August 4, 2008

Just When I Think I'm Out...

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After Friday's Great Blogger Fiasco, I was seriously considering packing things up here at book-a-rama. It really is time consuming and I'm finding that I'm not accomplishing as much as I was BB (Before Blog). I wasn't planning giving it up altogether but cutting back quite a bit. Then I read this Will Blogs Save Books and changed my mind. Nothing like getting riled up to get me back in.

Ms Warren couldn't have visited the blogs I have. There are too many to list here. I have about 100 in my Google Reader. All talented writers in their own right. I'd trust their opinions over a review in the newspaper any day. Warren seems to believe that bloggers just link to other reviews:

The book bloggers ferret out the most interesting reviews for us and sometimes provide incredibly cogent commentary on them--but they consistently rely on print book review sections to get the conversation going.

Huh? I've rarely seen that on the blogs I read.

Warren's other beef was the personal aspect of the book blog. Too many 'I's. I find that I like this about book blogs. I feel that you have run into a friend who can't wait to tell me about this great book they've just read. What is wrong with that? I want opinion. Will I like this book? Is it entertaining? Thought provoking? This is what I want to know.

Lisa at Minds Alive On the Shelves has a wonderful comment on this article. Please read it.

So, what do you think? Are you a book blogger? What do you think of blogging? Is it a lot of work for you? Do you take it seriously or is it just a hobby?

29 comments :

  1. I'd rather read 100 personal thoughts from bloggers who read a book than one newspaper review. I've never used a review section of anything to get a book conversation started. It may surprise Ms. Warren that most of us have minds of our own about what we want to read.

    Book blogging is more work than I thought it would be, but I do take it seriously. Books are my passion in life, and it's been great fun to share that with others who feel the same way, rather than some "critic" who allegedly knows more than I do.

    Just my not-so-humble opinion. :-)

    Lezlie

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  2. Firstly I am glad you are still here, don't leave!

    Secondly I am a book blogger. I started as a hobby but I take it more seriously now in the sense that I regularly use blogs for book recommendations and reviews. I have not read a blog that replies on print reviews to be honest or that just links to toher reviews. Most write their own review and then might link to others so someone who is interested in the book can get some more opinions before making up their mind wther to buy/read it. The whole point of my blog is that it is MY opinions so of course it will say I and My a lot. That is the whole point durr.

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  3. This is the topic of the day on most blogs today, that's for sure! I think we're all a bit ticked off by this article.

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  4. Oh, Chris! Don't pack it in! Four of the blogs that I have bookmarked, including Kookiejar's (sob!), have recently folded. Suddenly it seems there's a mass-defection from blogging. Even I thought of calling it a day. Maybe it was the hernia operation talking. Because even if no one reads my blog, I enjoy having a place where I can post my book reviews. It helps me to digest and to remember what I've read.

    Here's my most recent book review. I'm quite pleased with myself. I think I'm rather smart!:)

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  5. It's a hobby I take seriously. ;)

    Blogging takes several hours a week for me...from maintaining two blogs, contributing to a third, and then keeping up with what everyone else is doing. Not to mention the actual reading! ;)

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  6. Welcome back, Chris. I read about the blog lockout over at Bybee's blog. I am sorry you guys had trouble.

    I read the post that you linked to and I agree with you. I am looking for a personal opinion on books. The blogs that I tend to read are people that have proven to have the same tastes either in books or particular genres that I do.

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  7. Thanks for pointing out those two articles. I think it's woefully ironic that Warren used the word "I" 20 million times in the article while at the same time condemning book bloggers for their overuse of personal pronouns.

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  8. I'm on a mystery listserv called DorothyL. They're in a complete panic over the loss of many book review sections in newspapers all over the place. There have been a lot of comments made about how print reviews are the only ones to get as a writer, how bloggers aren't "real" reviewers.

    I totally beg to differ. In the last year and a half I have been reading a lot of book blogs like this one. I have found many books to read, due to original reviews posted by the bloggers, who are articulate about what they read. For anyone to diss bloggers as reviewers, well, they really just don't know what they're talking about. And it's likely they haven't been visiting the right blogs.

    I hope you keep blogging, Chris. Yours is one of the first blogs I check every day.

