I didn’t even respond to comments over my short vacation weekend. It was so refreshing, and yet for some reason, I feel like I was being neglectful. That suggests to me that I’ve been tied to the blog a bit too much, and I think I may make it a habit to not check the blog every once in a while. (Is that just sad?)
I did read a little bit this week, in between the family dinners and my son’s early-birthday picnic (he’s just a few weeks away from age 2). I finished my reread of Beloved, which I loved, and I read a shorter book for my book club.
Because I’ve been away from the blog, I’ve been thinking about why I blog about books to begin with. I’ve wanted to explore what my blog is, and when Lezlie wrote a post pondering how her blog is perceived by her readers a few weeks ago, I put that idea on my radar too. I’m not sure how my readers perceive this blog (that’s a question for another day), but here are some my thoughts on why my blog is what it is, and what I see it as.
Before May 2008, I posted a few book reviews on a personal blog. Then I discovered a world of blogs only about books, and I became very excited to be a part of that community. Because of other blogger’s reviews, I found myself reading more books, and writing more about them. My personal blog is private to family and friends, who aren’t interested in reading my book reviews, so I was disappointed when I didn’t get comments on my thoughtful reviews. I wanted to discuss books! So I decided to move my books to a public space, where I don’t have the burden of privacy (on my private blog, I’m mostly concerned for my son’s sake since I post his baby pictures.)
I like to read in all genres. My fiction is generally classics and literary fiction, but I have begun branching out to the lighter books too. Book blogging has encouraged me to try modern fiction, graphic novels, and young adult. My husband has encouraged me to try some science fiction and adult fantasy, and I’m finding I enjoy those too. I try to read some of the forgotten genres (short stories, poetry, and drama) as well, though I find that to be more difficult to do, for some reason.
While I normally read popular nonfiction, I’ve been in specific nonfiction moods lately and so I’ve been reading more academic nonfiction in the past months.
Because I’m a stay-at-home mom to a toddler, I also read (and sometimes review) children’s literature, including picture books and chapter books. I tend toward the classics since that’s what I fondly remember and want to share with my son. It’s interesting to revisit my childhood favorites in a new generation – and see how inappropriate some aspects are!
I have a hard time seeing my blog as strictly “classics” or “nonfiction” or “literary fiction” or “children’s.” I want to be a broad reader, and I aim for variety in my reading. But I also want to be a deep reader. I write very long “reviews” (usually about 1000 words) because I consider my blog post to be a chance to explore the themes I encounter in a book and the feelings I have during and after reading it. I don’t rate books.
For me, reading is about the book’s impact on me. I don’t accept any ARCs because I am not interested in meeting someone else’s schedule or reading plan. Besides, Jane Austen and Mark Twain and company aren’t writing much these days.
In the end, my blog has two audiences. It is written for the community because I want to discuss and delve into the books I’m reading. But my blog is also for me: I selfishly want to be able to revisit the themes and emotions I encountered via these books at some point in the future. Capturing a book via a “review” does that for me.
Are the reasons you began book blogging similar? Why do you review books?
This post is my thoughts on the past and present of my blog. Next Friday’s BBAW theme is “goals for the future.” Start thinking and planning for your own posts!
See my notes by each book below.
- Beloved by Toni Morrison (275 pages; fiction). FINISHED! For the Beowulf on the Beach Challenge, the Summer Lovin’ Challenge, and The RIP IV Challenge. I loved rereading this book.
- Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (280 pages; fiction). FINISHED! For my IRL book club next week. It will be good to discuss it (it wasn’t my favorite, but my book club may persuade me otherwise.)
- Dracula by Bram Stoker (librivox.org audiobook, on 13 of 27 segments, about 16 hours total; fiction). For the RIP IV Challenge.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (42 read of 190; children’s fiction). I am reading this aloud to my son at a very slow rate.
- Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (25 read of 450 pages; fiction). For the book club I’m hosting at the library. I’ve read one chapter; it started on page 20.
- The Stories of John Cheever (20 of 61 stories, 820 pages total; fiction/short stories). Part of my Pulitzer Challenge. On hold for the next week. I am not feeling very motivated. Should I read this or not?!
Old Library Loot
- Gulliver’s Travels: The Politics of Satire by Ronald Knowles (150 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I have yet to write my review of Gulliver’s Travels, but I will probably not read this.
- Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels: Modern Critical Interpretations edited by Harold Bloom (195 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I have yet to write my review of Gulliver’s Travels, but I will probably not read this.
- Twentieth Century Interpretations of Gulliver’s Travels edited by Frank Brady (115 pages; nonfiction/literary criticism). I have yet to write my review of Gulliver’s Travels, but I will probably not read this.
- The Pooh Bedside Reader by A.R. Melrose (160 pages; nonfiction/fiction). Because I love Winnie-the-Pooh. This has excerpts from books and poems, early criticism, and personal stories of Milne.
New Library Loot
I got a no new books this week. Amazing!
Other than BBAW next week, here are some other things going on.
- Go vote for your favorite book blogs!
- I am joining another challenge. The Banned Books Challenge is to read 1 book between 26 September and 3 October. I’m hoping to reread Catcher in the Rye.
- What award winners do you follow? asks Jackie at Farm Lane Books.
- Jackie’s Booker predictions and the short list results. I’m so impressed with this project of hers!
- The Bookworms Carnival: Historical Fiction was posted. My review of The Good Earth was highlighted.
- The deadline for the Bookworms Carnival: Banned Books is approaching!! Get your reviews in by Friday night. Details here.
- Teresa at Shelf Love ponders reading books for school, and how teachers are letting students choose their own books to read. That makes me sad! How many kids are going to choose the older classics?
I’m really trying to keep track of books I want to read via this method, but it’s very hard. Are you all going to keep writing great reviews of great books during BBAW?
- The Thorn Birds by Colleen Mccollough. Reviewed at Bibliofreak (via Historical Fiction Bookworms Carnival). Historical fiction about early 20th century rural Australia.
- People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks. Reviewed at At Home With Books (via Historical Fiction Bookworms Carnival). I liked March and this sounds interesting.
- Gossamer by Lois Lowry. Reviewed by Suey at It’s All About Books. I read lots of Lowry’s children’s books when I was a kid, but I have never heard of this one.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Jenny at Shelf Love loved the three weeks she spent reading this historical chronicle (apparently, it’s not a novel). Because she loved it so much I feel a little less intimidated. A little.
- The Book of Secrets by M.G. Vassanji. Eva says it’s about colonial East Africa, a subject I know little about.
- Paradise of the Blind by Duong Thu Huong. Eva says it’s a YA book that anyone could appreciate, plus it gives some insight into communist Vietnam.
- The Reef by Edith Wharton. Eva loves this little-known Wharton, but she won’t even tell what it’s about – we just have to go read it.
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin. Eva says this is a stream of consciousness book, and she liked it.
- The Aeneid by Virgil. Jason at 5-Squared says “Virgil looks AROUND for goodness sake.” It’s been on my “read really soon” list for a full year now, and I still haven’t.
- The Master and the Margarita by Mikhal Bulgakov. Teresa at Shelf Love says this is just plain fun, politics aside.
- Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. Emily at Evening All Afternoon says she likes it even better than The Good Earth. Granted, it’s about turn-of-the-century Chicago, not China, but she says the “universalizing approach” is similar.
You all need to review more nonfiction! This is always much smaller than the fiction list.
- Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande. Reviewed by Eva at A Striped Armchair. Thoughts on medicine in the 20th century.
- Paris Review Interviews. Lezlie at Book N Border Collies says these interviews of authors are just awesome. Looking at the list of authors, I believe it!!