31 Responses

  1. Steph
    Steph September 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm |

    Like you, I started the blog as sort of a public reading journal, as I had been jotting down notes on books I had read for about a year or two leading up to starting the S&TI. I wanted to opportunity to formalize my thoughts and to also work on my writing (which is why I don’t always write about books, but whatever topics strike my fancy and that I feel I want to commit some time and effort to). Of course, one thing I love about book blogging is that there really is a community. Sometimes when I write a book review and it fails to elicit many comments I take it personally, though I know I shouldn’t as first and foremost the writing is for me, and if other people take some enjoyment from it or find it edifying in any way, then that’s really just a bonus. But nonetheless, I want to be able to discuss books with people who also love reading… it’s not about building the stats on my site or getting thousands of people by, but I like the sense of building ties with other readers similar to myself. To know that there are people like you out there whose thoughts I respect and whose posts I always look forward to reading (and whose feedback on my own posts is always appreciated), that’s really the best reward. Well, that and all the books I’ve learned about and added to my TBR list as a result of frequenting all these fabulous blogs, of course! ;)

  2. Eva
    Eva September 9, 2009 at 5:50 pm |

    I have so many comments to this post!!! lol

    I also tend to write long reviews when I’m reviewing an individual book (vs. my TSS post), and I love it that way. I just roll my eyes whenever I see ‘advice’ to newbie bloggers to be brief.

    I shall think more about how I see my blog and probably end up writing a post on it so I don’t hijack your comments!

    I read The Thorn Birds this year, and it was awesome. It was total soap opera melodrama, but McCullough is a strong writer, so it still works. :D I read Gossamer for the first time last year (havign been a fan of The Giver since I was 7), and it’s marvelous. Sad and hopeful all at once, and with characters I won’t forget (so…pretty much like The Giver).

    And War and Peace is awesome!!! You will love it!!! (Just get the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation.) Have I used enough exlcamation points yet? The Master and Margarita is really good as well! (And there’s a P&V translation.)

  3. Amanda
    Amanda September 9, 2009 at 5:55 pm |

    I blog about books for pretty much the same reasons – both to interact with the community about something I love and to keep my impressions for myself – but I do like to rate books. I’ve got a very compartmental sort of mind, I think, and that helps me put things in perspective. There’s been a lot of talk lately about how book bloggers shouldn’t rate, and I don’t agree. Not that I mind when they don’t, but the idea of blanket saying what a book blogger should and shouldn’t do doesn’t work for me. I like options to do things my way.

    Gossamer is a very cute book. I read it around Christmas. I believe it’s a fairly new book of hers.

  4. Chris@bookarama
    Chris@bookarama September 9, 2009 at 6:02 pm |

    I agree with so much you said. A blog tour for Jane Austen would be fun :) but yeah, not much new there. Plus I don’t think she needs any help.

    I really need to go back and read my reviews and see if I’ve changed my mind about any of them.

  5. Kathy
    Kathy September 9, 2009 at 6:22 pm |

    I blog about books because I like to read and talk about books. I plan to have business as usual plus BBAW posts next week.

  6. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 9, 2009 at 6:30 pm |

    Steph, I feel the same way about comments. One time i wrote a post and five hours later there were no comments! I was so sad. I went back to reread it and try to figure out why no one was interested and, um, the comments were turned off. Oops. I also find that I get few comments on nonfiction posts. Now, what is that? Why don’t people like nonfiction!!

    I kind of worry about getting more regular readers — I struggle to keep up as it is! So yes, I don’t look at stats so much anymore either.

    Eva, I should have added somewhere in this that these thoughts were also prompted by a comment of yours somewhere — you said you don’t really care about relationships with authors or publishers because it’s all about the book for you! I feel the same way.

    When I was a newbie blogger, I thought brevity was good too. I’ve since changed my mind, obviously :) I don’t think I can possibly be brief.

    I’m glad to hear you liked those books. Some day I’ll get through everything!

  7. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm |

    Amanda, I have no problems with others rating books: I just can’t possibly. There was a post I found via twitter yesterday about how a review without a numerical rating isn’t valid, which I obviously disagree with, and so the issue is top of my mind. I just can’t do it, but if it works for others, that’s great. Keep doing it, and I don’t mind! :)

    Chris, that’s such a great idea! We should start a “dead people’s blog tour” where we take a book (say Jane Austen’s S&S or something) and each do an author interview and review the book on a schedule…..sigh. Sounds complicated, and I couldn’t send you a free book. If only…

    Kathy, google reader is going to be crazy, isn’t it!!

