April 16, 2015

Am I a Book Blogger?




When I first started The Relentless Reader I thought I knew what made a book blogger: book reviews. Lots of them.

But after a couple of years I noticed that I didn't like to write book reviews. I found myself being repetitive and trying to force a new spin on a book that may have been reviewed dozens of times. I began to feel stale, unoriginal, uninspired.

On top of that I noticed that review posts received almost no love. Comments were few, shares were nearly nonexistent.  I felt as if I were speaking into a void. Reviews take effort, as you know. It seemed to be for naught.

So, if I didn't like writing them and people didn't bother reading them I was left with this question: Why bother?

Do I have to write formal reviews to call myself a book blogger? My last few reviews were few and far between. My very last was months ago. The world didn't stop turning. My bookish peers haven't excommunicated me. I still receive books in the mail.

I feel like a more effective book pusher when I'm talking with people instead of at them. That's what works for me. It's immeasurably more rewarding to talk about books on TwitterFacebookInstagram, or The Socratic Salon.

What will the future look like here on The Relentless Reader? I don't know. Maybe one day I'll go back to formal reviews. Maybe not. The beauty is that I get to define who I am. And I am a book blogger. 


I just want to talk about books. I sure hope you'll indulge me.

54 comments:

  1. Great question. I've only been blogging for two year - so I am still focusing on reviews. Recently I started a monthly update - that seems to get more attention. I am not sure what direction I will be going in with my blog. It's good to know though that you still receive books to read and write about.

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    1. I like writing and reading updates a lot :D They are fun to put together and it's such a great way to keep up with our bookish pals.

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  2. You do you! No one will excommunicate you...probably..Also I think I could stare at that first GIF all day.

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  3. Yes you are a book blogger. And no you don't have to write book reviews. My two cents.

    For me, I will continue to write my thoughts on the latest books I read though the style of those 'thoughts' may be a review or a venting or something 'else'. I don't even look at my stats so I guess my blog is for me and I am happy that others stop by and say hello every so often. :D

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    1. I like your two cents :D

      I love how everyone is constantly changing and finding their own way in this blogging world. Fab!

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  4. You are definitely a book blogger and I love your blog because of your love of books. But I totally understand what you mean. My book review posts get no love and its hard to think of new ways to review a book (especially one you didn't like or thought was okay), so I'm with you when it comes to questioning if you are a book blogger. I question myself about that same thing all the time lately. Definitely a food for thought.

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    1. Thanks, Nadia :D It can be hard to find clever new ways to talk about books. I know what you mean, there's not much love for reviews. Some people are just SO great at writing them that...well, I don't know. I don't even want to try and compete. It's not my strong suit, lol, to say the least!

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  5. I think this is great, Jennifer! It's YOUR blog; do what you love! I just want to talk about books, too; sounds like a great idea, to me! :)

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    1. Thank you!! :D Let's just talk about books all the darn time, hooray!

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  6. There is no cut and dried definition of a book blogger, other than the topic of books and having blog. Formal reviews...not so much. I love posts that are about books, but not really a review. I don't write nearly enough of those. I think one must discuss books, the love of, the passion for, the pros, cons, irritation of etc to be a book blogger. It's all about the love of the written word. You share as you see fit xo

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    1. I do enjoy a good review and some people are excellent at writing them. I wish they all received the attention they deserved. That's a great list of things to talk about and that's exactly what I'm after...not so much formal reviews as casual observances...the way two pals would talk about a book. That's the sort of conversation I like :D

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  7. There is no right or wrong way to be a book blogger. And I understand your frustrations. A review takes a lot of work, and it's difficult to summon up the desire to do it when you don't anticipate that many people will read it. I struggle with this too. :-)

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    1. Darn right, Irene! :D It's hard to spend hours on something when you just know it's going to sway in the breeze by its little lonesome, lol.

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  8. You don't have to write reviews to be a book blogger. As long as you are talking about books, I feel you are a book blogger. There's no one way you have to do this, as Florinda always says. Do what feels right for you. Maybe discussion posts or book lists make more sense to you. Maybe the buddy review system is what you like as that's the way it is on The Socratic Salon. I think whatever way you want to talk about books is perfectly okay.

