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Book Bloggers: What do you NOT write about on your blog?

personalWe all have rules about how we blog, or at least guidelines. This month I’ve been thinking about what we don’t talk about on our blogs.

Obviously, the scope of this blog is about books. So how much should I write about non-bookish things? I like to incorporate a few non-bookish things in my monthly wrap-ups. I’ve thought about what are the things I know something about and that others might be interested in, like travel or yoga or education or not having children. But it’s a book blog, why would you be interested in those things?

And then there’s the privacy issue.  When I started this blog, my husband asked for only a few things: limiting personal photos and identifying information, including his name, our family, and what we do for a living. I don’t find that too limiting, although I’m frustrated by referring to him as “husband” – I long for a catchy nickname but haven’t invented one yet. Suggestions?  Cheryl Strayed, aka Sugar, used “Mr. Sugar” in her columns, so I suppose my beloved could be Mr. CurlyGeek.  That’s a mouthful though!

The question is always how personal to get on the blog. I’m always conscious of not wanting to share too much personal information, mainly because I know my family and my in-laws read the blog (as well as some people I work with). How much do you hold back because of who reads your blog?

Of course, book reviews don’t tend to get too personal. But sometimes they do, or they could. For example, reading David Nicholls’ Us really made me think about my parents’ relationship and their divorce. But knowing they’re reading makes that a topic I’m not going to write much about.

I want you as readers to know who I am, and that’s not easy to convey through book reviews. Sometimes I just have the urge to write about more personal things, but I’m not sure this is the place. I’ve thought about trying a once a month post on a more personal topic.

Again, that goes back to who’s reading the blog, and that will limit what I’m willing to talk about. But maybe it’s time to stretch a little bit.

There’s a recent post on The Blogess (I love her blog) about what it means to blog, and who you’re writing for.  Jenny Lawson is brilliant, and what she’s learned from her blog and her two books is that people care more about her struggles and weaknesses than when she’s just being funny.  In fact, talking about her struggles HELPS people.

But that’s not me — sure, I have childhood issues, family issues, work issues, confidence issues, and just the general this-freaks-me-out-and-I-don’t-know-why kinds of issues.  But you don’t want to hear about that, do you?  This is a book blog, after all.

For my fellow bloggers, what do you NOT write about on your blog?

The Book Blogger Discussion Challenge is hosted by Feed Your Fiction Addiction.  Check out this link for other great discussions about blogging and reading.

23 thoughts on “Book Bloggers: What do you NOT write about on your blog?

  1. The main focus on my blog isn’t book reviews, but board games. The same principle applies. It’s hard to balance. I like posting the types of things that get the most attention (board games), but want to have a diverse range of topics, including personal thoughts and stories. On one hand, the personal stuff doesn’t get much traffic and we want a bit of privacy, but on the other we do this as a release and for growth/exploration. We haven’t found a balance yet. We do just stay away from our private logical ideologies and religion. That’s where the hard line is drawn.

    • Thanks for the comment! It must be fun – and challenging – to write a blog as a couple. I like the idea of staying away from politics and religion, although I know politics will creep in to my blog from time to time, especially in an election year. My husband and I love board games, so I’ll check out your blog!

      • It can be. We come up with the topics together and work together. I think eventually we will have different gravatars and post things on different topics, but it’s fun to do it together for now since we’re new at it.

  2. I haven’t made a conscious decision to not blog about any particular topic but I don’t include a lot of personal topics. I can’t imagine my readers are particularly interested in work related stuff (anyway I can’t talk about that without breaking our company confidentiality rules) or my ups and downs with exercise routines or family history research. Occasionally I’ll drop in a few comments about a holiday or travel somewhere or a campaign I’m involved with to save our local library just to prove that I’m human but I don’t see me doing very much more than that.

    • Thanks BookerTalk! Your blog is so thoughtful, so I can see where that approach works. In truth I’m really torn between wanting to write about more personal things and worrying about a) what my family will think and b) that no one else will care. I just think my blog is a pretty imperfect picture of who I am sometimes, and I admire the people who tackle difficult issues on their blog.

  3. I think there’s something about blogs where even if there’s a theme to them (books), you’re still reading cos you want to hear what that particular person has to say and, if you wanted to, you could totally post about more personal stuff. Now whether you want to or not is another story, but I’m sure the majority of your audience would stick around, even for the non-book topics

    • Thanks Alley, I appreciate the comment. I agree if you’re reading a blog it’s because you are interested in the person writing it. I like how your posts are always a mix of personal and bookish.

  4. Great topic. I generally don’t get too personal on my blog, but occasionally I do. I think our personalities do come out in our posts and reviews at times, as long as we’re being honest about ourselves. I don’t generally discuss work either, and only occasionally will talk about family or stuff. It is a fine line though, and hard to know sometimes. I think we all have to just follow what makes us comfortable. Thanks for a great post and food for thought!

