Armchair Book Expo – Let’s Collaborate and Listen

Armchair Book Expo

I spent some time today getting caught up on posts from yesterday, during which I realized I do indeed have opinions on best practices when it comes to book blogging.  I have read a lot of thoughtful posts on the subject and look forward to reading more on today’s topics, one of which is…

Let’s collaborate and listen – The online book community has changed so much over the years. How do we keep up within our own book-sphere as well as within the community as a whole (i.e., libraries, bookstores, authors, publishers, etc.)? 

Listening

Something the best practices topic got me thinking about is how I engage with the online book community. In the past, I often felt like I was running behind when it came to keeping up with blogs, authors, and other bookish news. I checked Twitter multiple times a day, skimming through various lists to try and pick up on the significant news of the days. I glanced through hundreds of posts in my feed reader to find posts that mattered to me. How do I cut through the noise and find the bookish news that’s relevant to me? How do I choose which blogs can I find the time to read and comment on? How can I attempt to forge meaningful relationships when there are so many people trying to connect in this community?

This year, I think I have been succeeding in managing the neverending stream of voices from the book-sphere. I make rigorous use of Twitter lists and Feedly collections to prioritize my reading. For example, in Feedly, I have five categories of book blogs. I read and comment on blogs in the first category, then if I have time I move to the second, and so on. After a week, I mark all blogs as ‘read’ and move forward. This has helped me focus on the blogs I really love while also keeping an eye on blogs I don’t have the time to visit every day. I have stopped worrying so much about ‘missing something’, and just focused on enjoying the content that’s there in front of me. I don’t need to read every single blog update. The Forest app has also been an excellent help in restraining me from opening Twitter whenever I have a spare moment.

In keeping up with the greater community, I find Twitter (and Facebook to some extent) has been just as excellent a resource in keeping up with my local authors, publishers, and librarians as with my fellow book bloggers. I wonder sometimes how my life would be different without libraries, without the internet, and without Twitter! It’s truly an incredible platform – once you know how to find the voices that you should really be hearing.

Collaborating

I’ve written a lot about the listening part of this topic. I haven’t really addressed the collaboration aspect. Admittedly, this is something I’m still trying to get the hang of. I want to build more substantial relationships and have more meaningful conversations in the book community. (Armchair Book Expo has been an excellent way to do that so far!). This is also something I’ve been making a concentrated effort on in 2017. It may take me a little while longer to get the hang of than the listening side of things, but I’ll keep at it.

The other topic is What do readers want? I have plenty of thoughts to share on that topic as well, but as it’s almost bed time I’ve decided to save it for another time.

Please leave a link in the comments if you’ve written about today’s topic. How do you stay connected to the book world? Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by the amount of information you have access to online?

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Armchair Book Expo – Introduction

Armchair Book Expo
It’s been a couple years since I participated in Armchair Book Expo. Perhaps it will be just the jolt to get me back into blogging regularly 😉 The introduction prompt this year is 10 sentence starters; here are my responses to five of them:

  1. I am . . . a 25 year old Canadian currently working as an EA with dreams of becoming a children’s librarian (I start an MLIS in the fall).
  2. My favorite . . . authors are (in no prioritized order) Haruki Murakami, Helen Oyeyemi, Neil Gaiman, J.R.R. Tolkien, Cornelia Funke, Neal Shusterman, and Catherynne M. Valente.
  3. My current read . . . I have a lot on the go right now. This afternoon I was reading Independent People by Halldor Laxness (Icelandic fiction from the 1950s). I’m also reading The Hobbit, a book of Japanese haiku, and Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hothschild. (Saving the middle grade for this weekend’s 48 hour book challenge).
  4. My summer plans . . . include enjoying my last Winnipeg Fringe Festival (second largest in North America) before I move to Vancouver in August.
  5. My blog. . .primarily features reviews of a wide variety of books (including fiction and non-fiction), as recording my thoughts on what I read has always been my primary purpose in blogging. I post sporadically but try to work it out to eight times a month.

The other topic for today is best practices in the online book community. I’m not the greatest at participating in community so I don’t have much to say on this topic but I am interested in what other people come up with. (Perhaps what I would have to say could be distilled down to ‘be considerate’.) Time to blog hop!

Are you participating in Armchair BEA? Leave a link to your post in the comments if so~

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Armchair BEA: Character Chatter

Time for my last BEA post! I’m off on a trip in about half an hour so this post is coming straight off the top of my head.

Characters are important to me while reading, but often when I think back on what I liked about a book it’s not the characters I think of. There are few characters that stand out in my memory as being significant to me in some way beyond their presence in the story. So, who are some of my favourite characters? I’ve always loved Mo from the Inkheart books, especially as he becomes more complex throughout the trilogy. As a kid, I loved that Cornelia Funke didn’t simplify or perfect the adults in those stories. I read Kafka on the Shore as a teenager and was startled to find how well I identified with Kafka – he’s one of the only characters where I’ve thought “Wow, he’s got, he’s me”. Of course, the major exception to my poor character memory is Tolkien. He has so many stand out characters in The Lord of the Rings alone. My standard response for favourites are Faramir, Sam, Eowyn, Pippin and Galadriel.  The only other favourite character that immediately comes to mind is Ore from White is for Witching. I’ve always thought she’d make a good friend.

‘Likeability’ of characters is pretty important to me. I love dastardly, villainous characters, and not all characters need to be likeable, but there needs to be at least one character in a book that I can get behind, however major or minor their role (hopefully they are a continue presence in the story, at least). I think this is why I couldn’t get invested in Game of Thrones or The Magicians. The characters were all terrible! (Though I did like Daenerys a bit… I’m still rooting for her.)

