BBAW: What Book Blogging Means to Us

Today’s topic for Book Blogger Appreciation Week is “What does book blogging mean to you?” Jenny and I have been blogging together for more than four years now, and it has enriched our lives in more ways than we ever could have imagined. Today, we’d like to share just a few of those ways with you.

Teresa: I’ve always been something of an odd duck. I’m awkward in social situations, and I loathe small talk. I’m interested in odd things, and I like to talk about those things, but I have trouble finding people who want to listen, much less to engage in actual conversation. If I get started about how funny Anthony Trollope is or what Dorothy Dunnett taught me about Belgian trading in the 15th century, people’s eyes tend to glaze over. Even talking about popular books doesn’t always go so well, because I want to get beyond whether I liked it to discuss what precisely did and didn’t work and how the book made me feel and what it made me think about.

Jenny is one of the rare people I know who loves to talk about books (and our other mutual interests) as much as I do and in the same way that I want to. So when she invited me to join her here at Shelf Love, I figured it would be a good way to carry on our conversation from opposite ends of the U.S. I had no idea that we’d end up with so many others joining in.

For me, book blogging means finding my tribe, being one with my people. My sometimes eccentric tastes and need to keep chewing over what I read are commonplace in the book blogging world. In this community, I feel normal, I feel welcomed, and I feel embraced.

Another thing I love about book blogging is that it’s open to anyone with a computer and an Internet connection. To be a book blogger, you don’t need a literature degree, you don’t need to provide a list of qualifications, and you don’t have to be part of the New York literary scene. All you need is an opinion and a willingness to write it down. Maybe not everyone will like what you write, but with time, perseverance, and a little good luck, you’ll probably find at least a few people who are interested. I love that in the book blogging world you can find academics taking reading suggestions from high school students and accountants sharing literary insights with attorneys. That kind of level playing field is all too rare.

Many people say that online relationships are less “real” than face-to-face ones, but blogging has convinced me that it just isn’t so. (Indeed, those of us who love to read letter collections have known all along that close relationships can be forged from a distance.) I’ve been so fortunate in the last few years to meet many bloggers in person, and they were exactly as I imagined they’d be from their blogs. They may not have looked the way I expected, but the personalities that shine through in their writing shone through face-to-face. And maybe I’m naive, but I believe that if I were in trouble anywhere in the world and in reach of a blogging friend that friend would do whatever he or she could to help. And I know I would do the same for them.

Jenny: Like Teresa, I’ve found book blogging to be immensely enriching. I majored in French and went on to graduate school in French, so I am sorely deficient in other literary traditions. For years I soldiered on by myself (or with Teresa!), wishing I had a class, or at least someone to discuss my books with. When I started Shelf Love, I meant it essentially as a place I could keep track of my TBR list, and then as a place I could chat with Teresa about books. Finding that there are dozens of others who can join the conversation, encourage me, and help me understand what I read in new ways has been one of the great joys of the past four years.

Blogging has opened my eyes. I’ve learned more about writing and about reading than I ever expected to. I’ve seen blogs I want to aspire to: beautifully-written, or full of thoughtful critiques, or balanced with personal introspection that relates to the literature at hand, or funny, or great about poetry, or all of the above. I’ve worked hard on my own writing, and my own reading, trying to be a better blogger within the parameters of what that means to me, always aware that there are so many models for good blogging.

And there are so many. Just as we suggest that we form relationships with the books and authors we love, we also form relationships with the bloggers we love and admire. I get to know your tastes, your ideas, your pride and prejudice, your sense and sensibility. (Your persuasion? Your Emma? Wait.) And you get to know mine. Through our shared love and analysis of books, at its best, we reveal something about our real selves. It is writing and reading as real communication. And I don’t think we can ask more of blogging, can we?

About these ads
This entry was posted in BBAW. Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to BBAW: What Book Blogging Means to Us

  1. Jeanne says:

    It is real communication–and takes up less space than a stack of letters tied up with a ribbon!

  2. I started my book blog as a way to restart myself writing regularly. The wonderful sense of belonging to a community was such a bonus. And, yes, if you ever run into problems and are in South Australia… ;-)

  3. What a very lovely blogging story, and what an encouragement to those of us who only recently started out! Have a great time with BBAW.

  4. Really awesome post – I love when you said, “. To be a book blogger, you don’t need a literature degree, you don’t need to provide a list of qualifications, and you don’t have to be part of the New York literary scene. All you need is an opinion and a willingness to write it down.”

  5. Simon T says:

    What a lovely, lovely post!
    Teresa – “I love that in the book blogging world you can find academics taking reading suggestions from high school students and accountants sharing literary insights with attorneys.” – I love this. Obviously, being a grad student in English lit, I’m on home territory with books – and I always feel awed by people who have such expertise and insight AND are great lawyers/administrators/parents/whatever – I just have one thing I can do!
    Jenny – “your persuasion, your Emma” – too funny! If I weren’t in a library right now, I’d be laughing very loudly ;)

    • Teresa says:

      It has amazed how people’s professional lives just don’t seem to come into play in the blogosphere, unless they choose to talk about it. It’s whether the insights are good and the writing is interesting that matters.

