Top Ten Tuesday: Blogging/Bookish Confessions

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is all about confessions of a blogging or bookish nature. Why hold back? Let’s get started.

  1. I will read initial review(s) (or even part of one) for books that look interesting, but after I add a book to my wishlist, I stop reading reviews until I’ve read the book. I don’t want any spoilers, nor do I want to be thinking about how so-and-so mentioned the one thing that bothered her in chapter ten. I like to have as clean a slate as possible. For authors I know I love, I don’t read any reviews at all.
  2. People who spam blog links make me crazy. I used to participate in Booking Through Thursdays (BTT), but I got so tired of “OMG!!! Great list!! Here’s my link!” comments that I quit participating. For a while I included a warning on every BTT post that I wrote, but the spammers persisted and I grew weary. (Luckily I haven’t really had this experience with Top Ten Tuesdays.) When weekly feature hosts (such as The Broke and the Bookish) have included a linkshare, you should not also spam all the other participants’ comments sections with your link, particularly when the rest of your response is completely generic and generally thoughtless.
  3. I’m always baffled by commenters who respond to a book review or list of books with the comment, “I have never heard of this book/these books.” What a strange thing to say. Then why are you reading book blogs? To have your own opinions confirmed? To read reviews of only books you have heard of over and over again? I read book blogs to find books I might have missed and to learn about something new. I realize not everyone shares this goal, but still, that comment irks me. It sounds so narrow-minded.
  4. I am frankly sluggish (and sometimes downright resentful) about writing book reviews, even when I absolutely love the book (or, actually, because I love the book). I have a whole folder of incomplete reviews that go back over the years. Generally I have too much to say, and I cannot get it all on the page in any way that pleases me or I worry about boring everyone to death.
  5. I’m terrible at finishing series. In fact, since I started book blogging I haven’t even gotten to a second book in a trilogy. I suppose some exceptions would be Laura Lippman’s Tess Monaghan series (I’ve read the first three) and all of Tana French’s books (although they are really standalone books that contain one or a few of a same cast of characters).
  6. No matter how many books I read, I never feel that I am well-read. I don’t read diversely enough in terms of race or nationality. I don’t read enough translations. I don’t read enough non-fiction. I read too much literary fiction and not enough classics. I never have time to re-read the books I love. I haven’t revisited Shakespeare.
  7. Following on the “I never feel that I am well-read” thread, I willingly admit that I have no interest in reading some books that others deem essential to being well-read: in particular, James Joyce’s Ulysses and Marcel Proust’s A Remembrance of Things Past.
  8. I do not believe that schools are responsible, as has recently been suggested, for killing students’ interest in reading. Quite frequently, parents kill childrens’ interest in reading long before they get to school. It’s not so different than adults who refuse to try new foods/eat vegetables themselves but remain baffled as to why they cannot get their kids to do so. Also, when it comes to school curricula in literature, I fully agree with Flannery O’Connor: “The high-school English teacher will be fulfilling his responsibility if he furnished the student a guided opportunity, through the best writing of the past, to come, in time, to an understanding of the best writing of the present…And if the student finds that this is not to his taste? Well, that is regrettable. Most regrettable. His taste should not be consulted; it is being formed.”
  9. I don’t care what genres people want to read, but I find the fact that so many people are willing to read crappily written books (“as long as the story is good!”) completely irritating. I will never understand why books such as Twilight or 50 Shades of Grey become best sellers while much better books die on the vine. I think a lost of this has to do with the problem in #8 above. Schools have started to try to entertain students through literature, instead of helping them to understand that learning to analyze “difficult” books can be a reward unto itself. If that makes me out of step with popular culture, then I’ll just march on by myself.
  10. I hate key lime pie. (Neither bloggish nor bookish but this felt like the right time and place to admit it.)
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17 comments

  1. I might have to partially disagree with you about schools killing reading. My boys go to a school where everything seems to be focused on learning to read as quickly as possible. There is no focus on enjoying books, it is all about climbing the reading ladder as quickly as possible. The books they give them are boring and are not individually chosen for the personality of the child. I have tried to ignore the school books and find books that my boys will love. I’m lucky to know a lot about books (or who to ask when I don’t!) but the majority of parents assume the school should be good at providing books for children. The sad fact is that they are only concerned with exam success. I agree that parents don’t help (and I like your food analogy) but as with everything I think it is a bit of both and it would be nice if the school could focus on getting children to enjoy reading.

  2. Jackie, what you say is true. I tend to forget about all this “teach to the test” nonsense schools have going on now, where the idea is to worry more about scores than about critical thinking skills. I admit that (like O’Connor in the context of the essay), I was also thinking more about older students. There are no easy answers. I do worry about the recent trend in the last twenty years or so in the States for parents to create en expectation in their children that EVERYTHING must be easy, entertaining, or to their liking.

  3. I love your list! Haha, I’ve seen those generic comments (so purposeless!). Great quote from Flannery O’Connor. Biggest takeaway from this TTT so far: book bloggers don’t like writing book reviews! Who knew? Oh, and we can agree that Key Lime Pie makes a person’s teeth hurt. Too sweet, and too limey!