Ah, I’ve gotten this far and I haven’t mentioned diversity yet!  Only one character I listed as a favourite could be considered diverse >.> (Kafka is a Japanese boy in Japan, so I’m not counting him.) I’m a little ashamed to say I don’t actively seek out books with diverse characters…I appreciate and value their existence, but I just read whatever sounds interesting to me. I like to think that leads me to diversity, because I’m not interested in reading about the latest twist on the special white girl, romantically troubled cisgender man, or other cookie cutter characters. However, looking on my recent reads, I’ve been reading many books with diverse plots but with few diverse characters… I need to pay more attention to the diversity in the books I do read, and perhaps prioritize some of the more diverse books on my TBR shelf.

How important are characters to you in novels? Do you often remember them past the final pages?

Armchair BEA: Social Media

Today’s topic is very timely! I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my usage of social media. Time to use today as an outlet for those thoughts to spill out into a blog.

Lately I’ve been feeling fraught about my relationship with social media (not just in relation to blogging, so please bear with me as I ramble a bit). Usually I get in this mood a couple times a year and clear out the blogs, YouTubers, Facebook feeds, Twitter users, etc. that I’m following, but in the past few months the feeling’s been at its strongest. I recognize the value of social media (primarily, in networking and connecting, as today’s prompt notes) but often I feel like I let it have too much control over me. Recently I stopped using Tumblr (directly…). I deleted the rarely-used Tumblr that I set up to accompany my blog, but I couldn’t bring myself to delete my main Tumblr and I still follow some blogs through RSS. I have resolved never to set foot on the Tumblr website proper (surprisingly, so far so good!). I also scaled back the users I follow on my main Twitter account, and should really do this with my blogging account. Do I really need to follow so many publishers, booksellers, etc. when I already have so many ways of getting book news? I think I concern myself too much with missing out.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I want to use my time and when/why I started spending so much time on the computer. It’s difficult to tell if it’s when I got my own personal computer, or if it was just an inevitable progression of my interests, tied to ‘growing up’ or something else entirely. I just know I spend far my more time online now than I did before high school. Sometimes I can’t fathom how people live without Twitter, YouTube, etc. but isn’t that a silly thought? It’s definitely possible. When I’m forcibly cut off from these things (generally by going on a trip) I have no problem marking everything from while I was gone ‘as read’ and picking up from there. Anyway. Essentially, I want to spend less time online and more time reading (including comics and short stories and things I don’t usually ‘have time’ for), writing (which I rarely do nowadays・, and leisurely past times like listening to music and colouring. Being in Japan hasn’t made it easy for me to loosen my connectivity addiction, because I use it as a sort of coping method. I rarely used Facebook in Canada, but here I’m on it all the time because so many other people here use it a lot. Hopefully I will be able to sever some of these constant connections and come out refreshed when I return home.


Getting back specifically to social media and its relation to my blog・I made a Facbook page just to claim the name but probably will never use it. I don’t know what to do with it. I want to be careful not to let my blog become more than it is. I like writing reviews and sharing my thoughts, and I only need the blog for that, not all the extras. I do like Twitter mostly for having conversations (and entering contests ;)). And of course, there’s GoodReads. This is definitely my most favourite of the social media websites and the one I find the most value in. I love seeing exchanging thoughts and recommendations, reading different perspectives on different books, following discussions in groups, and keeping track of what I’ve read and what I’m going to read. This is one website where I never feel I’m wasting my time.


What I can conclude from all these rambles is that social media is more important to me than I would like it to be. Trying to ‘network’ and ‘find connections’ is why I get sucked into it, but most of the time I’m not really using it for that. I’m just wasting time reading snippets and articles that I’ll soon forget about. Clearly this is something I’m going to have to work on!  What‘s your relationship with social media like? Do you ever have times where you feel like you‘re being pulled under by it?

Armchair BEA: Introduction

Welcome back, Armchair BEA! This one of the first events I participated in after deciding to become a full-fledged book blogger last spring. I found many of my favourite blogs through this event, and I hope to discover many more again this year. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to participate, though, as on Friday I’m off to Tokyo for the World Kendo Championships (as an observer, not participant!). But anyway, here’s my introduction.

  • What does diversity mean to you?
    • I’m personally most interested in reading about characters of varying sexualities, genders or religions. I think the best kind of ‘diverse reading’ features main characters carrying their own stories, regardless of how those stories are affected by their diversities.
  • What is one book everyone should read? 
    • Ooh, good question! I’d like to recommend Paper Towns, because it can really demonstrate the strengths of young adult literature, which too many people underestimate, and it also has an excellent, timely message (when it’s not being misinterpreted =.=). 
  • Share your favorite blog post on your blog (aka written by you!)
  • What book are you reading right now? 
  • What book are you most looking forward to reading this summer? 
    • The majority of summer are going to be very hectic for me, as I’ll be spending my last weeks in Japan and moving back to Canada. By the end of August, though, I’ll be back in my hometown, finally with access to a library full of English books for the first time in a year!! So, this isn’t a very specific answer, but I’m most looking forward to reading whatever interesting books I find on the library’s shelves 🙂 On a related note, I see today’s topic is also Library Love. It makes me sad to think about how much I miss my library, so I will have to read posts about other people’s libraries instead!

Are you participating in Armchair BEA?