Google Reader Overload! + Blog Thoughts + Memelet

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I have a problem. I am subscribed to too many great book blogs.

When I first started book blogging, I copied a blog roll from a group blog (Pulitzer Project or something). I started following those people. Then, any time anyone commented on my blog, I added their blog to my reader. Because I was participating in BTT and Weekly Geeks every week, I had lots of random new visitors. Now my Google Reader is out of control!

I am subscribed to 100 blogs individually, and then there is the Weekly Geeks feed, which adds another 140. (This is beside the family blogs, photography blogs, writing blogs, and cooking blogs to which I’m also subscribed.) I can’t read this many blogs on a weekly basis, let alone a daily basis! Most book bloggers post at least every other day. That’s too many book blogs to even just scan the headlines, let alone read and comment.

Before the crazy holiday season, I must do something. I hesitate to delete blogs because what if they have the review I’ve been waiting for tomorrow? But I’m going to do it.

How many book blogs do you have in your Google Reader? How often do you check them? How do you keep it low? I need ideas for more control!

Blog Goals

I’ve also been thinking lately about my goals for my blog. The idea of blogging was to slow down my reading and think about it! But instead, I rush through my books in order to get to the next one. I rush to the computer so I can get my next post up. A few other bloggers commented on similar things just this weekend (tuesday in silhouette and So Many Books). So I guess such thoughts are in the air.

I’ve been noticing on my Google Analytics that while my number of hits has been going up, only 15-20% of the hits are “returning visitors”; the others randomly arrive via Google search or other sites. New readers are always good, but you regular visitors are the key, I think.

So, what’s the bottom line? I need to rethink my goals. Is it “number of hits” a day? Is it “raise number of returning visitors”? Is it “get more comments”? Of course, I want more people visiting and commenting on Rebecca Reads. But more than that, I also hope to encourage conversation.

Conversation is what I think blogging is about. For book blogging, I think the conversation should be about books. It is an interaction with people who share similar reading tastes or at least have insightful thoughts about books we share in common. We learn from each other: books don’t end when we close the cover.

And I’m going to slow down my reading. And blogging (maybe…). I intend try for more of a balance between fiction and nonfiction, and I’ll keep a bit of my children’s book reviews too. After all, reading to my son is a big part of my reading these days!

I really appreciate all those who do leave comments, and I love knowing that there are people out there (you!) also reading and sharing!

What are your goals in blogging? What do you think book blogging should be about? What is your ultimate goal in clicking “post” each day? How do you get new readers?


Tuesday in Silhouette invented a memelet, and since I want to keep this blog about books (and not about how clueless I am at managing Google Reader) here is my take.

Most hated book by an admired author?

I went through a Toni Morrison stage in college. While I loved the other books I read, I didn’t like The Bluest Eye. (I can’t say I hated it, though.) I’ve only read one or two books by most authors, so I feel not well-read enough to answer this.

Aside from novels, what sort of books do you read the most?

Nonfiction, in general. I think I read more nonfiction than I do fiction these days (see note above about need for balance)! I like biographies over memoirs. I’ve been reading lots of history lately, but I have dozens of science general nonfiction books on my “to be read” list

If you could award the Best of the Booker, it would go to:

I’ve only read two of the Booker winners as of yet, Life of Pi and Life and Times of Michael K. I guess I liked Life of Pi better (i.e., I can see myself rereading it, while I can’t say the same of Coetzee’s novel).

Much like desserts, some books can feel like a guilty pleasure. Name one of your dessert books.

I really like Alexander McCall-Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. He’s my “I don’t want to think” reading. There’s a new one out, but I haven’t read it yet. I guess I’ve been thinking too much this year!

Finally, cheesecake or cream cake or chocolate mudcake?

I’m not sure what “chocolate mudcake” is. If it’s like Australian “pudding” or “brownies,” no, thank you, I’ll take the cheesecake. If it’s like American chocolate cake or brownies, I’ll take the chocolate. (I guess I like a sugar overload!)

Reviewed on November 10, 2008

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.

  • I’ve been thinking the same thing lately, and here’s what I’ve decided I’m going to do.

    I’m going to set up a separate folder in my google reader for my ‘must read blogs,’ and I’m going to keep the ones I have and maybe even add any and all I see.

    BUT, I’m not going to read them every day.  I’m only going to read the ones in my ‘favorites’ folder.  Then, if I want to search other book bloggers reviews of a certain title, I can still search for it in my google reader, but I won’t have the pressure of thinking I have to read all these blogs every day.  Even though I’d like to, there’s simply not enough time in my day to read everyone’s blog, write on my own, read the books I want to read, and take care of family responsibilities.