  8. DamnedConjuror
    DamnedConjuror September 9, 2009 at 7:07 pm |

    Why did I start blogging? If I can remember it was because I was bored one day. Of course that isn’t very interesting, so allow me to embellish a little.

    I blog because none of my friends are major readers, in fact, most of them don’t read that much. They certainly don’t talk about books. That’s OK but blogging gives me a chance to talk to like-minded people about something I love.

    I slightly disagree with the notion that blogging is for you and it doesn’t matter if you don’t get comments. For me, comments is the bedrock of the blogosphere. They make the community, otherwise you might as well write on a piece of paper.


    Ugh, Dracula. That was ruined by me by one of my lecturers who insisted that it was about English landlords in Ireland. I insisted it wasn’t. He ignored me, probably because I said it in my head.

  9. Teresa
    Teresa September 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm |

    I have always read a lot, but I have a terrible time remembering what I read because I don’t take the time to really think about it. I had tried keep notes on my reading, but couldn’t stay motivated. When I learned that Jenny, who has always been a literary soul mate of sorts, had a book blog, we got to talking about it, and she invited me to come on board.

    At first, Shelf Love seemed mostly like a fun way for Jenny and I to stay connected with each other, even though we live on opposite ends of the country. That’s still a huge benefit, but the other great thing is getting to really talk about books with more depth that I get to with many of my face-to-face friends (even my book club friends). The book blogging community is wonderful, and it’s so great to be part of it.

  10. Jason Gignac
    Jason Gignac September 9, 2009 at 8:03 pm |

    Your comments about reading old classics were interesting to me, because that’s more what I read, too (I worry everytime I say something like that, like I’ll sound snobbish or holier-than-thou, I hope I don’t… :/). I agree, it’s very hard, community wise, reading an old book, because there isn’t a bunch of people reading it, and, I wonder sometimes, if people kind of just skip past it, since largely they may have already heard of it, and already know what it’s about. Then there’s the fact that when you’re reading, say, Moby Dick, chances are that anything you have to see has already been said, you know? I feel like, “Well, I’m enjoying this, but heckifiknow if it’s doing any good for anybody else.” I’m too dumb for my genre, that’s the problem! ;)
    I love your nonfiction reviews, btw, and sorry I don’t always comment, I’m not as good at the whole ‘being friendly’ thing as Amanda or you or Trish or Nymeth… :/.

  11. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 9, 2009 at 8:26 pm |

    DamnedConjurer, it sounds like we were pretty similar: I desperately wanted someone to talk to about my books and none of my family commented on my personal blog. In fact, none of them — not my husband, mom, sister, etc — read Rebecca Reads, let alone comment!

    And yes, while my blog is partly for me to have a record of my thoughts, the fact that I started a separate blog because I wanted comments does testify to me that comments help make it fun. :)

    Re: Dracula. I’m not loving it. I felt it started great and then….went down hill. But it’s not horrible. Maybe it’s the free Librivox narration. It’s driving me nuts.

    Teresa, oh that’s awesome that Jenny was so kind to “bring you on” you have a great balance on your blog together. I always enjoy your reviews.

    I agree, the community is great.

    Jason Gignac, When I told someone I read classics, they said “So….are you a book snob?” I’m afraid I sometimes am, since I have no desire to read Twilight and such. But at the same time, does choosing not to read a classic so one can read Twilight likewise make someone a book snob? Interesting how a term like “classics” does that.

    I personally love to read reviews of classics I’ve already read. It reminds me either (1) why I liked it or not in the first place or (2) why I really like to read it/or not or (3) whether or not I should go reread it.

    As for the “friendly” thing, I imagine being employed gives you far less time to comment :). It is so time consuming!!

  12. Alyce
    Alyce September 9, 2009 at 10:04 pm |

    Wow, that is an amazing list that you’ve put together there.

    I review books because I like to be able to have a written record of what I thought of the books I have read. I have also found that I process what I’ve read or learned from a book a lot more if I write about it.

  13. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 9, 2009 at 11:08 pm |

    Alyce, amazingly, I end up with a long TBR additions list every single Wednesday! Crazy what blogging does to the TBR!

    I remember books better if I write about them too!

  14. Jackie (Farm Lane Books)
    Jackie (Farm Lane Books) September 10, 2009 at 3:27 am |

    I started blogging for very similar reasons to you and like you have found that my reading tastes have broadened a lot thanks to the wonderful recommendations of the blogging community.

    I love the fact that you read your own books and review many forgotten classics. Thank you for introducing me to many great books!

    One thing you are perhaps missing out on by reading older books is the chance to interact with the authors. One of the best things about blogging is that I have had the chance to interact with several authors – I didn’t even think about that sort of thing when I started, but have been amazed by their kindness and willingness to be involved in the blogging community.

