Friday, November 18, 2011

This thing I do

Yesterday, I mentioned to a colleague that I'm a book reviewer and that I keep a book blog. She responded with surprise. I'm not sure why. People know of my affinity for reading and are also typically aware of my ability to ramble to no end. But particularly where I live, book reviewing is seen as a somewhat exotic hobby, and I find myself having to explain it at length. And it's not that easy to explain. What is it I do?

I write anonymous reviews on random book sites across the internet (in more than one language), I write about random bookish thoughts on my blog (forsaking the standard book-review blog format for a weird approach that's neither here nor there...), I'm a somewhat disloyal Amazon Vine member (rarely requesting books, often only reviewing the books months after publication), I don't get books for review via my blog, and I make a point to read, and write, and discuss.

That's what we're all doing here. We're building the literary discourse by comparing notes and comparing notes about important literary issues (like how to fix the increasingly stumbling publishing industry). Not everyone has the same calling and I wouldn't compare an English professor's blog about George Eliot to a blog geared to getting kids and young adults to read good books, calling one truly "literary" and the other not, but on the whole we do the same thing. We all read. We all write. We all discuss. And we all do it by choice, which I find to be incredible.

True, I write online reviews that get swallowed up in the mass of other online reviews, and true, my blog isn't particularly influential or prolific, and true, I can't actually make a living off this quiet hobby. That's not the point of this thing I do. The point is to learn and broaden my horizons, encounter new approaches to literature, guide the occasional reader to a good book (or warn them away from a bad one), and enjoy literature.


  1. I also get a lot of interested and quizzical looks when I explain what I do. It seems that though there are a lot of us out there, the general public has no idea of what we do, or why we do it. It's funny. I went to an author's conference one year, and there were authors who just didn't understand why I would do such a thing. She questioned me at length, and I felt a little miffed. I just kept responding that I do it because I love books and want to promote literacy and discuss books! It seems so strange to others, but so natural to me!

  2. I so agree with you that the point is "to learn and broaden my horizons." That's not why I started blogging, but it sure has been the effect of it!

  3. well said :-) that's why we all do it, right? :-)

  4. I completely agree -- you've summed up what I think I'm doing as well. Blogging is a hobby I enjoy, and it keeps me writing and thinking about what I read. At the moment I'm torn about what my review policy should be. I've gotten three requests to read self-published books this year and I don't know whether to say "I just don't want to read your book" or give them a try. There's so little time, to spend reading books you don't want to read!

    I really enjoy your blog and the way you think about reading.


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