    I bet a lot of people are having this problem because it seems more and more people are book blogging all the time.  Not that that’s a bad thing — it’s good — but there are only 24 hours in every day!  Priorities must be set…

  • I subscribe to 118 blogs.  Recently I sorted them into folders.  Here are a few folders I use: Fave Books, Books, Local, If there’s time, Undecided (there are others as well).

    In Fave Books I put the blogs that I absolutely MUST read.  In books I put most of the other book blogs.  Local is any bloggers that live somewhat near me – you never know when there will be a chance to meet!  If there’s time is the place for blogs who post a LOT or who I’m not particularly interested in reading everything they write – hence I only check that folder when I have extra time. 

    Any new blogs I add to the list go to the Undecided folder until I figure out which real folder they belong in. 

    Hope that helps!

  • I don’t subscribe to too many book blogs.  I’ll go visit them and look them over from time to time, but few make it into my google reader.  Generally, I use the following criteria to decide what to keep with regards to book blogs:
    1) the blogger must have insightful thoughts about the books they post, and I like when they respond to comments (I like conversation)
    2) generally, I pay more attention to book blogs that concentrate on the sorts of books I read (ie. classics)
    3) I prefer book blogs that focus on books and not on weekly games that get put out for book bloggers.  The problem with having a books-only blog is that it’s hard to read a book a day, to up your number of posts, so many book bloggers will participate in all the readers games.  These, I skim through for the most part.  So if a book blog pays more attention to these little sidenotes than to book reviews themselves, I usually don’t add to reader, but instead just go to their page and skim to the reviews every once in awhile.  Now, if a blog is not solely dedicated to books, and non-book stuff is interspersed with book reviews, that doesn’t bother me.  it’s just the games-invented-to-keep-post-numbers-high that I tend to shrug off.  I’d prefer, with regards to book blogs, to get a new post once a week than a new post every day that is only marginally related to books.

    Yeah, I just went and checked.  I only have three books-only blogs in my reader.  I have a couple more that are personal blogs with a reading focus, but that’s different.

    As for my goals regarding my own blog – it was simply to get together a group of people who all loved to read and have mini-discussions regarding our books.  We treat it like a book club, except with everyone reading something different.  We have wonderful, and sometimes very LONG, conversations in our comments sections, and I’ve learned tons from it.  I guess we aren’t really playing to anyone else.  I love new readers to come by, but we’re really more concerned with keeping ourselves going than getting an audience.

  • (Oh – that’s not to say my reader number is low.  I’m still subscribed to almost 50 blogs.  But many of them don’t post on a daily basis, so it’s easy for me to read through everything each day.)

  • I subscribe to a lot of blogs, too (including yours).  On a normal day, I can keep up with them, but I went out of town this past weekend and I’m overwhelmed today.  I have to admit that I have just scanned a lot of the posts.

  • I subscribe to about 200 book blogs (as well as about 100 other blogs) through my Sage RSS reader. Once (or twice) a day, I have Sage scan blogs to tell me which have new posts, and I look at those, often just glancing. I certainly feel no compulsion to read every review. Usually, I just mark them as read and move on. (I also often skip over blogs that don’t post pictures or are very restricted in what they allow an RSS reader to show–those are the ones I eventually delete.) I have a folder of my favorite book blogs (5) and make a point of checking those daily, but can let the other blogs go a few days.

    When I check all the blogs, it usually takes me about an hour. (I tend to do it while the news is on or when I get back from the gym, before I shower.)

  • I subscribe to 66 book-related blogs at most recent count (right now), but they’re just a fraction of the nearly 300 feed subscriptions I have in Google Reader. Like Heather J. said in her comment, I sort them into folders, and I use the “list view” to skim. I’ll only expand the posts I really want to read, and I WILL use the “mark all as read” button when I’m done with those – or when I just don’t have time.

    I tend to focus on my subscriber numbers. Theoretically – if they’re not “marking all as read” 🙂 – subscribers are at least seeing your posts every day in their feed readers, even if they don’t actually visit or comment on the blog itself all that often.

    Since my blog is more of a personal blog with a books focus, I don’t worry about mixing up my post content, but I have definitely found I have less time for books because of my blogging activity.

  • Wow, thanks for all your responses! I’m glad I’m not alone in feeling overwhelmed with all the great blogs out there.