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  9. Well, that was interesting reading. I haven't spent a lot of time reading the reviews of professional reviewers, personally. Not as much as people think I have, at any rate. (I do greatly enjoy The London Review of Books, but mostly because the personals section is the strangest I've ever seen.) My book blog's sole purpose is brief reviews; I feel the need to keep it brief because I never read long reviews--I find them tedious. My ideal reviews: just tell me what you thought, what you liked/what you didn't like, and don't tell me the whole story in detailed summary, because I can find that out on my own.

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  10. Uh, wow. I'm going to have to read that article in its entirity because it sounds *way way off* from that bit you quoted. And as a person that's been on both sides of the book reviewing--those on my blog and Bibliobuffet and ER that involve *I* and those that run for academic publication that are staunchly anti-*I*. They're the same thing. *I* am the one doing the analyzing and hypothesizing in both cases. In the academic arena I just disguise my opinions as fact. Book bloggers rule. All the cool people know it!

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  11. At first my book blog was just a hobby, but now I put a lot of thought into my book reviews (and I think it shows - my first book reviews were not quite as thorough). Having said that, I don't consider myself to be at the same level as a professional book reviewer. I really blog because I like to and it has become a creative outlet for me.

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  12. I can't even manage to get even slightly affronted by these hit pieces anymore. But I AM glad to hear that you aren't going to quit blogging. I'd miss you.

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  13. I can only think of a handful of cases where someone has piggybacked off a newspaper review for their blog content. I can tell you right now that I only read newspaper reviews very rarely, and if I was relying on those occasions for blog content then I would be updating maybe once or twice a year.

    As for the there's too much I in blogging, I am not quite sure what else is expected. My book blog is my reading record of the books that I read and what I thought of them. The only opinion that I can give is MY opinion.

    I hope that you continue to blog because I love coming here to see what you have to say. Having said that things change in our lives and if you do need to make some changes to the way you use your time that is understandable too.

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  14. I never have the patience to wade through "professional" reviews. I know there's a lot to say about many reading experiences, but they never seem to get to the point. Sometimes I skip to the end to see if they actually have an opinion about the book they're supposed to be reviewing, but am often disappointed. So I write my own and try to keep them short. Besides, I like to think my opinion matters (I certainly get asked for book recs often enough).

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  15. I do find about half of the reviews via Google Reader I read do quote from Amazon or the back cover or the book jacket. I HATE THAT. They do give their own opinions, but they still quote others. And sometimes they don't do it very well, I'm sorry to say. I think book bloggers are writers in their own right, but I don't necessarily think they are great writers, nor do I think the reviews are excellent. I am in that category, mind you, so I'm not trying to attack anyone, as Ms Warren appears to be.

    I have at least 100 book blogs in my reader. I don't usually read all the reviews. My thought is, if you have a book blog, find something original to say. I think it's great to give opinions. That's the point we blog. I book blog because it's a hobby, but I'm also finding it's something I'm taking seriously. I don't think book blogs should replace professional reviews because book blogs are personal, not professional. There is a different, more critical aspect to "professional" book reviews and I like that too. I like both types of reviews and value both.

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  16. OK, I wrote that comment before I read the article.

    Having read the article, I just want to add that I think she completely missed the point of blogs. They aren't supposed to be deep critical reviews. They're personal reflections on books. In that sense, I agree with her that blogs can't replace book reviews. I just disagree that blogs should change to be deeper and less full of personal reflection. I like the personal!

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  17. Wow! You guys left some really thoughtful comments. Thanks!

    Lezlie- Yes, I'd rather hear from friends about what movie to see than Ebert & Roper. It's the same for books.

    Rhinoa- I've seen that as well. Often you'll get a varied opinion on one book from several bloggers.

    Heather- I certainly think so!

    Rob- Aw, thanks! I'll have to check out your review.

    Amy (the first)- I do the same and sometimes it's overwhelming.

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  18. Other Amy- I definitely trust the opinion of readers with similar interests.

    Laura- I would think it's weird if the reviewer didn't say I. Just who was reading the book?

    Karen- Thanks Karen. I think you've recognized how useful we can be to authors. Book people love other book people and value their opinions. I might not be splitting atoms but I can give an opinion.

    Jena- Brief is good. Sometimes I get carried away though. lol! I just want to know if I should spend my money or not. Books are expensive in Canada.

