Friday, July 31, 2009

My Last 20 Books, First Edition

Sometimes there are certain topics that just won't go away. Where book bloggers get their books to review is one of them. Too many skeptics say that, if a person received a free copy of a book, there's no way that reviewer can post an objective review. For the most part, I think that's a load of hogwash, but everyone's entitled to his own opinion.

Several book bloggers have posted the origins of the last twenty books they reviewed. Since I post three reviews per week, I knew this wouldn't take me long to research. Besides, the whole thing made me curious about my own methods.

Without further ado, here is a list of the last twenty books reviewed on Kittling: Books and where I obtained them:

  1. Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  2. Eat This Not That! by David Zinczenko. Purchased at Target.
  3. Cactus Heart by Jon Talton. Purchased at local indie The Poisoned Pen.
  4. An English Murder by Louise Doughty. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  5. Frozen in Time: The Enduring Legacy of the 1961 U.S. Figure Skating Team by Nikki Nichols. Obtained through LibraryThing's Early Reviewer program.
  6. Cold Kill by David Lawrence. Purchased through Book Closeouts.
  7. The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny. Purchased through Book Closeouts.
  8. Borderline by Nevada Barr. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  9. Excursion to Tindari by Andrea Camilleri. Purchased at a local Barnes & Noble.
  10. The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu by Michael Stanley. Purchased through Amazon.
  11. Black Dog by Stephen Booth. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  12. The Picasso Scam by Stuart Pawson. Purchased through Book Depository.
  13. The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe. Purchased through Amazon.
  14. Retirement Homes Are Murder by Mike Befeler. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  15. The Broken Shore by Peter Temple. Purchased through Book Depository.
  16. The Keeper of Secrets by Judith Cutler. Purchased through Book Depository.
  17. Body Count by P.D. Martin. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
  18. Extras by Scott Westerfeld. Purchased at Target.
  19. Gold Digger by Vicki Delany. Purchased through Amazon.
  20. Organize Your Corpses by Mary Jane Maffini. Obtained through Paperback Swap.
What's the breakdown?
  • 12 out of 20 were purchased with my hard-earned money from various sources.
  • 7 out of the 20 were obtained through a book swapping site.
  • 1 out of 20 was an Advanced Reader's Copy obtained through LibraryThing.
This is a fairly normal breakdown for me. There will be some months where the breakdowns will vary a bit. For example, I have a few ARCs coming up in the next few weeks, but I don't accept unsolicited ARCs and I'm very choosy about the ones I do accept, so this number should always be low. I am definitely not a blogger someone can point the fickle finger of fate at and exclaim, "She's only in it for the free books!" I would estimate that the number of books I've purchased over the years would fill a branch of the local library system.

This whole topic does have me curious enough where I'm likely to post periodic breakdowns of how I get my hands on the books I review. Hopefully, you'll find it interesting as well-- perhaps to the point of writing your own post about it.

If you'd like to read what other book bloggers have to say about this, check out the following links:

Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin'?
Presenting Lenore
The Boston Bibliophile
Write Meg!
Bloody Bad a Book Blog
The Story Siren
Falling Off the Shelf
Fresh Ink Books
Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
Confessions of a Book Habitue
Tutu's Two Cents
The 3 R's: Reading, 'Riting, and Randomness
Mysteries in Paradise
Reading Adventures
Word Lily
Books Please
1 More Chapter
Library Queue
Lost in Books
Books and Movies
Ms. Bookish

How about you? Where did your last twenty reviewed books come from? If you've already posted about this and your link isn't in the list above, please leave a link in the comment section so I can add you.


  1. I am afraid to go to bookcloseouts - well my wallet is anyway!

  2. Just did a quick calculation...13 bought with my $$, 2 from bookmooch, 3 from the library, 1 as a gift from the author and 1 as an ARC. I don't do very many ARCs either as I'm choosy too (only 3 or 4 on my blog in total - I like to read what I like to read). So I'm paying for a fair chunk of my books myself.

  3. Great article, with interesting questions. My thoughts on it are here:

    Thank you.

  4. Hi Cathy
    I liked that you posted about this topic - but it's not a big issue for me. I think most of us who care to do so are able to tell pretty quickly whether a reviewer is honest or not. It's like everything else - don't just trust one source for your information, know the source, and use a bit of common sense.

  5. I think that's hogwash, too. :)

    I turn down more review requests than I accept, but I like reading new books, exploring genres I might not have otherwise, and learning about new authors. It honestly doesn't matter to me where a book being reviewed comes from, as long as the blogger is honest in his/her reviews. I tell it like it is.

    I think we should read what we want to read, ARCs or not, and blog about what we want to blog about. I read a lot of bloggers who don't accept ARCs and a lot who do. It doesn't matter to me.

    I started blogging long before I ever received a review copy, so it's never been about free books. I'm accepting fewer and fewer, but I have no intention of ceasing to blog about books. Believe me, I have hundreds of non-review copies in my personal library. :)

    Diary of an Eccentric

  6. I haven´t checked, but my books come from four sources:

    1. The library (no obligations)
    2. Bought by myself (no obligations)
    3. Gifts from a blogger friend (no obligations)
    4. Won in competitions (no obligations).

