The Mud and Stars Book Blog

thoughts from a girl who spends her days in other worlds…

Self-care tips for book bloggers

Hello, you lovely people, and a happy Friday to you!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been struggling with blogging recently, and with reading too. I’m feeling burned-out and tired, which prevents me from enjoying reading as much as I normally do, and as for blogging… that feels impossible.

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A lot of the way I’m feeling is due to my anxiety, but all of us can feel this way at times, regardless of mental health issues, because book-blogging, though we love it, can be stressful and overwhelming.

FOR EXAMPLE…

Sometimes we find ourselves drowning in a sea of ARCs, and, although ARCs are an honour and a privilege, drowning isn’t fun for anyone.

Sometimes we have a million things we WANT to read, but can’t, because of all the books we HAVE to read, so we spend hours staring at our shelves in a state of panic, not reading anything at all.

Sometimes, we don’t want to read, and we just want to watch Netflix, y’know?

All of these things make it pretty damn difficult to keep up with our blogs, and feel calm.

But, there are lots of little things we can do to help ourselves when we feel like we’re crumbling under this pressure.

Those little things are small, but vital, acts of self-care.

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As somebody who suffers from anxiety and depression, I have come to appreciate just how important self-care is when I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and exhausted. Self-care can be anything from scheduling time for relaxation, to saying ‘no’ to things when I’m not feeling well enough to do them.

But looking after yourself is important no matter what the state of your mental health might be. Putting yourself first is not selfish, it’s not weak, and your health is entirely more important than your blog, at the end of the day.

If you are finding book-blogging stressful and overwhelming in any way right now, here are some self-care tips (with a bookish/blogging slant) that you might find helpful. 😊


GIVE YOURELF TIME TO RELAX

Get into a blanket/onesie/cosy get-up of you choosing, surround yourself with snacks and beverages, turn off your phone, ignore your loved ones(!), and spend some quality time with a book. Reading a book just for fun – one that you have no intention of reviewing – removes all pressure from your reading experience.

If you decide, afterwards, that you want to review the book, you can, but go in telling yourself that this is for pure enjoyment, nothing more, and you’ll find the whole thing so much more relaxing.

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SAY NO

Learning to say no is extremely important if you are feeling overwhelmed. It is okay to put yourself, and your health, first.

It’s okay to say no to review requests, and if you have ALL THE ARCS stacked on top of you, Buckaroo stylee, however tempting it may be, DO NOT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, REQUEST ANY MORE. It’s extra pressure that you don’t need right now, and that book will be there waiting for you later down the line, once it has been released, and you actually have the time and energy to read it.

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STOP BUYING BOOKS

I know, I know, this sounds like sacrilege. But, similarly to being approved for a bunch of ARCs you don’t have the time or inclination to read, having lots of unread books on your shelf can be really overwhelming if you’re feeling low. And, if you’re buying more books every week, no matter how gloriously shiny their covers may be, you’re just adding to the problem.

Ban yourself from buying books, and focus on reading the ones you’ve got. If you don’t feel like reading any of them at the moment, do something else – it will be healthier for you to watch a bit of TV, or have a relaxing bath, than try to struggle through a book you’re not into, feeling increasingly guiltier about it with every page. And, if you want to treat yourself to a pick-me-up,  you can always spend your money on something other than a book; chocolate, wine, bubble bath, stationary… basically comforting things that you don’t have to read.

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So, if you find yourself drawn to a bookshop, wrench yourself away; you’ll feel far better about yourself, and your shelves, if you do.


DITCH THE NEW RELEASES

As book-bloggers, we constantly feel pressure to read the books that EVERYONE is talking about. But we don’t HAVE to read them RIGHT NOW if the pressure is getting to us. Those books don’t have a sell-by date. We’ll get to them when we’re ready.

Re-reading an old favourite book instead can be a real treat, and there is no pressure involved, because we don’t need to decide how we feel about the book, and what star rating to give it – we already know we adore it, and that it will do our mental health the world of good.

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DO A BOOK TAG

Book tags are fun, and approx. a million times less pressurised than writing a book review where you have to analyse the crap out of everything.

If book tags are too much for you right now, that’s absolutely fine, but if you sit down and give one a go, just for fun, you might find yourself getting back into the swing of things.

Plus, book tags generally contain more gif-usage and more fangirling than reviews, both of which are highly efficient at boosting your endorphin levels. FACT.

