BBAW: Blogging

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The world of blogging is continually changing. Share 3 things you are essential tried and true practices for every blogger and 1-3 new trends or tools you’ve adapted recently or would like to in the future.

I have such a hard time planning for the future, since life keeps changing on me. I wouldn’t want it any differently, of course. I’m very excited for my second child to join our family this winter, and I’ve resigned to the fact that my reading will be much slower than it has been in the past. (I don’t, for example, anticipate any 20-books-a-month months anytime in the next five years.)

That said, in the future, I’d like to keep up The Classics Circuit as much as I can and I want to keep blogging about classics. I’m not sure what “tried and true practices” I have in place for this blog, so I’m going to skip that part of the question.

As for new trends in my own blog writing, I’ve considered writing more thoughtful posts on some of the classics I’m reading. Although my spoiler-ific posts don’t get as many comments (I know many in the blogosphere will not read spoilers), I do love writing about a novel in depth. I have in the past written about a book for more than one day, and I’m thinking that may be something I need to do more often. I spent three posts on The Iliad, and at least three on War and Peace. There are so many issues in many lengthy classics that they deserve the time devoted to them.  Some posts would be spoilerific (with warning!), but others would be more general, including my impressions of reading it.

Also, in the past, I used to include a question at the end of each post. I found it did generate more comments, because then even if the person hadn’t read the book in question, they could answer the related question. I haven’t been doing that lately, but maybe I should bring it back.  What do you think?

What things do you wish you’d see on a classics blog? How do you reach out to your readers when the book is one most haven’t read?

To some extent, I’m finding that I don’t worry about reaching out to my readers who haven’t read the book as much. Some posts are just meant for people who have read the book. For those books that got me thinking, I really do want to start a discussion, after all.

Reviewed on September 16, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • Absolutely 🙂 The reality is that many bloggers will run a mile at the mention of the word ‘classics’ anyway, so why not concentrate on those who *are* interested rather than those who would rather be somewhere else?

    And commiserations – you had my vote 😉

    • Tony » I think book blogging has become more genre-ized, so it’s okay now to have a community in your Google Reader of just one type of blogger. Three years ago, I feel I had to know everyone. So I like it more this way. (I think it’s because there are so much more of us!)

  • I sometimes remember to add a question to my post and you are right, it does generate good discussion usually. I like your long posts when I do read them (sometimes I do skip because of spoilers) but then, with classics spoilers aren’t as much of an issue anyway! And I think it’s all about doing what you want, even if others don’t seem to love it?

  • I like the idea of more than one post on books, though I’ve never personally been able to do it. I especially like it if one is more spoileriffic and one isn’t, to give people options. But I know the multipost format takes a lot more work!

    What I love in classics blogs – and what few of them do – is when they treat classics as books rather than homework assignments. Too many classics blogs write college papers instead of reviews. I don’t mind analysis in reviews at all, especially of classics, but there’s a line between delving into the book in depth and treating it like an assignment. Too often I feel like that line is crossed. Not on your blog, though – you’re great at keeping in a good balance (else I wouldn’t still be reading, honestly).

    • Amanda » I personally like reading the college paper blogs too — because I like that kind of thing! I think it’s great people can write about literature in whatever way they want, for them it’s not an assignment, you know? But I also like the way I approach books now that I’m not in school. IT’s a welcome break from daily motherhood. And I’m so glad you find it a good balance!

  • I really enjoyed re-reading Jane Eyre on my blog this year, even though I didn’t have a lot of comments. It took me 6 posts to say all I wanted to say about it. So, I was a bit wordy and of course there were spoilers. Sometimes you just got to do what you want to do and not worry.

  • I would be happy to read more classics. I was doing really well at the beginning of the year, but then other things took my attention away! I think at the end of the year I will make a list of classics I would like to try and read and then attempt to work them in next year. Then, I have a focus, but not necessarily a lot of pressure…

    • Kailana » there shouldn’t be pressure in post-school reading and blogging! I do hope you get something read…maybe consider a Classics Circuit tour, where you just read one book every two months or so? Of course, working on your TBR would be great too! There are so many great ones out there!

