I've been here for just over 5 years now and although posts about the nature of blogging (as I see it) aren't really my thing every so often it's probably as well to give it some thought, not least because Desperate Reader accounts for quite a lot if my time.
I started blogging towards the end of a particularly trying time. There was a series of woeful work, health, and mortgage insurance issues followed by a year when all I could find was part time work. It left me with virtually no money and lots of time - which in some ways was wonderful, but also horribly uncertain. The wonderful part was that for the first time in years I could read as much as I wanted. The uncertain bits don't really need dwelling upon.
Blogging turned out to be a really positive thing to do in all sorts of unexpected ways, but I also decided right from the beginning that I wouldn't write about things I didn't feel genuine enthusiasm for. I sometimes see discussions about why there are so few negative reviews on blogs but I'd be more surprised if it was the other way round - why promote (even in a small way) something you're ambivalent about? And then I read almost purely for pleasure so if I'm not enjoying a book I'll abandon it; accepting the challenge of wading through 800 odd pages of Trollope endlessly repeating himself only works for me because I love him enough to know the effort will be rewarded.
Having decided that it was basically going to be books I loved it then seemed unnecessary to state where they came from. Initially because they mostly came from charity shops or had been sitting on my shelves for years, and later because the source of the book is irrelevant to what I think about it's contents so unless there's some sort of anecdote attached it feels unnatural to mention it. I do get free books though, some I'm offered, some just appear (as if by magic) and from time to time I'll beg for one.
Asking a publisher for a book has never stopped feeling like begging, and I've never got past feeling like I've got away with something when they say yes. I have to be fairly certain I'll love something before I ask for it because having asked it seems only fair to read and write about it in a timely fashion, the one time I really didn't much like a book I'd got that way I felt like I'd broken a contract. The publicist on the other hand wasn't at all bothered.
Blogging feeds a book habit my wages most certainly wouldn't cover, but keeping it manageable is sometimes a challenge. In the general scheme of things I don't get sent a lot of books, but I get about as many as I can read so inevitably I end up writing more about titles I've been given then ones I've bought. Luckily (for me) I quite often get offered books I would almost certainly have bought eventually - this makes me ridiculously excited and happy.
Last week there was an article in The Guardian where the author Kathleen Hale wrote about a blogger she had a run in with. A negative review led to a slightly unhealthy obsession on Kathleen's part which in turn led to the discovery that the blogger wasn't who she said she was. It all sounded exhausting. As someone who mostly reads books written by people who died a while ago this is foreign territory to me, there's no downside to a passion for the classics and books which have generally survived the passage of time and fashion.
Just recently I've read a handful of books by people who are not only alive but also on twitter, it's been very disconcerting realising they've seen what I've written. When I started doing this I assumed my family would read it (because I made them) and bookish friends because they might want to. It remains mildly surprising that other people have found their way here too, nice people, people I've come to like very much - the longer I spend on this post the luckier I feel. Still, I always write with the idea that my dad reads this, it's a handy reminder to be polite (my father appreciates/demands good manners), not to exaggerate to wildly, and to avoid anecdotes which might lead to awkward conversations with concerned patriarchs.
And that is as close as I'm ever likely to get to a review policy.