Why I Started Book Blogging…And Why It’s Still So Great

Posted January 20, 2016 by Carlisa in Discussion / 13 Comments

Why I Started Book Blogging...

Hey guys. If you’re a book blogger and if you’ve been on Twitter throughout yesterday…you’d know that there was some drama and there was some a lot of tension between authors and publicists and bloggers alike. It was kind of the worst. Drama happens in any community, and the book blogging community is definitely no exception. Personally, I am one of those people that 150% hates confrontations. I don’t like them and they make me nervous. So I don’t get involved.

backs away

But I felt like I had something to say about this. And I actually had another post scheduled for today, but I decided to write this one instead. Because our community is truly a wonderful one, and when it’s filled with drama and hurt and misunderstandings, it’s easy to lose sight of that. So I thought about why I started book blogging and what makes it the great and beautiful thing that it is.

[Disclaimer: I am all for discussions and am not trying to bash those that started yesterday’s. Opinions are great because they are so individual and unique. But it is important to remember how to approach discussions without hurting someone in the process. Okay, disclaimer over.] So, here we go!

Why I Started Book Blogging

Let’s just talk about my journey for a second. I’ve always been an avid reader. I’ve been hooked on reading since second, third grade? I don’t know, that’s the earliest I remember of it. But I’ve grown up that way, always reading. Always with a book by my side. It was just part of who I was.

And I’ve also always been a writer. It used to be more in the commonly-thought-of sense that I used to write short stories and little poems and wanted to be a best-selling author. It’s what I did. But that changed with school and work and responsibilities and the creative writing part of me kind of fell to the wayside. But writing was still the way that I expressed myself in ways that I couldn’t in any other medium. So I started a blog. I think it was middle school or so with my first one. This blog was one of those sporadic journals that only your parents and random church leader would read. You know what I mean?

I continued with that blog, though, throughout high school…albeit not super frequently. When I started college, I decided to change things up and self-hosted this very site you are on now. Confessions of Carlisa. I actually had no intention of it being a book blog…because I actually had no idea a “book blog” was a thing. So I started Confessions of Carlisa, again a sporadic (but hopefully a little more mature) journal and medium for my random thoughts.

Then, soon after my freshman year, I decided to write a book review. I mean, why not? I read all the time and had a lot of thoughts on the books, soooo it seemed like a good plan. My first review was Delirium by Lauren Oliver in May of 2014, and the review itself is honestly kind of a mess, but I’m not changing it because nostalgia is a real thing. Then it wasn’t until August that I reviewed my next book: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Followed by The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd in January of 2015. And then We Were Liars by E. Lockhart in February 2015.

Do you see a progression? They were starting to come closer and closer together. And, honestly, if you look at Delirium vs. We Were Liars, there’s a clear improvement in my review style and structure. But anyway, at this point, I still didn’t know that the book blogging community was a thriving and real thing. I was just off in la-la land, writing book reviews that probably no one was reading.

Then, that February, I noticed someone on Goodreads who seemed to have a review for almost all the books I read. Her reviews were sometimes snarky, but always well thought-out and constructive. So I clicked on her profile and realized she had a link to her website. So I clicked on that as well and was introduced to my first official book blog.

I was amazed and astounded. I spent hours that day researching, finding out what book bloggers do, looking at the bigger bloggers to see what they did well, and just overall loving everything. It was that day that I decided to dedicate my blog to books.

And in reflecting on this personal journey, I’ve realized something that I hope to hold onto as I move forward: I started blogging for myself. I started reviewing books for myself. I started talking about books, not because people were  listening or expected me to say something, but because I had something to say. 

I think it’s important for us all to take a step back and look at our blogging roots. What made you start blogging? Why have you continued blogging? This is your foundation to build your blog on. Hopefully it’s not a foundation of negativity and angst and drama. Hopefully it’s a foundation of support and friends and a love of books. At least, that’s what I hope for myself.

Why The Book Blogging Community Is Still So Great

Guys, I’m going to be honest here. I love the book blogging community. People post a lot about discontent and not liking where the community as a whole is heading. And maybe I just haven’t been here long enough to have those thoughts and critiques. But I have been here almost a year. I’ve seen a lot. I’ve already seen some great bloggers close their blogs and I’ve seen a lot of new bloggers start exploring their own.

And, yes, perhaps there are problematic things to be found in our community. I’m not saying there aren’t. But, to me, the answer in finding positivity in our community is to be positive about our community. So, here I am, hoping to spread some of the love and remind myself why I continue blogging and why I love it so, so much.

