Sunday Salon: A Book Blogging Celebration!

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!

This entry was posted in BBAW, Sunday Salon. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Sunday Salon: A Book Blogging Celebration!

  1. christina says:

    This was really cool. And d’oh, I feel like such a dork. I just not realized that Shelf Love was two people. Hahahaha. Good luck in the votes. I think you guys r0ck.

  2. Jenny says:

    Yay for y’all! I love your blog, and I love the blogging world for all the reasons y’all mention.

  3. Aw, that was so sweet! I’ve found the book blogging community to be so welcoming, nice, and full of interesting people- I love it when I find someone’s just reviewed an obscure book that’s on my reading list.

  4. Lu says:

    I love your blog and I’m so disappointed I didn’t get to meet you at National Book Festival! I love Book Blogger Appreciation week… all the love that goes out to other book bloggers is just amazing. I like to think of BBAW as one big group hug :)

    • Teresa says:

      I was bummed I didn’t get to meet you last year as well, Lu! I found out after the fact that there were several folks I would have liked to have met but didn’t. And I doubt I’ll be there this year :(

  5. Iris says:

    This was a really enjoyable post. Somehow reading about what others love about blogging always makes me glow a little inside? That is sure to sound silly, but it is true.

    • Teresa says:

      There will be lots of happy, glowy posts this week, I think. I’m really looking forward to it.

      (And best of luck to you in the awards. I was happy to see your name show up there!)

  6. SFP says:

    It’s still hard for me to believe Shelf Love’s only been around for two years. I guess it’s because you’ve made such a difference in such a short amount of time.

    Best of luck next week. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you two. :)

    • Teresa says:

      Awww, that’s so sweet! You were one of those bloggers I admired so much when Jenny brought me on board–and of course I still do.

      • Jenny says:

        Same for me. I always want to echo your posts with a “me, too,” and add more to my TBR from your blog than almost anyone else’s.

  7. I hadn’t realized Shelf Love was two people either. How cool!

  8. teadevotee says:

    What a lovely post! I’m looking forward to BBAW as a way of finding more bloggers like you guys.

  9. Richard says:

    I don’t often comment over here, Teresa and Jenny (I’m sort of poor at time management), but I appreciate the work you do here at Shelf Love. Like the tone of the conversations and the mix of the books in particular. Just wanted to let you know before 50 others tell you the exact same thing this week!

    • Teresa says:

      Thank you, Richard! Nice to know you like us, even though we do feature YA from time to time ;)

      And I hear you on the not being able to comment much. I read way more blogs (including yours!) than I can find time to comment on.

  10. Bina says:

    That’s a really great post! I found I was nodding the whole time while reading it :) It’s so great to find a whole community of people who don’t roll their eyes when you start talking about books.

  11. Frances says:

    I will be rooting for you guys this week! Most glad to be one of those just across the river from you, Teresa, and glad to share space in the blogosphere with two fellow Bill and Madge alums. Always an interesting read over here!

  12. Kristen M. says:

    Amen to everything! This is a great community and I’m lucky to have found it. The two of you are awesome!

  13. litlove says:

    What a lovely celebration of our marvellous community. And it wouldn’t be the same without you both in it – this is one of the blogs I always, always visit because the standard of reviewing you do here is so consistently high and you’re both completely lovely!

    • Jenny says:

      Oh, Litlove, we feel the same way about your blog. You’ve been an inspiration, especially for the careful and thorough way you think about literary criticism. Thanks for all you do! We missed you this summer!

  14. Rebecca Reid says:

    awww, I second all your comments! This is great.

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