Dolce Bellezza Turns Ten and Where Do We Go From Here?

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I used to write of personal things quite freely. It was easy when I was only known as Bellezza, not who I am, Meredith, and everything wasn’t all connected to Twitter and Facebook and real life. I think I liked being anonymous, hidden behind a name that no one knew.

Now my face is attached to the icon by my name, and there is no sense pretending I am Bellezza anymore.

Gone is the frivolous way that I would write about whatever I was reading, unconcerned about if my post would be considered erudite or trash; at first, in blogging, all that mattered to me was that I had a voice. How empowering it was to use it, to put it “out there”, even though few people read this blog in 2006.

My posts were a conglomeration of life with my then teenage son, life as a teacher, life as a reader. I connected most fiercely with other readers, and thus became primarily aย book blog, reviewing books for publishers which was (and continues to be) an honor, if not a certain pressure.

Along came challenges and read-alongs, finding groups of people with whom to read classics such as The Brothers Karamazov, Great Expectations, Emma, and The Small House at Arlington. I found fabulous challenges to read German Literature, Spanish Literature, and French. I discovered Japanese Literature, and hosted the Japanese Literature Challenge which introduced me to more bloggers who love books in translation. I have been a ย part of the Shadow Panel for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, now the Man Booker International Prize, for three years.

But, I have lost my way.

So typical of my life, I find I am not an integrated part of anything. I am not an intellectual who can write posts reviewing authors I’ve never even heard of though I’ve been reading since I was five. I am not a romance reader, or a mystery reader, or a sci-fi/fantasy reader, or a young adult reader. I don’t make it a habit of reading the best sellers which so often disappoint me, and would just as soon read only the classics if that wouldn’t mean being unaware of what has been published in the 21st century. You can see that it’s difficult to find a niche with my odd parameters.

For the longest time I have not been leaving comments as a good blogger should. I have, if anything, removed my self further from blogging than at any time in the previous ten years, feeling unnecessary and confused.

But, I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to fade away into a world where I am not an active participant. I like the interaction, I like the discussion, I like the way I have shared what I am reading with those who read. I will try to put away doubt about my importance, recognizing that no one’s authority is absolute, and carry on writing about the books that please me, or don’t. Carry on writing about things that strike my fancy. And certainly carry on with more intensity in communicating with you, on your blog.

I’m looking forward to more time, maybe even another ten years, spent together discussing books.

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69 thoughts on “Dolce Bellezza Turns Ten and Where Do We Go From Here?”

  1. Happy ten years!

    I’m glad you will be sticking around. Your blog is one of the first ones I started reading when I was a newbie book blogger. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Huge sigh of relief!! As I began reading this post, I found myself shaking my head, quietly murmuring, “No, no, no.” I was afraid you were going to tell us that after all these years, you had decided it was time to say goodbye to blogging, and ultimately us, your readers. I don’t care what you read, or what you review, or if you just write about your dog, parents, husband, son or biking. I just love to read your posts and will be here to the very end. Your blog was one of the very first I stumbled upon and the connection was made.

    We are kindred spirits, my dear friend. Here’s to the next ten years!

    BTW, my lily-of-the-valley are just about to burst into their sweet blossoms. That is, if today’s heat didn’t zap them.

    xo

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    1. This didn’t start out as a farewell post, but the more I wrote the more it sounded like that even to me. I was trying to explain the way I don’t feel so connected to the blogging world, sometimes, but as you and others remind me it’s okay to carve a path of my own. Thank you for your affirmation, your friendship during each of these ten years! You are my longest, best blogging friend.

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    1. Thanks, Audrey, for your patience and continued friendship. It was a highlight of the year to read The Small House at Arlington with you and JoAnn last year, my first Trollope ever. I was glad to be included in your blogging ventures.

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  3. Amazing all the reading, thinking and even worrying that 10 years holds. Beginning with those first years when you were incognito to your blog and certainly to me. Then you shared your “hobby” with us and we were amazed, impressed and proud. These feelings have continued. I watch and hear you railing against the winsome turned into expectations and responsibilities and wonder how you will resolve it BUT I am sure you will devise some creative way to please yourself. Always remember that yourself comes first. “We” will still marvel with amazement, be impressed and proud of your huge accomplishment…will you? Or will you hunger for some new horizon. I hope I will be here to marvel at your drift.

