It’s the Tenth Anniversary of The Book Stop!

May 2020 marks the tenth anniversary of The Book Stop.  This kind of caught me by surprise, even though a year ago I was thinking what I might do to mark the big ten. What can I say, life is a little strange right now.  So much thanks to WordPress for the helpful reminder!

Since I kicked off the blog on May 18, 2010, I’ve apparently written 963 posts.  In lieu of balloons and cake (though Mr. CG did offer to bake a cake for the occasion), I gave some thought to how the blog has changed and what I’ve learned, and in general, what the blog has meant to me.  I’ll probably be repeating thoughts I’ve shared a few times before.

First of all, THANK YOU.  This blog has been my sanity over the last ten years, and while there have been times when it felt pointless or frustrating, or it felt like no one was listening, it’s always been a place I’m happy to come back to.  I’m so appreciative of the people who read and follow the blog, and especially those who comment.  You’ve made me feel part of a community, and that has meant a lot to me.  I’m also happy to have met some of my fellow bloggers in person, and I invite you all to reach out to me if you’re ever in the DC area (though sadly, my favorite meetup site, Kramerbooks, may be moving).

One of the most valuable things I take away from blogging is that I never feel weird or obsessive in the book blogging community.  In the real world, there are people who admire how much I read, but hearing “how do you read so much?” or “I could never read as much as you do!” always feels a bit like criticism (kind of like, “I love your curly hair, do you ever straighten it?”).  Sure, there are other things I could be doing with my time.  But in the book blogging world, there are bloggers who read vastly more than I do, and bloggers who read less, but somehow it always feels like we’re on the same team.

anniversaryHow has the blog changed over the years?  In the beginning, I thought I was going to write a lot more about e-readers, book technology, and publishing news.  I still think about those things, but writing about actual books just seems more interesting.  When this blog started, I was absolutely infatuated with my Kindle, and I still feel that e-readers have revolutionized reading for me.  Carrying around an entire library in something that nearly fits in my pocket, that I can read both in bed and on the beach, is still pretty amazing.  Now that e-readers are just part of our reading lives, many readers still prefer paper books, and I respect that choice. It’s just not something we need to discuss.

In the beginning, my reading was a lot less diverse and included a lot more series books like urban fantasy.  Book blogging has helped me to expand my reading in all directions, from nonfiction to award winners to  reading books written by authors around the world.  But I did read more classics in 2010 than I do now.

In 2010, these were my best reads of the year — whew! I thought this list might be embarrassing but this was actually a fantastic reading year.

Top Ten Reads of 2010

Here are a few things I’ve learned in ten years (!) of blogging.

  • Review books when you want to. Every blogger has a different approach to this issue– some roll all their reviews into a monthly or weekly post, others review every book they read.  I’ve gotten away from that idea, and my own goal has been about four book reviews a month, or one a week.  Lately I haven’t even done that.  I try to review books only where I feel I have a lot to say, or where the book made a strong impression.  ARCs are the exception; I always try to write a full review because I feel I’ve made a commitment to do so.  I do write negative reviews sometimes, usually for ARCs, and I try to be balanced. But I don’t try to review every book, or even most of them.
  • Participate in blog events and challenges but be choosy. Blog events are critical to getting your blog seen and building readership, and supporting other bloggers means they are more likely to support you.  But ultimately, the personal identity of your blog is what’s most important, not how many blog hops or challenges you complete.  When I look for a blog I want to follow, I personally look for substantive content over memes – although that’s my own preference.  There’s nothing you have to do as a blogger, so choose what means the most to you, and do what you enjoy.
  • Take some time off when you need to. I’ve seen many great bloggers walk away from their blogs in times of stress, illness, or life changes.  My life has thankfully been pretty steady, except when I was a grad student and working full time.  Whether you take a few months off, or just take a two-week vacation, I think the best way to keep the blog going is to walk away sometimes.  I find if I don’t post for a few weeks, my mind starts filling up with new ideas about what to write about.  You can always write extra posts and auto-post them when you know you’ll be away or busy. But one thing I’ve learned is that the blog community is very forgiving when you need to take some time for yourself.

There are also quite a few things I’m still working on!  One of the things I love about blogging is that I’m constantly learning.

  • Graphics and design — I’ve learned a little bit about making some of my own graphics, but I’d still love to know more about the design of the blog.  I’m interested in working with someone who can do a full redesign, but I haven’t made that happen.  Instead I just play around with WordPress themes and widgets.  Definitely still in learning mode if anyone has suggestions!
  • Titles — titles matter a lot, because they are what will make a reader click on your post or keep reading.  And yet for some reason I always struggle with them.
  • Writing about the things that matter – every blogger has to decide how personal to get, and how far to stray from their main topic (books) when other things seem more important. I really love when bloggers share personal stories, whether they are struggles or triumphs.  But I’m constantly weighing how much to share and how that might impact the family members, especially Mr. CG, who read this blog. And then I also think about what people want to hear about.  One issue many bloggers struggle with is writing about political views, considering how divisive things have gotten.  I think ultimately, the most important thing about blogging is to be genuine and honest, whatever you choose to write about.  But that doesn’t exactly make things crystal clear.
  • Changing things up — I think blogging requires some consistency, but also requires you to change things up regularly.  I find it’s really easy to fall into patterns, without breaking out and trying something new.  My blog hasn’t changed much in recent years.  I do similar challenges each year, write similar types of reviews, talk about similar things.  As I think about this anniversary, it’s time to think about new ways to challenge myself.  I’ve never hosted a challenge or a themed event, because I’m not sure I have the readership to make that work (and I’m afraid of no one showing up). But I’d love to co-host one! What do you do to mix things up on your blog?

