Wow. I can’t believe a whole year has passed. Looking back, this year has been an incredible journey, unlike anything I ever could have imagined. I started without a plan or a real clue what I was doing. I just knew that I loved books, and I had a lot to say. Little did I know I’d be embarking on a journey of self-discovery. No, I am not exaggerating. This blog has changed me an been a real shining spot in 2016. And we all know how important that is! (P.S. That link is soooo NSFW.)
The Origin Story
In 2012, I started to get back into reading again. I had been an avid reader as a child, constantly hiding under my covers with a flashlight and reading into the wee hours of the morning. I got addicted to series in particular and would read them completely through. All of Boxcar Children were read. I read every book published in the Star Wars Legends universe (at least, all those published before 2000) to the point where my English Teacher told me she was glad I was such an avid reader, but it would nice if I could expand my interests. She introduced me to Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels and my reading completely changed. Suddenly, I realized how immersive a world composed of words could truly be (after all, The Killer Angels is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel) and my life is changed forever.
Yet, in college, I lost my reading momentum.
As a percussion performance student, I spent all my free time practicing. I quickly replaced my reading time with percussion time. I went seven years barely reading more than 5 books a year. The switch was seamless, and I barely noticed. Eventually, I left a full-time music career and got into an office job. I really love my work, and I still play. But now I have more time for the things I’m passionate about in my free time. Like reading.
Death by Tsundoku
In 2011, I started to read regularly again. In 2012, a few of my friends and I got together to start a book club. I found that I enjoyed reading even more when I was able to discuss with my friends. I started to read more. Goodreads became my preferred source of social media. I joined more book clubs. Eventually, I even started a few of my own!
By the time 2015 rolled around, I was reading over a hundred books a year and writing questions regularly for my book clubs. Yet, it wasn’t enough. I had so many thoughts in my head I had to get them out! I was acquiring books more quickly than I could read them. My friends had joked that I was certainly being crushed by all the piles of books around me. We found the perfect word. From the Japanese — Tsundoku: the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piled up together with such other unread books on shelves, floors, or nightstands.
Thus the idea was born! With the help of some techy-er people than myself (<3 you Ash and DarthGoat) I goy my first blog set up. Now, I was new to the book blogging community at this time. When I started, I had planned on making this more of a personal outlet. I didn’t know anyone outside of Goodreads, and there only in passing. This was supposed to be a small thing, and, well, like all great things it grew to be much more than that.
Over the last year, I’ve learned a lot:
Be yourself. Your blog should never become a chore. You should never feel stressed from your blog. If this isn’t how you make your living, keep your expectations appropriate. If you expect too much of yourself this will cause you stress and frustration. Then it stops being fun. Need a break? Take a break. This should be a passion, not a frustration.
Write what you love. Your book reviews should always be in your own voice. Don’t feel like you need to be “smarter” or “more sophisticated” or whatever. We want to know you and your opinions. Do you want to only write reviews? Do it. Want to be involved in memes and tags? Fine. Read-a-thons? Reading challenges? You do you. As long as you write your own voice, you will be happy and find an audience.
The book blogging community is welcoming! Reaching out and making connections with other book bloggers has been the best part of this journey. I’ve found so many like-minded and different-minded friends! It’s great sharing book recommendations, opinions, and even memories.
You get what you give. I didn’t start reaching out to other book bloggers until I hit about the 9-month mark of blogging. I was worried about being welcomed, and I wasn’t certain how to start. Once I took the plunge I found it was easy. Some friends are connections I know will stick around forever, but I also know that I need to give them love to get love. And that’s okay! Book blogger relationships are like all others: People want love and attention. If you share it with them, they will share it back with you.
Habits matter. It’s been critical that I develop habits around blogging. When I read, write reviews, schedule posts… And I haven’t been particularly good about it, honestly. But I’m learning and getting there. Some of my favorite bloggers have the best habits.
Find role models. I have made so many friends in the last few months who have really inspired me in many ways. Amanda at Cover 2 Cover Mom. Naz at Read Diverse Books. Brendon at Reading and Gaming for Justice. Ottavia at Novels and Nonfiction. Danielle at Books, Vertigo, and Tea. There are so many more to list– If I have commented on your blog in the last month, you belong here. Most recently, Evelina at Avalinah’s Books has really gotten me into reading challenges again. Just the kick in the butt I need! Keep your friends close. You never know what they will teach you!
Hopes for Year Two
I have really enjoyed my first year of blogging, and I obviously have my own blogging resolutions:
Expand upon my Between the Lines series. These posts are an aspiration I have to write more about genre, writing trends, and the labels associated with books and writing. I want to deepen my own understanding.
Read less. Review more. I find that over the last two months I have really read a ton, but only written a few reviews. I’m soooo far behind on writing reviews! Not only this, but I’m putting too much pressure on myself to read. I need to let go a bit more.
Develop a bigger book blogger community. Yes, blog hopping takes time. But the discussions I have about books are far more valuable to me than the reviews themselves. I want to develop a stronger sense of community.
Create a book discussion question database. I love book clubs. I’ve started writing book club discussion questions for others to use. However, I feel like this could be easily done for all the books I’ve read. I won’t aim to do it for all, but I want to make it easier for others to start book clubs and make them successful.
Finally— thank you. Thank you, reader, for being here. For listening to me. For being a part of my journey. I hope that we continue to grow together. Leave a comment below, and I know our relationship will deepen. After all, that’s my goal for next year. Let’s do this together.
What Do You Think?
- What do you think of Death by Tsundoku? Any loves? Dislikes? Thoughts for improvement?
- Do you have any additional lessons learned from your blogging experience to share?
- What are your hopes for reading in 2017?