I’ve had a lot of bookish and blogging-related things on my mind in recent weeks, but I’m feeling far too scatter-brained lately to develop any of them into a full post, so I’m going to just dump a bunch of those fragmentary ideas into this post. Perhaps if some of them provoke a lot of discussion, I’ll develop them into a full post one day. Or not.
- Friday, I threw in the towel on the TBR Double Dare. I had taken a day off work and was planning to read A.S. Byatt’s new book, Ragnarok, which I’ve had on my e-reader since December. However, I left my e-reader at work and didn’t want to go get it. And the copy of In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming that I had won through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program had been taunting me for weeks. So I gave in. I have no regrets. It’s a terrific book, and it would have been wrong to read a book with a title like that in April. I enjoyed it so much that I’m embracing all whims and reading whatever I want, on my shelf or not!
- There’s been a lot of chatter lately about whether what write can properly be called reviews, most of it in response to Maggie Stiefvater’s post last month. Stiefvater claims that a review should be “unbiased” and like a “little academic paper.” Am I alone in thinking that very few newspaper reviews are like little academic papers? So are they not reviews? I use the term review broadly to include just about any sort of evaluative writing about books. Some reviews are poorly written. Some provide little helpful or interesting information about the books. Some of these not-so-good reviews are by amateurs, and some are by professionals. But that doesn’t stop them from being reviews. Would we say a terrible book isn’t a book just because it’s terrible?
- Mostly, I don’t care what people call their (or my) opinion pieces about books. I just want those pieces to be interesting.
- I’ve been having a lot of thoughts about genre labels. Some people hate them, some people love them. Some people hate certain ones and don’t mind others. Some people expend a lot of energy trying to work out whether a book fits in a particular genre or another (never mind all the subgenres). I like genre labels insofar as it’s handy to know where to go to look when I’m in the mood for a crime novel or whatever. But I don’t like when genre labels are used to put books or their readers down. Or when books within a sometimes maligned genre are said to be too good to be considered in that genre. In my mind, genre labels are about subject matter, not quality, and the same book could be said to fit into multiple genres. All that said, I think it’s perfectly OK not to be interested in books of certain genres. Some people just don’t want to read about crime or romance or whatever.
- I don’t think I’m going to be going to BEA this year, but I haven’t entirely ruled it out. I enjoyed meeting other bloggers last year, but I’m not especially interested in strengthening connections with the industry, and I pretty much blog the way I want, regardless of what experts say. I may change my mind about going once I see the agenda for the BEA Bloggers Conference, which was recently purchased by BEA. I have wondered whether the purchase would make the blogger conference more focused on how we as bloggers can support the industry, instead of on the value of bloggers as independent voices (a topic I feel passionately about). I was pleased to see that Jennifer Weiner was chosen as the keynote speaker for the conference. I think that bodes well, since she strikes me as someone who is more into ethics and independence than in pleasing the powers that be. (Disclosure: Weiner and I exchanged e-mails and tweets a couple of times a few months ago, so I might be predisposed to have positive feelings about her. And I’ve liked the handful of her books that I’ve read.)
- If I go to BEA, it will be to meet and hang out with other bloggers, not to network. I hate that word. It gives me hives. Notice how it has the word work in it.
- If Sleep No More is still playing in June, my interest in going to BEA will increase significantly. And I will make all of you go with me. You’ll thank me later. (I never wrote about it, but I went a second time last summer and Hecate took me into a private room, took off my mask, and told me a creepy story. It was freaky. And awesome. Everyone should go.)
- I got a Pinterest account this week, just out of curiosity. I can kind of see the value in it, but I’m not sure it’ll be something I use much. I’m not actually following anyone yet, nor is anyone following me, so I might be missing part of the point. It seems easier to pin things than to make Tumblr posts, so that’s a plus. Mostly, though, I feel like there’s too much to look at when I go to the Pinterest site, and I just get overwhelmed.
- I am currently addicted to the TV show MI-5 (aka Spooks). I’m in the middle of season 5 right now and got so stressed after Ruth left that I went to the show’s Wikipedia page and got myself well and truly spoiled. Now I feel prepared for any potential deaths, imprisonments, disappearances, and so on. I will probably still cry about a good number of them, but at least I’ll be ready. I have also used this approach to books that stress me out. Forewarned is forearmed.