Book Blog Search (Beta) and Other Non-Book Review Stuff

For the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with a Custom Google Search of 300+ book blogs. I use it to find other reviews for books I have reviewed, thereby letting me add links to the bottom of my reviews.

I took the list from the September HTML listing of blogs participating in BBAW. (I needed HTML, and that was the best list.) However, by now, I realize that list is probably out of date. Custom Google Search has a horrible admin interface: I can’t sort very well to see which blogs are in there. Since I imported 300+ blogs, it seems to be quite a mess. I’m also not sure if it’s useful to other bloggers. So I need some help.  

What I need:

  • Admin Assistant(s). Someone willing to join the “Book Blog Search” admin team on Google so I don’t have to manage this alone!
  • Experts. This relates to the Admin Assistants needed above: I need someone who understands how the Custom Google Search interface works!
  • Testers. A number of people to try Book Blog Search to see if it works for you.

Questions:

  • Do you think it’s OK to include blogs without specifically asking their permission? (If not, I’ll delete what I have now and then ask for willing bloggers to submit their sites via email.)
  • Do you think such a search function is useful at all? (It puts most recent blogs first and works mostly like a Google search does, but only for the specified sites.)

Visit here to see what I have thus far. Keep in mind, it’s only “Beta” for now.

Please email me at rebecca[at]rebeccareid[dot]com with Book Blog Search in the subject line:

  • If you want to help
  • If you want your name added or removed from the search
  • If you have comments about it

Brainstorming Features and Book Reviews

I have two reviews in the works for books I just finished and I’m in the midst of some very long books right now, which may take a few weeks to finish and review. Ultimately, though, this next month may be slim on the reviews because…… last week we bought a house! I am so very excited about this. We’ll be moving sometime this month.  While I hope to keep balance in my life, I will probably be responding to your wonderful blogs less, not to mention reading less and therefore posting fewer book reviews. (In fact, I wrote this post at the beginning of last week and just haven’t found a chance to post it until now!) Bear with me: I’ll still be around!

The Blog Improvement Project this week is to brainstorm ideas or features for your blog, for those days when you don’t have reviews. Now, I intend to have more book reviews than non-review posts: that is my ultimate goal. So my features will mostly relate to reviews of books, essays, poems, or stories.

One feature I’ve started already: Caldecott Corner. Because I spend lots of time reading to my little boy, I am always on the lookout for picture books. I think reading the Caldecott Award winners and the Caldecott Honor books is a great place to start. Once or twice a month (when I can), I’ll feature some Caldecott Award winners. It may be in the form of a Caldecott illustrator spotlight or it may be in the form of a themed Caldecott spotlight (for example, last month, I featured “Wintery” Caldecotts).

I’m also going to do Author Spotlights. There are a number of authors that I’ve enjoyed but not loved. However, they still have literary merit and deserve recognition. I probably won’t reread their books before spotlighting their books, and I even have some books to giveaway. I plan to highlight some of those authors and the books they’ve written (at least those that I’ve read) at some point in the coming months.

In November, my mother and I wrote opposing opinions about the same book. I want to make Counterpoint a regular feature on Rebecca Reads. Now, if only I can find people who disagree with me… (I don’t think Counterpoint needs to be a disagreement, but it does make it more colorful!)

In addition, I also want to return to some exploratory posts about reading or specific literary terms and/or articles I may come across about reading. I may call the series “Reading About …” (although I’ll take suggestions for a better name, if you have one!). For example, I may have a post “Reading about… Reading to Children” or “Reading about… Satire” or something else that may promote discussion. For example, I wrote about satire when I read some satire, but I think it might also be useful to look at those types of things on their own. While this feature would not specifically review a book, it does promote my ultimate purpose: Rebecca Reads. (And not only do I read, but I think about reading, too!)

Do these features interest you at all?

In terms of my reading plans, I still plan on reading a balance of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s literature (including picture books). I still plan on also reading a balance of classic fiction and modern fiction. I still plan on reading a spattering of short stories and poetry. With my upcoming move, however, the coming month will probably be a bit quiet on Rebecca Reads.

Honestly?!

Myrthe awarded me the Honest Scrap award here. She says: “she always give good and reasonable arguments why she does or doesn’t like what she read and she always poses questions that make me think.” I’ve felt like I’ve forgotten to ask my questions on my last few book reviews, but  I certainly do try to be reasonable in my arguments! Thanks, Myrthe!

