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2021 Literary Escapes Challenge

- Alabama
- Alaska
- Arizona (1)
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- Delaware
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- Hawaii (1)
- Idaho
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- *Washington, D.C.

International:
Australia (2)
Canada (3)
England (6)
France (1)
Ireland (1)
Switzerland (1)
The Philippines (1)
Wales (1)

My Progress:


27 / 51 states. 53% done!

2021 Fall Into Reading Challenge

My Progress:


0 / 24 books. 0% done!

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Children's Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
(Hosted by Yours Truly!)

My Progress:


6 / 25 books. 24% done!

2021 Popsugar Reading Challenge

My Progress:


32 / 50 books. 64% done!

Booklist Queen's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


35 / 52 books. 67% done!

2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

2021 Craving for Cozies Reading Challenge

The 52 Club's 2021 Reading Challenge

My Progress:


39 / 52 books. 75% done!
Saturday, August 07, 2021

Happy Blogiversary to Me: Celebrating 15 Years of BBB (with a Giveaway!)


It's hard to believe—really hard to believe—but I started Bloggin' 'bout Books 15 years ago today!  On August 7, 2006, I published this post welcoming folks to the new home for my "reading journal."  At the time, that included exactly three people: my husband, my mom, and my little sister.  In my naivete, I honestly thought that I had invented book blogging!  It was only when I started Googling around that I realized there was a whole, big book blogosphere already out there, just waiting for me.  That realization changed my life.  My reading life anyway.  I had found my tribe, but even still, I never could have imagined that my little blog would become such a great source of joy, connection, and community for me.  If you'd told me that I would still be going strong here at BBB 15 years later, I would have laughed you out the door!  

I have no idea how many books I've read or how many reviews I've written over the last decade and a half, but I do know that I've learned a lot along the way.  Here are ten lessons that 15 years of book blogging has taught me:

1.  The book/publishing world is always changing.  Back in the day, I'd get paper book catalogs in my mailbox and heavy cardboard boxes packed with glossy reads on my doorstep.  While publishers still send a number of "real" books my way, I also receive tons of links to e-ARCs on NetGalley and Edelweiss.  In some ways, publicists and authors are more accessible now than they were; in other ways, they aren't.  Especially in the COVID world, mostly in-person author events have changed to mostly online author events.  The point?  The book world is constantly changing.  I've had to change with it (I still remember what a huge concession it was for me to buy an e-reader)!

2.  Book bloggin' people = the best people.  One thing that hasn't changed is the awesomeness that is the book blogosphere.  Yes, bloggers come and go.  Some of my favorites have disappeared because of other commitments, waning interest, and even death (R.I.P. Dewey from Hidden Side of a Leaf and Grace @RebelMommyBookBlog).  I'll always miss their contributions, but I'm thrilled that so many new book blogs are still cropping up all the time.  I've made so many wonderful friends in this warm, happy, supportive community.  It's been such a pleasure to talk books with you, whether you've been hanging around BBB for a decade or just for a week.  

3.  Authors aren't always right—and neither am I.  Once I started getting a reputation as a tough, tell-it-like-it-is blogger, I started getting a little...ahem...cocky.  When it came to reviewing books, I didn't hesitate to call 'em like I saw 'em, even at the risk of offending writers I admired.  Because of that, I've received hate mail, strongly worded comments, and radio silence from authors who personally asked me to review their books.  I've softened a bit over the years and I've definitely been humbled by what I've gotten wrong.  A particularly embarrassing example: a certain author called me out over misquoting a section of her memoir that I could have sworn said she had taken drugs while on duty as a doctor at a mental hospital.  No matter how many times I combed over her book, I couldn't find the passage I referenced because it wasn't there!  The writer was grace itself when I apologized profusely for the error.

4.  Book blogging is hard work.  If you think book blogging is all fun and games then you must be doing it right!  For me, it has involved a great deal of time, effort, and money.  Between reading, writing reviews, visiting and commenting on other blogs, marketing my own efforts, etc. it has sometimes felt like a full-time job.  It's been worth it for the pleasure book blogging has given me, but I can't deny that other things in my life (most notably the cleanliness of my home) have suffered because of it.  Last year, I finally gave up scheduling reviews and participating in blog tours.  It was just causing too much stress for me.  Now my blogging is less rigorous, less pressure, and lots more fun!  

