Let's Discuss... Surprise 'Review' Books!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Righty roo, if you've followed this blog for quite some time, you may have noticed that in my book hauls I always seem to mention one or two - what I like to call - surprise review books. These are basically books which have been sent out to me from a publishing company that I haven't requested. Now, I used to love this, but, recently, it's been stressing me out.

So, basically, over the past year, a pile of surprise 'review' books has began accumulating on my desk. I tidied them away into my bookshelf a couple days ago for the simple reason that, whenever I looked at my desk, all I could see were so many books I felt I needed to read and review. My stress levels spiked - especially since some had been collecting dust there for months. With all the studying and homework I have to do, it's just too much for me to handle.

Then I asked myself, should I really feel pushed to read and review these books? I always feel I should read the book and review it as the publishers have been so, SO lovely and gracious sending me out a copy - which I am always extremely grateful for - but, it's not like I asked for it and can prioritise it. In some cases, the book just doesn't look like something I'd enjoy... but that isn't always a bad thing - it's good to get out of your comfort zone.

My feelings are rather split on the matter.

I've kind-of decided to take a step back from all these surprise 'review' books. Of course, I will probably read them at some point, but I don't see why I should make myself even more stressed out feeling like these books need priority. Right now, my main priority is school - due to this hectic year, I've not even requested a single book yet, and probably won't be able to until summer. :(

I sincerely hope I don't sound ungrateful in this post. I appreciate the trouble publishers go to to send me out books. I'm guessing I'm just at that stressful age where these surprise books are just putting me under unnecessary excess pressure...

What do you think? Do you receive surprise 'review' books? Do you feel like you need to prioritise them? Does it stress you out like it does to me? Or are you able to balance everything out? If you don't receive surprise review books, what do you think about it all?

Happy Reading,
Rachel xoxo


  1. Oh don't worry, I have mainly the same feelings as you. Of course it's lovely for publishers to entrust me with reviewing their books to the point they just send me any release… but when I have so much stuff to do for school, it can be tad pressurising to read/review books I'm not necessarily interested in and don't necessarily have time for. :P

  2. I (think) I know how you feel.
    Last week I was sent the first book I've ever been asked to review. Obviously I was really pleased as it took a lot for me to pluck up the next and start offering to review books for this particular publishers. But the more I read of it, the more I realise that this really isn't my time of book and as much as I want to help by reviewing the book given that it was so kind of them to accept my offer, I feel I have other books I want to read for fun before I read something that I'm supposed to.

  3. I know! I get a LOT of those. Well, not a LOT. But the books that I do get for review. More of them tend to be these surprise books. And sometimes, it ends up coming from a series that's been rolling for awhile and they gave me book 3 or 5 or whatever. And I'm like, I don't have time to go buy these other books just to read this one. And other times, the book just doesn't sound that interesting to me. It didn't appeal to me. And when I first started receiving these surprise books, a good percentage of them weren't even ones that I wanted to read. They were contemps instead of paranormals.

    On occasion, I might save one of these surprise books to read at a certain point. But for the most part I just donate the books to a library or other book drive once it gets passed the release date.

  4. I completely agree. Whilst the sentiment behind it is just lovely (I love you, publishers!) lately I've been cutting back a lot on the review books I request so I have more time to read my own books. I only request books I'm really interested in, and often the 'surprise' copies are books I wouldn't otherwise have picked up. I do the same as you - put them on my TBR pile but don't pressure myself to read them. Sometimes I'll read the first couple of chapters and, if I'm really not into it, give them away.

    Great post!

  5. I have never received surprise review books but a friend get's them all the time and I think it's annoying but you can't just ask a publisher to stop sending FREE books. You don't want to sound ungrateful or something. But I don't think you should feel obligated to review them either because you didn't ask them. I think it's good to take a step back.

  6. I do love getting surprise books, but they always make me feel bad when I don't have enough time to review them.
    And then I get sent those books that I really do not like and have never asked for, and I feel like I can't do a bad review, but I also can't refuse to review it because it's a free book and I don't want to seem rude or ungrateful.
    It's a massive dilema and it would really be nice to know what to do at times!

  7. I've only really received one or two "surprise" review books, but I do agree that it's very stressful sometimes! I was just reflecting on how many ARCs and review books I've read so far this year and how many were "my choice" and the amount of review books is definitely dominating! It's not a bad thing, but with so many books out there, I do want my review books to be my choices! I don't think publishers can expect you to feel obligated to review those books but they hope you do! :)

  8. This is definitely a tricky one! If they were sent without you requesting them, then I would say no pressure on it… but, on the other side, the publisher might be expecting you to review them or, in thanks to receiving the copy, you would feel the pressure to review them. Well… I guess that if it was with me, if I would see that the ‘surprise’ book seemed quite interesting I think I would give it a try at least, but if not I would try and keep it in stand by for as long as I could.

    Patricia @ The Book Spine

  9. I FEEL YA BUDDEH. ;) I don't stress out when i receive surprise books bc I take it as a 'if i can review it they would be grateful but they are sending it bc they think i like it' type of thing. sometimes i review them. other times i don't even read them. it depends. most times if its something i don't think i will review or even read i give it to someone who i know they will. publishers are always lovely about these things and sometimes i just e-mail them to say thank you but i don't know if i will have time to review it but i will pass it on to someone who i know will enjoy it. ;)


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