    At the end of the day we must ensure we are blogging for the right reasons and enjoy what we are doing. Feel free to take as many breaks as you like – we’ll all still be here!

  15. Nymeth
    Nymeth September 10, 2009 at 5:21 am |

    I’m going to have to join Eva in her eye-rolling :P People blog for all sorts of reasons and I respect them all, of course, but I don’t like being told what to do.

    I write long posts too, and I’m okay with that. Nothing wrong with brevity, but I’m wordy and I just can’t change that. Also, like you I also blog for myself – if I didn’t have a blog I’d probably be keeping private reading journals anyway. And also like you and Eva, I’m not very interested in relationships with the publishing world. It’s other readers I want to connect with.

  16. Valerie
    Valerie September 10, 2009 at 10:41 am |

    I started out blogging in a similiar way as you– as a reflection of all, or most, parts of my life. I became less comfortable posting about my family (although I was always considerate about their privacy from the beginning)– and once I joined facebook, that became a better way to keep family/friends up to date about us :-).

    I also wanted to record what I was doing in my studio– making art quilts, etc; but after a while that bored me (writing about it). Also, I never seemed to have good enough pictures of my projects to post! So those posts have decreased.

    What never bored me has been writing about the books I’ve read. I don’t get to talk books with people very much, so blogging about books has been a great outlet.

    I’m going to try to put up some non-BBAW (but still bookish) posts next week, because I have some catching up to do :-). I’ll see how it goes.

  17. Eva
    Eva September 10, 2009 at 11:03 am |

    I LOVE the idea of blog tours for classic books Chris and Rebecca! If you ever start something like that, I’m completely in on it. :D

  18. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 10, 2009 at 2:42 pm |

    Jackie, I suppose it could be missing out to not interact with authors, but I’m actually not sad about it. I really am not at all interested in authors, especially modern authors, and I’m not sure why. I just like to read the books, not try to talk about “why” it is a book.

    I’m glad breaks are ok in your book! I think I need to read and blog less…

    Nymeth, I’m always trying to curb my thoughts so my posts don’t get even longer! I’m quite wordy, so I don’t mind it when others are either. I, too, am glad for the other readers: it truly does make it fun!

    Valerie, I can totally relate. I started separate blogs for my other hobbies, but reading is the one most conducive to blogging. The other ones are boring to keep online. But also, I haven’t found the communities for them, so it’s harder to be motivated when I’ve never received a comment!

    I think I may post a review or two next week. I’m quite behind. Of course, I havne’t read much this week, so maybe I’ll catch up!

    Eva, I’m going to ponder this. I think we could do it and it would be so fun!

  19. Bella
    Bella September 10, 2009 at 2:45 pm |

    I love this post, Rebecca!

    I recently stopped accepting ARCs and started to ponder why I blogged and for whom. I must say I’m feeling very refreshed at reading on my schedule, instead of a publisher or author’s now. I find I’m actually enjoying every book I pick up now.

  20. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 10, 2009 at 2:50 pm |

    Bella, I’m not suggesting that EVERYONE that reads ARCs is reading on someone else’s schedule or that it’s wrong. As you suggest, I also tend to enjoy every single book I read because I’m reading it at the moment I want to be reading it. And I can take my time about it!

  21. Bella
    Bella September 10, 2009 at 2:56 pm |

    Oh no I agree. Some people manage to read them and enjoy most of them immensely. I found that I was missing my library of TBR, and was getting so frustrated by not getting to them. The first book I read after I gave up the ARCs felt so good.

  22. Emily
    Emily September 10, 2009 at 5:32 pm |

    Thoughtful and thought-provoking post, Rebecca. I’m similar to you in that I write long reviews, love bookish conversation, and feel like ratings are beside the point (for myself – nothing against other people using them).

    I think a lot of the time, advice for newbie bloggers makes certain assumptions that aren’t necessarily true. Like, it’s probably a good idea to maintain brevity if your top priority is garnering a huge number of followers really quickly, but that’s not a goal for everyone.

  23. DamnedConjuror
    DamnedConjuror September 10, 2009 at 6:11 pm |

    I hate this whole do this, do that mentality. I say do what works for you. Write long posts, short posts. If someone isn’t going to read a long post because they might get bored then they can go somewhere else. I want readers who are going to be around for the long haul not causal readers.

    ugh, Librivox, sometimes free=rubbish. It takes skill to read out loud and also equipment to rid of the breathing and the whatnot.

