Time to Ponder Books: reasons I love book blogging that actually have nothing to do with reading

Okay, so “Time to Ponder Books” is a misnomer because I’m actually avoiding talking about books today, but that’s what my discuss series is called, so hush.

You love books; of course you do. You’ve got a book blog. Why? Goodreads already exists, so why make all the extra hassle of formatting, inventing your own ratings system, and following a post schedule? There are even friends on Goodreads, so you can’t say it’s just us fellow book bloggers who make you so happy. So what is it?

Here are some important reasons I love book blogging that have nothing to do with books:

#1 The Colorful Vocabulary

Thanks to the internet, my blog friends come from near and far and the other side of the globe, which is currently on fire (Bill, are you okay??). Your idioms creep into your writing, which have infested me. See my post title? Really, that should say “Reasons I love book blogging that actually have fuck all to do with books.”

And how much do I love books? It’s no longer “lots” or “a lot,” it’s loads. While I used to think it was merely a breakfast food that is both round and square, I’ve learned waffle is also a verb. Though Wisconsin is not that far away, I did learn the phrase “stabity stab” to describe swordplay in a book, and now everything at my house is getting the “ity” treatment, e.g. sobbity sob, flippity flop, etc. And Canada contributed when one blogger referred to an audio book narrator as a “read alouder.”

If you follow a certain tea fanatic, you’ll know she also loves tea puns. I cannot heart the sound “T” without replacing it with “tea” — crafTEA, nutTEA, shifTEA, etc. My brain actually pictures this “tea” spelling when I say words that make the “T” sound.

Words, words, words.

#2 Crafting a Talkative Introvert

In the past year, I’ve done buddy reads with three bloggers. I don’t like to organize and over-tax myself, so instead we read the same book roughly around the same time and then post our reviews — roughly around the same time. But it’s that part after reading and before posting that I love. After exchanging phone numbers, the other blogger and I text like crazy, safe away from our blogs where spoilers and long-windedness can be an issue. It turns out, that via text I’m in extrovert! Is that a thing? It’s my thing. And before you know it, we’re text about non-book things and sharing our lives with each other in a meaningful way.

These people are obviously living the good life.

#3 Ya’ll Are Some Goal-oriented Powerhouses

Although the start of the new year is associated with goals in book blogger world, many of us like to shift what we’re doing throughout the year, too. And your goals aren’t always book oriented! Some of you want to clean or redecorate your houses. Others plan to eat chocolate every day. Many of us admit to wanting to catch up on the latest Netflix series (Anne with an E? Grace and Frankie? Zumbo’s Just Desserts?). Several bloggers have decided they will do more photography, and not just for the purpose of Bookstagramming. You’ve got goals of learning to drive! Or learning an instrument. And spending more time cooking with the ingredients you grew in your beautiful garden. Perhaps you wish to meet more book bloggers in real life and share a coffee. Many of us are into reading because we love writing, and thus have creative goals that end in publication.

#4 The Captivating Avatars and Banners

Cupcakes & Machetes always gives me a giggle when I see that cute, pink cupcake with blood on its mouth. Although kitties Pearl and Smokey are gone, Anne’s black cat avatar still connects readers to her origins. Sarah’s banners change with each post, but are always the most wondrous fantasy images. Jaclyn has a sweet, colorful image of a girl eating books! Many of you, including Karissa and Laila, have a stack of books as your banner, which I love — simple, yet informs me of what kind of reader I’m meeting.

By Shawnte Orion @ShawnteOrion

#5 I’m Better at My Job

One of the best things about reading so many book reviews is that I can then make recommendations to patrons at the library at which I work, even if I haven’t read the book. I trust you all! I tend to remember some of the positives you mention and store away in my brain key words that I often hear patrons ask about, such as if a book has too much graphic language, violence, or sexual content. Some of you focus on new releases, which keeps me up-to-date, and others share their thoughts about classics, meaning I have an idea in my pocket for patrons who aren’t into contemporary fiction. In the end, I’m more prepared at work.

#6 Watching People Grow

Some of you had one baby when I met you, and now you have two. One of you had zero people and you brewed up your first! You’ve changed jobs or moved from city to farm, or one side of Australia to the other. Some of you have gone on to be published authors, and here I am cheering you on. You’ve suffered losses — of beloved cats or homes or spouses. More than one of you live in a place on fire. You turned 40, you turned 30, you graduated from college, became a yoga instructor, have an internship and write for magazines. You code. You passed your dissertation and now Adult with a Degree. We exchange holiday cards and even have shared meals! A few of you disappeared off the face of the internet (Sarah? Are you alive??). I’m so invested in your life that when you vanish, I worry — for years. You got married. You bought a new car. You dragged your crusty corpse through another Christmas and survived your family. You’ve traveled the world and returned with photos. You lived — and I got to witness it.