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DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP

This is easier said than done – I beat myself up constantly – but remind yourself that NOBODY IS JUDGING YOU EXCEPT FOR YOURSELF. Nobody is looking at your blog and thinking ‘what a failure, she never posts anymore, compared to I, superwoman, who whacks out a post every day of the week.’

Superwoman is too busy doing Superwoman to notice, so you just do you… whatever you have to offer is enough for now, and makes you Superwoman/man in my eyes.

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HAVE A BREAK

Take a hiatus if you need one. You can announce it, if that makes you feel more comfortable, but if you don’t want to, there is no shame in going off-road for a while, without telling anyone. YOU DO NOT NEED TO EXPLAIN YOURSELF.

The blogging community isn’t going anywhere, and you will not be forgotten, but if you’re worried about disappearing, you can always keep in contact with everyone by liking or commenting on their posts (which is a lot easier than writing your own when you’re feeling burned out.)

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LOOK AFTER YOURSELF IN GENERAL

This is not related to books or blogging, but if you are feeling low, basic things can feel impossible, let alone keeping up with a hobby. Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, getting some exercise, and breathing fresh air are all vital, and do as much good for your mental health as they do your physical health.

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I hope these tips have been helpful, and that some of them work for you! 😊 Do you have any self-care tips for when you’re feeling overwhelmed? I’d love to hear from you.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend filled with books and cake!

Gif credit: Giphy

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Book-blogging with anxiety (a post containing virtual hugs, and kittens.)

Hi guys! I’ve been thinking about posting this for some time, and as today is World Mental Health Day, it seems like the right time to throw these thoughts out into the blogosphere. I have a tendency to feel like I’m alone in how I’m feeling, but the truth is, lots of people within the book-blogging community struggle with mental health conditions, so this is me reaching out and saying that if you yourself feel that way, you are not alone.

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I’m not sure if I’ve ever explicitly said so on my blog, but I suffer from depression and anxiety. Sometimes the way I’m feeling gets in the way of blogging, as you can probably tell from how sporadic a blogger I’ve been over the past few months. I’m trying at the moment – it’s very hard, but I’m trying – to convince myself that I should NOT feel guilty about this.

Book-blogging can be stressful at the best of times, and I know I’m not alone in all of the anxieties I experience with this hobby. I LOVE blogging, I love the community, I love discussing books with you guys and fangirling and being part of something so awesome. But there are so many stresses and struggles that sit alongside the good stuff, which are only amplified by anxiety and depression, and I know I’m not alone in this:

I can’t be the only one who sees how many books another human is reading and reviewing per week and feels stressed that it’s been two weeks and I haven’t finished a single book because I can’t concentrate right now

I can’t be the only one who gets panicky because it’s been more than a week and I haven’t replied to my blog comments because I’m overwhelmed, and what if everyone thinks I’m rude and ignorant and lazy

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I can’t be the only one who worries that I’ll be forgotten because I haven’t posted anything in ten days and I don’t know when I’ll be able to because my brain is full of fog and just picking what to have for lunch is a challenge right now

I can’t be the only one who sees other bloggers giving advice like ‘you should try to blog every day, or a least 4 times a week’ and wants to curl up in a little ball of unworthiness because I am clearly not trying hard enough

I can’t be the only one whose heart starts beating faster when somebody says they want to read a book I’ve reviewed, because what if they hate it? What if they never trust my opinion again? And worse still, what if they find it problematic and get offended by it and hate me for encouraging them to read it?

I can’t be the only one who gets anxious when everyone around me is reviewing a new release and I haven’t even read it yet, because reading books is hard when you’re so tired you’re barely alive

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And I certainly can’t be the only one who thinks what I’ve written is a pile of crap when my stats aren’t very good. That I’m a big fat failure full stop.

In fact, I know I’m not the only one.


I’ve decided it’s high time we stopped feeling so guilty. Blogging is supposed to be enjoyable, but sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes, anxiety and depression can make blogging feel like climbing a mountain. But it’s okay:

It’s okay if it takes us two weeks, three weeks, a month, to read one book.

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It’s okay if it takes us a while to get back to people who’ve commented on our posts – they’ll understand. They won’t throw rocks at us.

It’s okay if we don’t blog for a month – everyone takes hiatuses.

It’s okay not to blog every single day. It’s enough that we’re getting up and getting through the day. We matter more than our blogs, at the end of the day.

