One day, I was checking my emails when the wrong account came up. It was full of emails – around sixty – and I thought I’d somehow opened the wrong email account. I checked at the top for the name of the email: firstname.lastname@example.org – my blog’s email account. I hadn’t checked it since I first made it, when I started my blog. I couldn’t believe I had been so stupid to have completely forgotten about it. As I scrolled down the emails, I read their subjects: mostly related to book review requests, with a few from book marketing companies. I was in wonder at the idea that people wanted me to read their book to review it – that they’d actually let me read it for free just so that I reviewed it. I didn’t understand how all of those people found my tiny blog.
I went through all the emails one by one, replying to the requests that seemed to fit with my reading interests – I was still in shock that I was CHOOSING which books I wanted to read (for free) and review. I tried to make it clear to the people that I did reply to that I couldn’t guarantee I would even write a review, although I did promise to read it. They sent me PDFs of their books, and that was that.
The first review-copy book that I read, and later went on to review, was Crossroads, a collection of essays by Ugandan women about their lives and their experiences of the conflict between western and traditional values in their society. I didn’t know what to expect, as I had never read anything like it. But something about it drew me in – so I read it (on my phone), and loved it from the very first page. I enjoyed some of the essays more than others, but I certainly learned something valuable from each.
After I reviewed the book, I sent the link to Christopher Conte, the book’s author, who had requested my review; I got such a thrill from having fulfilled his hopes. I later saw that he featured my review on his website. I felt special, and appreciated.
I now get review requests fairly often, from authors, marketing teams and from a publicity agency with whom I work with to read books and write reviews for their clients, authors. I enjoy receiving books that I’m interested, however find it hard sometimes to express that I might not be able to write a substantive review of their book, or simply read it and write the review within the deadline – because after all, I’m becoming increasingly busy with school. Plus, I still want to carry on reading books that I find myself (bought from bookstores), upon recommendations and inspiration from Goodreads. I know how important it is to remain inspired by books.