Our fearless leader, Jehara, suggested that we each summarize our year in reading for you all to kick off the New Year. I enjoy evaluating trends and tracking stats. It’s probably why I am addicted to Fantasy Sports. But it is also fun to do in the habit of reading. By no means am I as savvy as Ms. Jehara, who included pie charts and a survey in her look-back yesterday! But I can give you an overview of my year of reviews in 2011 nonetheless. Note that I said year of REVIEWS and not year of READING. This is because I had a baby boy last July and it really restricted my reading time. What little I managed was often geared towards baby names, baby rearing and baby board books. I won’t bore you with my insanely proud mama thoughts here. I’ve done enough of that over on my personal blog. But what I will do is summarize the reviews I posted here last year. Some were from my vault of archived reviews on Goodreads or my blog. Some were actually present-tense. All were honest and without compensation. Although that would come in handy for diapers and formula. Just sayin’.
AMBASSADOR TO THE CLASSICS
When we started this group book blog almost a year ago, I pledged my love for the Classics genre and asked to provide reviews of the oldies. My goal in 2011 was to dispel those common negative stereotypes (aka EXCUSES) that readers give for avoiding Classics altogether. I’m not sure if I changed anyone’s opinion about Classics last year, but I did all that I could think of, short of reading them aloud to you, to get people thinking more about giving them a valid shot.
I shared my personal definition of the genre. I shot down protestations. I stressed the importance of translation in making or breaking your experience. And when all else failed, I bribed you through my very own reading challenge. I don’t know how I’m going to improve upon these efforts for 2012, but just like with my passion for all things sports, I will continue to be a dogged defender and promoter of the cause of Classics.
REVIEWING THE GAMUT
One thing I tried to accomplish with the reviews I selected was to cover a wide variety of genres within the genre. I wanted to show folks that Classics are not one big group of old, musty, boring books that your school teachers shoved down your throat. Every genre has a Classic title lurking in the background. Even those trendy Vampire books that everyone seems to love these days owe their roots to Dracula.
I shared reviews of Classics that held sub-categories of Humor, Kid Lit, Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure, Historical, Modern and Retro. Some truly can only hold the title of a pure Classic Classic and I covered a few of those too. There are Non-Fiction, Memoirs and of course, Romance as well. If you give me a genre that you love, I’ll find a Classic doppelganger for you to read as a pairing. Now that’s a fun way to delve into the Classics. OK – well maybe doppelganger isn’t the right word. That implies an evil twin of some sort, and Classics are not evil, though there are plenty of classic villains.
YOU CAN’T ALWAYS LIVE IN THE PAST
Of course, one of the downfalls of being the go-to Classics gal here is that I don’t often have time to devote to non-Classic works. Seriously, I don’t have time to devote to much of anything other than that sweet little boy up there. Because I feel so out of touch with the world as it is with all of my time spent babbling to baby Sammy, it is hard to have my limited reading time devoted entirely to days of yore. Just because I promote the Classics doesn’t mean that I’m not a fan of modern writings. I even managed to review two books written within the last few years. Of course, one was a Retro Classic about a re-imagined life of one of Classic literature’s greatest YA authors and the other was about a guy who couldn’t escape his past. But hey. I’m trying!
BOOK BLOGGING ISN’T JUST ABOUT THE REVIEWS
The role of a book blogger is to review books. But with everyone reviewing the same books at the same time (unless you are me and trend towards reviews of authors long-dead), it gets hard finding a way to stand out from the crowd. This is done by doing more than just reviewing. It is done by getting out there, nurturing relationships with other bloggers who do what you wish you could do or who do exactly what you love to do or who do nothing the same way you do things, but provide a window into a world of other interests to explore. I addressed my thoughts on this for a post during Armchair BEA week.
I talked about some of my tried and true blogging practices during Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Such as realizing that a comment can be an opportunity to do more than just interact with the author of the post.
I also feel strongly about getting personal with your posts from time to time. Going behind the blog so that readers have more of a vested interest in the person creating the words they like to read. A simple example is our Snoop Our Shelves feature.
THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR
Here at Quirky Girls Read, we are more than just a group of readers. Or a group of bloggers. Or a group of reviewers. We are a group of gals from across the country, of varying ages, backgrounds, reading tastes and personal talents. We came together to give this concept a try, and have formed some new friendships and strengthened others.
A group blog, or at least, OUR group blog, is a place where we all have each others backs. When someone gets sick, has too much work to do, needs to care for a loved one, fights through personal challenges, gives birth or even just has a brain fart, we step right in to take over their posts. We support each others passions, even if we don’t share the same loves. That’s my favorite part of my “year in reading/reviewing.” Doing it with a tremendous support system of ladies who are all quirky, and who are all kick-ass.