5.  It's my way or the highway.  Closely related to #4 is that I've learned to blog in the way that feels most natural and right to me.  I don't worry about other bloggers having more followers or a bigger influence.  I just do me.  It's worked pretty well so far.

6.  There can never be too many books.  Or can there?  When I first started receiving review requests from authors and publishers, I was so excited that I accepted everything that came my way.  Soon, I was inundated with books, some of which I had no actual desire to read.  After forcing myself to plow through volumes I normally wouldn't, I had to learn that it was okay to DNF a book that wasn't working for me.  I also had to learn not to accept books just because they're, you know, books.  Although I still accept far too many review requests than is wise, I've become much, much more selective about what I'll read and review.

7.  Reviewing books really does change how you read them.  I saw this article on Book Riot and was struck by the truth of this statement.  The way I read has changed irrevocably in the years since I started reviewing books.  For one thing, I now take copious notes on non-fiction and novels, jotting down anything I think I might want to use later in a review.  I'm more critical of an author's efforts, analyzing their world-building, character creation, plot decisions, and prose choices.  I can no longer read for the sheer pleasure of reading and, honestly, that's kind of sad.

8.  Books are not hair dryers.  I used to always say that I review a book in the same way I would review a hair dryer, by asking the same kind of questions:  What worked for me?  What didn't?  Is this product worth spending precious time and money on?  Why or why not?  It's just a product review, nothing personal.  Well, I've realized over the years that books are very personal to their authors and that they don't always like having their babies criticized.  I've also realized that I'm not as objective as I think I am.  My reviews contain my opinions.  You may not like them.  I get it and it's okay.  You can send me hate mail if you want.  You won't be the first!

9.  Books are powerful.  The wonderfully rich, diverse book blogosphere is a beautiful example of  how influential books can be in bringing people together, opening their minds, and touching their souls.   

10.  BBB would be nothing without you!  Truth is, I would probably post book reviews even if no one read them just because it's a fun creative outlet for me.  But, it would not be nearly as much fun without your interaction.  I love reading your comments, visiting your blogs, basking in your kindness, and dishing about books.  Thank you for making my little ole book blog such a delightful place to hang out.  It would not be at all the same without you.

To celebrate my blogiversary and to thank you for being such an integral part of BBB, I'm hosting a little giveaway.  If I were rich, I'd give away great quantities of money or, even better, towering stacks of books.  I'm not, so I'm just going to offer up one book—a book of your choice (up to a $20 value) on Book Depository, which delivers all over the world.  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.  I will choose a winner on August 21.  Good luck!

Also, please tell me:  How long have you been blogging about books?  What have you learned from your own journey with this wild and wonderful hobby?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, also:  If you haven't filled out my survey yet, please do so.  It's short and it will earn you one entry into the giveaway.  I appreciate the feedback!


52 comments:

  1. I love this post, and congratz on 15 years! I hope to make it one day :)

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    1. Thanks so much! Fifteen years is a LONG time (I feel so old), but it's been a fun fifteen years.

      Delete
  2. Wow! 15 years! That's incredible. Congratulations. I enjoyed your reflections very much too

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    1. Thank you! I'm afraid my reflections aren't very wise or eloquent, but I'm glad you enjoyed reading them :)

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  3. Happy Blogiversary, Susan! 15 years is amazing. (I'm only coming up on nine this year.) I agree with you that book blogging people are the best. It's been so fun chatting books with you these past few years. Here's hoping you blog for many years to come. :D

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    1. Nine is a long time in the book blogging world! I'm so glad I found your blog and "met" you through it. It has definitely been a good time talking books with you over the years.

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  4. Congratulations on 15 years of blogging! I started in 2009 so am a few years behind you. I love your list of 10 things you've learned and agree with all of it.