  1. We are continually growing and expanding.

    I love this about our community. We are always seeing new faces and hearing new opinions and voices, and isn’t that a wonderful thing? And besides new bloggers, the “older” bloggers are maturing and growing in their own ways. Nobody is stagnant, everybody is moving in the direction they need to go in, whether for the sake of the blog or the sake of themselves. But I love seeing the movement and the change and the growth that’s happening everyday.

  2. We get to talk about books all the time…and people will listen.

    This is a community where someone can write 1,000+ words just raving about a book that they love…and people will read it. People will read it and share it and comment on it. We get to express our love of books to an audience who will read and appreciate it on the same level. Books are our common ground, and what better ground could we be standing on?

  3. We get to interact with authors and publishers in a way that most readers cannot.

    I see no problem in this. In fact, I love this. I love being able to interact with a person who has impacted my life with his or her words. That means a great deal to me. And maybe some people are abusing that system…but so what? The majority of us aren’t. The majority of us talk to authors to tell them how deeply we appreciate the words they have written. How deeply those words have touched us. I think that’s a beautiful thing, and I am immensely grateful for that opportunity.

  4. We have such a friendly and supportive community.

    I think it’s easy to take this one for granted and I’m at fault for this, too. But bloggers, even big, well-established bloggers, often open their arms to new bloggers. We welcome them and help them. I still feel like a newbie blogger myself and am always immensely grateful for the advice I get from others.
    And making good and real blogging friends is something that happens all the time. I’ve never met any of you guys in person, but I have a real love for you. I appreciate every comment and every tweet. The friends I’ve made through my blog have influenced who I’ve become not only as a blogger, but as a person and a friend.

  5. We promote and help spread the books that we love.

    I’ve often seen talk (more than just in yesterday’s drama) that it’s bad if we are simply marketing tools for publishers and authors. I think this is a bad way of looking at it, though. To share and promote a book that I loved, that really left me wow-ed…that’s my favorite part of book blogging. When people comment telling me that they just added that book to their TBR or someone in real life will come and tell me they picked up a book because of me…it’s a great feeling. And, like all things, this can be corrupted with false reviews or inflated ratings, but I think the majority of us are sincere. And that’s what should be focused on.

  6. We are incredibly passionate.

    Some call this “fangirling,” I prefer “being passionate.” We love books to such a deep level that we will spend hours and hours working on a post or a review simply because that’s we love to do. We express ourselves through our blogs. It’s expressed in our words, in our design, in our interactions with others. If you have a blog, your passion is made manifest. If you are willing to devote so much time to something where you don’t get a monetary or physical reward…your passion is made manifest. And I am in awe of the passion I see around me in this community. It’s truly amazing.

I could continue on and list more and more things that I love about this community. But I’m already at 1,600 words in this post and I think you’ve probably heard enough of me. But remember your blogging roots, your blogging foundation, and build on that. It’s a much better use of your time than tearing down someone else’s.

Why did you start book blogging? What are the things that made you want to start? What do you remember about the community when you started? What do you love about the book blogging community now? What makes it great still? Let me know in the comments; I want to hear your thoughts.

  • VanessaIsen!

    Thanks for this. This could be a post about how to avoid drama and contention in life overall. It’s so easy to get caught up on the negative things that people say, that people do, and even what is not said or done. What is harder is to take a moment, step back, and remember the positive aspects of your situation.

    • I’m glad that you liked it and felt it applied to you even outside of the book blogging world! Love you, sister!

  • I appreciate this post so much! Though I have technically been blogging for years (I had another blog before this one), I stepped away from the community for a very long time, and I just recently started blogging again, so I feel fairly new still. So, as a newbie, I guess I just don’t see some of the stuff that other bloggers do. I had to get off Twitter yesterday because I was simultaneously confused and offended by some of the things being said. I love to gush on and on about books I love, and some people were looking at that negatively and I just didn’t understand. I got into book blogging because I love books and I want to share that love and expand that love with others who feel the same way. I don’t have people in my real, not-online life who read books the way I do. I love having an outlet for my thoughts that I can’t share with my friends/family. But, like you said, most of us are sincere and kind and absolutely wonderful. I am so overjoyed to rejoin this community, and I’m going to continue to blog for myself and not let what others may see as “kissing ass” or “sucking up” affect me. Thank you for this post!!

    • Thank you so much! It was so nice to wake up to such a wonderfully long and appreciative comment.

      And I felt the same as you: “confused and offended.” I didn’t feel like necessarily I had “committed” any of the things they were so harsh about, but I felt sad for the community as a whole. We need to be united…which doesn’t mean we can’t disagree. But how their post and tweets came across were accusatory and harsh and not conducive to progress. Good communication doesn’t work like that.

