Reading Journal (December 2012): Thoughts on Book Blogging

I have been reading. I have many thoughts to share on the following books: Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite by Barry Deutsch (YA graphic novel); The Perfect Hamburger and Other Stories by Alexander McCall-Smith (middle grade short stories); Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater (children’s novel); Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (nonfiction); and many, many more Cybils picture books.

I have been rather distracted from the book blogosphere this past year. But I was shocked when I finally logged in to Google Reader to see a number of old blogging friends have simply disappeared, with no explanation. Their blogs show most recent posts of last year, six months ago, and so forth! So I guess my distraction and lack of focus on book blogging is not all that unusual.

I’ve been thinking, though, of how book blogging has changed in the past four years since I began. My first year, Dewey was the mastermind behind a blogging community that felt so personal. When she passed, it seemed all book bloggers felt it, even though we did not all read the same types of books. Now the book blogosphere is so huge, it is impossible to feel such a personal relationship with fellow bloggers.

I guess that’s what I’m realizing after all these years of blogging. I really do write for myself, not for the masses. It’s a sad thought, because as I worked on the Classics Circuit and when I went to BEA in 2011 and met so many fellow bloggers, I really felt like I was a part of something real, that I was a friend to the strangers I write to and read along with. In reality, you are all far away, living your own lives. And as my sporadic blogging over the past year has shown, I too am a busy person living a somewhat secretive life and blogging as I get a chance, for fun. I have always kept a lot of my personal life off of this blog.

I don’t plan on stopping blogging, and I do hope to do a better job of responding to comments and reading other blogs and commenting every now and then. But I realize better now that I maintain a book blog because it brings me joy to talk about what I’ve read. I hope Rebecca Reads is a blog others might enjoy too: something that may help you find your next book, a resource for helping you access the classics for the first time, a repository of homeschooling ideas, a list of the best of picture books your child may enjoy. But I realize that, given my busy state in life as a homeschooling mom to two kids, it will never be what it was a couple of years ago: a place to converse with those who feel like close friends.

I am not planning on stopping blogging and I certainly would love to maintain friendships with whomever visits this lowly blog. But I guess this post is a last attempt to remind myself that I blog for myself, for my personal development and reading pleasure, not for comments and recognition.

Why do you write on your book blog? What do you hope to accomplish as a blog writer and a reader?

And since I really do like classics and I hope you do too, I found this six-year-old’s thoughts on classics gave me a laugh. I hope you enjoy it too.

Comments

  1. says

    Blogging will reach its three-year anniversary for me in May of next year (if I don’t count that one book review I wrote in 2008). I think I began around the same time it began to expand considerably, but while I would love to develop a larger audience, I maintain connections with a few bloggers I met at the first book festival in my first real year of blogging. Since it’s the internet, I knew it would always be a larger group than I could ever imagine, so I guess it would be nice to have been part of the blogosphere back when it was much smaller. To me, though, I write for fun, I write occasionally, and I stopped accepting book review requests. I changed my review policy in July of this year and I’ve never regretted it one bit. Posting on an infrequent basis (sometimes just once a week for that month, resulting in only four posts) used to stress me out, but now, I really don’t mind. My day job requires a high amount of meetings and business travel and it causes me enough stress! When blogging started to feel like another job and I began to feel the pressures of my own internal competitiveness to not let a week go by without posting, I knew I had to change before I stopped blogging altogether.

    Blogging about books has been my outlet. One day, maybe I’ll write my own book (which would certainly mean my English/Creative Writing degree from almost twenty years ago finally did its job for me!), but for now, I’m a corporate drone who reads on a plane and whiles away the time blogging and reading other bloggers’ thoughts. :)

    • says

      Natalie ~ the Coffee and a Book Chick » I think you make good points. I feel like I started book blogging when it was small enough that we all felt like we knew each other…and then suddenly there were too many people to be able to do that. I’ve struggled to reconcile blogging with my increasingly busy life. But I think you’re points are fair ones. I need to remember that I started this to be my outlet, and that is what it remains after all these years, everything else aside.

  2. says

    I blog for myself. That is the only way. I have a hybrid blog: books, kids, life, etc…. I’m expecting kid number 3 in February so I know blogging will slow for me as well. I do love reading blogs. When I’m nursing I read book blogs via Google Reader on my phone. Alas, I am very bad about responding (not enough hands!).

    • says

      Amanda R. » well said. Kids keeps our blogging in perspective, huh? This second child of mine is NOT a napper, so I don’t get the break I did with my son, who slept a LOT in comparison!

  3. says

    I feel the same increasing sense of distance from the community as old friends stop blogging or just grow apart from me, and more and more I realise that I, too, do it primarily for myself. If not for that, I would have given up by now, I suspect. I’m not sure if the satisfaction of writing for its own sake will be enough forever – sometimes I feel discouraged and lonely and like my time would be better spend elsewhere – but for now, it keeps me going.

    • says

      Ana » I’m sorry it feels so lonely! I feel similarly about blogging these days. Life is just so busy….and everyone is in a similar state! I do hope you keep finding joy in the writing for yourself.

  4. says

    I feel like Ana. The blogosphere has grown HUGE — which is great. But I’m pulling back a boit myself, mostly because it’s become so huge I’m losing myself in the community. That’s why I turned off comments at my place. I want to share, but I want to place my journey first. I think blogs are evolving and will evolve as people realize this. I never wanted to be a servant to my blog — just to read and journal. It won’t klast forever for me, but as I have my place set now, I’m MUCH happier, and still feel plugged in, in my own way.