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In fact, it’s perfectly okay to do something OTHER than blogging when we get home from a mentally exhausting day at work/school/other gruelling reality thing. It’s okay to binge-watch something on Netflix instead of reading. It’s okay to get into bed at 9.30, even if that is earlier than our Granny retires to hers.

It’s okay if we like a book and somebody else doesn’t – everyone has different opinions, and nobody is going to throw rocks at us for expressing ours.

It’s okay if we don’t review a new release; we can read and review whatever we want, it’s our blog! And we don’t even HAVE to review a book – we could just read it for fun and not worry about it. Nobody is going to throw rocks at us if we don’t come up with 1,000 sparklingly witty and insightful words about Empire of Storms. (In fact, nobody throws rocks in the book blogging community full stop. We’re all lovely human beings.)

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It’s also okay if we don’t get a gazillion views on one of our blog posts. We’re blogging because we enjoy it, and stats don’t matter. Oh and while we’re at it, our blog is not crap, and neither are we.

Basically, it’s okay to give ourselves a break. STOP BEATING OURSELVES UP. We deserve to be happy, and blogging isn’t going anywhere. It’ll still be there when we feel up to it again. And so will all the wonderful people in this community, who understand, and may even feel the same way. 🙂


Much love to you all and hope you have a lovely week. And if any of the above is familiar to you, I am always here for anyone who needs a virtual hug right now.

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Image source: Giphy

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Why ‘adults’ need YA just as much as ‘young adults’…

Hi guys! Happy Friday! Today I wanted to make a post about YA books, and why as an ‘adult’, I gain just as much from reading them as the ‘target audience’.

This was inspired by Casey’s amazing post over at Adoptabookaus about why ‘Reading has no age limit’. She excellently argued why we shouldn’t feel ashamed for reading YA just because we’re outside of the intended ‘age bracket’. Please go check it out right now! It’s made of awesome.

This topic has been on my mind for a while, as I’ve seen a number of snobby online articles over the past few months about why adults *shouldn’t* read YA.

The two in particular which riled me up (which just for reference’ sake, and not because I endorse them in any way, I am going to link to here) were:

The craze for adult colouring books shows how we’ve all become infants (The Telegraph)

Most YA fiction is grown-up fiction in disguise (The Guardian)

Both of these articles made me hopping mad, and I wanted to share my feelings on why these journalists are, in my opinion, all kinds of wrong.


The Telegraph article suggests adults should be reading ‘classics’ instead of enjoying children’s books, and ‘painting’ instead of collecting adult colouring books. It argues that adults are somehow dumbing themselves down by reading YA.

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First of all, reading doesn’t have to be about expanding your mind – people read for all kinds of reasons. Personally, I mainly read for enjoyment, and I’m far more likely to enjoy an exciting thriller, a swoonworthy romance, or a creepy horror than I am to enjoy War and Peace. Sometimes when I sit down after a hard day at work, I’m not really in it to improve myself, y’know?

BUT… sometimes I do want to learn. And that’s great because…

YA books CAN teach you things, and DO have educational value.

Holly Bourne’sAm I Normal Yet?’ taught me a great deal about what it’s like to suffer from OCD.

Neal Shusterman’s dystopian Unwind series prefaced every chapter with informative, real life news articles on everything from organ selling on the black market, to scientific developments in transplant surgery and 3D organ printing.

And Leslie Wilson’s Saving Rafael taught me far more about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust than I ever learnt at school.

I am an adult, and I am constantly learning new and fascinating things of *value* from YA books.

But how do we define value anyway? Does a book have to be a classic, educational, or philosophically profound to merit value?

Why can’t a book have value because it cheered me up after a crappy day? Why can’t a book have value because an author managed to make me blub like a baby using words from their mind? Why can’t a book have value because it got my heart beating like crazy with romantic feels? Why can’t a book have value simply because I ENJOYED IT?

I mean, being an adult isn’t easy… why should I feel ashamed of escaping into a fantastic book which makes it that little bit easier to cope with?

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Moving on to the Guardian article (btw, please do read Cait from Paper Fury’s response to this – which Casey highlighted in her post – because it’s bloody brilliant):

The Guardian article talks a lot about how YA books are becoming more popular with adults, and that because of this they are ‘catering less’ to their intended audience – teenagers. It also implies that there is something *wrong* with an adult reader for enjoying a YA book.