  • I love the idea of taking more than one post / day for a book. Sometimes it’s hard for me as a blogger to separate the pieces out, but I totally agree, some books (especially some of those chunkster classics!) demand more time and space.

  • I really like it when blogs spend more than one post on a book. I intended to do that with my blog, but time got away from me, and lately it’s been one post per book — more like reviews than discussions. I need to get back to a more journal-like focus. Adding questions at the end of a post never occurred to me, mostly because I tend to write to myself. But on reflection, it does open a window for discussion…

    • Jillian » I think you make a good point. One post seems more like a review, while more posts opens up room for discussion. Maybe that’s why in the past I did a non-spoilerific one and then a more spoiler-y one….one is review like and one discussion like. Hmmm, you’re getting me thinking….

  • Oh – PS: as for what I’d like to see on classics blogs, I’d love it if more people discussed the authors. That’s actually what interests me most about the classics. But finding the time is difficult. I love it when bloggers dig deeper than the surface of the book itself — outside research as an accompaniement to the bookish reflections. I think you do this well. Every Book and Cranny is also excellent at this.

    • Jillian – you want more time with the Wikipedia biography of the author and less with what the poor sap actually wrote?

      I included a little list, at the end of last year’s birthday post, of some bloggers who often write multiple posts on a book, if anyone is interested. Five Branch Tree has unfortunately retired since then, and I should warn you that these bloggers generally treat books like homework assignments, and love, more than anything, to write college term papers.

    • I agree that more background on the writer would be a good foil for everything else “we” include in our discussions on the classics. Sometimes knowing more about the author helps us understand why they wrote the way they did, etc.

      I do a little reading and researching before I write my “Book Stats” posts, but not enough to be informative. It is more to set in my mind what era of writing I am entering, etc.

      I think that in the future, a lot of biographies will be featured on my blog. 🙂

      • Allie » I like biographies for background, but sometimes it good to go into a text without knowing too much, especially if the text is autobiographical…and this is coming for me, who doesn’t believe in spoilers. Can’t believe i’m saying that…

    • Jillian » I really enjoyed reading a Wilkie Collins biography before jumping into his works. I have this personal affection for his books now (although he wasn’t the nicest of people) simply because I got to know him. But, I don’t think I want to do that for every author I read. And if I’m reading a 500 pages biography, I’m not immersing myself in literature, you know? I don’t know what I think. I like it both ways, but I’ve been really enjoying reading the fiction lately.

      • Yeah, I am learning about the different ways people approach literature. I think I’m very much a biographical reader, meaning I love learning about the author, and the text (literature) serves as an accessory toward that aim, if that makes any sense. I’ve gotten some flack from readers who approach literature as “art for art’s sake,” who tell me that learning about the author is trivial. I think it’s just different approaches. You’re probably far more interested in the actual literature? That’s what it sounds like. Anyway, I was only sharing my perspoective since you asked. I think people should do whatever they want to do on their own blog — follow the personal journey and all that. 🙂

        • Jillian, I think I do prefer to read the fiction/original author’s work over the biography to some extent. But. I don’t think learning about the author’s life is trivial either! Definitely not. I think it enriches the experience of reading fiction!

  • If you enjoy writing multiple posts on a single book, I say go for it and don’t worry about whether everyone reads them. I think analytical posts of that type can be really wonderful to read (must go check out the blogs AR suggests).

    As for the questions, I used to use them too, but I found that they directed the conversation too much. People would end up talking all about what I asked in the question and not bring up other points. These days, I only ask questions if there’s some specific thing I really want to know. So they’re less discussion starters and more cries for help.

    • Teresa » That’s a really great point about the questions. I don’t want to steer the conversation too much, but make it easier to comment for those that may not have read a particular book…then again, I should worry so much about audience when I am writing analytical for myself because I want discussion. So much to think about, and I think each book garners a different reaction in me and I want to react in my post differently…

  • There is a lot of interesting conversation here-in both the post and the comments.

