BBAW 2011: The reader in my blog

Thursday, September 15, 2011



It's day 4 of the week-long Book Blogger Appreciation Week and I'm missing it already! I spent some time over the past three days catching up on all the wonderful posts erupting in my Reader, and I'm nowhere there. I loved reading the posts - there were a ton of blog recommendations, all of which I managed to resist adding to my reader - not by choice though, only because I was reading mostly on my phone or iPad, and they aren't really the best devices on which to go jumping from page to page.

Today's topic about how blogging has influenced your reading was the one I was most looking forward to, mainly because I didn't know my answer yet - I was planning to write it out and see where I end up. I know for sure that what I read and the way I read has changed tremendously since the early days of blogging. And it's funny that I sit down to type up this post now, because just five minutes ago, I came across Goodreads new beta Recommendations feature that I had fun checking out. One of the first things I did, was compare the recommendations based on my Read-in-2009 shelf and my Read-so-far-in-2011 shelf, and I did come across one of the biggest changes in my reading.

Here's a portion of the 2009 recommendations:


And here's a portion of the 2011 recommendations:


I had forgotten how much light women fiction I used to read at one point. I even once bought a sack of such books that I just donated unread a few weeks ago. I can barely feel inclined to read them anymore. I still have three books to go into my supposed-to-be favorite Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Whenever I pass by such books in an airport bookstore, I automatically move on to the next shelf, without thinking.

From the middle of last year, I've been reading a lot of literary fiction. I used to read them long before blogging too, except I didn't really know that's what they were called. This year, I started reading more graphic books - fiction and memoirs. And this is one genre I would never have discovered if not for blogging. I had always associated graphic books = superhero comics, despite having read and loved Persepolis, pre-blogging. Last year, I saw a few bloggers do the Graphics Novel challenge, and in spite of having deep reservations, I decided to try it out this year, and who knew it was going to be another favorite category of mine?

With blogging, the way I read books has also changed. I used to read faster and quicker, pre-blogging. And right away move to the next book. I rarely gave much thought to what I read, and what any of that meant. Over the past two years, my reading has slowed down in quantity, but made up in quality. I've rated more books higher now than before. And moreover, after reading each book, I spent quite a bit of time reflecting on the journey of reading that particular book - how it compared to other past reads, how it measured up with other books by that author or in that genre, what other readers (bloggers and otherwise) thought about the book. In other words, my participation in the reading experience has been more proactive than ever. There are all aspects of the book that I get pulled into now.

The best change I can say however is that - until two years ago, if someone asked me for a recommendation, I can only choose from my measly read pile. Now though, I quite easily recommend books from across the genre, even books I haven't read or seen the cover of. It's a funny feeling standing in front of a shelf in B&N and looking at a book I just saw praised that day on someone's else blog. Or looking at another book that I'd never have found on my own unless some of my favorite bloggers had put it out there as The book to read. Book blogs have given me wonderful choices. They have also made it impossibly hard for me to get out of a B&N store empty-handed!

24 comments:

Helen Murdoch said...

My first reaction was "since when does Aths read all that lighter fiction?" then I realized that your reading must really have changed. I love that we all evolve as readers through this process of blogging. I read stuff now that I never would have considered before blogging, but since blogging friends recommend it, I go for it!

Lenasledgeblog.com said...

Great post. That's how I feel Aths, Before blogging I could only recommend books from a select genre, now I can recommend books from lots of genres and sub-genres. And it's all due to blogging.

bermudaonion (Kathy) said...

I've found that I remember what I read better these days.  I think writing about a book makes it stay in my mind better.

Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

I agree with Bermudaonion, I'm able to better remember the books I've read. My blog is also like a book journal and I can go back and see what I thought out a certain book. My reading habits have changed but I think it has been for the better. I'm more motivated.

Wendy said...

