The short answer is yes. Yes, you are a completely valid reader without going all out to recommend books or talk about them. So if you were looking just for the answer to this question, this is it. However, you might want to stay for the rest of this (you’ve already opened the article so why not read it?).
I was just discussing with a friend about our need to tell other people about what we read, the need to better understand the books we read by hearing other people’s opinions and to make sure that the books we love so much reach as many people as possible. I love doing all of those and I really found myself wanting to write a review because what a better time to do that than when you should be revising for exams? But I am currently reading Marx’s Grundrisse and that guy really hated his readers’ sanity (but we still ended up loving him xoxo Marx) and Aragon’s Le Monde réel and both of those are going to take a while until I finish and decide if I should review them. So let’s not talk about a specific book, but about reading in general.
Why do we talk about books and why don’t we do it enough?
By my own observation (no data to back this up, sorry) people usually see themselves as either fully-equipped-book-people and will end up in a conversation about reading 90% of the time or just-not-book-people. And sadly, just-not-book-people are a lot of the time people that feel they are not fully-equipped-book-people enough to actually go out there (this is a very fluid concept, it could mean the internet as I do or just to a friend that is always ready for some book talk) and say what they think. What if they’re wrong? What if they didn’t get that very subtle hint on page 98 and their understanding of the book is miserable because of it? What if they liked a book that is generally considered a terrible book?
Honestly, we won’t really care. I spend too much time on YouTube listening to reviews of books I might not even care about. I love Antastesia, who mostly reviews classics and I read those maybe 5% of the time; I adore paperbackdreams, who reads books I don’t intend to read and I am a big fan of 4fără15 or Nabolita who have content that is most suitable for my literary tastes. I do watch these people for book recommendations sometimes, but most of the time I do it just because it’s so much fun to hear people so passionate about books, for me it is a fascinating crossover of two things I love so much: humanity and books.
More than this, I feel like I always deepen my understanding of a book by hearing other people talking about it and I understand my own position better by writing about it. Before I write a review for a book and even if I don’t intend to write one, I go all over the internet looking for reviews, watching vlogs and even reading professional literary critique because yeah, that still exists. My reading experience doesn’t end when I finish the book and it would be so much poorer if I didn’t have this many opportunities to understand other perspectives. And while the internet is so cool for that, organic human-to-human interaction remains my favourite way of doing this and some of the most valuable and original takes I’ve ever heard about certain books came from people who read no more than a few books every year. And that’s probably because they weren’t bound by all these artificial criteria I might have unintentionally developed just by reading too much for my own good.
So yeah, it’s fine if you don’t feel like talking too much about what you read, but remember we’d love to hear from you! Feel free to message me about a book, leave a comment, write a review even if you don’t usually do that or just contradict me, I might be totally and foolishly wrong.