A slow walk into the sunset as buddies.

46 comments

  1. I’m a lit blogger because it gives me an excuse to write about books. And then I discovered it gives me an excuse to write about everything else (ok, to write about me). But I wouldn’t do it, there’d be no reason to do it, without those commenters who have become friends. And no, I’m not on fire, thanks for asking/worrying. After the fires came the deluge and for the last few days I have been driving, walking in the rain. Melanie, I love being your friend, you are the most enthusiastic blogger of us all.

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    • Good gravy, I’m crying in a library.

      And I’m so glad you were not directly affected by the fires. I kept thinking about you and Margot (who no longer blogs (she’s in Adelaide)).

      Walking in the rain sounds just delightful. Here, it’s gray. So very gray. Sometimes it snows a bit and then it goes away. Climate change is destroying the distinct seasons the American Midwest is known for.

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  2. This is such a sweet tribute to book bloggers everywhere! I agree- connecting with other bloggers has definitely been the best part. I’m especially grateful for international bloggers who can provide insight on their culture from a first hand perspective. (And thanks for the shout out! I should probably get some fresh new banners in there soon.)

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      • I think they change with every click but it cycles through 4 or 5 images. For some reason I didn’t get notified that you linked back to me and usually I do and that’s how I know to go take a look right away. (I’ll usually always catch it when I get a chance to catch up on my blog hopping, but if someone links to me I try to stop by right away.) so maybe that happened with other bloggers too?

        I thought it was a lovely post and when I get a chance I’ll double back and check out some of these other bloggers too.

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          • Yeah it’s kind of a bummer. I like to visit right away when someone takes the time to link over to my blog. It’s not just yours either- I had another blogger friend link over a few weeks ago and wasn’t notified.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a very heartfelt post! Your mention reminds me that I should freshen up my banner pictures. They’re all a year old or more!
    Sometimes I wonder why I blog… I go through phases where I just don’t feel like blogging, like it’s all just too much effort., like I have nothing to say, like I just want to read and not write about it. But mostly I keep blogging because I love this corner of the internet, where lovely people care about books and care about one another.

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    • I remember for a while when you were writing your thoughts in a list as they came to you while you were reading…I think The Count of Monte Cristo? Reading your real reactions was always fun, so even if you don’t write a traditional review, and you do your own thing, others will find value in it.

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  4. Awww, what a lovely post! I missed it when you first posted, but so glad I found it. Actually, I think these *other* reasons are much more important than our love of books, when it comes to whether we continue to blog. I have been blogging for a year now and I think, if it wasn’t for the interaction aspect and the blogging buddies I’ve found, I would eventually loose interest and find something else to do in my spare time.

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    • If I didn’t consider my “audience” (fellow book bloggers), I would definitely review differently, if at all, and I would surely read slower. I try to keep to a Sunday Lowdown post and a post on Tuesday and Thursday so that I don’t lose my rhythm.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I DID save this one and here I am. Love this. I have had a break from reading blogs and writing blog posts – I even had two days of break from reading, which was hideous, because I’ve been going through an awful phase of really, really hard anxiety. Just awful. Lost 4kg in a week and a half just from not being able to bloody well eat (not something that often happens). Couldn’t run well and had to give up an ambition because I missed too much training. But I so missed my blogging community and while I couldn’t read everything and have had to be selective, it’s been lovely having a long session this afternoon catching up with everyone. I work on my own at home so it’s a real lifeline to have my book and running blog communities, as well as my real life ones.

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    • I’m glad we can be a support system for you. Were you able to seek medical attention for your anxiety? For people who suffer from chronic anxiety like I do, every single day is hard. Some days are Capital H “Hard” and then there are they days that are HARD.

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      • Right, medication: such a complicated one. I have no problem with taking medication for mental health issues. I’ve done it before, I will do it again. I was on mirtazepine when our previous cat was ill and died, so from Aug-Dec last year. It was AMAZING at getting me sleeping 8hr per night, oh my god. And it gave me my appetite back. But then I was hungry all the time, which was horrible and unformfortable, and put quite a lot of weight on which I put down to the unthinking “I am hungry I will eat” cue-obeying, as I’ve never been on a diet particularly so am used to eating when I need to, but then discovered it can disrupt your metabolism, too. I came off it carefully, had a bit of withdrawal syndrome, came through that OK. This time around, I’m really strongly considering why I should medicate in order to deal with having the cats. OK, to deal with a profound life difficulty or health issue, but because I have cats? Why not rehome the cats. Haven’t done that, but didn’t want to medicate. Esp as my underlying stuff is depression and PTSD: this anxiety appears entirely reactive to the cat over-worry.