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    1. Co-signing this entire comment, Becca! Thank you! The way we dig deep on The Socratic Salon is the way I always wanted to talk about books in my real life. Since I don't have many bookish friends in real life that was just not going to happen, lol. I'm so glad we have Twitter and Facebook and TSS and all of the other ways we've found to yap about books. Yay, us!

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  9. You're a very effective book pusher, regardless of the format. Whatever you're doing works great! Thanks a lot. ;)

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    1. Hehehe. There's nothing I like better than making someone's TBR pile grow.

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  10. A book blog is a fluid thing that ebbs and flows. You find your groove, then 6 months later, life and priorities are different, so adjustments are made. Me, I'm a bit of a review machine because I'm OCD, but I enjoy dialogue posts so much more. No matter how it evolves, it's your own forum for whatever thoughts are important to you!

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    1. So true, Julz! Things change, that's just the way it goes. I admire you, and others, that can write reviews the way you do. I think it's awesome!

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  11. I hadn't even noticed that you hadn't posted a traditional book review in months! And, I checked my TBR list where I track who I found out about certain books from...and there were definitely some on there from you. You're still talking about books and recommending them to others, just in your own way...and that's great! I also love your weekly updates.
    And - my book reviews don't do as well as other posts either. I'm trying to still write posts about books, but get away from the traditional style book review...but, I'm not that creative and it's definitely hard!

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    1. Ha, see how good I am at shoving books down people's throats? LOL, they don't even know how I do it. It's magic ;)

      Leah, at Books Speak Volumes, wrote a GREAT post about creative reviews. I should have dug that up and linked to it above. It's so good.

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    2. I just tweeted that post instead :D

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  12. You do you! I definitely thinkthat reading and writing formal reviews can feel stale, but I love what you said about talking about books on social media as a different way to recommend them.

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    1. It works for me. I feel more genuine when I'm having a casual twitter chat about a book or yapping on Facebook :D

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  13. Must be in the air because I felt this the last few days after reading a great book. I just didn't feel like doing the same old. So I didn't do anything. ;) Do whatever you like! I still gets tons of recs from you, so you're doing something right!

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    1. Do whatever you like! That's my new motto :D And heck, who knows what will happen in the future. I might feel like writing a review tomorrow!

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  14. Perhaps part of it is that you see them as "formal" reviews? Does that affect the style with which you write? Have you ever tried to write a review as if you were selling it to one of your friends? So think of a real life friend you'd want to read the book, then write a piece on why you think they should read it. Does that make a difference?

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    1. I agree with this. I think there's a big difference between journal entries on books, and book reviews. The audience is the difference, and maybe the purpose of the post: book reviews are more for "selling" the book (I think), while journaled entries are more for self-reflection, or for emoting and enthusing among friends. I think it's a big difference and can change the way one feels about reflecting on books. I've read some blogs that offer thoughts periodically throughout the read, and they write them mostly to reflect on their own feelings/reactions as they go. You have to go with what's comfortable to you.

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    2. Nordie, I LOVE that idea and I'm going to think about your comment for a while! Hmmm. Food for thought!

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  15. I think that book blogs come in all sorts of genres, & that's something people haven't really officially figured out yet, because -- well, we don't have an organization deciding these things. We just transform it ourselves as we go. I think amongst book blogs there are quiet journals, book review sites, discussion sites, and/or combinations of those. It sounds like you want yours to be a discussion site. Which is quite valid, I reckon. :)

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    1. We're all just mucking about here aren't we? There as many types of bloggers as there are types of books and there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY! :D

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  16. Interesting! I'm working on a similar post, but from a different angle. I love writing book reviews, although I see that those aren't the posts people comment on. Sometimes I try to write "mini reviews" but those really aren't as satisfying for me and don't seem to do justice to the book. I think blogging is about being true to what you want to write about.

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    1. I'll make sure to read this post you're working on! I'm very interested in everyone's take on this topic. As I said above and in a few of the comments, there's no one right way to do this. :D

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  17. I think book blogging is about spreading the word about books through our blogs. Whether you write a review or just say "I'm reading this book now" it's put the book on my radar. I still prefer to write reviews on my blog but I've noticed that over the last little while they've changed, they're not as long or as in depth. I give my own synopsis, I say what worked and didn't work and try to mention who I think would enjoy the book. I don't discuss the actual plot very much anymore. Our style should change over time.

