This post is a response to the Wednesday prompt for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, a truly awesome celebration of book bloggers and book blogging that comes around every September.
For such a simple question — What does book blogging mean to you? — I’ve had an awfully hard time coming up with a coherent answer to today’s prompt.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I was when I started blogging, just a few days before my college graduation in May 2008, and where I am today — through college graduation, graduate school and my first jobs as a grown up. Because I’ve blogged through such a formative time in my life, I can’t really think back to a point when I was a reader but not a writer. During my four years of college, I can’t remember reading for pleasure or outside the classroom much, and I’ve been blogging what I read since I graduated. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a kid, but it’s been so long since I was just a reader, I almost can’t imagine what that is like. Book blogging is so tied into my identity that thinking about what it means feels like an almost existential question.
Because of book blogging, I always have more books to read than time to read them. I can rattle off many of the books coming out in the next month, even the ones I have no interest in reading. I can’t go to the library or a bookstore and peruse the shelves without knowing of at least one person who has read that book or that author or that genre. I have tried to read for 24 hours straight. I’ve traveled to New York by myself to meet people from the Internet.
These things are a result of what many, many other book bloggers have noted in their responses today — a big part of what makes book blogging such a wonderful thing is the community. After four years, I honestly say that many of the bloggers that I’ve gotten to know are among my true friends. I’m so deeply grateful for that unexpected side effect of starting this blog.
And that sense of community has extended outside of the online world. I don’t talk about my blog a lot with people I meet in person (it feels, somehow, self-promotional), but I don’t shy away from talking about being a blogger if it comes up in regular conversation. After I won the Independent Book Blogger Award in Adult Nonfiction earlier this year, people in my community found out about this blog, and talking about the award has led to some really wonderful conversations about books in “real life” too.
My favorite recent example came last month when I went to a field day for a local research station. When I was signing in, the greeter recognized my name, told me she read my blog, and said she’d been trying more nonfiction. We chatted for a bit and she gave me a book recommendation — Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill — that I subsequently bought, read, and adored. It was so cool, and just another example of how our reading communities can grow. (If you’re reading this, hi Nancy!)
I think one of the pulls for a reader to become a book blogger is a need for community. Reading is, at it’s core, a pretty solitary activity, but book people are some of the most kind and gracious people in the world. We may be introverts, but we can find each other. Book blogging is my reach out into the world of other readers, and I’m so glad so many other readers (both online and off) take the time to reach back.