Happy Birthday to the Book Stop: A Year in Reviews

Happy first birthday to The Book Stop!  I created the blog last May 18, but then we went on a vacation to Oregon and my first review was posted June 3rd.  So I’m calling Memorial Day weekend the blog’s official birthday.  My husband actually took me out for a special dinner to celebrate, which is just how cool he is.

I’m planning a few giveaways and fun posts for the next week, so stay tuned.  But first I wanted to look at the last year.  Lately, a lot of bloggers have been thinking about how we blog: how often we post, what we review, how many of those posts are memes, etc.  So here are a few stats:

Of the 118 posts in the last year:

  • 55 were book reviews
  • 26 were in response to memes
  • 13 related to E-readers
  • 23 were uncategorized — meaning not a formal book review but not a response to any meme.  For example, a recent post on Big Al’s Books & Pals and his argument with an author that went viral.

If that doesn’t add up, there’s a small amount of overlap in these categories.  I thought my percentage of formal reviews would be higher.  Still, I’m pretty happy with my “review-to-other” ratio, and posting at least one review a week seems to meet my goal for the blog, although I hope to do more.

Of the reviews, I called 26 “Highly Recommended”.  At first that seemed high.  Am I being selective enough when I use that tag?  But this isn’t a random sample of books.  These are books I read because I already love the authors, or because bloggers have highly recommended them.  What do you think?

Last year I read 23 authors who were new to me, mostly through the recommendations of other bloggers.  Some examples: Christopher Moore, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Wilkie Collins, Brandon Sanderson, and L.M. Montgomery.  I feel pretty good about this stat; if I read only those authors I already know, I’m not growing as a reader.

I read 20 books that went unreviewed.  Why?  Generally there are three reasons I choose not to review a book.  First, I run out of time, most often when I read a bunch of books while sick or on vacation. I’m just not going to get to all of them.  Sometimes it’s because it’s a much-beloved book, and I didn’t feel I had something to add (or just didn’t feel as strongly about it as others do).  A couple of examples: Mistborn, The Shadow of the Wind.  Third, it’s part of a series, and I’ve already reviewed other books in the series and a review of this book wouldn’t add much.

I tagged15 books as literary, although it can be difficult to determine between “contemporary fiction” and “literature” so I may need to play with those categories.  I tagged 24 books as “part of a series” — which tends to mean non-literary, except, I would argue, in the case of Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood.  Should I read more literature?  Absolutely.  But I think I’m not going to worry about it either.

It would be interesting to look at how many authors of color or of different nationalities I read, but I’d have to guess at some of that.  I read a lot of British authors and it’s always good to expand.

I would love to say I have X number of followers, but WordPress doesn’t work that way.  I’m also trying NOT to measure the success of this blog by hits and subscriptions (though I greatly appreciate them!)  It can be depressing sometimes not to have the number of followers that other blogs have, but I can only try to be a better “follower” myself.

So where is The Book Stop heading in the next year?

I hope to write a little more creatively, read more poetry, and expand the topics I write about.  Lately I’ve been reading a lot of non-fiction, and I feel like that’s a good vehicle to explore issues I won’t cover by reading fantasy novels (much as I love them).

I haven’t had a giveaway, interviewed a fellow blogger, received a reviewer copy of a book, or published a review on another site or publication (although I may have one coming in the near future).  So those are things I want to explore.

Now that I’ve gone on and on, what do YOU think?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of these questions:

1) What makes you like a blog or decide to follow it?
2) What was the last book you read because a blogger recommended it? How was it?
3) If you’re a frequent commenter, how important is it that the blogger reply to those comments?  How often do you go back to a post you’ve commented on to look at the reply?
4) How often do you check the blogs you follow?  As they post, once a week, etc?
5) And finally, do you have any favorite blogs that are not book blogs?  Name one you recommend.

Hope you have a very happy Memorial Day weekend!

10 Responses to “Happy Birthday to the Book Stop: A Year in Reviews”

  1. Alley

    First up, congrats on the blog birthday! I love the breakdown you have of post topics, highly recommended posts, why you don’t review everything.