    Right now, I am waiting for a gift from the author for the first time ever. I told him that I have made up my mind beforehand that if I cannot warm to a book from someone I know, I will not review it at all.

    And from what I see around, most bloggers are extremely conscientious!

  7. In the interest of full disclosure and of appreciation to the people who have been kind enough to send out copies through contests and such I keep a regularly updated page on the site with links.

  8. I did a quick look and come at about 50/25/25: free, library, bought. But the numbers are skewed because I had a lot of ARCs for June. Normally I think I run more like 33/33/33.

  9. I agree its hogwash, but to each his own opinion. I have no idea what my breakdown is, but then again I don't put much stock in where books come from.

  10. I don't keep track of my breakdown but I know if I want a book I don't hesitate to buy or borrow it so I don't sit around waiting for ARCs.

  11. Mine is really easy to figure out: I have purchased all of my last 20 books.

    I don't do many ARCs, the last being in January, and I had no qualms about being critical. Otherwise, I wouldn't be honest to myself.

  12. Lenore--It is an incredibly dangerous place!

    Bernadette--We're doing our bit to support the industry!

    Sandra--Thanks, I'll include your link!

    Kate--You hit the nail right on the head. For the most part, I did this purely out of curiosity.

    Anna--If I read a book a day, it would take me over a year to read my TBR books...and none of them are ARCs!

    Dorte--I agree. Most bloggers are very conscientious. I your book coming from Ireland?

    Hagelrat--That's probably something I should think about doing. Thanks for stopping by!

    Beth--Mine will be skewed sometimes, too. What few ARCs I request all seem to be published during the same months.

    Serena--Doesn't matter to me either!

    Rhapsody--If I sat around waiting for ARCs to fall in my lap, there would be hundreds of books I'd never read.

    Charlie--One straight shooter to another, eh? :)

  13. Have I bragged about his gift before, or are you just psychic?

  14. Dorte--*If* we're talking about the same person, I may be receiving something, too.

  15. silly question ... does we really think that anyone would blog just for the sake of getting free books?

    Really, is someone making this accusation, or is the assumption itself imagined?

    I agree with your opening statement, too ... we haven't seen the last of this discussion!

  16. I didn't need another reason to write a blog post Cathy, but I have.An interesting task and an interesting conversation!

  17. My list of where I acquired my books is in with my July wrapup at

    It is actually pretty heavy on the free books. When I started my blog 3.5 months ago, I had NO idea publishers, writers, etc. would send me books. When I found out, I requested a lot of books, all of which are books I would have picked up at the book store.

    It's still like being a kid in a candy store. A kid that LOVES lots of different kinds of candy.

    Wherever I get my books from, I like to be positive in my reviews. I can always find something good to say if a book interested me enough to pick in up in the first place.

    I do disclose where a book came from if I was sent it for free. Even if it doesn't matter, I prefer to be clear, and to thank whoever sent it to me!

    Sorry, long answer :-)

  18. My post on this will be up tomorrow. I hope you don't mind but I borrowed your image for this (with credit of course).

    Unfortunately my answer isn't really all that interesting as I have a very lopsided skew towards my local library!

  19. I've been getting a fair number of ARCs lately, but since I have no self-control when I step foot in any shopping space that holds at least one display of books, books I've bought win handsdown. Next is the library because if I have no self-control where my wallet is concerned, you can imagine how I am at the library. The only thing that saves me is that I don't have the time to visit the library regularly, but I make full use of the hold system, which means I'm always whipping in and out to grab my latest holds. When you whip in and out of the library, you usually end up with only a handful of impulse grabs.

    I very rarely write a negative review - I might write a lukewarm one, but hardly ever a negative review. This isn't because of any outside influences, but because I'm such a moody reader, I have a lot of books lying around half-finished. Since I don't like to review books I haven't finished, if a book makes it to the review stage for me, it's usually one I enjoyed, if not overwhelmingly, then enough to have finished it. Having said that, the last negative review I wrote was for an ARC :)

    And one of the reasons I like stopping by here is because I'm always discovering new books, books that aren't being covered at other blogs!

  20. Dawn--It's something I wouldn't do, but after reading certain blogs and reading certain conversations on Twitter, I wouldn't put it past a stray person or two.

    The accusation has been made more than once--usually by non-readers or those who tend to have high-falutin' literary blogs.

    As long as there are those who feel threatened or cheated by others' enjoyment of something, as long as there are people who live for controversy and uncharitable thoughts, this topic (and others like it) will never die.

    Kerrie--I don't think you and I are ever at a loss for something to post about. :)

    Laura--Don't apologize. I like long answers! :)

    Marg--I don't mind a bit. I'm glad you liked it. Librarians love you for your lop-sided answer. :)

    Belle--That's the nicest thing anyone's said to me today...that you find books here that aren't covered at other blogs. It makes me feel like I'm doing something right. :)

  21. Cathy, after reading your post, I decided I might as well write about the last 20 books I reviewed thing myself, even though I hadn't been planning to (see? I'm putty in your hands!). Here's the link.


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