    • says

      Mabel » I think you are the epitome of someone writing for herself. You have always done just that. I guess I have always liked the community aspect too. I frankly LIKE the comments and discussion. I think I’d feel very sad if I ended up closing comments. But I lately have felt like it doesn’t matter since there have not been many comments either way!!

  5. says

    My feelings of closeness vs distance from the community seem to come and go–as does my ability to spend time visiting other blogs, commenting on other blogs, chatting on Twitter, etc. I’m closely following fewer and fewer blogs these days, which I kind of hate to do because I know I’m missing good writing and great people, but setting some limits makes me better able to feel that I know the people I’m following. And I like to think that even if my blogging were to slow down considerably, or cease altogether, that some of these virtual friendship would stick, at least to some degree.

    But for now, blogging itself–the process of reflecting on what I read and setting my thoughts down on paper–brings me such joy that I’d find it hard to give it up entirely. Talking about those thoughts with people who visit my blog is a bonus.

    • says

      Teresa » I am with you on the fewer and fewer blogs thing. Definitely. I do feel, though, that I could virtually disappear and no one would wonder. We just all have a busy life and it’s easy to “forget” the virutal friendships… I also agree on the reflecting on what I’ve read as an enjoyable part of the reading process. That’s why I don’t think I’m going to ever disappear for ever.

  6. says

    I have been blogging 3.5 years. I think I blog primarily for myself, to keep my mind active and to help me clarify my understanding of the works I read. I have seen lots of blogs come and go, just like you have. The book blog world is huge now and their are many sub communities. I love book blogging and will continue it as long as I can

  7. says

    I think it’s inevitable that we’ll all only have friendships with a certain number of bloggers and that because we have our different lives and blogging comes second we won’t always be able to have a friendship like you would offline. I’m in my third year so I missed the smaller community, but like everyone I realise the impossibilities in trying to follow and read every blog nowadays. Most of those I follow still blog, whether frequently or not, though already there are people I miss. I write on my blog for me – to respond to books via reviews and thoughts, and because I like the community.

    • says

      Charlie » I wonder how I would approach things differently if I had started AFTER the book blogosphere had exploded. I don’t know. I feel like I blog now primarily and pretty much only for myself….but I like to be a part of the community every now and then as I find time to do so. I just don’t have time to really throw myself out there any more…

  8. says

    I read and write because I need it. I’m not planning anything or trying something, I just wake up and most of the days my thoughts go to my reading and when I’ll have time off to sit down in bed and open a book. Same happens with writing. I read somewhere “I get cranky when I don’t read”, well, I get cranky when I don’t write. So, I blog because my readers’ comments help me understand things better and see other people’s points of view. Also, some bloggers are the only ones who can rival my reading pace and enjoy the same authors I do.

    Apart from my blog, I write fiction and do a lot of research for college, so I spend most of my days writing and I’m more than ok with it. I feel it’s the only thing in which hard-work really pays off for me, both professionally and personally. Spending 6 hours a day doing research is what I’ve always dreamed of.

    • says

      Elena » I love your response. You really know why you read, write, and blog. I don’t feel that same urge to read and write like I used to. Now my days are surrounded by taking care of my little kids and it is very rewarding! But I still LOVE reading and I enjoy writing up my thoughts on what I’ve read, so I feel like I need to nurture that so I will have an outlet on the days when parenting does not seem as fun…

  9. says

    I’ve been thinking some of the same things lately. I have a small blog as far as readers or followers go. I enjoy the social aspect of blogging but between working and homeschooling and parenting I have to limit the online time somewhere. I don’t have a lot of motivation or interest to “grow” my blog (or at least to spend the time doing it). So, often I am writing knowing that very few people are reading it. Does anyone really care if I post a review on the new picture book we just read or the homeschool science experiment we just did? Probably not. So why do it?

    I’m not entirely sure except to say that I like it. I like the way that writing about books makes me thing about them a little more than if I just read them and put them aside. I like the little bit of interaction I have with other bloggers and readers. And I like the journal of sorts of our reading lives.

    Great post!

    • says

      Alice@Supratentorial » I think for me, the expansive success I had in my second year of blogging makes it hard now to re-priorities. How old are you homeschooling kids? I just have a kindergartener, but I know, I can see, that next year his school will take a far greater amount of time! I see that becoming an even greater priority for me, so that’s why I guess I’ll just keep incorporating that into my blog too. I really do love reading about it all. And yes, you’re right, even if no one else is reading our thoughts, it’s still so much fun to think about what we’ve read and interact on some level. Thanks for your thoughts!

  10. says

    I think about this stuff a lot too. I miss the days when the blogosphere felt a little more manageable — even though I wasn’t that well integrated into that version of the blogosphere either, come to think of it! But I miss people when they go. Especially when they don’t write goodbye posts and I never know what is up.

  11. Diane Challenor says

    Thank you for your blog and sharing your thoughts. Posting infrequently works for me. My current approach to blogging is to only blog when I’m driven by enthusiasm to put pen to paper. I’ve had a website since 2002, in the beginning it offered a place for people to share their art and quotes, then Facebook arrived and gave space on the Internet for everyone, a wonderful gift. Since then my site has morphed into a Litblog with very few subscribers but that’s OK with me. It’s my commonplace book and I like to place my occassional enthusiasms in it, without pressure, without any “should”s, and with joy.