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    1. You know me, not quick to jump toward new horizons if given the choice between that and a safe path. But, I always appreciate your support and encouragement for whatever it is I do. Love you, M

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  4. Congratulations on ten years! I’m also reconsidering the anonymous side of a blog. I really don’t like my blog connected to my facebook. Instagram. pinterest. Ugh. :/ It’s a conundrum.

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    1. When I first began blogging, I don’t think Twitter was even invented yet. Or, if it was, it wasn’t an integral part of blogging. Now there’s even more, as you say, with Instagram jumping in on the action. I’m always a person who likes simple the best. As well, perhaps, as anonymous. But, thank you for blogging with me now that all is revealed! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Ten years! I’ve been with you only eight of those, but I cherish every one. I can’t keep up with your reading schedule, or comment on many of your posts, but I’ll always follow, faithfully: learning and appreciating the whole way.

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    1. Linda, you are faithful and true, leaving me insightful and wise comments which I always appreciate. You teach me much, with your posts and your comments, and I value the interaction we have shared for almost a decade.

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  6. Like Les, I thought this was heading down the path of a farewell. so glad to know its not because then I would be missing a valuable source of insight on books from countries that are still fresh territory to me. I’m also not a member of any discernible group – my tastes are too eclectic for me to stick with one. Maybe we should form a group for the outsiders??

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    1. I guess this post and the subsequent comments have been a good reminder that I can only be who I am, and I don’t have to be anything else. I can’t, in fact, be very much different from who I ultimately am, so I’m glad that what I wrote about still engages others. Thank you for your comments.

      The lily of the valley is finally coming in full bloom with our chilly spring, and its’s so lovely.

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  7. Oh, I thought this note meant you were leaving us until the end of it, when you said you were staying. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think your niche is that you are classy. I always think that when reading your words. ๐Ÿ™‚ You commented on my blog once and were very kind.

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  8. Happy 10 Years! I celebrated mine in December but not acknowledging it. Pretty typical for me. lol I can kind of relate, though… I still post as Kailana but it seems kind of silly now because everyone knows I am Kelly. But, Kelly is such a common name, I guess this way still sets me apart. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  9. One of the reasons I enjoy your blog so immensely is precisely because you are “niche-less”. Like you, I read a wide range of genres and find I am more content with classics than current best-sellers. You have encouraged me to read outside of my own nationality and culture through your example. This is important. Genre-specific blogs have their place, but to find a blog that crosses all genres? That is rare, indeed. I am thankful you will be here to inspire and encourage us for another ten years! ~ L

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    1. Reading across the genres is so fascinating! When I tire of one, I am thrilled by another, until I follow my fancy wherever it goes. Thank you so much for your kind words, and for likewise enjoying so many different types of literature, for expanding your horizons with me.

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  10. Happy decade! I like the personal approach, for myself and for the bloggers I read. Maybe you could disconnect your blog from some of the social media? A blog can create a kind of writing persona.

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    1. I almost find a personal post more interesting than a book one, sometimes. It’s so interesting to learn more about one another’s lives. As for disengaging from social media, that’s an idea. Especially for a person who isn’t terribly social to begin with. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  11. Oh, whew! Count me in with the others who were afraid this was a farewell! I love your writing, and although I’m a newish groupie, I hope to be in another readalong with you at some point! Thanks for sticking with us! I understand your misgivings and am still trying, myself, not to mix Facebook and my blog, but it’s happening slowly but surely. If it’s any consolation, I didn’t know your name was Meredith until just now! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. So glad to have “met” you too, Laurie, and as a matter of fact there is a new read-along in the works with a few of us. It’s Hill by Jean Giono, a mere 144 pages. You are so welcome to join us, as we plan to post at the end of May, and thank you so much for your kind words.

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  12. You are not alone in your sentiments of the times. As the world becomes more connected, it seems more and more easier to retreat inwards.. I will remain an ardent fan of your reviews and beautiful prose regardless of which direction you take from here. Thank you for encouraging me to be a more dutiful reader with each post!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, and even reading what I have to say here! It doesn’t take very much for me to retreat inward, as I am an introvert in the first place, so I really connect with that tendency. Looking forward to more blogging/commenting with you!

