Tomorrow is the beginning of one of the biggest weeks of the year in the book blogging world: Book Blogger Appreciation Week! During the week, book bloggers from all over will be taking the time to celebrate the online community that has developed around the love of books. We thought it would be fun to use the Sunday Salon today to talk a bit about what we love about book blogging.
Teresa: When you invited me to join you in this blog just over two years ago, I expected two things: (1) that it would help me read more thoughtfully and remember the books that I read more clearly and (2) that it would be a fun way for the two of us to continue to talk to each other about our books, as we’ve done since we met in college. I did visit some of the blogs you had on the Shelf Love blogroll, and I thought it would be utterly amazing to get a comment now and then from some of the great bloggers you were following at the time. I had no idea that I was stepping into a whole new social circle and that I would get to know such a great group of people. That came to me as a huge surprise—and a very good one!
One of my favorite things about the book blogging world is the wide variety of blogs out there. There are bloggers who write mostly about new books, about old books, about young adult books, or about a little of everything. If you like to read, you’ll probably find blogs about books that are right up your alley. Sure, there are times when it seems like the same book is getting talked about everywhere, but that’s often because the bloggers who’ve read it are honestly enthusiastic about it and find the conversation exciting. And of course if you aren’t keen on the latest hot book (as I’m often not), there are plenty of blogs that don’t talk about those books at all.
I’ve also been extraordinarily impressed with the warm and welcoming attitude book bloggers display. While it’s true that none of us can read every blog out there, and not every blog is to every reader’s taste, I’ve never gotten a sense that book bloggers look down on newbies or want to keep people out of the conversation. There’s genuine eagerness to engage, and genuine regret when we don’t have time to engage with everyone.
One of the biggest surprises has been how relationships formed online have turned into offline connections. I was lucky enough to meet several bloggers last year at the National Book Festival, most of whom weren’t yet online acquaintances, and I was so pleased with how warm and welcoming everyone was. (Unfortunately, I probably won’t make it to the festival this year.) This year, I’ve been thrilled to be able to spend time with blogging friends from both across the pond and across the river. That’s something I never imagined when I started blogging. It’s exciting to make connections with people around the world, people I would never have met were it not for this wonderful blogging community. It’s definitely something to celebrate!
Jenny: When I started book blogging, not long before I invited you to join me, it was because I’d realized that no one wanted to talk about books as much as I wanted to. (Except you, of course, but you were 3000 miles away.) One of the greatest joys of book blogging for me has been to find that there are others who read as much as I do — and often much more! — and who would talk about virtually nothing else if given the choice. We may be freaks, but we’re not alone! Maybe I should use Michael Chabon’s term from the book I recently reviewed: we’re amateurs, passionate amateurs.
I agree about loving the wide variety of blogs. There really is something for everyone. For me, that works out in my own blog and on others: absolutely no matter what someone is reading, whether it’s an obscure childhood favorite, a Sanskrit play, a Victorian whodunit, or an early Japanese marionette novel, someone will have read it. You’ll review it and someone will leave a comment saying, “Oh, I loved that!” or “That’s been on my TBR list forever! Have you read these other three things by that author?” or “You should really try these West African gems, they deal with similar themes.” People read so much more widely than you would expect if you only walk the aisles of Barnes and Noble. People read all kinds of things, from feminist science fiction to Scottish children’s literature to biographies of Antarctic explorers. Yes, certain books and certain types of books are more popular and accessible than others, but the variety is literally endless. I find it hugely cheering.
And finally, I just love sharing my reading taste with others (or perhaps I should say foisting it on them). Every time I review a book, whether positively or negatively, I feel like I’m talking to all these people I’ve gotten to know a bit, and I’m offering them some information. There are so many books out there. No one could read them all. Here’s a way to sift the good from the not-so-good, the great from the penny-dreadful. Here’s a book I adored that you may never have heard of. Here’s a way you could be richer; here’s a book lots of people should read; here’s a book you could go a whole lifetime without reading and never really regret it. I do the same with other blogs, cherry-picking, finding delightful surprises, confirming my notion that I don’t have to read certain things, thank you very much. I love that. It makes my TBR pile fifty miles high, but I love it.
The past two years or so have been such a pleasure. I’m very grateful to the coordinators of Book Blogger Appreciation Week for giving me a chance to say so!