    Andi- Thank you.

    Stephanie- "I really blog because I like to and it has become a creative outlet for me." For me as well. I'm not out to replace professionals. I'm not even going to try.

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  19. stp- Thanks!

    Marg- I think I'm going to have to make a schedule. I was never good at that though.

    Jena- If they offer some opinion, I like them. I found one I really liked recently of a book I reviewed (mostly because they agreed with me). Keep it simple.

    Rebecca- Agreed. I'm not trying to be a professional. I'm me. I'm a reader. I have an opinion. And I have a comments section for anyone to agree or disagree. Bloggers should be themselves and NOT try to be like a professional. Be real.

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  20. If that snarky post convinced to keep on keeping on, then it was worth it! Please don't give up. We need each other out here. I know I wouldn't be the only one who would miss you. The comments on this post say it all.

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  21. I'm guessing by the number of comments that I wouldn't be adding anything new so basically--thanks for posting. This "article" got me really riled up as well. Blah blah blah. :) I love love love this book blogging community and am saddened that people like Lissa Warren don't/can't understand what it is about the community that makes it so special.

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  22. I'm so glad you didn't pack it in!!! Whew!

    So tired of book bloggers getting messed around.

    Reading is my sport and my blog is my hobby. Seriously.

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  23. I've never once read a print review before writing my own and don't even look at them even after writing my own. As for the "I's", that's why I read blog reviews and not that many print. I take blogging very seriously, sometimes spending hours on a single post. Hang in there!

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  24. Lissa Warren's article sounds like sour grapes to me, even though book bloggers are not to blame for the erasure of newspaper book reviews. In fact, I'm willing to bet book bloggers are some of the most faithful readers of reviews!

    I think you were right on in your comments - blogs are personal, that's why people like them. Personally, I prefer a conversational review to a stuffy, academic one. I also like the book chat capabilities of blogs. It allows us bookworms to communicate and discuss our reading obsession. Like you said, newspapers obviously aren't filling this need.

    I hear authors commenting all the time about how much they appreciate book blogs. Will bloggers save books? No, READERS will save books. Will book blogs encourage readers and support authors and publishers, thereby "saving" the industry? I think the answer is a resounding YES.

    Thanks for the link and your book blog. Don't you quit - Book bloggers unite!!

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  25. Many of the newspaper critics of book blogs don't seem to understand the basic fact that they are the only ones that think there is a competition happening! All the book bloggers I read on a regular basis do so for the joy of blogging, not to take over the book review world. For most, it is a hobby.

    There are so many people out there that read book blogs and enjoy the personal content that is added in--I often get compliments when I throw in personal tidbits in a review--I think it shows that we are supplying something that the newspaper reviews lack.

    I'm glad you're sticking around! I've had the same thoughts recently, which is why I have a few unexplained absences this summer, but ultimately I plan on keeping up my blog as well. Although I must admit my content is not on par with what it was before my daughter was born!

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  26. I, too, am glad to see you are still here! It makes me sad when people decide to stop, so I'm happy you didn't!

    Interesting discussion here. I've never thought much about my blog except I do it for fun. I keep reviews short and if anyone finds them interesting, that's great. And hopefully, it will continue to be fun and I can keep at it for a long time to come.

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  27. Thanks, LiterateHousewife!

    Trish- I think articles like this highlight that misunderstanding.

    Bybee- Me too. I just wish it burned calories.

    Natasha- It can be very time consuming.

    Heather- "Reader will save books!" Amen sister!

    Nyssaneala- Most of us see it as a hobby too. The personal stuff adds a nice flavour.

    Suey- If it's not fun, is it a job and can I get paid? ;)

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  28. You absolutly cannot stop blogging Christina. Your the one who got me roped into this in the first place!

    I do find it time consuming, partically because I subscribe to other blogs to keep up-to-date and make blogging friends who will recipricate and vist me on my blog. I cam back from just being away for 1 week and there were over 300 posts on my Google reader. I'm still trying to catch up.

    That said, I do love blogging and reading other's blogs. It's a great way to share our mutual love of books.

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  29. Oh, I've got a lot of thoughts about that article, all of which I'll be posting later this week, soon's I have enough time to type them out! The columnist got most everything wrong...in my opinion.

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