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  13. Congrats on a decade of blogging, Bellezza! I know there are millions of them in the blogosphere, but blogs with ten year’s history and still blooming? That certainly eliminates most of them. I’m glad we’re ‘blog friends’ and though we haven’t met, I know I’ve found someone with the same eagerness in the pursuit of meaning, above all, someone sharing the same faith. That I treasure. I wish you another fruitful decade ahead, and more blessings from this virtual meeting place. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. I’m so glad we’re blog friends, too, Arti, with a passion not only for literature (and photography) but for Him. Looking forward to many more years ahead; probably at ten for me, and I think more for you, we won’t be giving this up any time soon. xo

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  14. M, congrats on 10 years of blogging!! I’m so happy you’ve decided to keep on posting – I was worried you were going to quit. Your blog is one of the few that I frequent and thoroughly enjoy. I love your posts about you, your life, and all the books. And, I’m happy that we’ve gotten to know each other through books and our blogs ๐Ÿ˜‰ To another ten years!!

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    1. Nadia, I know we have made a connection over the years, and I truly apologize for not commenting very much in the past year or so. I don’t want to let my friendships slip away! Thank you for being a faithful friend and reader. xo

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  15. Happy blog anniversary!

    I’m glad you’ll keep on writing and no, we don’t need to be specialists in anything to have a blog.

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    1. We don’t blog so terribly much together any more, Sylvie, but I surely do love your posts on Facebook! And how somehow you always have the strength and grace to wish us a goodnight and good morning every single day. Amazing! xo

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  16. Like everyone else here, I’m so glad you’ve decided to continue!
    10 years of blogging is an amazing accomplishment. Here’s to another 10! ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Ten years sort of shocks me when I think about it. When I began, I never ever thought I’d be able to sustain a blog for so long, yet here I am. Fortunately, blogging about books gives me a never ending source of interesting things to write about, and reading one another’s blogs makes it all possible. Thank you for all your visits and comments.

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  17. Oh man! I thought I did it again. As you may know, I’m a relative newbie here. I signed up for the “Emma” group read and enjoyed it and your subsequent posts so much I decided stick around and am really glad I did. I do have a history of discovering a blog, embracing it, and then learning that the writer has decided to go on sabbatical, move to Thailand or go to law school, etc. This has happened more than once. I may be cursed. Anyway, I was very relieved to read that you will be continuing to post here. Sorry I missed the first 9-1/2 years but I look forward to reading the next 9-1/2 years of your bookish (and other) thoughts. Cheers!

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    1. Well, I probably won’t be moving to Thailand any time soon; there’s a greater chance of being in Italy than anywhere else. But, your comments are so affirming and you’re participation so gracious that it is a pleasure to blog with you.

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  18. I enjoy your musings and reviews so much, and like many others in this thread, I thought this would be a farewell post. And then, surprise! … a wave of relief came when I read that you’re going to continue.

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  19. Congratulations on 10 years! I would also be content to just read Classics, but I also don’t want to miss out on some of the great authors the 21st century has to offer. As a rule of thumb I pretty much avoid all “best-seller” lists because those books are usually a disappointment for me too!

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  20. Congrats on 10 years, and thank you for staying around. I love your ‘voice’ and since I don’t follow you elsewhere, this is my contact with you. This kind of post brings out my comment, because I realize I don’t comment often, but do enjoy your little niche corner of the blog. Or maybe niche-less? I realize now why I find it hard to find new blogs (or, to be honest, look very much) because so many are so very specific – romance, young adult, para-normal and the ARCs. I like a little of those, but also new, and old and mystery and some prize winners.
    Thanks for sticking around, and just let you be you.
    xo Elizabeth

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    1. Elizabeth (I never knew that is your name!), you give me a new perspective that being niche-less can leave one open to all kinds of possibilities, which is just what Haruki Murakaki would agree with as well. Thank you for your comment, and blogging with me most of the time I’ve held this blog.

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  21. Happy 10th anniversary i too am happy that you will continue blogging but I sure had to scroll down past a whole lot of fans to tell you this Your voice makes a difference.

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  22. Congratulations on 10 years of blogging, Bellezza. Like everyone else here, I’m so glad you’ve decided to continue – your posts are always a pleasure to read, irrespective of whether they’re about you, your life or the books you’ve been reading. Here’s to many more years ahead. J x

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    1. My posts are never as in depth as yours, Jackie, and you often write about authors I’ve never heard of, so I appreciate your kind words here. It is a pleasure blogging with you ever since “meeting” you for the IFFP list a few years ago. (And now, by the way, I’m pretty sure I’m done with that. So much heavy, heavy reading it has quite worn me out.)

