how my reading & reviewing has changed and matured in 2020

I don’t really know how to introduce this post! Apart from the fact that I actually CAME UP WITH A POST IDEA and am not just posting a tag or monthly wrap-up…WILD. Please say you guys are proud of me because I’m proud of me!!

cutting down on my TBR

I took my TBR from like 400+ books to 200ish books. I think, when i first started involving myself in the blogging community, everyone was talking about their “never-ending TBR” and i was like “I nEED that never-ending TBR” so I would be constantly adding books to my TBR on goodreads even if i wasn’t even interested in them?! Or knew what they were about? If I’d vaguely heard of the book? TBR. pretty cover? TBR. literally any book? TBR. So I was accumulating a lot of books on this “Want To Read” list…and I didn’t even know if I even WANTED to read them. 

This is obviously, so so stupid. So I went back, a few weeks ago, and just batch edited and deleted loads of books off my TBR that I knew I didn’t want to read. Here are some thoughts I had while I was clearing it out.

  • The book’s hyped but i’m not interested
  • I’m probably never going to pick this up, let’s be real
  • Why is this on my TBR?
  • I don’t even know what this book’s about
  • If i had this book in my hands, would I read it within the next month? Yes? No?

I’m really really glad I did this because now I feel like every book on my TBR I actually WANT to read. Which feels so much nicer! It feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Honestly, I recommend everyone does this. I know it’s hard to let go of books but you WILL feel so much better after you’ve done it and you can refine what you read and hopefully enjoy more of your reads!

not writing unnecessarily long reviews

Pre-2019 Ilsa would feel the need to write reviews and comment on EVERYTHING in a book. “The plot was really enjoyable. The writing style was easy to read. The characters were nice. The pacing was alright.” like I felt the need to write a WHOLE paragraph on these mediocre things in a book that I didn’t have any strong feelings about. Which made my reviews really boring, in my opinion. I didn’t tend to do this in negative reviews because it is much easier to pick point the things I HATED. But positive reviews, I would always be unnecessary. Now, I only write reviews which only note on the things I actually have important things to say about. This, I think, makes my reviews more cohesive and interesting? (I haven’t written a real review in a long time)

Negative reviews i’m “proud” of:

Positive reviews i…”like”:

trying to read outside YA

Okay this isn’t working out spectacularly because I usually have one brain cell and YA books are really easy to read most of the time? But I’m trying to read more classics (I’ve read 3 so far) and Adult books (that have been on my TBR for a long time) I haven’t started to read non-fiction yet but I would love to try out some memoirs soon!

My reading pre-2020 was VERY Young Adult focused and while I love the genre, all my new 5 stars of this year are non-YA so I can totally see how I’m growing out of the genre. I enjoy YA don’t get me wrong and still read LOADS of it, I’m just wanting to broaden my horizons because there are SO!! Many good books out there that I think I will love. Also I have a 5-star prediction shelf and out of the 28 books there, only 9 are Young Adult books. (which is about 30%)

understanding what books I want to recommend to people

I feel like before I would recommend any book I enjoyed to everyone like “please read this!” but now I’m starting to understand what books I enjoy are actually good and high-quality and what books I enjoy for self-indulgent reasons. 

For example: Shatter Me, Serpent & Dove and Caraval are not books I’d recommend to a lot of people because I know they’re not, objectively, very good books and mostly weak and I only enjoy and love them because I’M Trash. However, there are books I would be less hesitant to recommend like The Diviners series, Strange The Dreamer and Six Of Crows which I actually recognize as very good books that I love!!

un-hauling physical books

At one point, I came to the stage where I owned quite a lot of books (though not as much as many bookstagrammers and other book influencers) I was receiving a lot of ARCs, books through trades, and other places. Again, a few weeks ago, I went through my bookshelf and there were a lot of books I’d read and enjoyed (or not) and I wondered “why am I holding on to these?” I realised I only wanted to keep books that were 4 or 5 stars because why did I have them? If I didn’t feel strongly about them? So now I’m un-hauling twelve books on my shelf (twelve doesn’t sound like a lot to most people, but it’s a significant amount of my collection) that I’ve read but don’t feel the need to keep and 13 other books I haven’t read but know I don’t want to read. (So that’s 25 books I’m unhauling!)

just…understanding my taste better

As I mentioned in this post, I’ve finally figured out my rating system, and now I understand what kind of books I mostly enjoy. I know what books are my favourites, I know what I love. Before, I was very confused about my taste and I would rate books and be not-confident in the rating. But now I think I’m a lot more picky with my taste which makes me sure of the books I do love.

(just…saying my average rating is 2.92…)

How do you feel your reading has changed over the years? How many books are on your TBR? What age group do you read a lot from? Do you want to read more Classics but realise you have no brain cells? Because Same.