    3m, I’m going to do the same kind of thing — but choosing the “regulars” is the hard part!

    Heather J., thanks for the more specific folders idea! I have two, but with so many blogs, that’s not enough.

    Amanda, I really like the conversation too. When I started blogging, I at first thought I’d only write reviews. But then I found that I liked the non-reviews questions (memes) that also sparked conversation. Now that I have a huge TBR list (I mean, it was big before, but now it’s out of control!) and I’m reading a ton more, I feel like answering the memes is just time consuming. But I was answering them because I liked to think about my reading process, not because I was trying to “pad” my number of weekly posts. In fact, I’m now trying to limit my number of posts back to (mostly) just reviews! It’s not really working, obviously, because I still like the discussion about books, but my, there is so much to read! I like the goal of your blog because it means there isn’t a self-imposed pressure to post more on it. Once again, I need to step away from the blog and open up books again!

  • Kathy, I’m going out of town for a week at Thanksgiving, so that’s why I started wondering why I’m reading so many blogs! It’s overwhelming.

    Jena, I tend to mark 75% of mine as read too, but I still find myself taking the time to scan the headlines! I still want to read them all — I guess that’s the problem!

    Florinda, I found Feedburner a few months ago and that added to the subscriber fun! I didn’t even know how many subscribers I had before that! It’s all so new to me.

  • Okay, I’m embarrassed to even say how many blogs I subscribe to.  But it’s a lot.  When I first started blogging I would put everybody that commented on my blog into my “Commenters” folder.  But then it got too big.  So now I’ve got two of those.  One are the ones that we always go back and forth and comment.  In other words, my favorites. The second one I know that they’ve been and commented on my blog before but not as often.  But I still want to make sure I keep track of them.  I also have a authors folder, a “book blogs to watch” folder, meaning I’m a lurker but thinking I should start commenting.  I also have a folder for the kidlit blogs, another for blogging tips, and another for Utah blogger (because there seems to be a good dozen or so of us).  Plus, I have ones not tagged and weekly geeks.  I must admit I rarely check those last two but I like them there so when I do a search for a review, I can see them come up.  I love Google Reader but I don’t like it to stress me out either.  Hitting “mark all as read” can sometimes be very liberating! 

    I think that there are a lot of great blogs out there and it is impossible to keep up with them all, no matter how much we’d like to.  I also find it hard to find the time to be a mother, do house stuff, work on my own blog, read, and browse other people’s blogs.  I wish I could always comment right away when things are posted but I realize now that it works best for me if I set aside some time a few times a week to see what’s going on with everybody else.

    I also find myself wanting to read more just to have something to post.  But now I’ve realized that everybody is following so many blogs that nobody is sitting next to their computer just waiting for me to update.  So what if I go a few days with nothing?  There are a lot of meme’s to participate in but to tell you the truth I feel like I already have so much to blog about that I don’t need the writing prompts.  Sure they are good community builders, but I rarely read them on anybody else’s blog.  Right now, it just doesn’t feel like my style.  If I don’t read them, why would I want to write them? 

    Like you mentioned, I think if you have a clear goal of what you would like your blog to be then it’s very easy to determine what you’re writing and who you are writing it for.  80% of my traffic comes from Google. They are people are looking for something specific about one book in particular and either they’ve found it or they didn’t.  They are less likely to leave a comment but sometimes they do.  The remaining part of the traffic is from those within the community.  Knowing who your audience is will effect how and what you write.  Knowing that I’m not posting exclusively for book bloggers but also for the school teacher who is finding resources to teach a book in school helps me as I blog.  I don’t assume my readers who everything that is going on.  I don’t want anybody to feel left out.  If I write a weekly geeks post, that means I explain what weekly geeks is. 

    Okay, getting long winded.  I guess that’s it (for now!).

  • I pay more attention to my subscriber numbers than visitors. A lot of visitors come for “homework help”, I think, since I read a lot of classics. I can’t tell you how many people come because of The Scarlet Letter.

    I have a lot of blogs in my Reader, 100+ at least. The thing about blogging is that so many new blogs pop up everyday. It’s hard to ‘stay in the spotlight’, not that that is all I care about. I did cut back a bit. I think I spend more time visiting blogs now than reading books and writing posts.

  • If I really like a blog, I’ll add it to my Google Reader, but I’m so scatterbrained that I forget to check it regularly. I prefer to bookmark blogs and visit the actual sites. But when I’m busy I’m too lazy to do even that, so I usually just visit the blogs of people who comment on mine! And yes, I agree that book discussions are the best bit about blogging.

