06 November 2011

Bookblogging

So while I post about politics, journalism, and a few other topics (and occasionally even my life), the most frequent topic by far on my blog is literature.  Recently I've taken an interest in other "bookbloggers," as the community is called, and I've been seeing what they do differently.

I've noticed a few common traits among bookbloggers.  The first is that they all have a review directory, something I noted on Literary Omnivore and which I immediately adopted for myself.  It makes sense for a lot of reasons.  I also noticed that virtually everyone includes an image of the reviewed books, something I had just been too lazy to do until now.  But these changes made, there are a few other choices to make.

Single-book reviews seem to be the rule.  Almost every other blogger writes about one book at a time, in contrast to my own style, which has been to read anywhere from three to eight or more books, reviewing them in a compilation post.  My wife tells me she prefers my current method, and I think ultimately I'm going to stick with it.  It makes sense for me - I usually read an average of a book every other day, but only blog once or twice a week.

Ratings also seem to be a consistent habit among bookbloggers.  This still seems a little strange to me, since until recently the only reviews I read were in the NYRB, the NYT's Sunday reviews, L.A. Review of Books, and the London Review of Books - none of which try to give a book an objective three and a half stars (or whatever).  I suppose that a rating system makes good sense when writing within a specific genre - like the bookblog Fantasy Cafe - but outside of a defined literary conversation, I'm not sure how I'd do it.  I'm reminded of Roger Ebert's words when he said, "When you ask a friend if Hellboy is any good, you're not asking if it's any good compared to Mystic River, you're asking if it's any good compared to The Punisher."  Different books are speaking to different groups and have different expectations.

Details on a book vary in their specifics, but are also common among bookbloggers.  Some list page count, some list format (ebook, softcover, hardcover), and nearly all have an elaborate systems of tags for genre and plot elements.  Here, again, I guess I'm too set in my ways.  With most books, page count and format just don't seem that important to me - I only mention it when it seems pertinent, like with a short book, long book, or poorly formatted edition.  And the compilation style of posting makes genre tagging an impossibility.

It helps, I suppose, that I'm not too concerned about readership.  I very much enjoy writing about books.  It improves my ability and provides an outlet for my theories and criticisms.  But my sole effort to promote my blog is to put links on Facebook and G+.  This is either because I'm lazy, because I'm afraid of failure if I try to gain a readership, or both.  Still, I'd welcome suggestions about things I should change, things you like, or general comments.  Give me some input, folks.

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