What does book blogging mean to you?
I don’t have a good memory. I’m not sure why, although I’ve a sneaking suspicion it’s something I developed out of pure spite as a child, because I was a pretty awful kid. (Thankfully, my involvement on my high school’s Debate team was a two year long punch in the face that I thoroughly deserved.) I also think it’s related to the art of compartmentalization; in The Magician’s Book, Laura Miller argues that a reading child, which I barely qualified as (I read the same books over and over again, like a nervous tick), ends up being very good at compartmentalization. If it’s not immediately relevant, the logic goes, I don’t need to worry about it. While that does wonders for my stress level, it’s not that great for my memory.
I joined my high school’s book club after my involvement with Debate ended, partially because The Count of Monte Cristo, one of my favorite novels, was one of the options that month. Sitting in on the discussion, however, I realized that I couldn’t remember that much about a novel I had honestly loved. Between that and the stagnation of my fannish presence online, I began to write movie and book reviews and post them there. And then… everything sort of opened up. By writing about the books I’d read, I was enjoying them more. Part of the reason my online handle is The Literary Omnivore (Nicki calls me “Omni”, which I think is super-cute) is because I tend to think in food metaphors, and being able to pick clean the bones of the books I read is something that I can’t do without now.
Over the summer, I kept wandering into Book Nook, a used media store in Atlanta. (It’s very good; my only complaint is that they don’t sell individual bag and board for their comics.) They’ve got gorgeous shelves upon shelves of used books, which I wander not only to look, but also to rest myself; I find nothing more rejuvenating than wandering bookshelves. Anyway, while digging through a box of old Asimovs, I ended up making small talk with a woman picking through the shelves. She picked a book off the shelf, and started wondering if she’d read it before or it was an author she wanted to read. I wanted desperately to preach the virtues of book blogging, but I instead just told her that she might want to make a list so it doesn’t happen again.
Book blogging is both of those things; keeping a record of what I read and being a better and more engaged reader. And it’s the second that requires the book blogging community. Without other bloggers to gauge myself against, I might never have pushed myself to read more nonfiction or, horror of horrors, never read The Magician’s Book and fallen in love with Laura Miller’s writing. Even in just the act of reviewing books and being our own readers, we push and challenge each other in constructive ways. And that’s what book blogging means to me.