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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.