        Another horrible thing is that unpleasant estranged family members read my blog, and there’s no way to block them without locking it right down, which I don’t want to do, so I feel really horrible not being able to be authentic on there, although I did sort of spell out this stuff yesterday.

        Thank you for your kind words and thoughts, and I’m sorry you have to go through anxiety, Anxiety and ANXIETY too, it’s a horrible thing.

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  6. These sorts of posts are always my favorite. It’s so much fun to let the community know why you love them and want to be a part of their lives. For me, Goodreads is too impersonal. Goodreads is about the books over the connection with people. And that’s okay — but I’d prefer it to be the other way around. I read books so I can connect more deeply with people, not less.

    ❤ ❤ It was really fun reading this and occasionally going, "Hey! That's ME!" It made me feel very special. The relationships we build on and around books are everything. This post has reminded me to take more time to connect personally with different bloggers. My challenge is I don't know how to break the ice with many of them. I think I'm an extrovert in person but an introvert online! How odd.

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    • Hmmm….when I first “meet” someone, I like to tell them how I found their blog so I don’t sound like a random internet person looking to draw traffic to my own site. I may not even mention my blog in my first contact. Then, I keep visiting for a while, eventually mentioning that I also have a book review blog when I share a link to one of my reviews that fits with the review they wrote that I just read. After that, I continue to make long/meaningful comments and it sticks. If someone isn’t there for it, I’ll know within a week or two. There are some book review bloggers who don’t even respond to comments on their own blogs, for instance. Or they post maybe 1-2 times per month and never visit my blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s definitely easy for me to find the sort of people I want to develop relationships with in the great-wide blogosphere. This is some great advice for starting those relationships. You’re right– jumping right in might feel like a grab for more followers. I can barely keep up with all the people I love to follow now! But I definitely want to expand my circle of book blogger friends. I need some variety in my blog hopping. 😉 Thanks, Melanie!

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  7. I love this post! (I actually followed the link from your latest Sunday Low-down- you mention the tags not going to notifications which is worrisome, but I’m also pretty sure this post didn’t show up in my feed at all last week! I wonder what’s going on with WordPress!?)

    The biggest reason I love blogging even over other social media with similar features (like Goodreads) is that it’s uniquely informal. As book bloggers of course we talk about what we’re reading, but we also tend to talk about whatever else is going on in our lives, because here there’s less expectation of “only this sort of content is allowed.” I really love seeing bits and pieces of blogger’s lives that come through. The blogosphere a place where we make our own rules and shape our own space. Even Goodreads has a certain format, a concrete rating system and specific places for each book review. Blogs, even when review-focused, feel like more natural extensions of the creator’s mind/personality, and thus I think we get to know each other better here, from small things like word choice to bigger things like life goals. Other sites are confining boxes that want us to interact in a certain way. In blogging, it is what you make it. And thus, I feel a more genuine sense of community here than anywhere else online. Very glad to have found you in this corner of the internet! 🙂

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      • Thank you! 🙂
        Very sadly, we had to say goodbye to her. I suspected that was coming, which was why I was so out of sorts when she got sick. But I have lots of good memories and cute pictures of her, and the rest of her kitty family is thriving! It was a rough time but I’m holding up. Thank you for remembering her, that means a lot!

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        • I’ve learned over the years from blogging just how much cats mean to people. I mean, I knew people loved their cats, but watching my blogger friends struggle through the loss of pets, or worry about them being sick, or even having fun posing their cats with books for pictures for their blogs, I saw it in a different way. Anne @ I’ve Read This had two cats when I first met her online,and both have sadly passed away. I felt like I knew those cats.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I completely agree. I’m definitely a cat person but I never thought I would find myself invested in cats I’ve only ever seen or heard about online! And yet I have favorite cats that I’ve never met, that I’ve come to care about just because the owner cares enough to share bits of their kitty lives on the internet. What a strange and wonderful world we live in.

            Liked by 1 person

  8. This is so lovely and I agree with so many things here! I’m coming from your Sunday Lowdown Post because of those darn tags too. And, like Emily, I feel like this post didn’t show up in my Reader? (Although I just went back and checked and it’s there so maybe it’s me.) I started writing book reviews on my blog before I even knew that I was a thing people did and it’s been so delightful to find this community around the world. Sometimes I question myself over my Life and Kids posts and wonder if people just want to read reviews but then I think about how much I enjoy the glimpses into other bloggers’ lives. Books really bring people together like nothing else.

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    • Remember when you just had a Pearl? And now you have a Rose! I also love that I know you are a Christian woman because that oftentimes plays into what I talk to you about (such as our recent discussions of Flannery O’Connor). I love that I know that you read devotionals daily and have a ritual around it at the end of your day. These are all things that make you stand out as a blogger, so I don’t think the personal things are negative or a detriment to being a book blogger. Emily noted that the personal information is what makes book blogging different from Goodreads, which doesn’t really give people space or the incentive to interact that way.