      And yes, I’m so thankful for the many sincere and kind and wonderful people that I have met through blogging. It’s been absolutely wonderful! Thank YOU, Lefty, for your comment!

  • Oh, I love this so much. I only recently started my book blog for three main reasons: 1) I wanted to a better way to track and remember the books I was reading as well as challenge myself to read more and think critically about what I was reading, 2) I had some writer’s block while working on a second book draft, and 3) the book blogging community seemed full of fabulous, kind, and super smart people, and I wanted new friends with similar bookish interests. I think this is such an important post, and it was a joy to read after feeling a bit disenchanted with the book blogging community while reading some of the discussions (arguments?) on Twitter yesterday. Thanks for sharing! xx

    • I think it would’ve been hard *not* to feel disenchanted about the community yesterday. It wasn’t fun to be on Twitter when all of the tweets were these “confessions”…which honestly meant subtle complaints and accusations against other bloggers who most likely saw them and were hurt. My philosophy is this: if you have a complaint, you have to be willing to offer a solution. Which is something that didn’t happen yesterday.

      But I’m so happy that you joined blogging and I hope you continue with it. Despite yesterday’s drama, it really and truly is wonderful (thus, this post haha). Thanks for commenting! I’m glad you felt similarly to me 🙂

  • I admit, I saw what was trending on Twitter but didn’t have anything to contribute to the discussion. I guess I missed some serious stuff because various blogs I follow have been posting similar posts like this.

    I can’t pinpoint exactly what got me into book blogging. Part of it was to provide something I felt was lacking (review of entire series, not just the individual books); part of it was because I needed an outlet to talk about my books and the other part was a little selfish I suppose, but I wanted a personal catalogue to keep track of my thoughts regarding certain books/series.

    I will admit that I wasn’t very active in the community when I first started. I’m not sure why looking back but when I hit my first year mark, I decided to get more involved and I haven’t looked back. I’ve never really had a negative experience with book blogging in my nearly 3 years and I’m grateful for that. But I know it is a possibility and I think as my blog grows, I’m trying to prepare myself for that. I dunno how yet but listening to others share their experiences sure is helping 🙂

    • First of all, your last reason *isn’t* selfish. One of the reasons I love blogging is because it helps me remember the books I read. Before blogging, I’d find myself at a loss when someone asked me about a book. I’d be like, “Ermmm, uhhhh, I don’t really remember what happened or why I liked it…I just know that I liked it.” Hahaha, so I’m in the same boat as you there.

      I think I’m also similar to you in that I haven’t really had a super negative experience with blogging. I mean, I’ve seen things happen, like plagiarism and that cat-fishing incident. But I’ve always been kind of a bystander. But, like you said, it’s bound to happen sooner or later. Thanks for your comment and support!

  • Gabi Dahlin

    I LOVE this. post! Love it, seriously. I started blogging because, like you, I felt like I had something to say. I also started it because I felt like I was forgetting all the reasons I loved specific books years after reading them, so I wanted a way to look back and remember everything I thought and felt after reading them the first time. It’s also such a kind and welcoming community of people who also love books, which is not something I have in my personal life (I am slowly getting my friends to be readers but it’s hard). It’s amazing sharing your passion with other people who share the same passion. Thanks for such a positive reminder of why blogging is amazing and worthwhile.

  • kaitlin michelle

    Yes this so much! I started blogging just like you as a sort of place to talk about whatever, and it kind of turned into a book blog, that is why my blog name doesnt have anything to do with books. LOL great post! #commenting365

  • I’m loving this post!
    I noticed drama but since I am complitely new in blogosphere I wasn’t effected by it. I read the post that started it all but I honestly didn’t see why it would cause so much drama, but as i already said, I am new here.
    I started my blog because I already write reviews in GR and wanted to have my own space on the internet and to be perfectly honest with you, I wanted to be a part of bookish community.
    So far I enjoy writing new posts and blog hopping, and I do hope to be a part of book blogging community.

  • I started 5 years ago, and there’s always going to be drama. Our community isn’t any different then what goes on outside the computer. Family has drama, work has drama, friends have drama. I think drama is human nature, but what’s great is we as a book lovers always pull together, and make what we love even better, and hopefully learn from the past arguments. (I did say hopefully)

  • There is always some kind of drama happening in the bookish world. I try to just think about the the good things instead (like the ones you have listed above). I love listening to people chatting about books and I like that people seem to enjoy listening to me chatting about books!
    Before I started blogging, authors were these magical things that were hidden away writing all the time. And so I love that I can tweet or comment to them and get a response the same day, and I can meet them too! I love being able to interact with some of my favourite authors!
    This is a great list and I agree with every single one of the points you’ve made! 🙂