BBAW Day 3: What Does Book Blogging Mean To You?

An interesting question, this, because after blogging about books for six years I think its meaning has changed for me. Grown up, perhaps, from when I first conceived of my blog.
To begin with, I didn’t even begin as a book blog. Hence the bizarre name of my blog which loosely translates to Gentle Beauty. Not implying that I am a beauty, but instead relating to the fact that I want to blog with the beauty of a gentle spirit. So, there’s that.
But, when I discovered that people were actually blogging about books I quickly climbed on that train. Imagine! Discussing my greatest passion with people who love it as much as I do! So book blogging became all about sharing great literature.
Then, I became aware of stats. Suddenly, math entered my beautiful world of words. What is my Google Page Rank? What is my Technorati authority? How many people are following my blog, subscribed to my reader, tweeting my posts? It became ridiculous that I even considered those questions, let alone worried about them. Book blogging almost became, as I’ve called it, “turning my joy into a job”.
Closely following the heels of what’s-my-rank came look-who-is-requesting-my-reviews. Publishing houses such as Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Random House, Melville House and SoHo Press started sending me books free. No charge! The only price was the time required to read these stacks of books and the pressure I put on myself to give a positive review.
So now I’ve come full circle. What does book blogging mean to me? Not stats. Not free books sent in the mail. Not giving only glowing reviews. Book blogging means reading what I love, and sharing it with you, while abandoning the pressure from outside sources. Which always seems to come in an attempt to invade your joy if you let it.
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31 thoughts on “BBAW Day 3: What Does Book Blogging Mean To You?

  1. Good Answer.

    I think pressure from outside source is one of the reason why I am happy that I have a small readership. I am always amazed about how many books some people get in the mail and how many they have to read and review.

  2. I think 'abandoning the pressures from outside' is so important. After all, we read for self-enjoyment, not for others, not succumbing to peer pressure, but purely for the joy of it. And I think being able to choose the books that you Want to read, and not Have to read is essential. Then, writing about the books you read is another source of pleasure.

  3. “Book blogging means reading what I love, and sharing it with you, while abandoning the pressure from outside sources.”

    AMEN TO THAT, BELLEZZA! We are not volunteer book promoters. Sometimes we do help promote books, of course, but that should happen only from a true enthusiasm for the books we read.

  4. Your story could be my own really. I still accept review copies and take part in tours now and then–but I am much much more selective now based on interest and time. I don't ever want to get back to the place where blogging becomes a second job for me. I want it to be my refuge. The place I go to talk about books with friends.

  5. I'll have to think about what that post would look like.

    I mean, the reading, I was doing that before I had ever heard of blogs!

    It has struck me as strange that BBAW never has topics about writing (nor does the book blogging convention) – even though it is an something every single book blogger does. Maybe not every one – are there some all video book bloggers? I suppose there are.

  6. I love it! I think that's what did me. Had to move away from blogging to get rid of the pressure. Now that I'm blogging more loosely, without any “real” reviews, I feel a sense of renewed love for it. I'm happy to know that's where you are now. Keep on, dear Meredith. xx

  7. I did the same thing when I first started, except that I'm only just emerging from the euphoria of the fact that occasionally I ask publishers to send me books and they actually do! But then the pressure to read everything gets too much and I am one of those people who's really bad at reading things because I feel I should…

    So yes, now it's all about reading things I love :-)

  8. I love reading about why we blog. I think it's because it means so much to us that we need to examine why we do this when occasionally it may all get too much as we all do have lives outside blogging! I used to wonder why I never got stacks of books from publishers (except for the ones I request which they kindly send to me) but now I'm beginning to realise that it's a good thing for me since I already have too many books and I don't deal with pressure well either.

  9. Spot on! As always, Bellezza, you are able to express my sentiments exactly when it comes to book blogging. “Book blogging means reading what I love, and sharing it with you, while abandoning the pressure from outside sources.” – exactly! That is why I started book blogging, but lately I feel as if I'm completely overwhelmed with reading books I've agreed to review instead of ones I want to read. And I'm just feeling as if I'm reading for more for others, than myself – and that is not cool. So, I'm taking a page from your book and going back to the basics of blogging because I love to read and want to share my thoughts on books I love or don't love. I want to have fun again ;)

  10. Beautiful answer — thoughtful as always. (Belatedly — I adore your header — new, I think?) I'm caught up in the stats phase — wanting to 'brand' myself — but it is exhausting and I'm not sure that's what I want to be doing — so I'm always happy to find bloggers who are settled back within their own reading world, happy.

  11. I have come full circle yet Bellezza. Despite books being free, I feel pressured to review it and I can't ignore nor pretend I don't have obligation to review it. So I am happy that I don't receive that many free books from publishers really. Perhaps that would mean I'll never come full circle! is that a bad thing? :)

  12. Loved your post, Bellezza, and enjoyed reading about how you have evolved as a blogger since you first started blogging. Looking at stats is really addictive! I guess one has to go through the experience before letting it go.

  13. I love how your blogging journey has changed and adapted to your needs, Belleza. That is how it should be, I think, and the only way to keep a blog going. Here's to many years of blogging, whether about books or not :)

  14. I blog because I think I can share with other bloggers facts and ideas about books and writers that they never heard of. I see myself as filling a gap in other readers' knowledge of literature. Yes, I'm an ambitious person :)

  15. Perfect! You voiced my thoughts precisely! Now if only I could capture the time I used to have to visit and comment on all my favorite blogs in a timely fashion. I always feel like I'm catching up!

  16. Brava, Bellezza, Brava!! For these same reasons, I removed my Review Policy from my page and have only accepted two books for review in the past four months, not to mention I've also removed that pesky Google Blogger widget that lets you know how many people are following your blog (which did nothing but stressed me out when I viewed it: Did I lose a follower? Did I gain one?). With those two changes, I've freed myself of obligations and I now read what I want to read! Such a glorious experience to return back to the reading I've enjoyed. I now wander the library and bookstores, pulling from the shelves what interests me, not what was thrust into my mailbox with the invisible guilt-trip attached.

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