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It’s incredibly offensive to suggest that teenagers can’t handle a book with more ‘adult’ themes. Personally, I read a lot of adult books as a teenager, as YA wasn’t a massive thing back then. It’s really only taken off massively in the last few years. I had no trouble understanding and enjoying these books, because *surprise surprise* TEENAGERS ARE NOT STUPID.

It’s also incorrect to say that YA books are becoming more ‘for adults’ and less ‘for teenagers’. There are gazillions of fantastic teen bloggers in this community who devour these books, and love them as much as I do. I applaud YA authors for not PATRONISING their audience by dumbing down the books they write for them; for writing about the things which matter to teenagers. (Which, funnily enough, matter to adults too – we’re not THAT different.)

I believe there *is* still a clear difference between YA books and adult books, but not because YA books are somehow *less* than adult books, but actually because they are  often MORE.

And THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ADULTS ENJOYING THEM. It angers me so much that somebody would suggest there is something WRONG WITH ME for enjoying them. That it’s ‘weird’.

You know why I read YA books? Because I DON’T SEE MYSELF IN MANY ADULT BOOKS. And for me, I place more *value* on books I *do* see myself in.

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Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy my fair share of adult books. But, I never seem to relate to their protagonists as much as I do those of YA books.

In the Guardian article, the journalist generalises and trashes the YA ‘genre’ arguing:

“Much YA is a lazy, disheartening mush of false problems, fake solutions, idealised romance, second-rate fantasy, tired dystopias. Easy to read; easy to forget.”

Well, I am going to say something about adult books now which could be taken as me doing the same thing, so I’d like to clarify that I know this isn’t true of ALL adult books…. BUT:

Many of the adult books I have read are unrealistic and simply not relatable to me and my experiences!

Most of the ones I read are fairly formulaic, and I’ll admit my ‘grown up’ reading isn’t all that diverse. I mainly read:

A) novels about women inheriting old houses full of historical family secrets

B) thrillers about women whose husband’s turn out to be psychopaths

C) romantic fiction about women who waltz into publishing jobs unrealistically easily

I love these books, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t RELATE to them (even though many of the protagonists are my own age).

I do work in publishing, so you might say the third of these is relevant to me and my experiences. But it isn’t really. It provides an idealised picture of it. I read books like this for escapism, but I don’t connect with them as deeply as I do YA.

When I was a teenager, I read a lot of adult women’s fiction, and it gave me a very unrealistic view of what life as an adult would be like. I grew up thinking adulthood would mainly be about swanning around an office in a pencil skirt and fabulous heels, cappuccino in hand, confident I had it all figured out. I also, naively thought I would have ditched all the awkwardness of my teenage years.

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I still leave the house with toothpaste on my shirt, and my shoelaces undone. I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’m still scared about the future. (Perhaps even more so).

Btw, I’m not trying to scare anyone here. Adulthood isn’t all bad. We have wine. 🙂 And money to spend on books. 🙂

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YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

My point is, teenage worries and fears are not dissimilar to my worries and fears as a 25 year old human.

Wrestling with your identity, friendship, being in love, dealing with grief, struggling with mental illness, being angry with the government, standing up for what you believe in… these are not just “teen” issues, they are my issues too.

Many YA books are described as ‘coming of age’, which is always traditionally regarded as a thang that teenagers do. But do we ever really stop ‘coming of age’? What is this mysterious ‘age’ we are supposed to ‘come’ to? I’m pretty sure ageing is a thing everyone, not just teenagers, does for… ooh… approx. 100% of their lives?

We don’t stop changing, struggling through crazy emotional ‘life stuff’, and learning when we hit the age of 18. I’m still doing all of those things, and adult books are doing me a disservice by not guiding me through a time I’m finding just as difficult as being a teenager.

Until I see myself in an adult book, I will continue to read YA books, thank you very much…

Because YA books are fantastic! They make me laugh, cry, fist-pump my feelings of ‘YASSS! THIS!!!!”, and most of all, they comfort me. They comfort me because they reassure me I’m NOT ALONE in not having it all figured out.

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Are you an adult reader of YA? Do you see yourself in adult books, or do you identify more with YA books like I do? And if you’re a teen blogger, do you feel that YA has stopped being for you – that it has become too adult? Or do you think that’s a load of old rubbish?

I’m really interested to hear everyone’s thoughts on this!

Image credit: Giphy

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