There seems to be a lot of angst in the book blogging community these days. The Reading Ape has posted a series of discussions about book blogging, from “Whom Do We Review For,” to a criticism of the use of “I” in reviews, to the failure of most book bloggers to use literary vocabulary in their reviews.
Jillian from A Room of One’s Own disagreed with Reading Ape’s definition of what a book review ought to look like, and that generated a lengthy debate. Some other bloggers have chimed in, criticizing blogs that post too many memes or reviews that are too personal. It’s an interesting discussion — it’s always useful to think about why we write and what we write. Am I writing the kind of reviews I want to write? Is this blog accomplishing what I want it to accomplish? Are my posts driven by readers, fellow bloggers, or my own interests?
Interesting, yes. But at the same time, it imposes a level of judgment on my blog and yours that quite frankly, I don’t need.
I started blogging a year ago because I wanted to write, and writing about my favorite thing in the world (books) made sense. Book clubs don’t work for me because you have to read a book someone else has chosen. I love the mix that blogging provides of reading what I want to read, writing about it, and hoping that readers find it interesting enough to respond.
The tough thing about blogging is that blogging requires readers. And sometimes it’s hard to know when you’re writing for YOU and when you’re writing for readers. That’s where memes are a challenge for me. I don’t “meme” (if that’s a verb) because I need ideas — I have plenty of my own things to write about. In fact memes usually mean I postpone something I wanted to write about. When I meme, it’s to engage with the blogger community, to attract new readers, and sometimes just to give readers a break from lengthy reviews.
As with most things, I’m insecure about my blog. I don’t know you, but you’re out there reading and judging what I write — and who I am. That’s okay; it’s what blogging’s about. But I admit I worry. Is my blog interesting enough? Literary enough? Do I post enough? My husband says “write what I want to write” and “be myself.” His good advice is easier said than done, but it’s still what I’m trying to do. I read what I want to read, I write what I want to write, and sometimes I “meme”.
And if that means occasionally I write about visiting my library instead of dissecting War and Peace, that’s who I am. I can tell you that most of the time this blog is more a reflection of “who I am” than the rest of my life.
So please don’t tell me what I ought to post or whether my vocabulary is adequate. The wonderful thing about blogs is THERE ARE SO MANY OF THEM. I’ve found hundreds of book blogs, some that interest me, some that don’t. To each his own. I don’t expect anyone to like what I like or to read what I read. I hope you like some of what I write enough to come back. If you enjoy my blog, great. If not, that’s okay too.
Here’s what I look for in a blog, and what I strive for with my own:
- Thoughtful book reviews about an interesting variety of books
- More book reviews than memes
- Memes that are substantive as opposed to just lists or pictures of books
- Graphics that don’t overwhelm the text
- And a general sense that I like the person who’s blogging
So if you only review romance novels, or your blog is pink and sparkly, or you take the meme-a-day approach, it’s probably not for me. And that’s fine, because there’s plenty out there for all of us. I’m not going to tell you how to blog.
Because in a given day, I have enough to worry about. I worry about work, my family, world affairs, what’s for dinner, and whether the cat will cough up a hairball on the carpet. I worry about whether enough people are reading and enjoying my blog. I hope readers will feel free to disagree with anything I post. But I don’t need anyone telling me how to write.