Bookishly Me

persōna f (genitive persōnae); first declension

  1. mask
  2. character
  3. person, personality

self-portrait of the writer on the streets of Prague.

When I originally began this little corner of mine, the idea was to keep myself anonymous to give myself a distance from my published work and this personal work, which still remains the case. Also, to have something separate from my peers and colleagues; only a few of my friends know about this site. The few images I’ve had here have always not included my face; for a while, some people assumed I was male because I gave no identification (Female, here). For now, that’s pretty much all you’ll get from me.

I sometimes wonder why certain blogs are super-successes and some live in quieter niches. Blogs with a specific personality win over hearts and rack up the followers. I don’t know where I fit in with that, but I was surprised to see Acid Free Pulp included on a Southern literary agents list of personality-driven review sites. This is what got me thinking about the whole thing…

I suppose I add myself into my musings and reviews here in a way that is different from my published work. In that way, I can see why I was added to the personality-driven section. However, my identity is missing and in its place, I rely solely on my words to showcase my personality and sense of humor, along with what fascinates and captivates me.

In comparison, the very popular book blogs that have clear author personalities with people’s names have tons of comments in the discussion section, where mine, for example, does not. Of course, I am generalizing here because I read a gaggle of well-written blogs with all sorts of owners, but I’ve noticed many of them offer a clear representation of who they are (“Jane X, Midwestern housewife who loves YA books and travelling…”). Could connecting with the blog author be easier for discussion? I sometimes wish that there was more discussion here, but it means LOADS to me when people leave comments thanking me for a great review and telling me to keep up the good work, or pointing them in the direction of something that is new to them. That’s the point of all of this, right?

Words are what I work with. They’re everywhere in my life. When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading. I read when I’m rinsing my mouthwash, swishing it through my teeth, while I stand at my bathroom sink. I’m envious of my friends who are fantastic playwrights, poets, memoirists, because these are disciplines I haven’t mastered. I’m more comfortable in fiction and criticism. I get audibly annoyed at Jeopardy contestants who avoid the literature categories. Most of my jobs have been in the arts in some way (with the exception of my bit time working as a rep for a holistic dog food company. Weird.).

I think this post comes from a few places. The first, of course, being the aforementioned list and my rumination on “personality.” The second comes from a book fatigue of sorts. I have a whole stack of this past year’s award winners and books that have been reviewed in the New York Times. I just feel that they must be read, if nothing more than to be a part of the larger discussion (which I still think is important). But, I’m a bit weary of it all. I want something astounding and not written by the same writers all of the time. I want books that can also be beautiful pieces of art (this usually comes from smaller presses).

My weariness also comes from the boom of young adult novels. My point is not to knock them (if you have a well-written piece about The Phantom Tollbooth, I’m all over that), but their current incarnations are lacking and are usually turned out factory style (think Andy Warhol for novels). An interview last year with an outgoing Munich editor said that we are reading more books than before, but we are consuming so many of low quality (take what you will from that paraphrase). The blog world is full of book bloggers talking about these books, where, in my opinion, other reviews are getting ignored. To remedy this, I did a book order this week. I am dreadfully poor, but still had a gift card lying around from a few months ago and scooped up some reads that might ease my ailing book lover heart.

Like this little writerly musing, I am grateful that you put up with my ramblings, complaints, and meanderings; I get a kick out of other bloggers’ reactions to the occasional Distraction; I love getting new insight and recs like on yesterday’s PKD post; even though I might be a masked book blogger, many thanks goes out for reading my reviews and recommendations. My main mission is to write about books that I find interesting and share them in the hopes that others will find something new that they normally might have missed. I also particularly like the interaction with other bloggers and reading their recommendations, etc.

What is the point of this post? I don’t know and I hesitate to press ‘publish’ after all of this, but I think I’ll do it anyway…

***

  1. The definition above is taken from Wikipedia. Accessed 6 February 2014.
  2. Something personal on this rare occasion inspired by the self-portrait on this post: I love Prague. It is what inspired me to start writing this blog.
  3. For those who’ve stuck with me for this long, I present you with the music video for The Bangles’ “Eternal Flame,” because it has been stuck in my head all day.