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    1. Nice! I didn't realize yours was that old. I wish I had found it sooner since it's been so fun to read it and get to know you through it.

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  5. Congratulations on 15 years of blogging! Such a huge achievement and a testament to your love of books.

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    1. Ha! Yes, I am definitely a *little* bit obsessed.

      Delete
  6. Congratulations on 15 years! That is amazing! Seriously, I have been blogging nearly 10 years, and it seems harder every year, but I love still love blogging. (Of course I am a good bit older than you.)

    I liked all your points but especially 4 and 5. I am glad to hear that someone else neglects cleanliness of their home for the fun of blogging. Of course I never was neat at all. And you have to do what you want in your blog, otherwise it won't be fun or fulfilling, and then what's the point?

    I have learned many things from blogging but especially that I cannot read every book I get interested at the blogs I read, and that it is absolutely wonderful to be able to communicate with other people who love reading and books as much as I do (no matter what kinds of books). And I have expanded the kinds of books I read because of reading book blogs.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Not gonna lie, there have been times over the years when I've thought about "retiring," but I've kept on because I enjoy it so much. I have had to make some adjustments, though, to keep it from getting too stressful and overwhelming.

      Ha! Housework is not something I enjoy, so I'll put it off for just about anything, truth be told :)

      I'm not sure I've learned the lesson about not being able to read every great-looking book out there. I still want to read ALL THE THINGS, even though logically I know I'll never be able to read it all. I try, though :)

      Delete
  7. Congratulations on your anniversary. I finally did the survey. I wrote no but I did do it now
    Marilyn.

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    1. Thanks, Marilyn! I appreciate it. I also appreciate all your comments on my blog.

      Delete
  8. Happy blogoversary! I filled in the survey. Sorry I cursed but I'm in my feels. You rock!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ha ha. I'm not a fan of cursing, but yours made me LOL. And I totally agree. I figure we do what we want with our blogs and reviews. If people don't like that, there are plenty of other blogs out there!

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  9. I love this post and all your thoughts about blogging! Thanks for sharing! Congrats on 15 years! You're my hero! (I just celebrated 4) I love your honest reviews and I'm sorry you've received some unkind mail. I've received a couple of unkind Goodreads comments.

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha. Thanks, Carol! It really has been a fun fifteen years of blogging. Hurt feelings come with the territory, but the point of writing reviews is to express my opinions. The fact is, not every book is for every person and that's okay.

      Delete
  10. I have been blogging almost 6 years (in September). I agree with your comments, although I have never received hate mail. I tend to be gentle in my reviews and if I really disliked a book, I don't review unless there was something wrong with the book rather than just my personal opinion.

    Happy Blogiversary Susan!

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations on your upcoming blogiversary! Six years is awesome.

      The angry comments were from the early days, when I hadn't yet learned that just because someone sent me a book didn't mean I had to review it. Nowadays, if I dislike a book that much, I just put it down.

      The hate (e)mail actually came after what I thought was a pretty benign review in which I said that an author's newest book (which was self-published) was not up to the same standard as her usual (traditionally published) books. I was very surprised by the unhappy and actually quite hateful emails the author sent me. I stand by what I said (it was my OPINION after all), but I am sorry that she was so hurt by my remarks.

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    2. If you can't take it, don't send people books to read and review. Everyone is not going to love your book. Glad you didn't let it shut you off Susan.

      Delete
  11. Happy Blogiversary! 15 years is impressive. I agree that book bloggers are the absolute best people!

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    1. Right? I have met (mostly online, but some in person as well) so many wonderful book bloggers over the last 15 years!

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  12. I had already filled in the survey when you first posted it. Now, I also filled in the rest. I've been following you almost everywhere so far. LOL

    Now onto the next 15 years!

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    1. Awww thanks, Marianne! It's been so fun to get to know each other through our blogs, hasn't it?

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    2. Definitely. It's interesting how we discover something new that we both share every day.

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  13. ooooe Wow! 15 years! Happy blogiversary to you!! You are such an inspiration to the rather newbies on the blogosphere (like me! Only a year of blogging).