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      • I know! Sometimes I feel like I haven’t been book blogging very long and then I look at how big my kids are! I appreciate you saying that too about knowing I’m a Christian. I don’t know if I would have thought of it in the same way but I know it does definitely affect my reading and my general outlook and inevitably I’m going to read certain books/author (like Flannery O’Connor) differently than a secular blogger or one of a different religion. And I appreciate knowing those things about other book reviewers too.

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  9. Delightful post Melanie. I started litblogging because it would add discipline to my reading. Instead of making a few desultory notes about what I read, I would have to craft my thoughts. I had no real understanding of what that would mean – the positives and the negatives, though the latter have all been manageable. The biggest joy is what you describe here – the people. So many wonderful readers around the world. I already knew this having been involved in internet online reading groups for ten years before blogging, but blogging has just kept the love going. I don’t really see how GoodReads could do this in quite the same way.

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      • They were wonderful Melanie . When you are in a good one you get to discuss a book at some depth for two to four weeks with good minds from around the world. I’ve written a review of a book (last year) about these groups. I’ve made long lasting friends through these groups. Because they are bookgroups you all read the same book so you get more real discussion than you do on blogs.

        Many, by the time I stopped being active, were run under Yahoo Groups.

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        • I completely forgot about Yahoo Groups! That’s right….I feel like before there was the obvious social media, there were ways people were being social and more one-to-one or small group, such AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, and Yahoo Groups.

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  10. I love the idea that blogging has increased and enriched your vocabulary. I shall have to think of some extra idioms to include in my posts now 🙂
    Wordpress is definitely doing some odd things. You completely disappeared from my reader; email alerts end up in spam. I thought you’d given up the ghost on blogging as so many others have done that I followed for years. I wouldn’t have known you were still active but for the fact I saw a mention in Bill’s recent update from the road. So glad to know this is a glitch. I’ve now moved over to Feedly so hope this works better than WordPress

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    • Ack! A few readers said I did not show up in their reader! Now I’m wondering what to do, as I have a free account, which doesn’t come with support……

      I know you and I have exchanged idioms many times over the years, and I appreciate that you have that central Michigan experience for us to compare phrases!

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        • Karen is right – you just have to go to the WordPress.com forums or support (there are both) not WordPress.org which is for the non-free WP blogs. Try here: https://en.support.wordpress.com and go to the bottom where there are links for Support and Forums. It looks different to when I last used them but I presume the help is still similar.

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          • Now that I have the basic personal plan, I can contact WordPress directly to ask for assistance, which is really nice. I’ve been on the WordPress forums and occasionally struggle when I find a topic that relates to my problem, but isn’t clearly solved.

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            • Yes, I have that too I believe – I pay for my domain and to be ad-free, but they still host? Even before that though I could use Forums AND Support. Support is more targeted than Forums, and has provided me with help or real response. I have an issue (Safari-related) with them now that they’ve replicated and have sent to their developers. When/whether they fix it though is in the ether!

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    • WordPress IS doing odd things, Karen, I agree. On your blog it keeps refusing to remember me whereas here, and on Lisa’s and Bill’s blogs for example it either remembers me or lets me click the little WP icon and then brings me back. When I click the little WP icon in your comment section it just has a conniption. So, for the last few comments I’ve made I’ve had to manually enter my details. Very tedious.

      BTW I don’t use the readers. I use subscribe by email, and have all my blog emails filter automatically to a special email folder. I check that folder regularly. If I get behind I can sort it on blog name, and do a blitz on a particular blogger to catch up, or on subject and catch for example all the Six Degrees posts, etc. I know some people don’t like emails but I love the flexibility they offer me.

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      • I’m with you — I subscribe by email and catch up that way, sometimes by what interests me and other times by reverse chronological order. I don’t like using the reader because I lose track of where I was in the flow of the screen.

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      • I’m going to try and adjust the security settings Sue. i’ve had a few sites where I get issues posting comments so I know how frustrating it is .

        I used to get all my subscriptions coming in via email but it made my in box too cluttered so now I use Feedly – I can sort by blogger name also….

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        • Thanks Karen – funny how it just happens.

          If you automatically filter your emails you can make them go straight into a special Blogs folder and never bother your inbox. So just like a reader except you don’t have to go to another app or program to check blog posts. The sorting on emails can then be on every column you have -blogger name, subject, date received, read and unread of course. But you probably need a good email client. Webmail may not be as flexible. I only say this because filtering can be useful for other types of emails too.

          Of course readers may have other benefts I’m not aware of!

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