One year ago today, I began this blog, and what a wonderful experience it’s been. I think back to the time before I began the blog and before I read blogs, and I wonder how I managed to survive — it’s hard to believe that I read books regularly without writing about them and without telling anybody about them, and that I had only a tiny little list of books I’d like to read, instead of the multi-page one I’ve got now, and that I’d wander the bookstore sometimes not feeling inspired by anything. These days as I look through bookstores, I’m reminded of this blog and that blog as I see things that look familiar, and I think “oh, so-and-so really liked that book” and “let me look for that other book so-and-so recommended.”
Blogging has changed my reading habits tremendously. I’m still reading a lot of the same stuff I would have read anyway, but I’ve also tried a lot of things I wouldn’t have — books for the Slaves of Golconda reading group, for example, or books about books like Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading that I hadn’t heard of before, or Proust for Involuntary Memory. I’m reading new types of books, such as poetry, which I’ve finally picked up again after a long period of not reading it, and short story collections, which I have unfortunately neglected in the past.
But more than that, the writing I do about books has changed my experience of reading — the posts themselves which get me to think a little deeper about my reading than I might otherwise have done, and the comments here and on other blogs that allow me to participate in a conversation about books I didn’t have before blogging. I love sharing my enthusiasms about books and reading about what books have gotten other bloggers excited, and all this has made an already wonderful thing — reading books — that much better. I know that blogging or reading blogs isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had so much fun with it that sometimes I wonder why every reader out there isn’t doing it (and then I’m grateful that they don’t because I’m already overwhelmed with the number of great blogs out there I like to read ….)
I like participating in something that feels new and exciting and that has the potential to change — is changing right now — the culture of books and reading and reviewing and publishing. Sometimes with horror, always with interest, I follow the debates about what blogging is and can and should be and about the quality of blogs and the relationship of blogs to print publications and how blogs are or aren’t changing everything, and I’m happy that there’s this medium that anybody can participate in and shape in their own large or small way. I’m very curious to see how blogs and blogging will develop, and I hope all the changes will be good ones.
So, as a little thank you to all of my blog friends and acquaintances, all you people who have made this first year of blogging a great one, I’d like to have a book give-away (also to recognize that many of you have kindly sent me books!). I have a copy of Dorothy Wordsworth’s Grasmere and Alfoxden Journals to give away; she, if you don’t know this already, is the source of my blog pseudonym. Just leave a comment letting me know you’re interested in the book by next Friday night (the 23rd) and I’ll draw a name on Saturday.