    Here's to many more great reads and tips and advice to all of us!

    Elza Reads

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    1. Thanks, Elza. I am feeling like a senior citizen in the book blogging world :) Ha ha.

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  14. Congratulations!! As I read this post, I thought, "What a great idea! I'm going to celebrate my 15th blogging anniversary, which should be coming up soon. Then I checked and saw that I published my first review in February 2006! Ooops, missed it :)

    This is my first visit to your blog, but it looks great! Congrats on 15 fun years!

    Sue

    Book By Book

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    1. Oh no! Well, happy belated blogiversary! Fifteen years of blogging is a huge accomplishment. Congrats to us both :)

      I know I've visited your blog over the years, but it has been awhile. I'm so glad you came by and commented so I can remember to visit and get reacquainted with you and your blog. It's fun to discover new book blogs, but I also love re-visiting old favorites!

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  15. I’m not sure how long I have followed you but have always enjoyed your reviews. Some of the books you read I would never read but I have found some real jewels through your blog. Thank you !

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    1. Ha ha. That's the beauty of the book blogosphere—we all read different things and have different reading experiences. Sharing them helps others find those gems we all love!

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  16. Congrats, Susan, on 15 years! Can't believe it has been that long. Not sure I started following that far back, but I've been blogging off and on for almost that long. In any case, I'm so delighted that we've gotten to know each other through blogging. One day we'll meet face to face I hope!

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    1. Same! It's been a pleasure for sure. Next time you come my way, let me know. I'd love to meet in person!

      Delete
  17. I wish I could better remember how I first discovered your blog. But I really enjoy it and it is the only book blog I still follow after making my feed a lot smaller. Congrats on 15!

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    1. Thank you so much, Nancy! I'm honored that you kept me on your feed :) That means a lot.

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  18. Congratulations on 15 years! What an anniversary!! I nodded through your list, BTW, especially about not reading for pleasure anymore. I genuinely have to remind myself to do so these days.

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    1. I'm not a big re-reader, but when I do read a book I've already read it's actually very liberating because I don't take any notes. I read without thinking about what I'm going to write in a review. I've almost forgotten what that's like!

      Delete
  19. Your blog is like a quick book club meeting (without the wine, of course!) I found your blog through a link from someone else's blog. It's a bit like following a trail of bread crumbs and you never know what you will find.

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha. It is a very dry book club :) Hopefully, we have all the fun, even without the alcohol—although you could certainly drink while you read my blog. I'll never know!

      Also, I love what you said about the bread crumbs. I've found many blogs that way. That's why I love reading comments on other blogs and noting which blogs are on other bloggers' favorites list.

      Delete
  20. I'm a few months behind you when it comes to longevity, but my reading and blogging have evolved much the same as yours over the years. (I kind of miss those big boxes of books showing up every couple of weeks even if my wife is happy that they no longer are coming to the house._

    I love what you do...and I totally understand what you say about it becoming what seems like a full-time job sometimes. I can't imagine not doing this anymore even though it's caused me to reallocate the way I spend my time and it's on my mind every day. Of course, like you, now I set my own schedule and don't get tied down to "tours" and the like, but sometimes I'm a pretty tough boss. LOL

    Congrats on a job (full-time or not) well done!

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    1. LOL. I still get a surprising amount of physical books in the mail, but it's nothing like the boxes and boxes that used to show up. I've got a big house, but I am running out of room for books, if you can believe it. What I actually miss is the paper catalogs I used to get from publishers. It was fun to flip through them and circle the books I wanted—like the good ole days with the Sears catalog, except the books were all free!

      Book blogging can actually be a very consuming hobby. I definitely did not realize that when I started. And, yes, I can also be a demanding boss :)

      Delete
  21. Congrats on 15 years, that's quite the anniversary! Loved your list, agreed with all of it and especially yes, book blogging people are the best people :)

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    1. I really have "met" so many amazing book bloggers over the years. I love that I've found my tribe here :)

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  22. Congratulations on 15 years! I'm technically not far behind you (I started reviewing on GR in 2007 and started my blog in 2009) but I took about 4 years off in there. Hats off to your dedication!