I am to share ten honest things about myself. Here they are:

  1. I’m a redhead. My mother always said I had “redhead’s temper.” I think telling someone that is just a self-fulfilling prophecy: you’re just asking for it. As a child, I figured that’s why I had temper tantrums. (I even remember having a temper tantrum in elementary school.) I’ve since learned, of course, that I can choose whether or not I’m angry; I think I’ve mellowed out.
  2. I’m opinionated, which is why I got hate-mail on one of my blog posts. This is probably also why my mother still thinks I have a “redhead’s temper.” I admit that I tend to disagree (even with her!), which is why she was such a great Counterpoint in October.
  3. I don’t work a full-time job; I’m a stay-at-home mom to an almost-16-month-old little boy. That gives me lots of motivation to read children’s books.
  4. When I did work full-time, I was a proofreader. First, I worked for an accounting firm (checking for typos in long, boring reports). I really liked it; there’s nothing like finding an offensive error and marking it in red ink! I also worked for a time at a marketing firm, proofreading health care and educational material.
  5. After college, I spent a summer reading the “slush pile” at a trade-book publisher. That meant I read at least the first chapter of unsolicited manuscripts so I could tell the editors whether they were worth reading. You’re probably thinking that spending the day reading dozens of books is a dream job! Trust me: you don’t want to do it. To this day I avoid modern trade fiction.
  6. I’m introverted and feel much more comfortable sitting at home than I do going out. Sometimes I do crave company, but most days I’m happy at home with my son.
  7. I like to cook. Everyone assumes that means I like to cook every day. Ironically, I don’t “cook” very often. It’s one of those “I like it when I do it” hobbies.
  8. I want to be a photographer, but will probably never take the time necessary to develop my talent (pun fully intended).
  9. I want to express myself in the written word.
  10. I like to read. Honestly, I do.

I am really, really tempted to tag. I tagged 10 blogs a few weeks ago, and I’ve tagged in the past. But I would love to delegate 2009 a tag-free year (from now on) on Rebecca Reads. If I comment on your blog, know that I’m reading and loving it, all the more so for your wonderfully honest opinions and commentary.

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.

  1. I do think this search function is very useful! Normally I find reviews to link to by searching my google reader, but I always feel a little bad that I’m only including blogs I already follow. So being able to do a wider search would be great. As for including blogs without asking them….well, it’s for a good purpose. I guess some people could be uncomfortable, though, so it’s good that you included a note saying you’ll remove anyone who isn’t okay with it.

    I wish I knew enough to be able to help. You can count on me to be a tester, though.

  2. Congratulations on the house! That’s great news! Good luck with the moving and getting settled in.

    Thank you for sharing your ten honest things. Like you, I like to cook, but most days I am quite lazy. In Armenia I like cooking in summer much more than in winter, because in summer there is a wealth of fresh vegetables available, whereas in winter the choice is mostly limited to potatoes, onions, cabbage, carrots and beetroot.

  3. Congratulations on your new home. That is so exciting! Your search is great, and I’m flattered that you included me.

  4. I think a book blog database would be a great tool for bloggers and readers alike. It can be daunting trying to find reviews on specific titles on places other than Amazon and the like. Knowing you’re reading reviews from people who love to read, and whose preferences you can further research would be really helpful.

    Also, good for you for writing honest reviews. I personally don’t get why more people feel they should only post positive reviews… I’m not saying people should be negative for the sake of it, but if a book didn’t work for you and you can verbalize why that was the case, I think that’s really helpful as a reader.

  5. Thanks for the congrats, everyone! So far, so good.

    Nymeth, I was using Reader too, but I knew I was missing people, so then I uploaded the BBAW blogs too. I know I”m still missing people…Let me know how it works for you or if there is a blog you know I”m missing on the list…

    Myrthe, I do like to cook when I do it! Crazy that I never really do these days, especially with the move…

    Amanda, thanks!

    Lezlie, Well, I already tagged this year, so I guess I’m going to make it a “from now on” thing…

    Steph, if a book doesn’t work for me, I’ll be sure to let you all know:)

  6. Congratulations on the house!

    As for linking to other blogs without asking, I think it depends. If I am reviewing a book and linking to other reviews of the same book, I don’t think it is a big deal. I think book bloggers sort of expect this sort of sharing. If I am writing about cars, and I link to somebody’s blog about their hamster (yes, I’ve done this), I will leave a comment to let them know that I have linked to their blog and to let them know that I will be happy to remove the link if they want me to.

  7. Dreamybee, I’m using about 300+ blogs in a search database, so it’s a little different than linking to them directly; I’m thinking it’s OK to do that, but I’m not certain…

  8. The new features you mention sound all very interesting! Can’t wait to see what you do with them.

    I also read the “hate mail” comments (somehow, I had missed your review of On Writing the first time you posted it). I have read two books by King: “On Writing” and “The Green Mile” (the latter because I loved the film, but I was sorely disappointed). Trust me, you’re not missing anything.

  9. Hi!

    First of all thank you for this very helpful idea for us book bloggers 🙂

    Second: I can try and be one of your admins/experts if you like. While not familiar with Google Custom Search I am a pretty fast learner when it comes to online stuff to all you have to do is point me in the right direction 🙂

    And third: Will you pretty please add my blog too?

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