This is the first in a series of “featurettes” about blogging, in which I have interviewed book bloggers, novelists, and critics. I will begin with a brief post about my own relationship with the blog.
As late as 2005, I didn’t understand what a blog was. A friend recommended a few blogs, I muttered a few polite words, and thought they were trite.
“Oh, they have their own websites,” I said.
“That’s not it.”
I didn’t know what “it” was.
This is essentially how I have reacted to online life since the beginning. When I joined AOL in the ’90s, much of it seemed trivial, but eventually I found some very good book discussions and made friends with some of the group members.
Long before I started blogging, I freelanced. And I wrote bits of “Oprahish” novels for a couple of years. I have since given up any intention of writing a novel. Plots were not my strong point. Woman finds husband with other woman and departs with no money or skills but spunkily gets a waitress job… and presumably would find love and money if I’d finished writing the book. Since I had no sense of plot, not much happened.
I like to write, but I prefer to read, if you see what I mean.
When I finally discovered blogs, I found a wonderful platform for keeping a book journal. And soon I found many other bloggers whose work I liked.
A blog is defined as a “web-log.” Web-log? I do not think of this as a “web-log.”
According to New York Magazine, the first blog was founded in 1994 by Swarthmore College student Justin Hall, links.net.
I’ll take their word for it.
Three of the 10 bloggers I’ve interviewed so far (including myself) say they began blogging as an offshoot of participating in online book groups. Ellen Moody’s Trollope19thCStudies group at Yahoo inspired me, and I loved her brilliant blog, Ellen and Jim Have a Blog (now Ellen and Jim Have a Blog Two), so much that I began my own.
Although I enjoy blogs, I am still a member of the “book review culture.” It is a treat to buy a copy of the Sunday New York Times with the book review section. Online we also have access to many book review publications: The Washington Post Book World, TLS, The Guardian, etc.
Reviews of new books are not always relevant to what I read. I read mainly “old” books and classics.
Still, it gives me pleasure to know what is being published, and book reviews are my favorite journalism.
I read bloggers for their inimitable voices more than for their book recommendations. Some bloggers are very talented writers, and I love them dearly, but their taste does not coincide with mine. Of course others read the “old” books I love. I keep a list of suggestions, but rarely go out and buy the books.
Pros of blogging: Bloggers are usually supportive of other bloggers, and that is one aspect I very much like.
Con: Perhaps I have experienced greater isolation online, because I now spend much less time with online book groups.
It all measures out in the end.