    By the way, chocolate mud cake is like brown sponge cake smeared in chocolate icing all around. Ugh! It’s so sticky and sweet; I can’t stand it. On the other hand, I absolutely adore brownies. I must be the opposite to you! I think what I mean by mudcake is your American cake.

  • I don’t have too many blogs in Google Reader yet, so it doesn’t get too out of control just yet.  I do sometimes let the journalism and technology and blogging blogs I subscribe to go for awhile, but I try to keep up on books.  But like everyone else, sometimes I just scan through them.

    I was thinking about blogs goals a lot at the end of October after my blogging class and when I was thinking about NaBlogPoMo.  Ultimately, I think I want to be able to reference my blog when I go into job interviews because of how much journalism is shifting to new media like blogs. I want what I write to be good “blog style” with a unique voice and content I can be proud of.  So, it’s not as much about readers (although I have to admit I like seeing the numbers go up) as being able to post content I’m proud of and engage with the people I know consistently come back.

  • I often almost decide to stop having a blog because I tend to let it take over my life a bit!  Before blogging days, I probably read about 3-4 books a month, and I was satisfied.  So far this year, I have read about 120 books, and I am so anxious to get to more and never satisfied.  My one-year “blogoversary” is in about 17 days, and I think I might stop there, or maybe at the end of the year.  We’ll see if I can actually do it!  I will probably still keep up with other blogs–yours is one of my favorites.

  • Natasha, I also started my google reader by putting every single commenter in my reader. But a few months ago I trimmed it a bit and now I’m guessing I really need to trim it again! I agree about the meme thing: I don’t often read others, especially if it just has the name of the meme as the subject. But sometimes it’s nice to see the discussions! “Right now, it just doesn’t feel like my style.” I understand: it was for me at first, but I’m steering away from it now.

    Chris, scary to think of my blog as homework help! I’m realizing that I care less and less about being in the spotlight. I think I just want people who read what I read to read my blog and tell me what they think.

    Tuesday, I am so addicted to Google Reader, I could never go back to the bookmark method! I had homemade Australian “brownies.” Not the real thing. But the Betty Crocker mix brownies from the store are the USA version! Yum! Lots of chocolate and sugar!

  • Kim, great goals for your blog! I think I need to figure out something like that too. I feel aimless a little bit. Yes, I agree it’s fun to watch numbers go up; I think I was getting a bit excited about that last month instead of focusing on quality posts.

    Chain Reader, Oh no! Don’t stop! Slow down, maybe, but still weigh in on those books you’re reading! You have so many intriguing ones in your “to read” list.

    I personally can’t possibly imagine my life without my blog right now, so I guess that’s an indication that I should stop. But I can’t see myself doing that…

  • I subscribe to more blogs than I can keep up with, that’s for sure! But I think you are right about the conversation part of blogging. I have come to value the comments more than I do the traffic numbers.

  • *this* is a great example of a conversation on a blog – not just “me too!”s, but real ideas being exchanged 🙂

    I was interested in what you posted, Rebecca, and I love the back-and-forth that followed.  Taming the Google Reader and firming up blogging priorities is a smart move!

  • Rebecca: It seems you and I are thinking along the same lines:  What is the point of my blog?  I don’t subscribe to blogs via a reader.  I add them to my blogs list on my site.  I am still considering cutting some blogs (no offense to anyone.)  I also don’t participate in any memes — only the occasional challenge.  The one I just joined is to help me focus my reading and plan my book reviews.

    I’ve decided that posts other than book reviews will be strictly book related in some way.  For example, the entry I posted about Howard Pyle from the Literary Calendar widget.  These posts from the Calendar accomplish a couple of things: One, I learn about new writers (to me) which means more books to read (yea!) and two, hopefully, these posts will introduce other people to authors they have not read (helping people–cool!.) 

    I am attempting to concentrate on quality writing and quality content rather than quantity. I guess like Kim(Sophisticated Dorkiness) I am looking to build a portfolio of writing (for what I am not sure yet.)  I have always wanted to write and now I am getting back into writing and I want what I write to be meaningful and helpful to others.

  • Stefanie, I too love comments! Thanks for yours!

