell me your tales of bookish intimidation, share your tips, and if you don’t get bookish intimidation…please teach me your ways!

46 thoughts on “Discussion: Beating Bookish Intimidation

  1. I have definitely felt this! I don’t have any concrete examples at the moment but there are several series I want to start that are already so long that I would never be able to catch up unless I literally quit blogging and just read for pleasure, which isn’t going to happen any time soon. The pain is real!

  2. I have most definitely felt bookish intimidation when it comes to overhyped books! I build up these huge expectations and then I feel like I’m going to be let down if I do read the book so I put it off…. It happened recently with John Green’s new book although I ended up loving it so I shouldn’t have worried about it! My only tip is just to ignore the hype and read what you want to read..

    1. The hype-intimidation is so real, Lara! I do my best to just ignore it as well and for the most part it works, but when an upcoming release that I’m interested in already starts getting hype it’s pretty difficult to avoid. I typically just do my best to go in with no expectations in those cases!

  3. Omg yes! I am glad to have started some of the popular ones cos going in at 10 can sure be hard. But then if you look at it another way you got 10 books before you that you might love

  4. I also get intimidated by long books and especially by long series. I mean, I know that I can quit a series at any time if I’m not liking it, but I know that I tend to get tired of series after TOO long, and it’s disappointing to read like 10 books only to have a series you were loving fizzle out. And there’s definitely the time commitment when I have a whooooole list of other books I want to read too. I think setting my GR goal to one and not worrying about numbers this year is helping some, but it doesn’t take away the intimidation entirely since there are still just so many books I really want to read cuz they sound good, regardless of the numbers! I don’t think fandoms have to do with my intimidation though.

    1. Long series will be the death of me, I swear! Quitting them is always an option, definitely, but I’m loath to do so when I’m quite far in. That happened to me with The Hollows series, which I ended up completing (despite it fizzling out, tbh) because I felt like I had invested too much time into it!

      I don’t have too much issue with fandoms either, thankfully — I think that’s mostly because I’m not really that into books that have intense fandoms? The only author whose fandom I’m a bit leery of is Sarah J Maas; her fans can be a bit hardcore.

  5. I don’t know if I am intimidated by big books, but I worry about investing so much time, and not being sure if I will get a return on my time investment. I am more open to big books, when they are from an author I love or a series I am fond of.

    1. The time investment is definitely a factor for me too, Sam! In general, I tend to feel less intimidated by books from authors I’ve read before and enjoyed too — unless they’re trying a new direction. Then I get a bit concerned that it may not be as good! 😂

  6. I’ve never thought about this per se, I don’t think, but now that you mention it yeah I’ve held off on some books for different reasons. A super long series definitely (Mercy thompson comes to mind, although I did read the first one last year) so yeah. Hype sometimes turns me off a bit too, it’s weird- sometimes hype makes me WANT to read a book, and other times it doesn’t. But I guess maybe that just depends what kind of book it is…

    I totally hear you on The Count of Monte cristo. I want to read it too but it’s so huge I don’t want to devote the time, you know?

    1. I feel like super long and still on-going series are avoided by a lot of people, despite being interested in them! I know I certainly do. If I’m ever three or more books behind, there’s little chance I’ll ever dive in. Hype, that fickle beast! Do we love it or do we hate it? 🤔

      Oh yeah, I 100% get you! I feel exactly the same way. But I’ve heard that it’s soooo good!

  7. I confess I get intimidated by long books all the time. I find that is especially true once I started blogging. When you have a mountain of books all waiting to be read, many of them review copies with release dates coming up, the thought of a lengthy book eating into that much needed time is terrifying! It’s like, I could probably knock 2-3 books off my tbr in the time it takes me to read this 1000 page monster! So yeah, a lot of my longer books get put on the backburner a lot, until I am caught up a bit and feel more comfortable with where I’m at in my schedule. I also tend to do long books in audio no, so that I can finish them in a more timely manner.

    1. Yes, thank you! There’s nothing worse than getting a bunch of ARCs you’re excited about and realizing that not only are they all being released int he same month, but they’re all 500+ pages too. Yikes! I never considered tackling longer books via audio — that’s a great idea! I guess I figured that the listen time would make it take longer, but if you’re going at x2 speed it’s probably pretty efficient.

  8. I actually like discovering long series with a lot of books already published, because then I don’t have to wait for new books to come out if I should enjoy the novels. But I have to say that only a few authors have managed to keep my interest in the long run, there are right now three long series I’m reading and I would love to discover new ones.

    1. I agree that stumbling onto an interesting looking long series can be awesome, but only if it’s finished! Otherwise I get worried that it’ll go on forever. Maybe that’s just because I read so much urban fantasy though, which can tend to be on the long side. Long series are a commitment!