Wow, this post was a little deja vu  for me! I, too, used to read a lot of genre fiction before becoming a blogger (I still like a well written thriller or women's fiction book, but they don't make up the majority of my reading anymore). Like you, I gravitated toward literary fiction which used to intimidate me...but, blogging makes me have to think about what I am reading now...and that is a good thing! I also love being able to provide people with book recommendations (I am beginning to feel a little like a book seller or librarian these days!). The other day my husband and I were in Barnes and Noble and he was walking up the aisle with all the new releases saying "You have that one, didn't you read that one? Didn't you just get that one?" It was funny!

Athira / Aths said...

When I was first composing this post in my head, lighter fiction didn't even enter my mind. I was as surprised as you by the Goodreads recommendations. I totally loved seeing how we've changed. I especially love how I even pick up books that I would never have before.

Athira / Aths said...

Isn't that amazing? I love how much more aware I am of what happens in the book industry and what kind of books are making the buzz, even if I haven't read them.

zibilee said...

What a great post! I agree that blogging has totally changed my reading habits and now I find myself reading genres that I had previously never touched, like non-fiction, classics and memoirs. I also think I have the opposite kind of thing going on than you do, because I often finish one book and then pick p my next read without any break whatsoever in between. It's crazy how much reading has become a compulsion since I started my blog, but I love it still!

Gautami Tripathy said...

Reading is a part of life. Any kind of reading. Be it research papers or book blogs. But the ones who always keep us going are the dear book bloggers!

Here is my post:

http://readbookswritepoetry.blogspot.com/2011/09/bbaw-2011-readers.html

Erin said...

Ooh, I'm excited to check out this new Goodreads feature! I love your comparison between the two years' reading shelves. I'm curious to try the same thing and see what happens. I've seen several people mentioning graphic novels as a genre blogging introduced them to. I've still only read a few, but I'm kind of curious and love knowing that, should I decide to explore, I have an amazing resource for finding places to start. I think I like knowing that there are always infinite possibilities to explore with reading, and that there will always be someone (or many someones) in the blogging community to guide me, should I need help. I loved reading your thoughts on this topic!

Stephanie said...

There was a time in my life where I read mostly chick lit too.  Now I can't stomach it.  A lot of it is too similar!

ChewDigest said...

It is really shocking to see how much more well rounded we all become when we fall into the rabbit hole of book blogging. Years ago, I was all about Grisham, Kellerman, and Koontz; now I am all over the place.

Kailana said...

Yes, blogging makes recommending books a lot easier. Even if I haven't actually read the book yet, I have heard lots of good things about it...

Athira / Aths said...

You're right! I totally forgot that point. I love how I can go to my blog and recollect what I wrote about a book too!

Athira / Aths said...

I also love that I can go to my blog and recollect what I thought of a book. It's one of the best things about blogging.

Athira / Aths said...

That is so funny about what your husband said! I've felt the same way when I see books at a store - that I already have some of then at home and feel thrilled to see them featured! And yes, I feel like a librarian/book seller. The other day I bought three books for my friends, none of which I have read, but since I knew their reading tastes, I was confident that they will enjoy the books, all just based on other bloggers' reviews.

Athira / Aths said...

I have also been reading genres that I never would have previously. And I love love absolutely love talking about them after reading.

Samantha 1020 said...

I love finding books at the book store and library that I've heard about from book blogs.  Helps me to know exactly what I want to read especially when I'm not sure what kind of reading mood I'll be in.  This has been such a fun post to read others' thoughts on!

Anastasia said...

I think I'm two or three books behind in the Shopaholic series, too. I just haven't felt like reading much women's fiction lately, though whenever I do I nearly always enjoy myself.

Athira / Aths said...

Thanks! I love having more reading choices too! Especially of books I just heard of from a blog!

Athira / Aths said...

It's the same thing with mw.

Athira / Aths said...

It's the same thing with me. I know I would enjoy women fiction when I read one, I just don't feel too inclined to pick one right away.

Amy Reads said...

Interesting that you read slower now, makes sense though. I find I read about the same speed, I think, but just so much more! Also, what I've been reading has changed drastically!

Giving Reading said...

So right!! I also cannot believe that I have not read so many books and really read so many chick-lits :( I am really glad for all the recommendations :)