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    1. It should, and it does :D I like watching what people are doing with their blogs. I think it's fascinating how many ways there are to do this.

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  18. Yes! Reviews do feel like you're talking at someone. Maybe that's why I've never really warmed to them. At first they were sort of a fun challenge (after years of writing only a few-sentence mini-review for each book I read) but discussions are much more fun.

    Of course, when I don't read the same books everyone else does, then I just feel stuck.

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    1. Right?? I'd so much rather have a back and forth with someone. I think it's part of the reason why I love working at a bookstore. I can find out what a person likes, chat for a few minutes, before I recommend something. Again: I don't want to talk AT someone, but WITH them.

      Ah, that's true too. There's a little pressure to read, at least a few of, what others are reading to stay relevant. That's a whole 'nother topic, lol.

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  19. You are definitely a book blogger! Don't even suggest such a thing. So what if you don't write reviews anymore. I know exactly what you are reading and whether you enjoyed it or not. What more do you need?

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    1. Thanks :D You know, when I think of someone who does reviews so damn well, I always think of you. That is your wheelhouse and you're freaking great at it.

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  20. Such a great post! I've always blogged about books on my blog but I've never actually written that many reviews. Occasionally the mood stirs me, but mostly I just want to talk about books. And yes! I think that's what makes us book bloggers. We love books and we love talking about them. Reviews are lovely but not a necessity.

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    1. Hooray! I think the very same. Some people write reviews, and that's awesome. Some don't, and that's awesome too. There are so many ways to do this and not one of them is more correct than another. :D

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  21. I have definitely asked myself this queestion as I have branched out into lifestyle and political posts (although they are generally book reviews). That said, most of my posts revolve around books in some way so I figure that still qualifies me.

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    1. So there! :D Really though, it's so nice to hear that everyone realizes that book blogging can be done in a myriad of ways. Yay for us!

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  22. Quite simply, yes. I wouldn't want to read just book reviews anyway!

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  23. It feels like every book blogger is kind of struggling with book reviews lately! I know I have been. Also, I totally didn't notice you hadn't written any haha. It's just so hard to think of coherent alternatives, though. I don't know. I might try writing what's technically a review, but doing it as casually as possible, like with inserted anecdotes and everything. JUST to see what happens. Noooo more clinical book reviews for me (hopefully). You're doing a great job!

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    1. See what I mean? I quit reviewing and heck, no one noticed, lol. ;) I think that's because many of us are focused on our own content. BUT I also think it's because no one reads reviews, ha ha. I'm making a sweeping generalization there, of course.

      We'll all find what works for us, individually. Some people are so good at writing wonderful reviews...I'm just not one of them! ;)

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  24. Oh ya, I totally get this. And for a while I denounced the name and came back and now I just don't care. I think people still consider me a book blogger, but ultimately it doesn't matter. We all love books but we don't have to let the "rules" of book blogging define our blogs. I think a lot of people have moved away from formal reviews and forums like Socratic Salon and Book Riot and popping up because of this. We still want to talk about books...but I know I'm very unlikely to read a book review all the way through (just give me the bottom line dammit!) if I haven't already read a book. And because my book posts are my least popular posts, it's hard for me to muster up the energy to write them (well).

    Plus, I like the chatty stuff best. :) That's what allows us to all get to know one another!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly what we wanted The Socratic Salon to be...somewhere to really TALK about a book. We don't have to be vague, we don't have to skirt around certain scenes or spoilers. It's awesome :D And yeah, my book review posts were full of crickets and that was about it. So if I don't like writing them, don't care to read them most times, and they get no action here on the blog..thennnnn what's the point? ;)

      I'm a much bigger fan of the chatty stuff as well. Much!

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  25. You're talking books on a blog so I'd say you qualify!

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  26. You've totally gotten inside my head with this one! This is where I'm at now, too. I stopped blogging for awhile because I just couldn't face writing those damn reviews--and I knew nobody read them anyway! But I missed it . . . so now I'm thinking, I'll just post fewer reviews and more conversational stuff. And write reaction pieces to books that I really want to push!

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    1. Hooray! It's a good thing when we realize what's not working for us. If something doesn't feel authentic anymore there's no good reason to keep plugging away at it. :D

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