Tuesday, October 8, 2013

About Book Blogs

I won't have a book review until later in the week, so I thought it would be fun today to talk about book blogs. There are a TON of them out there! How do you even choose which ones to read? In the past few years I've become pretty good at deciding right away whether or not I'll like a particular book blog. I'll talk a little about my likes and dislikes, followed by some recommendations of book blogs that I really love.

Certain things turn me off, and will make the difference between reading and not reading a particular blog. First, I don't read blogs if the author won't take the time to summarize the books. Pasting in a summary from Goodreads or some other source is just lazy. (I wouldn't be as bothered, however, if a post linked to an external summary.) There are a lot of different ways to summarize the same book and the way a person summarizes it provides insight into how they view the book and what they felt was important in the story.

Second, I don't read blogs in which a lot of the content is from memes. If a blog uses one meme per week that they happen to like, that's ok. But far too many rely on memes like "Mailbox Monday" and "Waiting On Wednesday" to fill their posts and frankly, I don't need a list of the books you received from publishers - which seems like bragging to me - nor do I need a weekly list of books you are anticipating. This isn't real content. One of my coworkers attended a conference session on book blogging in which the presenters encouraged exactly this sort of frequent meme-usage. So obviously there are people who really like that sort of thing, but it feels like filler to me.

I also prefer not to see too much non-book content. There are exceptions though. Forever Young Adult posts a lot about tv shows, movies, and even cooking. But there are still plenty of book posts, and I like their style enough that I'm willing to wade through the other stuff.

Finally, too much content in general. I don't know why bloggers think they need to post multiple times a day, but I simply can't keep up with that. If they are very short posts (like on EarlyWord) that's fine, but I will never read that many book reviews or full posts. More than daily and I get a little twitchy.

The blogs I like the most are simple. They talk about books. They are written by people who read and have opinions about what they read. Mostly, their entries are fairly short. I follow a few just for book-related news. My favorite is EarlyWord, though I also really like EW's book blog, Shelf Life. But for the most part, the book blogs I follow are written by one or two people and don't focus on a particular genre; it's just whatever they happen to have been reading.

One of my favorites for a while has been Shelf Love. Jenny and Teresa mostly read different books than I do, though occasionally one of them will post about a book I've read or plan to read. What I love is the way they write about books, and the surprise of seeing what they've read recently. They tend to read a lot of older books, some of them classics, though occasionally they'll write about something new. It's a really great mix. Recent books they've reviewed include Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann, The Bird in the Tree by Elizabeth Goudge, and The Redbreast by Jo Nesbo.

Farm Lane Books is a UK-based blog in which every review begins with "Five words from the blurb:" and ends with a starred rating. It's very organized! The reviews are short but still informative. A lot of new popular books are reviewed here, but still plenty of older or more obscure titles. This is where I heard about Kiss Me First. Other recent titles reviewed include Buriel Rites by Hannah Kent, Night Flight by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, and The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood.

Another of my favorites is Iris on Books. Iris is a young woman in the Netherlands who writes about a mix of contemporary books and classics, with a healthy dose of Dutch literature thrown in. She has recently written about My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier, Heaven and Hell by Jon Kalman Stefansson, and Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeannette Winterson.

Tiny Library is also written by a Brit (I'm only now realizing how few American book blogs I read.) Sam reads a pretty interesting mix of classic, contemporary, fantasy, young adult, even graphic novels. She also seems to participate in a lot of book challenges, which are fun to read about. Some of the books she's reviewed recently include The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon, Out of Africa by Karen Blixon/Isak Dinesen, and Blankets by Craig Thompson.

These blogs are my favorites because they're so informal and are just written by people who love books and want to share that love. They're not being paid, they're not doing any tricks to try and drum up traffic, and they're not at all self-serving. Their writing style are key - they're just simple and conversational.

What are your favorite book blogs and why? Please share in the comments!


Unknown said...

Thank you so much for the kind words! It means a lot to know that someone enjoys my posts as it often feels as though I am just talking to myself! I have been suffering from a lot of blogger apathy recently so your post is just what I need to keep going for a bit longer.

I share your thoughts on blogs. I prefer simple ones without lots of memes. I like all the ones you mention, but my favourite at the moment is http://kimbofo.typepad.com/readingmatters/ Mainly because we share a taste in books, but also because Kim is one of the few bloggers around prepared to air negative thoughts on a book and she reads a fantastic range of books.

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I've had a long, long day today and this post made me smile at the end of it :)
Thank you for the kind words.

3goodrats said...

Thank you both! I, too, sometimes feel like I'm talking to myself but apparently that doesn't stop me :) I hope you both keep blogging for a long long time!

Chelsea said...

Haven't commented before, but I really enjoy your blog. I've read a lot of good books because of your reviews and I look forward to checking out these blogs and adding to my ever-growing list of books to read. The internet is so vast that it's nice to have some guidance. Thank you!

3goodrats said...

Thanks, Chelsea - that's really nice to hear!