    I agree that reviewing books does change the way you read. I used to take notes as I read and those reviews are some of my best. I'm struggling to get back into that habit. I just can't make it work with my Kindle for some reason. (I've tried highlighting on my Kindle and that helps but isn't the same). I guess my brain is either digital or analog, not both!

    I worked pretty hard to grow my blog the first time around and that took a lot of joy out of the process for me (and time away from friends and family). I do try to be at least a little consistent with one or two posts a week now but I'm doing my best not to get caught up in all that extra pressure.

    Keep up the awesome work!

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    1. I've considered taking time off and even retiring altogether, but I never actually do it. There are times when I post less and times when I post more. It just depends.

      I always take notes in a paper notebook when I read. Otherwise, I forget everything! I do post reviews on Goodreads as soon as I finish a book, so I have my fresh thoughts to refer to since it always takes me forever to get to reviews on my blog.

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  23. Congratulations on 15 years, I do think that is a great accomplishment! I have only been book blogging for a few months, I was only doing a few reviews here and there on my family blog since the fall of last year, so I am growing and learning. I have been reviewing religiously (hate to use that word, but can't think of another) on Goodreads for a few years. Before that I just wasn't aware of how helpful reviews were to authors and so now I do review every book I read, even if it is just a short blurb and it doesn't matter where I got the book, if I read it, I review it.

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    1. Makes sense. I try to review every book I read, but I read A LOT faster than I review so I'm perpetually behind. In years past, I've post 3-4 reviews a day at the end of the year in order to catch up. These days, I give myself permission to review what I want when I can. If I don't review all the books I read in a year, I just start fresh in January.

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  24. Happy Blogiversary! 15 years... wow! That's great. :-) I agree, book bloggers are really wonderful people. :-) Keep up the good work!

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    1. Thank you so much, Erin! It's been so much fun to "meet" so many awesome book bloggers over the years.

      Thanks for coming by!

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  25. It's kind of sad that you're not reading just for the pleasure of it. It's why I've always admired book bloggers since it takes a lot of effort to even write one review.

    These days, it's easier to connect/know the author but I also find it a bit sad. I'm used to reading their bio in the back of books and I'm fine with that but now I know just a little too much about them, in fact, I prefer authors just step back and allow their books to speak instead of them.

    It's terrible to hear about you getting hate mail/comments because of reviews. Reviews are opinions but some readers don't get that. I keep hearing people apologizing for not liking a book which I also sometime do so people won't attack me for not liking a book. I think sometimes we are too sensitive about books.

    I'm not a book blogger but I sometimes blog about books. I've learned it's better not to review a book unless you're certain about your opinion but also, I can edit a review if I wanted to or remove it off my blog.

    Fifteen years is long time to stay in one blog which I could never do but I'm glad you did. Congratulation!

    Have a lovely day.

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    1. I should have said I can no longer read JUST for pleasure. Reading is still very pleasurable for me, but I now read with reviewing in mind. Doing that has changed how I read, if that makes sense.

      I hear you on the TMI authors. I try to always separate an author (or musician/actor/artist) from their work since I can enjoy someone's work without agreeing with or liking them. It's hard to do sometimes, though!

      I have a pretty thick skin, so the hate mail really didn't bother me. I was surprised by how vicious a certain author was, though. All I said about her newest and only self-published work is that it wasn't as good as her previous novels. She emailed me MULTIPLE times to tell me it was just as good, I had no idea what I was talking about, etc., etc. I finally just had to block her emails because she just wouldn't let up. She released a new (traditionally published) book recently and I ALMOST picked it up because I did like her early books a lot, but I didn't because, dang, she was not at all kind or professional toward me. Plenty of other authors have disagreed with my assessment of their books in a way that was professional, mature, and even humorous. I definitely prefer those kinds of interactions! And, yes, I do think people are overly sensitive about books - not every book is for every reader, that's just the way it is.

      Delete

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