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On the last night of Hanukkah…

As Hanukkah comes to a close, I want to wish everyone out there a happy end-of-Hanukkah and a very happy holiday season.  It’s been a busy couple of weeks so I haven’t been blogging much.  Last week my sister visited with her husband and my two nieces (ages three and five), which was great fun (although not so much for our cats).  Work has been overwhelming but looks to be calming down, and this weekend we cooked latkes for about thirty of our friends.  So life has been very good but a little busy!

December marks my unofficial six month blog-iversary.  When I launched The Book Stop I thought I’d give myself six months to see how it went.  Now I’m at six months, so it’s a good time to reflect on the things I love about the blog and things I want to improve.

What are my favorite things about blogging?  I know I’ve said this all before, but I love being able to think about books and write about them in a way I haven’t done since college.  I love being able to recommend books, or NOT recommend them.  I love reading all the other book bloggers’ reviews and recommendations.  I love that I’m reading the way I read in college as a lit major.  Six months ago, I was reading mostly fantasy and mysteries, but in the last six months I’ve picked up books like Middlemarch, Fahrenheit 451, and Slaughterhouse Five, and reread old favorites like The Bell Jar and Return of the Native.  Not that there’s anything wrong with fantasy and mysteries, I just like feeling I’m pushing myself to read other types of books.

What do I struggle with?  It may seem weird to talk about struggling when this is something I do for fun.  And it is fun — but I’ve been surprised over the last six months to find that blogging brings with it a fair amount of pressure – pressure to post often, to entertain, to read things others want to hear about, to keep up with the other bloggers.  Is it just me?  I have to remind myself that most bloggers aren’t posting every day, maybe closer to once or twice a week.   And if I don’t have as many readers as I would like, I also don’t really know how many people are reading.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, as long as I like what I’m writing.  I also struggle with balance and maintaining a voice – the blog hops and all the weekly activities and challenges are important ways to communicate with other bloggers, and a great way to get new book recommendations, but sometimes I feel like what I’m writing about is dictated by all these other blogs, rather than what I want to write about.

Where do I want to go next?  I have plenty of goals:  I want to post more reviews, I want to write reviews more quickly after I finish a book, and I want to continue to improve how I write reviews, including taking more notes as I read.  Maybe take a class or two in writing book reviews?   I also want to get better at expressing myself personally so hopefully you get a better idea of who I am.  I probably need to do more visually with the blog, although I have no interest in all the blinking gadgets that a lot of blogs have.  I think simple is nice.

What am I working on?  Reviews of The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer and Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.  I’m reading two really interesting books, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and Boneshaker by Cherie Priest.  And my to-be-read pile is out of control, so I’m almost hoping for lots and lots of snow this winter.  Coming up in the queue are: Mary Ann in Autumn by Armistead Maupin (a new Tales of the City book, yay!), Dark Road to Darjeeling by Deanna Raybourn, North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, and a January science fiction challenge book, Dust by Elizabeth Bear.

A few days ago, just when I was feeling like I’m talking to myself here, I got a nice compliment from a friend – she hates Thomas Hardy but my blog is making her reconsider reading his books.  It’s nice to know people are reading even when I don’t think they are.  (For the record, I think Thomas Hardy is a love-it or hate-it kind of guy – and whichever side you come down on is okay with me.)

So, thanks for listening, and my best wishes to all for a happy holiday season.

8 thoughts on “On the last night of Hanukkah…

  1. Happy 6 month blog anniversary! (blog-versary? is that too dorky?)

    I know what you mean about blogging pressure. Anytime it starts to get to me I just remember that ultimately it doesn’t matter how many people read me as long as I like what I’m writing.

    And while I don’t think you’ll ever add it I do just want to say, please don’t add blinking stuff to your blog. They are so annoying

  2. Happy 6-month anniversary! It’s interesting that you had that time marker in mind. I just sort of thought, let’s try this and see how it goes. I didn’t really have a time frame in mind. The blog workshop I went to (that you told me about) seemed to imply two years was significant. I think taking stock at some point is a good idea, I’ll have to see how it’s going in May.

    I think it’s great that you’ve been able to reconnect with the lit major inside you. Maybe I’ll read more in 2011, it’s been a pretty bleak reading year for me.

  3. For what it’s worth I read regularly and enjoy very much what I read here 🙂

    I can well appreciate your sentiments about the blogging experience; I have to remind myself from time to time, that this is purely for fun and when it starts to feel onerous, then it’s time to reassess.

    And I love Thomas Hardy — I did my college freshman English final paper on The Return of the Native.

  4. As a fellow lover of Thomas Hardy, I would consider it a great accomplishment to have heightened a friend’s appreciation for his work!

    As for the pressure, it’s not just you. When time passes, and I realize I haven’t posted enough, I panic and think, “Oh no! I’m going to lose the few readers that I do have!” Then I remind myself that the whole reason I started doing this was to enhance my reading experiences. I do want readers of course but mainly blogging is more motivational for me than say, keeping a journal. And that’s mainly why I do it. Living in a small town, it’s difficult to find readers with similar tastes, so I enjoy the benefit of the vastness of the internet to connect with other like-minded readers.

    Great post. Happy holidays to you too!

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