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  23. Congratulations, Bellezza! Yours was one of the first blogs I started to follow, and the Japanese Challenge was one of the first projects I took part in, when I started blogging. Thank you for sticking around ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Didn’t we have fun reading Naomi together?! I think your blog is absolutely gorgeous, so visually stunning with the artwork and beautifully written posts. So glad to have met you through our affection for Japanese literature.

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  24. Happy Anniversary, Bellezza! I think this post resonates with so many of us, especially those of us who’ve been around for a while, because you start to wonder where your place is in blogland and if you are still the same or what. I’m glad to hear you will continue sharing your reading life with us and I’m wishing you many more blogging years!

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    1. I’m glad to hear that there’s something that resonates here, Iliana, maybe with us because we’ve been doing this so long. I hope to share books with you for many years, too.

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  25. So glad you are going to continue blogging. I am a recent reader and I know you as a translated works blogger! I think that is a great and unusual niche. Cheers, MDC

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    1. It’s so funny to think that you only know me as a translated literature blogger because that’s been only in the past few years or so. But, it is a great passion, and if I’ve found a niche I think that is the place where it would most likely lie. Thank you for reading and commenting here.

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    1. Well, hooray for translated literature all around. I’m looking forward to reading La Regenta with you in July (I believe that’s the right time). I’ve already downloaded it on my kindle. Thanks for your kind words, etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  26. Congratulations on your 10 years, Bellezza, and I truly wish you many more to come! :*
    I sympathise with every word you said and I often find myself wondering about the very same things. Sometimes it all just seems like a race of who is going to get more followers and likes and be the most popular one, and this make me so very anxious. I have needed to take a step back, too, but if blogging is what makes us feel good, we don’t really need any more reasons to do it, right?
    I found your blog through the Japanese Literature Challenge and I’ve had so much fun participating and reading other people’s posts ๐Ÿ™‚ You may be right in saying that you sometimes feel like you’re losing yourself (I think it’s bound to happen sooner or later in life), but I believe you instill a part of you in every post you make, no matter what it is about. And, ultimately, this blog contains 10 years of yourself, in all the forms and shapes you’ve taken during this decade. Which is a pretty impressive thing! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  27. Whenever I log into WordPress, one of the websites I open is yours, Meredith. It’s a delight to read your posts and I was just thinking that my heart was warmed after I read your post on a little ‘thank you’ you had received. I love coming here and I hope you will continue to allow us to know more about your life, books, and everything you love. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  28. Your best entries are the ones about whatever takes your fancy.Perhaps you should limit writing about the prize books to only those that you yourself liked.You should not feel obliged to report on every last one of them,just because they are up for a prize.Choosing to write on, say,only three of a twelve book list is choosing the books you think will, or should be the winners. As long as those are the three that you liked. Life is too short to continue reading and then trying to find something to say about a book that just did not do it for you. I myself, make little effort to read most up-for- a- prize books. Most are forgettable, and are in line for a prize for reasons other than that they are good stories well told. I am beginning to sound like Marie Kondo now, so I will stop.

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  29. Congratulations! Ten years is a wonderful achievement. As the book blogging world expands and our lives get busier, I still love visiting my favourite blogs even though I don’t comment as much as I used to either. So please keep writing about the books you choose to read.

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  30. I had to walk away for a while, so I understand the disconnect blogging can cause, though it really doesn’t seem it would do that. When I came back, I had to be back in the mindset of when I first started blogging; do it for me, share what I love, don’t worry about whether people are reading the posts, and don’t worry about comments being left, or not being left. Sorry, I just reread what I wrote, and it seems rather rambling. I was going to try and rewrite it, but can’t think of a way to make it less so.

    I’m glad I found your blog a few years ago, and I’m glad that you are sticking with it.

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  31. I think the tide is turning now and many readers get their reading recommendations from good book blogs like yours rather than the book pages of the Sunday papers. We need your voice!

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  32. Congratulations, Bellezza-Meredith! Not many things last for ten years anymore, especially good things.

    I also have been disappointed by how many blogs have become defunct. I know we all have constant change in our lives, and life generally seems to be busier, with social media and various devices to keep track of and distract us from reading and thinking more deeply — but there remain some constants in Blogland where one can find a reading nook to settle in for a spell, and likely run into a few friends to chat with. Your blog is one of these (disappearing) places, and I’m so happy to have discovered it once upon a time, and to find it here when I return, still somehow cozy and nourishing through the cold computer screen. Thank you for persevering!

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