  4. But seriously, folks. It’s interesting that you don’t feel well-read — I got over some hump a while ago where I stopped feeling like I wasn’t well-read and started feeling like I was. Nothing actually changed about my reading; I just started feeling differently about it. (And I haven’t read Proust or Joyce and I probably never shall and I don’t care.)

  5. I was just thinking about the difference between reading a lot and being well-read the other day. I read a lot, more than most people I know IRL, but I don’t feel well-read for the same reasons you listed. Still, I’ve discovered that I don’t love most of the classics, so I’m not going to force myself to read them. Life’s too short, you know?

    Interesting list!

  6. But…but…how can you hate Key Lime pie? Have you had it covered in chocolate and shoved on a stick? Cause that, right there, is magic 🙂

    Anyway, so with you there on number 9. I know that everyone has different tastes, but I feel like badly written books should be fairly universally recognized, especially by people in the book blogging world who read a lot. But I keep hearing rapturous raves about certain books, and then I pick them up and think ‘was this written by a five year old’? I’m not against, for example, YA literature, there are some fantastic YA books, but I worry that the craft of writing is going out the window because everyone, adults included, wants to always be reading the “easier” reads.

  7. I love your confessions! The one that sticks out most is, ““I have never heard of this book/these books.” I have said this myself a few times but it’s more in the vein of “I can’t believe I haven’t heard of this book because I spend 70% of my free time reading blogs! How did I miss it?” I just assume that comes through in the comment, but since we’re not mind readers, it probably does not. Ack!

  8. You caught me! I’m pretty guilty for signing off on comments with a link (and just for you, as per usual, is the link).

    Your comments on the schools versus parents on killing the enjoyment of reading is interesting. If anything, while schools are basically forcing kids to read, the rudimentary fact is that they’re making the effort to put forth the idea and consideration that “hey, this is what books are all about.” Whether or not there’s any continuation is ultimately up to the kid themselves and not so much either party. Parent’s “can” take the same avenues at any time but to fault schools on killing the enjoyment is pretty baffling. It’s not so much about teaching you to enjoy reading any more than the idea of how to engage a book; it’s plot, characters, what have you, and taking these concepts and applying them elsewhere. Or maybe I’m completely wrong on all of this! But this is just what I gathered from personal experience. It’s all acquired interests in the end– you do (or read) what you like and no one should really fault you for it even if you don’t do it at all.

    And as promised–

    Cheers,
    joey via. thoughts and afterthoughts

  9. I occasionally comment to the effect that I haven’t heard of the books on list, but I also try to add something a little more insightful to the comment after that. Basically, I want to let the blogger know that I did stop by and read their post…but I can’t say anything really interesting if I have no idea what they’re talking about! That said, I sometimes find these comments annoying as well. I’m so contradictory. 😉

  10. Lisa, it is too sweet for me. I don’t mind the limey part so much. On the reviews, I do like writing them, but I admit that sometimes I realize I am just rambling. It’s tough because people who haven’t read a book won’t appreciate that much…

  11. Jenny, ha! On the well-read thing, I suppose what I meant was, I know that between 2.5 degrees in English Lit and the blog and my general reading habits, I am by any normal standard “well-read.” However, I realize how much more I WANT to read, and that some things I’ll probably never get to just because time. And I feel no guilt about ruling things out.

  12. Susan, life is too short. I have also ruled out a number of books already in the interest of time and the ability to explore other books. for example, I’ve always wanted to read more history, but do I read that or fill in something else? Until I win the lottery and can read full time, I have to prioritize!

  13. Heather, my teeth hurt just thinking about chocolate-covered key lime pie. And also: how can you do that to chocolate?

    I am truly shocked at the number of book blogs that seem dedicated to reviewing and endorsing poorly written books. I will never buy the “as long as the story is good” argument, because I’ve also found that poorly written books are also full of tired old cliches and nonsense. Plenty of books offer escape without sacrificing grammar.

  14. Andi, I probably should have made my point more clearly on that one. I also admit when I haven’t heard of a book (and I haven’t heard of plenty of them), but generally my comment is along the lines of “that sounds so interesting!” The comments to which I’m referring feel more like…an accusation? As in, “Why are you wasting time talking about all these books I never heard of?”

  15. Joey, thanks for the link! I don’t mind when people share links per se, just when the comment is so obviously generic. When I follow those links, what I find at the other end is typically a blog I would not read (and conversely, I realize that person would probably not read mine either).

    I think it’s funny that nobody ever says, “Schools are forcing kids to learn numbers and do math,” but when it comes to literature kids are being “forced” to read. You are right that the idea behind studying literature has much more to do with critical thinking and understanding the elements, and that should not be avoided. If people don’t want to continue reading literature outside of school, that is their business.

  16. Briana, I certainly have not heard of everything, but I agree with you that I think the key is noting that something sounds interesting or that you plan to look into something. And it is nice to know that someone dropped by to visit, but at some point, why leave a comment? I visit a lot of blogs where I don’t leave a comment because I truly have nothing to say, and I don’t want to seem like I am just trying to drive traffic (and no, I am not saying you are doing that!).

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