      • I know just what you mean about people’s perhaps undervalued and hidden talents. I have professional qualifications in the English literature field, yet I have met many, many people while blogging who have not, and who have led me to new and valuable literary experiences by what they have to say about what they’ve read. Not only that, but they have as well opened my eyes to new writers and artists I haven’t heard of before or haven’t yet had a chance to read. And some of them write literature of their own well, too. It’s a big world, and it’s nice to feel so much richer just by force of having a computer and minor computer skills.

  6. Wonderful. I love that both of you mention that in blogging you are able to “reveal something about our real selves” and “feel normal”. That is exactly why I started blogging, to be able to share the reading side of my life that no one around me was the least interested in. It was amazing to me how quickly I found a community of people who shared or were at least interested in my reading tastes and how exciting it was to finally be able to have the bookish conversations I had always longed for. Even after two and a half years it is still exciting, every single day.

    • Teresa says:

      It’s great to find a community of like-minded people, even when that community spans continents. (The fact that it spans continents is one of the great things about it!)

  7. Suey says:

    “Finding my tribe.” I love that! What a perfect way to describe this experience! :)

  8. Jennifer says:

    Oh you guys, what a great post :) “In this community, I feel normal, I feel welcomed, and I feel embraced” <~~ A resounding YES to this quote. Being a part of this community feels like being HOME.

    The Relentless Reader

  9. Stefanie says:

    Teresa: “For me, book blogging means finding my tribe, being one with my people.” Yes! yes! That’s it exactly!

    Jenny: “Through our shared love and analysis of books, at its best, we reveal something about our real selves. It is writing and reading as real communication.” I like this! I haven’t thought of how reading and writing about books is communication but it is. Thanks for that insight!

    • Teresa says:

      I think Jenny’s quite right that we communicate a lot when we write about our reading. I’ve feel I’ve learned so much about people from what they read and especially how they think about what they read.

  10. I also understand the eyes glazing over in conversation, and I agree that when reading other book blogs I feel like I’ve found my place!

    I’ve also been surprised by how real many of my online friendships now feel. That’s a side effect of blogging I wasn’t really anticipating.

    And, – hello from a fellow French major! :)

    • Teresa says:

      The real feeling of these virtual relationships surprised me too, but meeting a few bloggers in person somehow made all the other relationships feel more real by proxy.

  11. Thank you, thank you, thank you! You both put it so well.

  12. Trish says:

    Such great great great points here and I love the idea of us all being on a level playing field. You’re absolutely right and I’ve been amazed over the past several years at book blogging’s ability to bring people of all kinds and walks of life together into one giant forum. I also love Jenny’s idea that by sharing our passions about books we also share a bit about ourselves. The connection is such a fantastic one.

    • Teresa says:

      The recent conversations about the state of book reviewing really brought the level playing field idea home to me. As a blogger, I don’t have to prove myself to a gate-keeper in order to do what I enjoy doing. I just have to do it.

  13. I am glad to meet so many book crazy people like me and book blogging has made my reading more intense!

    BBAW: Meaning of Book Blogging

  14. Elizabeth says:

    First of all….love your header…beautiful….so professionally written.

    Also…a VERY beautiful post.

    To me, blogging is all about the wonderful bloggers who make it happen. Stop by to see my post if you like.

    Have a fun day.

    Elizabeth
    Silver’s Reviews
    http://silversolara.blogspot.com/2012/09/book-blogger-appreciation-week-day-3.html

  15. florinda3rs says:

    Your blog is a special place, because you’re continuing the conversations you’ve had with each other for years as well as inviting the rest of us to listen and join in. This socially awkward, reading-and-writing accountant appreciates y’all for it!

  16. Pingback: BBAW 2012: What Does Book Blogging Mean to Me?

  17. Your Mansfield Park? Gracious.

    Teresa, I think what you say about a level playing field is one of my favorite things. I’m a senior in college, and I’m facing a time in my life when I will no longer be grouped by age, and that doesn’t phase me, because of book blogging and online community in general.

    And Jenny, book blogging is about writing; I used to think I wasn’t doing any writing, until I realized that there were definitely blogs I wanted to emulate in my own blogging.

    • Jenny says:

      Well, sometimes very much more like my Northanger Abbey. But yes: I have worked much harder on my writing on this blog than I expected to when I started out. Which is a good thing.

  18. Jeane says:

    I loved reading this post because I feel so much the same way. I’ve found social situations awkward, am terrible at smalltalk, and have interests that no one else seems to really care about. But here! there are people- real people somewhere out there on the other side of that computer screen- who get thrilled about the same things I do and I can blather on about a wonderful book and not feel too weird. It’s wonderful. I’ve found my tribe here, too.

  19. Pingback: Book Blogger Appreciation Week: The Week in Review « The Literary Omnivore

  20. veraersilia says:

    HI: if you should want to write about: ” …about how funny Anthony Trollope is or what Dorothy Dunnett taught [me] YOU about Belgian trading in the 15th century, people’s eyes tend to glaze over.” my eyes won’t glaze over, but open wide and sparkle…. vas-y donc.

  21. Iris says:

    “finding my tribe” – yes, that, exactly. And the real connections, which feel just as real as real life connections to me. Sometimes even a little deeper as we often tackle subjects online that stay hidden in real life.

Leave your comment here, and feel free to respond to others' comments. We enjoy a lively conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s