    I started out writing multiple posts because it felt right to me. It was only after…6 or so months of blogging that someone pointed out in a comment that my blogging style was “off.” I had to ask for more explanation, and this person e-mailed me to tell me that my multiple posts were frustrating because I never reviewed the book. That person’s blog hasn’t been updated in nearly a year, so their opinion doesn’t matter, but I do think my posting style is a little different.

    From the beginning, I knew that if I was going to complete my project, I had to write during the process. Whenever I stop at a good place, or have somewhere I feel like I need to say something, I either come and draft a post, or write notes until I can get to my computer. I actually stopped myself after reading the first chapter of Moby-Dick just to write out a post. It is a system that works for me, and the times I have condensed into one post I felt stilted and awkward. I need lots of room to reflect on what I am reading, as I am reading AND when I finish. I don’t know if it is just me, but how I feel while reading a book can be drastically different than how I feel when I shut the cover.

    Anyway, I like multiple posts per book, especially when it is a book that needs more discussion. I can’t imagine discussing War and Peace in one…normal sized post. To try and get the scope of that into a condensed post would seem crazy…

    As for what I would like in classics blogs…well, I’m not sure. I think that classics blogs are a little more prevalent than they were 2 years ago when I started blogging. I do like the community aspect around the classics. I definitely give mad props to you for starting and running The Classics Circuit. It really is one of the best events for bloggers to participate in. I also think that continuing to hold readalongs, group reads, and themed months is a great way to get other bloggers on the classics bandwagon every once in awhile. I know that I try and do that with my own readalongs (sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail).

    • One of the things I got from this year’s BBAW was the feeling that rather than getting to know lots of new blogs superficially, I should spend more time engaging with blogs I actually like and which cover my areas of interest. Over the past year, I have moved away from contemporary literary fiction (except Australian books) and focused more on classics and foreign-language works and I don’t regret that. I think it’s got to the point where there is a healthy sub-group of classics bloggers, and that can only be a good thing 🙂

      • Agreed! Your blog is one I discovered in the past few weeks, and for that, I am excited. 🙂 I think bloggers who read mainly classics or older releases (those that came out 5 or more years ago) approach blogging a little differently. And I like that. While I do love reading about all the new releases, seeing the same books over and over again actually turns me away from wanting to read it, at least for awhile.

    • Oh, Allie, that story makes me so sad–and frankly more than a little annoyed that a blogger who would say that. Off? Really? Why must everyone blog in the same way? For that matter, who’s to even say what a “review” needs to look like? (Feeling a rant coming on so I’ll shut up now.)

      • Lol. Yeah, I was pretty angry at the time and my e-mailed response was obvious about that. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to blog. I know my style doesn’t work for everyone. And I am perfectly okay with that. It is not anyone’s place to tell anyone how to blog, write, or reflect.

        I could rant too. 🙂

    • Allie » I cannot believe someone would email you such a criticism. If someone doesn’t like your style, they shouldn’t read. Bottom line. Personally, I like your style. It’s not mine, but it’s yours and it’s great. I agree, classics blogs are definitely more prevalent. And I’m so glad I’ve found the community through the Classics Circuit, it’s been great. I’m awful at readalongs or I’d join you in those 🙂 I just can’t keep on the reading schedule.

  • The things I’d like to see in a classics blog? I like it when reviews feel more personal, like I’m reading about the blogger’s reading experience and not just an analysis of the book.

    Personally, I only skim posts with spoilers, but I think we classics bloggers have a little more leeway than modern fiction bloggers. Most people know that Jane and Mr. Rochester ended up together or that Oliver Twist has a happy ending. 🙂

    • Darlyn » I like reader’s experience as well. But as I say above, I LOVE the analysis too, because that depth is what brings me back to the classics. I love how even with a classic book, one can approach it through a blog in whatever your style is! And yes on the classics spoilers that aren’t spoilers. I love that about classics too.

  • I’ve been toying with the idea of doing multiple response posts instead of one review too! I liked how it worked out with A Game of Thrones. I enjoy being continuously active with my reading rather than just reviewing at the end. I wonder if it’s something about expecting that makes us this way. 🙂

    • Trisha » YES! I think, though, for the books I did multiple posts on, I actually wrote them all at the end, but had kept notes throughout. I need to take better notes. Especially with the huge ones.

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