When I started writing Bluestalking, it was a place to share my pure love of literature with other bloggers and readers of blogs. I wasn’t a reviewer, hadn’t yet known the sweet, sweet bliss of a steady stream of free review books in the mail.
Book blogs were on the rise, but not nearly as plentiful as they’ve become. Back then it was easier to stand out in a much smaller crowd.
Once I started building a reviewing reputation, I became a girl who couldn’t say no, my head easily turned by the latest sexy-hot book. No longer did I read the old stuff, the books that made up the vast majority of my reading in the early days.
A literature major, I’d always been mad for the Victorians. In the early 2000s, writing of the 18th century obsessed me. I went through an intense Samuel Johnson/James Boswell phase, on to Fanny Burney and Henry Fielding, with stops for various under-appreciated females such as – unsurprisingly – the Bluestockings, for good measure.
If you’d asked, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much of anything about contemporary writing.
Things have changed just a bit since then. Over the past decade I’ve read hundreds of books by hundreds of contemporary writers. I’m having a difficult time remembering the last time I read anything from any century before the 20th, much less works from the traditional Western Canon.
Once upon a time, classic literature was all I read, period.
I’ve built up an amazing personal library other bibliophiles would be thrilled to own, but there they sit, gathering dust.
I’ve lost touch with book bloggers I once chatted with regularly, stopped reading the posts of blogs I loved in my earlier days. I don’t participate in group reads, themed reading and interactive bookish love.
There’s just no time.
I miss the camaraderie and friendships – the reason I started blogging about books in the first place. I miss sharing photos of recent book hauls. Hell, I miss having book hauls. I went to a used book sale today for the first time in so long I can’t even remember. All my reads have been fresh off the press for years. Handling used books, coming across serendipitous finds – books about books, vintage Modern Library editions with illustrated covers, obscure biographies of Victorian writers like Lewis Carroll – brought it all home to me.
I miss the old days.
I’ve decided I’m going to read more books for myself. I’ve lost some of the pure joy of books, of pulling a book off the shelf on a whim, and not because I’d been assigned to read it. No grand pronouncement – just something that simple.
Because I’ve missed it.
All these books looking back at me, it’s time to grab one and just read. For the pure joy of it.
6 thoughts on “On blogging and reading, past and present”
I did the same a year ago. It’s been so refreshing to read strictly for myself.
The thought of it has lifted a weight off my shoulders. Must be the right thing.
It makes absolute sense to begin reading for the enjoyment rather than the need to review. Are you any closer to redesigning the blog?
I tried out a couple other themes but haven’t found any I particularly like better so far.
I do the same. I still get loads of books sent to me but if I have not asked for them and I am not interested I pass them on. Life is too short to read stuff you do not enjoy. My reading these days is still mainly Victorian literature, which I love, crime old and new and biography and history. The litterati would turn their noses up at me and as for the Book List, well I rename it every year the Lost of Books that I have NO interest in whatsoever. In the past when I first started blogging I followed the herd and other erudite bloggers and felt most inadequate if I could not quote the latest Salman Rushdie etc etc Now dear readers I do not give a s**t. So Lisa, good for you
Yes, I think it’s terrible to let pleasing others dictate what you read. It should be a pleasure, not a forced march. And I miss my blogging friends.
I think this was a very good idea, indeed.