Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011

Today’s Q: Readers — Book bloggers blog because we love reading.  Has book blogging changed the way you read?  Have you discovered books you never would have apart from book blogging?  How has book blogging affected your book acquisition habits?

Yes, book blogging has changed the way I read, not in a drastically new way, but it’s opened me up to authors I wouldn’t have heard of and subjects I wouldn’t have thought of before.  While non-fiction is not a big part of my reading, I read about one non-fiction book per month, new topics have made their way onto my list which I would never have thought of previously such as polar exploration.  I never knew I had an interest in the topic until reading about it on a few blogs — the books were completely different, one explorer based and another environmental.  Now, I should explain that I haven’t read these books yet (they got put behind my shark reading for the year; I heart sharks) but I plan to and have even came across a few at the library I will eventually pick up.

Book acquisition habits…I’m not sure I want to broach this topic. 🙂 Before I started blogging, I bought books on a monthly basis and each trip to the store would yield several purchases.  I’ll admit it’s an expensive habit.  I didn’t walk out with just a few books; I walked out with 10+, about my monthly reading. When I started reviewing books for an online group, I started receiving all these wonderful ARCs in the mail and it took time to find a place for all the books.  When there was no more space to be had, I went to the library.  Now that I’m blogging, a lot, and I mean *a lot*, of books are coming to the house which means pruning has to happen which pre-blogging days was pretty much non-existent.  I would keep everything even if I didn’t like it.  I would, and still do, loan books to friends and family but now I have a non-return policy.  If they like it, they get to keep it and give it a good home.  It’s worked so far but I hope I never see the day when one of my regular book traders tells me they have no more room!  I guess I’d need more friends then.

While my reading is diverse, it’s become even more so and that’s for the better.  Back in the day, I could and would read books in the same genre for weeks or months only breaking out of it when interests started to wane.  Now when I finish a book I look forward to glancing through the list or the neat, little pile (little is a bad description here) I keep of books that have come to the house or ones that I’m interested in starting.  Before I would pick up whatever was on the shelf but now there’s anticipation and wonder at the next book.  That wonder is thanks to the many book bloggers that have added books to my list, put thoughts in my head about new and old books, and taken the time to talk about them so a person like me can find out what I’ve missed at the bookstore and library, and sometimes on my own shelf.

It’s been a strange week for me blog-wise.  Maybe I should say it’s been a bad blog week for me since I’ve been sick this week with the final dregs of what I thought was a cold that has somehow morphed into killer allergies and I haven’t had the chance, or mental faculties, to participate in BBAW.  I found it ironic the theme for this year was community, and I’ve not had a chance participate in anything at all.  These things happen.  Thankfully, I’ll be able to go back and read the posts at a later time.  My Google reader looks intimidating right now but not in a bad way, in that, “I bet there are some really cool things in there,” way.

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BBAW Friday—Future Treasures

The final BBAW question is about future treasures.

We’ve been visiting each other and getting to know each other better…now is your chance to share what you enjoyed about BBAW and also what your blogging goals are for the next year!

This is so unoriginal, but I enjoyed visiting a lot of new to me blogs.  I loved reading the interviews (forgot to signup for one this year) and seeing how everyone landed in the book blogging pool.

As for goals, well, I really don’t know.  I started my blog to share my thoughts on books (my husband, patient though he is with me, couldn’t stand listening to me talk about what I was reading anymore J) and haven’t strayed too far from my original premise.  I don’t accept many ARCs, just a few here and there, and read only books that I find interesting.  The list of TBR books I keep has grown exponentially in the last year but I consider that a good thing.

I have been thinking lately of changing the look of my blog though and I know I need to update some links and pages I have been neglecting.  Sorry challenges page. Other than that, I don’t have huge plans.  I didn’t start my blog with any intentions of making it into something else or to find any work with it.  I do book reviews for another site (The Book Reporter) and was doing that several months before I began my blog. I was enjoying it immensely and thought if I can do reviews for another group, I can do them for myself too and that’s sort of how it got started.  I never did, and still don’t, have any big plans other than to make it a place where I share my thoughts on what I’m reading and some odd occasional things about life that interrupt my reading time.