    To answer a couple of the questions you posed:
    1. If I like the bloggers style or if we have a similar taste in books, I’ll follow. If I find I’m really not reading a particular blog I’ll end up unfollowing.
    3. I like if the blogger replies to a comment, especially if there’s a question asked. I usually do the notify via email if someone comments back, so I’ll go back to the post if I get that email.
    4. I use Google Reader so I follow all blogs through there. If I want to comment I’ll go to the blog itself.
    5. I love TheBloggess.com. She’s hilarious and she’s just finishing up a book right now, although her blog is just about her and not books.

    • curlygeek04

      Thanks Alley! I’ll check out The Bloggess. I haven’t used Google Reader, just Blogger.com, so maybe I’m missing something. I also should be notifying when I reply but not entirely sure how to do that. Well, I still have plenty to learn about blogging!

      • Alley

        Most comment sections have a subscribe link or check box. Click that and you’ll get emails every time someone comments on that post.

        I used to just user Blogger.com to read all the blogs I follow but Google Reader lets me keep all blogs together in one place, organize them into folders, etc. It made it a lot easier to keep track of everything.

  2. Leeswammes

    Happy blog birthday! Mine was in April.

    To answer (some of your) questions:
    1) I follow a blog mainly if it has the type of books I like. I also like a clean look (not too much going on) and sometimes I only subscribe for the giveaway.

    3) I do comment frequently and I don’t expect an answer but I do try to look out for them (subscribing to answers) because it’s a pity if the blog owner answers and I don’t see it. I don’t go back, only subscribe to follow-up comments if possible.

    • curlygeek04

      Thanks for the response! I often forget to hit the subscribe button when I comment. But then most of the time I just want to let the writer know I enjoyed their post so a response isn’t so important to me. Your recent post inspired me to be a much more dedicated “commenter” and to focus on fewer blogs.

  3. everybookandcranny

    Nice post – and Happy Blog-Birthday!

    As for your questions – I don’t “follow” blogs per se because as you said wordpress doesn’t have this feature and I haven’t set up a blogger account. I have a handful blogs bookmarked that I read regularly – and by regularly I mean once/twice per week. And then I have maybe another 10 (i’m estimating) that I read now and again.
    When I started my blog I didn’t respond to comments – but I love getting feedback when I leave a comment on someone else’s blog – so I’ve been trying to get better about that. It’s also one of my goals to facilitate better discussions on my blog, and well, discussion is a two way street.

    I read Alicia Paulson’s blog – http://www.rosylittlethings.typepad.com She’s not a book blogger but she does occasionally talk about books. Mostly she posts about food, crafts, and Portland (where she lives). She has witty and engaging writing style.

  4. Shannon (Giraffe Days)

    Happy blog birthday!

    Good questions … I like blogs that are clean and not too cluttered, and I’m especially partial to the ones that have meatier posts and don’t take forever to load because of their cartoon graphics. Too much bling for me 😉 I add them to my Reader but I’m not always very good at keeping up with them – hence I’m awfully late to wish you a happy birthday! I need to find a better system or simply organise myself better, in that way.

    The last book I read that was recommended to me by a blogging friend was Addicted by Charlotte Featherstone – I tend to buy books as soon as they’re recommended to me but I take quite a while to get around to reading them! Anyway, I loved it, it was hugely absorbing.

    I leave comments if I have something to say, so I like it when people respond because I enjoy discussing books and related topics. I like the conversations that you can get going on blogs, debates even, that make you think about books in a new way or whatever. That’s why I like the subscribe to comments function on wordpress 🙂 (And why I’m not keen on blogger – there’s no way of having a back-and-forth discussion the way the comment feature is set up.)

    A non-book blog? I love my sisters’ blogs, Life’s Just a Ferball and The Teacosy Revolution, though with three very small children between them they don’t have as much time to blog as they used to.

    • curlygeek04

      Thanks for the comment Shannon! I like WordPress because they make it really easy to keep up with WP blogs. I find I can check those every couple of days but Blogger blogs take more effort. I do wish I had “Followers” like Blogger blogs have though.

      I was wondering if comment replies were important, and I think what I’m hearing is they are! I’ve been a little sloppy about that. I also forget to hit the subscribe function on other blogs.

      I’ll check out your sisters blogs! My favorite at the moment is my friend’s blog, Logy Express (now on my links list).


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