Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Blog Birthday: The First Four Years


I made my first blog post exactly four years ago today. Here are a few paragraphs from that first post that explained my motivation and outlined my intentions:

I started a book journal in January of this year. I was inspired by the "Best Books of 2004" lists that several people posted on listservs to which I subscribe. I would have liked to have been able to contribute my own best reads of 2004 but I could barely remember what I'd read the week before, let alone a whole year's worth of books. I resolved not to find myself in the same position at the end of 2005. I also thought that keeping a book journal might compel me to slow down, to linger a bit over each book rather than blazing through at lightning speed. It doesn't seem fair to the authors who have sweated over each sentence not to pause now and again to appreciate the craft of their work.

Alas, my book journal didn't slow me down or render me a more contemplative reader. It's just a list of titles, authors and dates with the odd asterisk or three-word commentary to indicate which books I particularly liked and why. To begin with, this format may even have had me reading faster just to get the sense of accomplishment that came from adding another book to the list. It also had the unforeseen effect of making me feel like I had to finish every book I started, a mindset from which I thought I'd liberated myself long ago. Apparently I can still be motivated by a few more construction paper discs to add to my bookworm.

Hence this book blog. I intend for it to be both narrower and deeper than my book journal. I won't list every book I read here but I'll ruminate a bit on the ones that make me think. I'll write about good books and not-so-good books (for me, what doesn't work in an unsuccessful book can be as thought-provoking as what does work in a successful one), about books I couldn’t put down, and books I couldn't bring myself to finish. I will also occasionally post excerpts from old diaries about books that I found particularly intriguing or inspiring at other points in my life.

I have pretty much followed that template for the last four years, and the practice of blogging has had the intended effect of slowing me down and making me a more thoughtful reader. That much I anticipated.

What I didn't anticipate was the entry point that blogging would offer into a glorious community of readers. The only book blogs that I was familiar with then were a couple of personal blogs maintained by friends. I thought that those friends might read my posts, along with a handful of other friends and family members with whom I was already in the habit of exchanging book recommendations. I was thinking small and mostly doing it for myself. In short order, however, a few strangers dropped by, and I followed the links back to their blogs, then began working my way through their blog rolls. I was very excited and, frankly, awed by the wealth of book blogs that I found once I started looking. What joy to encounter legions of keen readers from all over the world and to be privy to their interesting, entertaining, and insightful commentary about an eclectic range of books without so much as leaving my office. And, of course, that wealth of book blogs has increased at an exponential rate in the intervening years.

The best books make me think, and so too do the many fine book blogs that I read. I regularly find myself prompted by blog posts to seek out books that I hadn't previously heard of, or that I hadn't thought I'd be interested in, to reconsider my assessments of books and writers, whether recent reads or old favourites, and generally to think more deeply about my reading and writing practices. I've had the good fortune to meet some of my favourite bloggers in person. And I've come to think of a number of fellow bloggers as friends.

My blogging has ebbed and flowed over the first four years, and I have no doubt that it will continue to do so in accordance with what I'm reading and how I'm responding it, with the degree to which I'm immersed in my writing, and with whatever else is going on in my life. But I can't imagine giving up blogging altogether. Because the discipline of writing about what I read is rewarding in and of itself. But most of all because I relish being a participant in this vibrant world. I want to thank those who stop by to read what I write here, and those who comment on my posts. And I want to express my deep gratitude to those who generously share their reading experiences on their own blogs and in comments on other blogs, and who have thereby enriched my reading life immensely.

22 comments:

J.C. Montgomery said...

Happy Blogiversary!

Four years is a long time to be part of something that is ever changing and brings us to people and communities we might not have had contact with otherwise.

I am so happy to hear you will be continuing on. I look forward to stopping by as much as I can.

Nice to have you around Kate. And may you enjoy many more years in the blogiverse.

Suko said...

Congratulations, Kate! Your blog is definitely one of the best book blogs out there, and it's interesting to hear about your purposes and pleasures.

Nymeth said...

Happy Blogiversary, and here's to many more years! Thank *you* for sharing your reading life with us.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Those four years passed quickly! Congratulations and best wishes for the next four.

litlove said...

Happy Blogiversary! I remember finding your blog for the first time and thinking it was almost intimidating because you were so well read. And now I do think of you as one of my blog friends, and a place I'll visit as if I'd dropped by for tea. Here's to many more years of that!

sassymonkey said...

Happy Blogiversary Kate! It'll be four years of book blogging for me in August. Funny how time flies.

Kailana said...

Happy Blogiversary! I am glad you are going through an ebb period in terms of posting! My four years are in December. Hard to believe it has been that long!

Smithereens said...

Happy Blogiversary! Your blog was an inspiration to start my own, I'm very grateful of your contribution to the little book-blog-world!

jenclair said...

Congratulations and Happy Blogiversary, Kate! Although the blogging community is ever-changing, having "mainstay" blogs that always prove interesting is one of the delights of book blogs. Here's to another great year!

Heather said...

Happy Blogiversary Kate!! And here's to many, many more years of sharing reads, opinions, and more. Thank you for sharing with us all these years.

Dorothy W. said...

Congratulations on your blog birthday, Kate! I'm so glad you're blogging. I remember that you were the first commenter on my blog, and I was so excited to get my first response. Thank you for such a nice introduction to the blogging community!

Lisa said...

Happy blogiversary! I know what you mean about discovering a community of readers and all the wonderful book blogs out there. My motivation was personal, but it has been nice to discover so many like minded people to share the love of books.

SFP said...

Happy 4th anniversary, Kate. I always learn something new when I read your posts. I'm glad you haven't tired of blogging, because the community would certainly be diminished without you.

Iliana said...

Happy Blogiversary, Kate! Wishing you many more years ahead!

Melanie said...

Four years already! You've certainly enriched a lot of other people's reading lives as well. :)

Marg said...

Happy Blogiversary to you Kate! And here's to at least 4 more years!

Mindy Withrow said...

Happy 4, Kate! I agree with the previous commenters that your blog is one of the best. I'm especially grateful for the occasional nature of your posts because each one is so thoughtful. You've put me on to lots of ideas and authors I may not have discovered otherwise. Thanks for all of your contributions!

Heather said...

Lovely post. Happy Belated Blog-o-versary! You are a wonderful blogger and I've enjoyed reading your posts ever since 'meeting' you in blogland. Here's to at least 4 more years.

Heather said...

Wait a second... did I already comment? I'm losing it. Oh well you deserve lots of comments! :)

Danielle said...

Sorry I'm so tardy, but Happy Blog Anniversary! I greatly enjoy reading your posts even if it takes me ages to drop by and comment! To a happy four more years!

Suko said...

You do deserve a lot of comments, so I, too, am posting a second comment.

Your post inspired me to change the picture on my blog's 1-year post. (I was never happy with it to begin with.)

I hope my own blog has the same longevity as yours, and an expanding community (one reader just doesn't cut it).

Book Club Girl said...

Happy blogiversary!!