  5. This is a really interesting issue because I think it gets at the heart of what book blogging and reviewing is all about. Unlike major newspapers’ books pages, I think, individuals blogging about books can be much more personal about the way that a book strikes them, can talk about where they were in their lives when they were reading it or what memories it brought up for them. In that sense, I think it can be very relevant to talk about your life, because it gives people a better sense of the context within which you’re coming to the books that you review. How you do that is, I guess, up to you and what you feel comfortable with sharing. I use aliases for my friends when I mention them, to protect their anonymity, but I’m pretty happy to talk about what I’m doing in my life if I feel it’s a) got relevance to a book, or b) is worth talking about in its own right. Don’t do anything you don’t feel comfortable with, but equally, don’t hold back from writing about explicitly non-book subjects just because you think no one would be interested!

    • Thanks Elle! I appreciate hearing your thoughts on this. I do think, since we read books in a personal way, a review ought to give that personal context. I like your advice about not holding back because you think no one would be interested — I suppose we never really know what people will respond to.

      • Exactly–one of the things that’s most surprised me is that people tend to pick out whatever they need to hear at that particular time. You really do never know what will strike a chord with someone.

  6. I share these questions. I feel constrained about writing about my family or work on my blog due to privacy issues, yet sometimes I have the hankering to get more personal. I haven’t worked out quite how to do this while not being able to discuss the most important things in my life! Some personal details do escape into my book reviews from time to time and I may have to leave it at that.

    • Lory, I’m glad to hear we share some of the same issues! I think some of my best reviews are the more personal ones, but I don’t get much response to those. I suppose that gets back to the issue that people don’t really comment much on reviews.

  7. my reviews can get pretty personal, sometimes a book really effects you, you know? My husband and I have written joint reviews, so he’s on there. I’ve talked about bookish events I’ve attended, even posted photos.

    I don’t talk about my job. Sure, i’ll mention that work is really busy, or that it’s slowed down, or a shoutout to a particular bookstore I visited because i was in that town for work, but i don’t talk about what I do for a living. because that’s boring!

    • Thanks for the comment! My husband and I have tried a few joint reviews but without too much success. I agree about not talking about your job, and I also agree that reviews can get personal. Books definitely affect me on a personal level and that’s how I like to write about them.

  8. Even though my blog is a book blog, I do find that personal posts invite more readers into a relationship with me (which is why I love discussions!). I pretty much always relate those personal posts to books in some way, but I do include them. Like you, though, my husband doesn’t like being included in my blog much. (The first time I tried, he was NOT happy with the result.) So, I do try to limit how much I talk about him! 🙂

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  9. I’ve thought about this a lot. I haven’t revealed myself truly on my blog yet, however I have just now started allowing friends and family to read my blog, so maybe revealing myself a bit more is the next step for me. Personally, I just wrote and scheduled a post about not wanting to be limited by the book blog label. I love being a book blogger, and books are my passion, but I have other interests as well. And for me, blogging is just as much about me as it is about my readers, so I feel like if I’m not writing the content I want to be writing, then when I do write, it’s not up to par with what it could be if I was writing how I wanted. I understand why you and your family would prefer to remain anonymous, since I do the same. Great post! 🙂

  10. I’ve recently started experimenting with writing slightly more personal posts, and it does seem to have attracted quite a lot of readers. However, I do feel kind of conscious about people I know reading my more personal posts, which is why I have a line I won’t cross in terms of what is too much. My last personal post was about my career (or lack of it) and how I want to change jobs, and even that made me nervous just in case someone from my current work read it and was all like ‘what? you don’t like your job?”
    Great post!

  11. Oh, this is a tough topic. I think everyone who blogs, but especially people with a specific subject focus (like books) has to struggle with this, because there’s no one right answer.

    I don’t think any of my family reads my blog, and very few of my friends, but at the same time it isn’t exactly a secret and any one of them could stumble across any of my posts, so I try to keep the personal “drama” to a minimum. On the other hand, I want to be honest and open about my life. On the OTHER other hand, I do value privacy and have had to deal with creeps in the past, so it’s important to hold back on identifying information.

    For example, it’s impossible for me not to mention my career or the general area where I live because those are such important aspects of my life and definitely have an effect on my reading/how I react to books! But I generally leave out anything political/religious or even just vaguely controversial, even if that stuff has a huge impact on my reading, because as a “public servant” I can get into serious trouble with my job if anyone there were to find something objectionable my blog.

  12. Pingback: 2015 in Reading and Blogging: an End of Year Survey | The Book Stop

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