This month marks the five year anniversary of The Book Stop. I had a lot of ideas about ways to celebrate, but school and work intervened. So I’m settling for this reflection post, and I hope you’ll grab a virtual piece of cake with me to celebrate.
I started this blog five years ago because I was itching to do something creative with my time. Work was extremely stressful and not terribly fulfilling. I wanted to write, so I initially started a more personal, essay-type blog, but it failed for at least one reason: the things I wanted to write about were not things I felt comfortable sharing with the world, or family, or friends. I took a blogging class and the instructor said one thing that stuck with me: if you’re not willing to share your blog with everyone you meet, it’s not going to work.
My husband said, write about what you love, and his suggestion was perfect. This blog has been a way for me to share what I’m reading, and more importantly, what I think about what I’m reading. Instead of stopping people in the hallways at work or monopolizing conversations at parties, here I can talk about books to my heart’s content. As a blogger, I’ve discovered so many other great book blogs, I feel like I’m constantly talking about books. And when I need to turn it off, I can.
What I’ve learned from this blog is the importance of creating a space where I can be myself. For a lot of people, being yourself may seem easy, but for me it never has been. I’ve spent my life worrying about being too geeky, and The Book Stop has let me embrace the geekiness. Instead of being ashamed of my love of reading, I’m proud of it. And within this space, I try not to think about whether I should read differently or write differently, whether I’m smart enough or too smart. I just am. And that’s actually pretty amazing.
Since I started this blog, I’ve written 515 posts, including at least 300 book reviews. My most-read genres are contemporary fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, and classic literature. My most-viewed pages are reviews of: The Kitchen House, The Count of Monte Cristo, The Moonstone, Norwegian Wood, and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Over five years I’ve identified 128 books as “highly recommended” – which maybe means I could be more discriminating.
I’ve had 132,568 views and currently have 713 followers.
One of my challenges with blogging has been balancing privacy with my need for this blog to feel personal. I try not to share too much, but I also want you to know who I am. I know most blogs have lots of photos and personal information, but my husband asked me not to do that and I respect his wishes. I’d be interested to hear how other bloggers find this balance.
I sometimes wish my writing was more personal in nature, and I wonder if I shouldn’t be trying to write essays or articles in other publications. I’m jealous of the people I know who do. And yet, writing about books feels like exactly where I’m supposed to be. And it may not seem personal, but most of the time it is.
At times I wish I’d given The Book Stop a more creative name. It holds personal memories for me, because The Book Stop is a used bookstore in Tucson where I had four of the best working years of my life. It was a place that felt like home to me, with people who felt like family. It didn’t start my addiction to books but it certainly nurtured it. For example, the Book Stop was where I first started my Oz book collection. I spent a lot of time organizing the children’s section, and occasionally these beautiful old books would come in that were so beat up (or “well-loved”) that we couldn’t sell them. But they were too wonderful just to throw away.
I don’t have plans to change The Book Stop, even though I wish I had the time to give it more attention. I would do this full time if I could. There are still tons of things I don’t know how to do, like create my own graphics and host my own site. I still want to go to BEA. I’m terrible at participating in book clubs and other social networking. But for now, I just want to keep thinking about how we read and how we write about reading. What is important in a book review? As readers, what are we losing with technology and what are we gaining? How are the worlds of publishing and book reviews changing?
I’m just happy The Book Stop is still a part of my life, and I’m grateful for all I’ve learned. Thank you so much for reading my blog, whether you’ve been with me since 2010, or you’re a more recent follower. I appreciate every reader, follower, and commenter. If there are topics (or books) you’d like to hear more about, I’d love to hear from you.
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