  24. Literate Housewife
    Literate Housewife September 10, 2009 at 8:07 pm |

    Great post, Rebecca. I go through spurts with responding to comments. It’s hard to strike a balance for me.

    My goal for next year is going to be all about balance – balancing ARCS versus whatever strikes my fancy, writing for my blog versus reading and commenting on other blogs, etc…

  25. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 10, 2009 at 10:19 pm |

    Bella, I’m always missing my TBR! Reading 12-16 books a month won’t even make it smaller, since I add about 100 a month!

    Emily, I do think I had different expectations when I first started out, which is why I did things a certain way. My goals have evolved and I like that!

    DamnedConjuror, I’ve had some great Librivox experiences, but this one is really hard to get through…ah well. It’s not the breathing, just some of the readers have irritating voices.

    Yeah, I’ve reached the point where I will write what I want to write. If someone doesn’t like it, there are 1000s of books blogs out there.

    Literate Housewife, I’m thinking my goals are going to be about balance too. It’s just what I need more of this year!!

  26. tuesday
    tuesday September 11, 2009 at 7:01 am |

    Rebecca, you’re amazing! I have no idea how you read so many books! Or post so often about the books you read! And leave thoughtful comments on other people’s blogs! :D

    To be honest your question about why we blog/began blogs makes me feel a little guilty, because I’ve really begun to enjoy not taking extensive notes (or any notes at all) etc etc. Though sometimes all the thoughts in my head start to spill out into my blog, I’ve been content lately with just reading and reading and reading. I really do love discussing books, but then sometimes I think my blog isn’t worth all the effort.

    Anyway, getting to the point, I just wanted to say that I’m also reading War and Peace right now and it is so incredibly good. I’m finding it so much less of a drag than Anna Karenina.

    Hope you enjoy it too :]

  27. DamnedConjuror
    DamnedConjuror September 11, 2009 at 8:46 am |


    I’m terrible at reading out loud from a book, I adopt a monotone and my mouth gets all dry, so I stumble on words. Also, I sound silly on tape (but everyone says that).

  28. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 11, 2009 at 8:58 am |

    Tuesday, I don’t know how I read them all either! To clarify, though, the Fabulous Finds are reviews that make me want to read the book; I’m not reading ALL of those!

    Don’t feel guilty: you are in school right now being mentally tried. I approach my blog and reading as my post-graduate “education.” If I were in school, it would probably not be fun to sit down and try to write a “report” when I finished reading. You just touch base whenever you can.

    I do look forward to War and Peace someday; I haven’t started it yet!!

    DamnedConjuror, yes, some of the librivox readers should just NOT be readers…

  29. Haiku Amy
    Haiku Amy September 11, 2009 at 10:13 am |

    Thanks for sharing about your reasons for blogging. I think your blog is great, and I appreciate your thoughts.

    I like to blog about books I’ve read. I mainly do it to keep a record of books I’ve read, and also how I felt about them. I have accepted a few ARCs, but I don’t really go seeking them out.

    I guess I am not a blogging superstar. I feel like my blog is far and away from the quality of others. I don’t do giveaways or author interviews. I think if I tried to do all those things, it would just take more time away from reading and being a mom. I blog to record my thoughts and write my haikus and that works for me.

  30. Tracie Yule
    Tracie Yule September 11, 2009 at 11:11 am |

    This is a wonderful post. I think that every once in awhile, I need to revisit why I started blogging and what my intent is because it is so easy to become distracted and forget what it was in the first place.

    I blog for myself, mostly. After I had my daughter, I felt like I had neglected myself for too long and I needed to do something that I enjoy…I used to go to writing classes, but it’s difficult because I work, too, so I don’t get a lot of time at home. So, now, I blog when she goes to bed or is taking a nap. Works for us.

    In regards to all thing blogging (and most things about life), there really isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s about doing what works for you :)

  31. Rebecca Reid
    Rebecca Reid September 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm |

    Haiku Amy, I don’t know what “blogging superstar” really means, but I don’t think giveaways makes someone one. In fact, sometimes lots of giveaways are a turnoff to me because they aren’t necessarily books that interest me! If I did them, it’d take away space for what I really want to talk about. So I think blogging is really about what you need: like you say, you’ve found the right balance in your life! I love how everyone does something a little different and it’s OK.

    Tracie Yule, I’ve been writing so many reviews lately, I haven’t been thinking about what my blog is! So it is good to slow down and ponder it.

    I think my son’s birth (and my subsequent quitting work) prompted me to find something for me too, and blogging was it. I am always so impressed with those people who work as well as blog as well as have kids! So many things to do! I’m glad you still find time to blog on top of it all. Like you say, it’s something for *you* to enjoy.

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