28 thoughts on “how my reading & reviewing has changed and matured in 2020”

  1. BRO I GET THIS. I found that taking a break from reading kind of made me,, be more critical about books rather than giving it a blanket “i love it!!” statement. OMG MY TBR IS SO SMALL NOW. there are less than 40 i think? and omg CLASSICS. please read The Great Gatsby or Frankenstein if you want to read classics!! i studied Frankenstein for my A-Level and it was sooo goood. ALSO STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE (a play) was amazing. i want to read more non-fiction books at the moment (stuff like ‘a colony in a nation’ and ‘why im no longer talking to white people about racism’ etc) LOVED THIS!!


    1. okay LESS THAN FOURTY I COULD NEVER there are still so many books i want to read. i did read the great gatsby…and thought it was alright (sorry) but i hope to read frankenstien!! it sounds like something i would really enjoy!! I really want to read becoming by michelle obama, know my name (i’ve heard such good things) and why i’m no longer talking to white about race as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. omg i consider myself someone who “knows what books they love” too, but i rate literally everything i read 3 stars 🤦🏻‍♀️ i do relate to small tbr though!! i used to add almost every book i saw talked about on the internet to my tbr too, until i realized that that just wouldn’t do, & developed a system that only i can understand in order to assess whether i really want to read a book or not lmao. i really love your reviews on goodreads, especially the salty ones, haha. also i once recommended one of my problematic trashy faves in a post (without mentioning its not-so-great aspects), & it haunts me to this day. what was i thinking recommending one of my guilty pleasure faves when i have a rule for myself to only recommend my objectively good faves…


    1. sksk I mean I still have way too many 1 star and 2 reads. I actually don’t mind reading 3 star books. I don’t read everything for a 5 star read like sometimes I just want a light fluffy contemporary and know it won’t get more than a 3 stars? If that makes sense. And I’m so happy u like my reviews 😭 and lmaooo I relate to regretting recommending guilty pleasure reads and when the person doesn’t like it and Ur like,,😶😶

      Liked by 1 person

      1. wait, that’s actually a good idea. i should really go into more books expecting to not rate them 5 stars. i think that because i’m so selective about the books i choose to read, i expect to fall in love with all of them. but sometimes that’s not the case, & it’s okay


  3. This was such a great post!! 💛 My physical tbr is pretty small right and only consist of library books. Talking about library books: My reading habits have changed in a way that if I want to read a book the first thing I do is see if my local library has it, if that’s not the case and I am 99% that I am going to love the book I’ll buy it from a book store. // Surprisingly, I also want to read more classics now that I’ve graduated, haha. 😂 If you want to read classics I can highly recommend reading “modern” classics such as The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.


    1. Thank you Linda!! And I have so many books at the library that I want to read. I think my library is opening tomorrow and I’m excited !! Oh the kite runner is literally one of my favourite books of ALL time!! I read it quite a while ago but I SOBBED

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally get you on un-hauling physical books. I really only keep the ones I’ll read again or borrow. Most of my books these days are on Kindle anyway, so…
    And I was/am like that too reviewing books. I just feel like I need to write EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. But I’m learning to cut it down a little.
    When I was younger I would literally read anything you gave me. Now, I guess you could say I’m a bit (a lot) more picky. Like, I look back at think, “Why in the world did I ever take interest I that book? What?” but yeah. I guess you do change a lot.


  5. i loved reading this post!! #1 i so relate to omg. i have honestly never had that ‘never ending tbr’ and there are only about 30 books on my goodreads list right now, but when i first started my book blog i added literally every book in every blog post to that list – even if i didn’t actually want to read them.
    and same i’m also trying to branch out from ya! i started doing some non-fiction wider reading to put on my uni personal statement but i’ve actually been really enjoying it! & i also bought becoming by michelle obama and i’m loving it so i highly recommend that one! i’m so interested in politics so that’s been great but she’s also so inspiring and talks about some really important things.
    oh & yes to the knowing what books i’ll love. most of the books i read these days tend to be 4-5 stars because i’m quite good at knowing whether i’ll like a book or not (mainly as i’m such a mood reader). that’s also why i’m so cautious in recommending caraval as well because i absolutely love those books but i know objectively they’re not the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Emma!! And omg 30 books I could never! That’s awesome tho, it feels so nice to have a somewhat manageable tbr instead of this huge overwhelming amount of random books. Ive had becoming on hold as an audiobook from my library for so long and I should be getting to it soon!! And yess with caracal like it’s fun but also…really bad 🤒 I still love it tho.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. *shouting* I AM SO SO PROUD OF YOU!! ALWAYS!!