  9. I think long books are the most intimidating – probably because of the reason that Steff outlines below. Basically we all seem to have a stack of books waiting and the huge door stoppers take such a lot of time. Brandon Sanderson’s latest is a prime example, I’ve bought the audio version and it’s 55 hours of listening. That’s like a week and a half of work time. I don’t feel intimidated by the content really – just the sheer amount of time and commitment needed.
    Lynn 😀

    1. Those major tomes are pretty intimidating for me too — that entire series, Stormlight Archive, could feature in this post! A week and a half of listening to one book, every day, all day is a hell of a commitment. Maybe that’s the real issue: bookish commitment phobia! 😂

  10. The Way of Kings is supposed to a phenomenal start to a series but the size of it has intimidated me for years! I usually don’t jump into series anymore unless I already suspect that it’s going to be great!

  11. Yes. Hype used to ruin quite a few books for me. Now I try to stay away from the hyped book for a while – until it dies down and I don’t have all that *best book ever* expectations in my head.

    I really wanted to read The Cruel Prince recently and stayed away from most reviews so I could go in without knowing anything and I ended up enjoying it a lot. Maybe not as much as everyone else but if I had read all the 5 star reviews first, I think I would have expected more and hated it.

    I hardly read any series now because I fell so far behind but I’m trying to dip my toes back in. i used to love to binge read new authors and haven’t had time the past few years because of ARC’s.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    1. I try to do the same with hyped books: if my interest is still there 6 months or a year after the release date, then I pick it up (and have mostly forgotten the hype by then). Avoiding reviews like you did for The Cruel Prince is a great idea, too! I should really start doing that more.

      Oh ARCs…do we love ’em or hate ’em? Haha. I know the feeling of being buried under a mountain of review copies, and it can definitely get in the way of binge-reading a series!

  12. I feel ya! I really want to read more epic fantasy books, but so many of them are SO DAMN LONG. I also get intimidated when a book introduces too many characters all at once. I’ve had plenty of moments where I’ve needed to look up a character’s name online because I’m like, “Wait, who’s that again?”

    1. Ohhhhh my god, you’re so right about introducing all the characters at once! I hadn’t considered that as part of bookish intimidation, but it totally is. Whenever I see a big, complicated “family tree” of characters at the beginning of a book, I get a bit freaked out!

  13. Ugh, YES, this is a constant problem for me! I find that I dread reading bigger books, and have to read some super short ones before I can bother with the big ones. And I will probably only read them if I *really* am interested, which I suppose is a decent way to filter my TBR- maybe I should pretend that ALL books are big and scary, my TBR might be manageable by the end! 😀

    1. I’m so glad I’m not alone!!! Interspersing your longer reads with some quick, short ones is a good idea…I should definitely try that. Or maybe I’ll be like you and narrow down my TBR by eliminating all the big and scary books. 😂

  14. I have put off reading many a book because I’ve found it intimidating. Either because I didn’t want to invest in a long series or because it’s just plain old long. Sometimes hype is strong and i don’t want to be the odd duck who doesn’t like a well loved book. Also, I get put off by investing in a long series but i also don’t like to read a series without knowing i have the next book to hand. A lot of things put me off reading, really.

    1. Ahhhh yes, the classic “I preordered this book and still want to read it, yet I’ve put it off for ages” predicament. I know it well! I really like being able to binge-read a series, but it’s hard to do that if you’re not willing to buy the whole thing in one go…which can be a bit hard on the wallet when you’re talking about a long-running series. Hahaha, thankfully there are more things that entice us to read than there are that put us off reading. 😉

  15. I have put off so many books because of intimidation! Usually the size of a book, but mostly just because I don’t want to spend ages reading a book when I have so many to get too. I can read more books if I read smaller ones. It’s a mess LOL!

    1. Exactly!!! There are just so many dang books to read, knowing that I’ll spend a week or more reading a super-long tome just doesn’t sit well with me these days. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective lol) I’ve put a ton of long books on my 2018 “read my own damn books” challenge list. Wish me luck, and freedom from bookish intimidation!

  16. Me me! I always feel incredibly intimidated with a long series, especially in the crime/mystery genre. I’ve avoided some really popular ones because they’re all linked and you need to know what has happened before so these days I ask which series is one that has stories that are self contained even if they are in a series, or I ask people what’s a good point to jump into a series. Or … I take a chance, and it’s never as satisfying lol Gosh, the 1000+ pages is way intimidating! Classics aren’t my favourite genre in any way, but any book in that size range would absolutely be intimidating!!