8 comments

  1. With the death of independent bookstores and bookstores in general, in the U.S. our choices are governed by reviews and word of mouth. We can no longer browse through shelves and rooms filled with fabulous books from unknown authors. I used to spend hours in bookstores and now I stop in at Barnes and Nobles, the only remaining brick and mortar shop left standing, only to see best sellers and books that are, as you said, written by the same authors, over and over again. I used to sit on the floor, sometimes with my daughter, and we would go through book after book, hoping to find a remarkable treasure…but those days are gone. I proudly admit that I love The Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher and The Nightside, by Simon Green. I love books that explore the nature of humans and how they interact with the things that go bump in the night. Right now I’m caught up in the city of Paris in the 20’s and the expats who wrote there. I enjoy your blog and look forward to the treasures you provide.

    1. Thanks for your kind words and I love scrolling through your watercolors and photo snapshots.

      Like you said, choices have been a bit homogenized. There are plenty of wide releases I want to read–The Good Lord Bird is staring at me from the corner–but I feel a bit fatigued lately. When I get the chance of going in to a used/indie bookstore, I like to know the booksellers’ opinions on books, too. This can help break up the monotony. Looking at the releases of smaller presses or foreign releases mixes it up, too. I did go on a mini-buying spree this week, so maybe I’ll update on recent interesting acquisitions. Do enjoy your jaunt in 20s expat texts and Paris! A favorite short film of mine is by Rene Clair from 1924 titled, Entr’acte. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch it on youtube.

      (I’ve never read Jim Butcher, but I used to enjoy the TV series from a few years ago.)

  2. Ha, I just sent a fellow blogger a mixtape with The Bangles on it (same song)!

    Blog popularity is interesting. I would never want to be popular, for as much adoration as some sites get, the amount of criticism they take is pretty intense (I’m thinking of the GOMI forums). I don’t deal well with negativity.

    The popularity of YA and now NA baffles me. I don’t get it and I’m not terribly far outside of the New Adult target audience.

    For what it’s worth, my default assumption for bloggers is that everyone is female, as it was in your case.

    1. I’m a bit unsure of what NA is. I’ve seen the term pop up a bit lately and my understanding is that they are books that are targeted for adults but come from the same mold as contemporary YA novels.

      Popularity is a strange thing, isn’t it? Some of my favorite sites are maybe in the quieter corners of the book blogging world. I guess I just thought it strange to be cited as a “personality-driven blog.” I’m always honored when I see websites link to me when they list further information about a topic or book. I was also feeling a little grumpy by the explosion of blogs concerned with YA (and the same books over and over again). I suppose to a degree I can be book snobby, but I’m just a little fed up with the exponential growth of lower quality works and many people’s rapid consumption. **I probably just need to get over it.

      p.s. that song was stuck in my head for days!
      p.p.s. Oh good. It was strange. For a while, when people referenced me on their own blog posts/twitter, it was with male pronouns.

      1. People get really annoyed when I say it this way, but New Adult (NA) is just YA with adult situations. It really is. I’m sure there is a well-written one out there, but I haven’t found it yet. Occasionally if a book gets a lot of hype for being wonderful, I’ll give it a try. For example, I tried Beautiful Disaster. Not a good idea…

        I know it’s ridiculous because it’s all fictional, but I find it strange when adults swoon over YA men. Generally, if I have any fantasies they don’t involve teenagers. That may just be me though…

      2. I think you’re right. There is a whole page on Wikipedia about it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New-adult_fiction, which cites St. Martin’s Press: “…fiction similar to YA that can be published and marketed as adult—a sort of an ‘older YA’ or ‘new adult’.”

        I looked up Beautiful Disaster. Good grief. Everything about that description was trite. I’m right there with you. I shall not swoon for teenagers. I just won’t.

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