This week has been great fun.  I’ve found some wonderful new blogs to follow, added more books to my TBR, and learned a few things as well.  It’s been a good BBAW 2010 and I’m glad I got the chance to participate this year.

BBAW Thursday—Forgotten Treasure

Today’s BBAW question is about forgotten treasures.

Sure we’ve all read about Freedom and Mockingjay but we likely have a book we wish would get more attention by book bloggers, whether it’s a forgotten classic or under marketed contemporary fiction.  This is your chance to tell the community why they should consider reading this book!

Wait, you want me to pick just one book?  Hmm… All right, here goes, one book that I think everyone should consider reading is…

I feel that I should go with a classic but I also feel it should be something readers will be familiar with.  My favorite book is Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen and I feel like that would be a safe pick but should this be a risky pick, like say, The Road by Cormac McCarthy?  He can turn off just as many readers as he excites and The Road is not exactly friendly in terms of subject matter but his writing is amazing.

Maybe I’m over thinking this one too much and this post in turning into some odd stream of conscience thing that I don’t know what to do with.  So, thinking about a book that I read and loved, not just enjoyed, but loved and re-read whole sections of as I was going along was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I think that is a book everyone should consider reading.

BBAW Wednesday—Unexpected Treasure

We invite you to share with us a book or genre you tried due to the influence of another blogger.  What made you cave in to try something new and what was the experience like?

I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but this year, thanks to a few books I’ve seen around, I have been.  For me, reading is more of an escape and a form of relaxation and that’s the reason I don’t pick up much non-fiction in general.  This year though I’ve been finding myself reading more than just my regular fiction and that’s due to some book bloggers who gushed over books that I may not have ever thought to even look at.

Some of the non-fiction that I read this year:

The Whale: In Search of Giants of the Sea by Philip Hoare

The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown

The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America by Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith

Life in Medieval France by E.R. Chamberlin

I’m also planning to read a book about the Anglo-Saxons too.  I saw a show on the National Geographic Channel about this man in England who found a Saxon hoard with a metal detector and now I’m fascinated by Saxon gold, the lifestyle, and history.  Right now I’m reading Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach which is both fascinating and gross.  Yep, geek is showing but I’m OK with that today.

I read a lot of historical fiction and I usually end up googling people and places after I finish, especially if it’s a book I enjoyed.  I think I read more non-fiction than I think I do in that manner but when I step into a bookstore, the first place I don’t end up is in the non-fiction section, unless it’s cookbooks and I don’t count those.  I hope to add a lot more non-fiction to my reading list next year, thanks to the help of a few bloggers.

BBAW Monday – First Treasure

As today is the first day of BBAW, I thought I’d take a minute to participate in the first topic:

First Treasure — We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year!  If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered.  Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.

I started Just Book Reading a few weeks before BBAW last year, but thanks to that lovely week, I managed to find several new blogs to read and some great resources to help me out.  I have a few favorites that I started reading before I decided to start my own blog and those are the few I’m going to highlight here.

I found Devourer of Books one day when I was cruising around looking for some reviews, and when I was done reading, had a massive number of books to add to my list.  Jen does a great job of writing incredibly concise reviews and I always know at the end of the review if the book is for me or not.

I love historical fiction and the Medieval Bookworm was a natural fit for me. Meghan’s writing is wonderful and she captures the essence of the book so well.  Even if it’s a book that isn’t for me, I still enjoy reading her reviews.

At Home With Books features books that I like to read and I think that’s the reason I love reading Alyce’s reviews.  Each time I stop by I always find something to add to my list.

Marg at The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader is always reading something interesting and I have to say that I love the little snippets about Australian life that she infused her blog with.

Over the last year, I’ve added a lot of blogs to my regular must read list including: The Literary Omnivore, The Crowded Leaf, Jenny’s Books, alita.reads, A Striped Armchair, Puss Reboots, and…I am going to stop there or I will go on listing everything I read and boring you all.

