BBAW Day 3: The Joy (and Anxiety) of Influence

Day OneIntroduce yourselfFor Day 3 of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, participants are asked to talk about what we’ve read and loved because of book bloggers. Without bloggers I probably would have stayed stuck in my little literary fiction corner, never realizing that labels are more about marketing than anything. Since I started blogging, I’ve read so many terrific mysteries, thrillers, and YA novels that I never would have picked up otherwise. Here are only a few of the bloggers who have directed me to some of the best books I’ve ever read (and might never have read without their recommendations).

I can always trust Teresa (at Shelf Love) and Jenny (at Reading the End), who have influenced my reading greatly and in the last few years convinced me to read both Hanya Yanagihara’s The People in the Trees (Teresa, Jenny) and Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Jenny), for which I will be forever grateful. I think I could have convinced myself to skip both of those books for something easier on the heart and the head, but they were just too convincing.  Whenever one of them raves about a book, it goes on the wishlist, no questions asked, even if I don’t read it right away.

Another book blogger I always trust (and who is one of the kindest people I have met online) is Ana (Nymeth) at Things Mean a Lot. If it weren’t for her wonderful reviews and sincere enthusiasm when she loves a book, I would never have read such terrific books as (links to her original reviews) The Knife of Never Letting Go or The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks (because they were YA, one of those genres I didn’t “do” before bloggers like Ana convinced me that good writing is good writing, marketing and pigeonholing be damned). I’m also sure she’s responsible for getting me to read Sarah Waters and A.S. Byatt, who became fast favorites.

And although she’s not participating in BBAW and blogs less frequently than in years past, another book blogger who influenced my reading greatly is Jackie at Farm Lane Books Blog. Because of her reviews, I’ve read so many amazing books (all links go to her original reviews): Skippy Dies, A Fine Balance, The Devotion of Suspect X, The People Who Eat Darkness, Stone’s Fall, and Lamb—among many others.

Of course, the difficult part is when bloggers you trust disagree. While Teresa and Jenny both hated A Little Life, Jackie rated it her favorite book of 2015. I have it on hold at the library. Things could go either way!

The other difficult thing about blogging is recommending books to people who have done such a wonderful job at recommending them to us. As book bloggers, we want to give back as good as we get, to share everything that excites us about reading. It can be difficult to have reviews fall on deaf ears, or to realize that others might even think we’re nuts for loving a specific book. I guess it’s all part and parcel though, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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15 comments

  1. Thank you so much for the kind words! I’ve been blogging less frequently recently, but posts like this remind me of the important connections I’ve made through blogging.

    I don’t think I’d have discovered Hanya Yanagihara without following book bloggers either. She is one of the best authors I’ve found in recent years and I hope you fall on my side of the fence when you read ‘A Little Life’! The great thing about blogging is that it enables me to understand why others, including Teresa and Jenny, hate the book and gives me an even greater reading experience.

    Hopefully I’ll be able to join in BBAW next year. I remember it fondly and will investigate a few of this year’s posts.

  2. Jackie, it’s me who owes you all the thanks! When I was going through your reviews last night, I realized how many books I selected because of your reviews–many more than I listed! I’m glad you’re still posting, even if it isn’t as frequent as you might wish right now. I look forward to seeing what you recommend in 2016.

  3. I remain so, so glad that you liked People in the Trees and We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. Those books were among my most favorite books of that reading year, and when I’ve reread them, they’ve remained tremendously great.

    Can’t wait to see what you think of A Little Life!

  4. Yes, sometimes you’re pretty sure that everyone will love a book as much as you do and then…not so much. That’s the fun part though – you’ll probably bond over something. And I’ve been one of those who just couldn’t get past the first little bit of A LITTLE LIFE. Maybe not the right time or maybe never. We shall see.

  5. Jenny, I know there are other books you’ve recommended that I’ve read and enjoyed, but those two in particular stick out for me. I am not sure I could get through a re-read of The People in the Trees, though…oof. So well written, but I hate that guy!

  6. Kay, you seem to be in good company. I know Andi also abandoned it. Well, we’ll see! It’s funny, we never really know what’s going to hit us right at a particular time.

  7. It’s hard too when you don’t especially like a book someone recommended to you.

    Life After Life is one I went back and forth on before it went on my wish list for the same reason. Some bloggers I know loved it and others didn’t. I imagine I will give it a try someday. I like it when that happens more often than not. It helps me keep my expectations in check.

  8. Literary Feline, it can be, especially if you’re really excited or it’s a favorite. It also depends on how the person reacts, too. I never really mind if people don’t like the books I recommend, as long as they are polite about it.

    I’ve started calling the “now we love it, now we hate it” thing the hype wheel. So many popular books go through it. But I completely agree, it helps keep expectations in check and it keeps me from running out to buy every shiny new book! I’ll be interested to hear what you think of Life After Life when you get to it.

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