    Dawn, I think I’m constantly going to be re-focusing! Isn’t that was growing into a blog is about?

    blacklin, I participated in every meme for a few months. But then I realized I had so many book reviews and other stuff I wanted to say, I didn’t have time for the memes! And then I realized I wasn’t reading anyone else’s meme answers. So, I’m backing off of them. I agree, quality writing and content should be most important. I get tired of “I don’t have time to post today” posts. But if you aren’t reading in a reader, you probably don’t have to put up with those! (How do you avoid the reader?! It’s an obsession!)

  • Rebecca: How do I avoid the reader?  I just have never gotten into the whole RSS feed thing.  I think I instinctively know that I would burn out on a reader in a short period of time.  It seems overwhelming and too much to keep up with.  And I would rather visit the site instead.

  • blacklin, I’m trying to step back…but to be honest, there are a (very) few blogs that i don’t like to visit because of the design, so google reader it is for me…

    Louise, I answered on your blog!

  • I subscribe to 380 blogs.  The problem is I don’t just read book blogs, but I hate missing out on anything!

    I also have a favorites folder…the blogs I really really want to keep up with, and the others I just visit when I’m killing time.  🙂  I’ve been meaning to come back and comment on this post forever…sometimes I star the posts I want to comment on but forget to ever make it back!

  • I have 60+ in my Google Reader but, lately, I’m finding that I’m just scrolling through them without actually reading them. I plan to cull them out and only keep the people who have somewhat similar reading tastes and those who comment repeatedly, like yourself.
    I started blogging in order to record what I’ve read. After picking up the same book for the third time, and not on purpose, I needed a better way to record than the half-started lists scattered about my room and hard drive. Book blogging should be about what you want to be, meaning if you want to just write reviews, so be it. If you want to literally blog about books, so be it. I don’t have the time to be worrying about getting new readers, at least not now. School, college applications, and enjoying senior year take up a lot of my time.

  • Christina, that’s the interesting thing: those who have similar reading tastes are the blogs I comment on and who comment on mine, so I see my Reader going down in the future. I admit that since I wrote this post, I’ve cut it down to about 25….I still am subscribed to the 140 Weekly Geeks huge thing, but I’m trying not to read it: it’s too much!

    I’m going to stop worrying about “new readers” too. “If you write it, they will come!” I’m too busy, and really, reading is the fun part!

    Enjoy your senior year. I wish I played more. Why, oh, why, did I study so much… (oh, wait, you probably don’t need to hear that….)

  • Great questions, Rebecca! You probably could have broken this up into two or three separate posts. 🙂

    My goal on my blog is to just have fun. I’ve tried not to pigeon hole my blog into an exclusive book blog. I want to talk about life, marriage, and any random thing that pops into my head. I want people who don’t love books to enjoy my blog.

    As for my Google Reader, well, that’s certainly a beast that’s gotten out of control. I just went and checked, and I subscribe to 327 blogs. My reader is constantly over 1,000 unread posts. I couldn’t possibly keep up. However, I do have blogs that are favorites, and they’re in a separate folder. It’s all about choices. Either I’m commenting on a few blogs and continuing to post on my own blog, or I’m keeping up with 300+ blogs. I think my choice is obvious. 😉

  • I’m not one to help you slow down your google reader. I’ve been on an add subscription frenzy lately. I subscribed eo 182 blogs and am adding family, homeschooling, pagan and other blogs now too. However I am online a lot and can keep up. There are 150-200 new posts to read every morning and I keep up. A lot of them I just scan because I only read reviews if the book catches my eye and then I read most of the non-review posts.

    As for the book blog, I want blogging to be my job. I want to help bring books to others so I want lots of regular readers as well as new readers coming through every once in a while. The more often I post, the more readers I get. The more unique things I post, the more readers I get. Participating in events really helps too. I read quickly to get to the next book because there are so many books out there I want to get to.

    PS – I’m a new regular reader to your blog. I can’t believe I’ve been missing it all along, where have I been?

  • Trish, yeah, I know, but I try to keep my number of non-review posts to a minimum, even if that means this one ends up long! Besides, these thoughts are all related in my mind!

    Callista, those are similar to my thoughts too! Blogging = my job! I’m a pretty new blog, so I’m glad you found me!

  • Rebecca: I don’t subscribe to any blogs or use any readers at the moment.  I have a handful of book and movie blogs I check in on fairly regularly, but the rest I come upon totally by chance by following links, looking into interesting lists prepared for reading challenges, etc.   Not very “structured,” I know, but it keeps me off the streets.  Anyway, good luck with your blog and belated thanks for initiating this very interesting thread…which I stumbled across at random, of course!

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