I thought I would wrap up by sharing a funny thing about the name of my blog.  When I decided to stake my blog claim I picked the name — Just a Book Reader — which I was very happy with.  It left me a bit of anonymity and I felt it described me pretty well.  After all, I was just a book reader…well, one with lots of opinions but one just the same.  A day later, and a Google search later, it turns out that there was another blog out there with that name.  It was defunct but I still felt weird about it so I shortened the name to Just Book Reading because it was close to the original name and easy enough to change without jumping through too many hoops.  And, thus, that is how I became Just Book Reading.  What I learned was to get my Google fu on before setting my heart on a name without a more thorough search.  Will not happen again.  So there you have it, true confessions.

Happy BBAW!

Meh, it’s Monday, BUT Book Blogger Appreciation Week Begins!

I meant to get up early yesterday and write a Sunday Salon about my meh week of reading but decided to do laundry instead (there were many reason that laundry become the overriding thing to do yesterday) and then sat down and read all day instead of writing.  There was also some beer drinking and football watching later in the evening, which brings me to Monday…

Let’s start with what I read last week:

Esperanza by Trish J. MacGregor

The Mosaic of Shadows by Tom Haper

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

And why it was meh:

I had very high hopes for Esperanza.  It’s set in Ecuador, features ghosts, and looked like an all around great read.  It wasn’t bad but didn’t thrill me the way I expected it to.  I loved the mythology behind the ghosts (in the book they’re referred to as brujos which is a reference to South American witchcraft) and it worked so well in the story.  Thick backs of fog to hide the ghosts, mythical cities, and a country full of folklore were part of the allure.  The problem was really one of execution I guess.  While I was interested the whole time, there were a few places that made me stop and wonder if I had missed something because the story went off in strange ways.  For instance, at some point the story time travels and I have nothing against time travel, it just felt like a wha??? moment.  I was willing with the ghosts that want to possess people but not so willing with the time travel.  Why couldn’t we just stick with the ghosts?

The Mosaic of Shadows had a perfect setting, Byzantium, a mystery which I was willing to accept under the guise of historical fiction, and some interesting characters.  It states very clearly on the cover that it’s a Byzantium mystery but it wasn’t much of a mystery for me but that didn’t disappoint at all since I’m not a mystery person anyway, but somewhere along the way, it fell flat.  I finished but even though the ending was exciting, I couldn’t really get into it.  Not sure why.  This book is the first in a series but I don’t know if I’m going to keep up with it although I may re-think that in the future because the following books look really good.

Dracula in Love has been sitting on my TBR pile for a long time.  I read a few reviews early on and wasn’t so sure it was for me.  I gave in on Sunday and decided that it would be the day for reading it.  I still feel that it may not have been the book for me after finishing it and I like vampire stories and have a very deep affection for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  This book followed the same epistolary style but was told from Mina’s point of view.  Several of the reviews I read noted the amount of sex; some found it too much, others didn’t seem to think anything of it.  Don’t forget it takes place in Victorian England so sex, while deeply thought about wasn’t much talked about.  It didn’t bother me in the least but the silly references about it were annoying. Also, while most of the same characters appear (Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Jonathan Harker, Dr.Van Helsing, etc.) they have been changed slightly and have become so maddening that I wanted to slap a few — Seward in particular who seemed to diagnose each and every woman he met with some sex related disease of the mind.  Anyway, the last 100 pages were good but I had to go through 267 pages to get there.  And there was one thing that bothered me immensely and if you want to know what it was you can highlight this text (Fairy vampires?  Really?  Why?  Me throwing hands in air…) but I won’t ruin it for everyone by saying it out loud.

So there you have it, my week of meh.  I’m moving on to some non-fiction as a brain cleanser and then I plan to pick up an author I know I like and see what happens.  I started Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach and I’m loving it.  Her writing is spectacular.  After that, Bernard Cornwell and some Saxons will be up next.

And, very important to note — Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) starts today.  I have to admit that I’m already behind, which seems to be my life these days.  This week will be filled with a new question each day, and I’m going to try and participate as much as I can with work and life intrusions happening as they do.  I started my blog last year shortly after BBAW and didn’t get to participate but I remember being so impressed with the sense of community that it created that it gave me the inspiration to start Just Book Reading.  So I guess I owe something to BBAW after all.  🙂

I’m behind on visiting other blogs as well and hope to do a little reading and commenting this week too, which being BBAW, seems to very appropriate.