    1. If I’ve learned anything from this discussion post, it’s that we are definitely not alone in this feeling! Long-running series will be the absolute death of me; I want to read them in order, I’ve heard they’re great, but knowing it could take me months or even years to finish a series kills me! The longest-running crime series I can think of is J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts’ Eve Dallas books, and although I’m intrigued by them, there’s NO WAY I’ll be reading a 40+ book series!

  17. I guess I’ve never had this problem cause I always read like 6 books at a time 😀 so if it’s a 1000-page beast, I just read it alongside all the others I want to read, slow burn, and just put it away when it tires me. That way no slumps usually happen 😀 speaking of which, I also really want to read The Count of Monte Cristo. One day… 🙂

    1. Dang, 6 books at a time! I usually settle for 2: one audio and one print, haha. It’s definitely a good way to avoid feeling slump-y whilst reading a super-long book though! Yay, I’m glad I’m not alone in that. I really want to read it. I’m thinking I might try a “50 pages a day” approach to it later in the year — we’ll see!

  18. Oh yeah, it can be intimidating to take on a dearly loved series in the genre. I think I’ve felt that way about most series, which is one nice thing about reading early, trying to beat the hype

    1. Oh yeah, jumping in early and avoiding any hype that builds is always an advantage for these long-running series! Unfortunately there are just so many “old school” or even “older” school ones that I want to try…but their venerated status makes me a bit nervous.

  19. There is this strange thing with books where I desire more and dread the growing pile at the same time, lol! I understand exactly how you feel. I have a few big fantasy books/series I really want to start but just feel overwhelmed. 🙂

  20. I feel this so much! Especially the length thing! I really want to read the Kate Daniels series, but I don’t know if I will ever catch up, you know? I also want to read Patricia Briggs’ series.

    I try to stay away from hype unless it’s hype from my close blogging friends, like yourself. I’ve been burned way too many times. It’s especially true for YA books for some reason.

    1. Ohhhhhhh Nick, I know exactly what you mean! I read the first three or four KD books (and really liked them!) but then I fell too far behind and got intimidated by the continuing series. It’s coming to a conclusion this year with book 10 though, and it’d make a great BR. @afoolsingenuity:disqus Just saying. 😉

      I’ve been burned a lot by the hype machine, too, and it usually seems to happen with YA! I think it’s because there are just so many YA book bloggers out there? I dunno. Maybe it’s that combined with how few negative reviews I see floating around in the YA blogosphere….the hype is inevitable that way!

  21. I pretty much only read romance now cause I feel like most YA books are so hyped up and most dont live up to the hype then theres the hidden gems no one is talking about it seems just cause they dont have a big marketing budget. I feel the same way about my favorite books. Its like i want my friends to read then but I also dont cause id be crushed if they dont absolutely love it as much as I do.

    1. So dang true! Half of the really cool YA books I hear about are ones I stumble onto either by accident or because I follow a lot of smaller reviewers on twitter; I’m just over the whole YA hype machine. Romance has been treating me very well as a reader lately! When I love love love a book, I recommend it without reservations…but like you, I’m super sad if a friend doesn’t like it as much as I did!

  22. Hype is a big one for me too, I’d much rather wait for it to die down before picking it up. Sometimes it helps getting the review book before everyone else so I can avoid that… I would of course have to read it early like I’m supposed to but these days I’m constantly behind schedule. lol The other issue I’m forever running into is page count. I’m always stuck in that need to be productive mode and spending so much time on a single book is an issue to me but I really need to get over myself. Especially when some of those higher page count novels I’m for sure going to love… why should page count stop me.

    1. Oh same, I usually try to let the hype fizzle out or die completely before I start reading a book. By that point I’ve often forgotten what the reviewers were saying too, which helps keep my expectations in check. LOL same, my “schedule” is looking a bit sad at the moment. *big sigh*

      Page count! It’s a beast when you’re looking at it before diving in, but once you get into the swing of a longer book that length can be a major plus. I always want to stay in cool and interesting worlds for as long as possible!

  23. I haven’t even got Psy Changeling actually clicked onto my TBR yet – I think… How bad is it that I didn’t know it had huge hype and following??? Sometimes I think I live under a rock!

    I do get it though – I mean sometimes I intimidate myself! What if I don’t love this next book that my absolutely favourite author is putting out? How will I even LIVE with myself?

    And starting a hugely long series or picking up a tome is serious pressure! That’s a lot of investment on our part – into the world, into the characters, the time spent reading, not to mention getting hold of the books in the first place!

    If I really want to read something I tend to stay away from all the comments – the hype, the reviews – EVERYTHING. I don’t even read the synopsis sometimes (which can lead to some confused moments, but still!), I’ve found it works for me.

    I don’t actually have any tips except… Try not to feel the pressure. Who cares if all you read is one series all month? Or if you read one of them a month/week/whatever? You can take it as you will, but remember that at the base of everything, we just love reading.

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