    I agree so much that when I first started I felt like I needed to play into the never-ending TBR idea that everyone else is drowning in. I really should go through my TBR and cut out so many of the books I don’t care for anymore 🙈

    Also, Strange the Dreamer and Diviners are on my TBR for this summer so I’m super excited to pick those up!! (but also 100% relate to being trash for certain books but can’t really recommend them 🤡)


    1. thank you tiff! 🤧 And yes omg dooo it you will feel so much better just be really savage as you cut out all the books from your TBR.
      Omg yes that is an amazing TBR !! I hope you enjoy them! (They’re both very big and slow books tho. Strange the dreamer is verrrry slow)

      Liked by 1 person

  7. over the years, my reading has definitely matured. i still feel urges to re-read some of my old favourites like the noughts & crosses series and the ruby redfort series which i both adore!! i think i have about 200+ books on my tbr but atm i’m just ignoring them oops. i try to read young adult as well as classics but sometimes i just want to read something that isn’t challenging lmao; i need to read more classics for english literature a-level but i am starting to really enjoy them 🙂


  8. ILSA I SO GET YOU!! Mind you, as we’ve talked before, I’m a wimp and struggle to rate books lowly so you’re better at that than I am. But I found like in a lot of anticipated releases posts I’d done in the past, I wasn’t actually that interested in the majority of them and now know my taste WAY BETTER. I never bought them anyway but still, I talked about them to be ‘trendy’ but idk if I was actually very interested ya know

    Also recently, my anxiety has been high about that same thing where you love books but don’t necessarily think they’re that good. We’ll be those trashy idiots together HA.

    And wow we did the same thing. I looked at my shelves like 2 weeks ago and took off like 10 books that I realised I was holding on for no reason. I mean they are technically still some but I do still have an interest in them so not getting rid of them just yet OH WELL


  9. YES YES YES to so much of this!! I am much pickier about what books I put on my TBR now, and part of that is because I understand my taste better, too! I guess I didn’t really pay attention to what I liked and didn’t like in books until I started blogging/reviewing, and now I’m much more aware of these things. I am still guilty of adding hyped books to my TBR that I have no real interest in from time to time, but that’s gone down a lot! I’m also starting to unhaul books much more frequently, which I’m happy about- I only want books that make me happy when I look at them on my shelves 🙂


  10. Ah you are such an inspiration, really!! ❤ My TBR is gigantic on goodreads and I really, really should cut down some books, because some books are there and I'm not even sure I know why they're here anymore.
    And yes yes yes to reviews. I used to write longer reviews with paragraphs and everything, but now I'm just writing them bullet-point style and shorter and I'm just feeling more free and have much more fun writing them this way 🙂


  11. I feel like the biggest change in my reading habits over the years was refining which genres I enjoyed. I discovered that while fantasy and sci-fi are great, I really just enjoy romances, both adult and YA versions. Furthermore I’ve refined the tropes i like, which has made me enjoy most of the books that I read this year, since I now know my reading taste!
    On the other hand I want to diversify the genres i read a bit though, so that it includes more non-fiction and maybe a classic or two. But those are more lifelong goals, rather than immediate ones.
    I’ve also learned that having a really big TBR stresses me out to no end, so I try to keep my Goodreads TBR below 50, but ideally around 30 books. And I try to keep my physical TBR to 30 books, but ideally around 20-25. Right now my physical TBR is at 38 (with a few more books on the way) and my Goodreads TBR is at 46, so I really need to do some more reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. i completely agree with you that i used to add books i didn’t really care about to my tbr!! having an “overflowing tbr” is talked about so often in the book blogging community and i thought it just meant adding any book to your tbr… which is totally backfiring on me now. 😅 (i REALLY need to cut down my tbr, it’s at around 400 books right now and i’m so overwhelmed lmao.)

    this is such a relatable post omg! i used to think that i had to comment on EVERY single thing whenever i reviewed a book, so i would just repeat things like “i enjoyed the pacing” in each of my reviews haha. your reviews are always fun to read though, i love them!!

    also yes my rating system used to be all over the place and i’m finally starting to figure things out, i’m definitely getting more picky with the books i read as well! this was such an amazing post, i’m so happy and proud for you with all of these!!! ❤❤


  13. i agree with so much of this post !!!! i cut down my gr tbr because of you and i’ll probably do a purge every six months just to keep things fresh. also i really want to start reading non-ya books soon… i want to try out more adult fantasies after loving tpw so much (though i think tpw’s generally easier to read than other adult fantasies). and i also lowkey decided i want to major in english at college (that is the plan For Now!!) so i need to start reading classics lmao

    also the unnecessarily long review thing is so relatable…. i think i still write long reviews, but i’m doing better at mentioning the actual things that stood out to me / were important in deciding how i liked the book

    anyways i love this post and you!!


  14. Now that I read this I’m looking at my physical TBR pile in my room that’s been gathering dust for god knows how long. I really need to unhaul some of those books because it’s been so long since I bought them and I haven’t yet read them and now I’m not sure if I want to.

    Also gonna check my Goodreads TBR for some spring cleaning.


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