Once again, a heartfelt thank you to those who have stayed with me and those who have encouraged me.  I welcome your thoughts and suggestions about blogging, and I look forward to taking this blog into the next decade.

Thanks especially to just a few of my regulars and favorite bloggers: BookerTalk, Emerald City Book Review, Zezee with Books, Elle Thinks, Reading Writing Working Playing, and Read All the Things!

Stay safe and healthy, everyone.

  27 comments for “It’s the Tenth Anniversary of The Book Stop!

  1. May 30, 2020 at 8:46 am

    Congratulations! I’m honored to be mentioned in such great company. I’ve also learned to review books when I have something to say, after some years of identity crisis when I thought as a book blogger I had to be a kind of publicist, and to seek out and review new releases, even when I didn’t really want to. It’s great to have taken that pressure off myself and just read and write what I want. And I think the community I have found that way is more authentic.

    In early years I was also nervous about hosting challenges or events in case no one participated, but I did them anyway and even if not huge blockbusters they were successful in my eyes, because I had fun with them and so did at least some other people. Some of my fondest blogging memories are connected with them. I’ve gotten away from doing them lately but if you have an idea and want a co-host or just some feedback or support, let me know…

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:11 am

      Thanks Lory! You make a great point about reading what you want and not what you think people want to hear about. And I agree that readers don’t just want to read about new releases since those are common — I read Robertson Davies because of your blog! I appreciate your offer about co-hosting, I’ll give that some thought. I’d love to pair up on something.

  2. May 30, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Congratulations! 10 years is a huge commitment and it takes a formidable consistency to keep blogging. I know that because I’m more on/off and admire people like you who hold the line.

    Blog challenge – never heard of that, and its impact on reader awareness is also new to me. Not that I’m marketing my blog (as you can see with those happy few followers), but it is interesting how this ecosystem in which we all write is working.

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:15 am

      Thanks so much! It has been a commitment but always something I’ve enjoyed. I participate in a number of reading challenges because I enjoy pushing myself, but they are also a nice way to connect with other bloggers. I think trying to market too much is a mistake — better to do what you love and have readers who like similar things. But then I’ll never make a living off my blog, though I envy people who do.

      • May 31, 2020 at 11:06 am

        Not living off the blog, yes. But the arcs are nice, at least for me. My main intention is to be able to remember what I’ve read some while ago. It’s always refreshing “wow, I didn’t know that I read this at all. and huh, I had quite a couple of ideas about the work”

  3. May 30, 2020 at 11:11 am

    Congrats on 10 years!!! What a milestone!! ❤

  4. May 30, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    Congrats on 10 years, that is a fab milestone! Happy Blogiversary!

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Thanks for visiting and commenting! It’s much appreciated.

  5. JUDITH SPITZ
    May 30, 2020 at 3:08 pm

    Bravo!
    Mom

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Thanks to one of my most dedicated readers! And nice to see you on the blog! 🙂

  6. May 30, 2020 at 8:47 pm

    Happy blog birthday! Congratulations on ten years, go you!

  7. Cori
    May 30, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    Congrats on 10 yrs! Tonight a friend mentioned she is reading Major Pettigrews Last Stand! So fun to see it on your list. I remember enjoying it along with A Visit from The Goon squad that year too!

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Cori! I loved Major Pettigrew, though I didn’t like her last book nearly as much. 2010 was a great reading year.

  8. May 31, 2020 at 3:54 am

    Happy Anniversary! I just passed the seven year mark myself (May 13, 2013 was my first blog post)! Some good advice here!

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Congratulations on your seventh anniversary! And thanks so much for reading, I always appreciate your thoughtful comments.

  9. May 31, 2020 at 6:15 am

    Congrats! What a milestone!

    • May 31, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Thanks so much Cathy! I’m looking forward to 20 Books of Summer, I’m off to a good start already!

  10. May 31, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Happy Anniversary! I love your reviews. You’re my go to for great books to read! Thank you for your dedication.

  11. May 31, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Happy Ten Years!! it’s amazing to see what’s changed in the last 10 years, and what’s stayed the same. um, I guess being ten years old makes us officially part of the “old guard” of book bloggers?

  12. May 31, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Congrats on your 10 year anniversary! And thanks for the shout-out. I really enjoy reading your posts and get lots of great book ideas from you, as our tastes run in similar groves. It was fun to read what you were reading in 2010 as I recognized a lot of titles that I also read back then.

    Also, I enjoyed reading what you’ve learned about blogging, and I couldn’t agree more about the book blogging community. We readers understand each other’s need to read!

    Enjoy your milestone, and read on!

  13. May 31, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Happy blog anniversary!!
    Thanks for such great content! 😀 And I appreciate the shout out as well.
    I do hope Kramerbooks is able to stay in Dupont Circle, maybe just move to a new spot there. I enjoyed being able to visit it and quickly walk over to the comic book store after.
    I miss going there.

  14. June 11, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    Congrats on the blog anniversary 😊

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