Saturday, August 15, 2015

"The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs," by Rebecca Gillieron & Catheryn Kilgarriff

"The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs" was published in 2007, which makes it somewhat outdated in attitude as well as specific details. Perhaps even more of a disadvantage is that it's not available in e-book form, which would facilitate clicking through the links.
Review of "The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs
Library copy of "The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs"

Available at $15.00 from Amazon, I was reluctant to buy it until I could be sure I'd find it useful. Thanks to inter-library loan, I was able to get my hands on a copy to work with for a few weeks. 

Despite being outdated, "The Bookaholics Guide" does contain information that would be useful to those who write (or want to write) a book blog, or who enjoy reading book blogs, or those who are just generally interested in keeping up with books and the publishing industry.

Types of Book Blogs

"The Guide" categorizes book blogs in a way that didn't entirely work for me, but did make me think about the concept of categorizing blogs. I realized that the book blogs I enjoy and like to follow do fall naturally into different categories, and it may be useful to consider how they group together -- in the sense of helping me identify additional blogs and columns I would enjoy reading.

 Categories of Book Blogs From "The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs":

  • Book shop's and bookseller's blogs
  • Publisher's blogs
  • Fan blogs - fans of specific authors, genres, and/or of reading in general
  • Literary establishment blogs
  • Avant garde publisher's and literary group's blogs
  • Writer's blogs
  • Book club blogs

My Scheme for Categorizing Book Blogs

Thinking about how I would categorize the book blogs I read, I came up with a scheme more like this:
  • Book review blogs
  • Personal blogs with an emphasis on books and reading
  • Writer's blogs
  • Publisher's blogs (mainstream and indie)
  • Blogs affiliated with news sites (e.g. Salon, NPR, The Guardian)

 Why Blog About Books? 

An early chapter of "The Bookaholics Guide" speculates about bloggers' reasons for blogging. Overall, the ideas seem unnecessary these days, when blogging is a pretty common activity and means of expression. Once again though, some interesting points are raised and provide food for thought. 

Motivations for Blogging About Books

  • To fill a perceived gap in available information
  • As a way of facilitating direct dialog with fans (for writers) or with other readers who have similar interests
  • Personal fulfillment in the public space
And of course these are not mutually-exclusive reasons for blogging. Reasons not mentioned include blogging for money and/or to receive free review copies of books -- reasons which are not exclusive of the others.

"The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs" also has some interesting thoughts on bloggers' choices for blog names and handles. "Dovegreyreader," for example, provides a much different mental picture of what sort of books would be covered than "Bookgasm."  

My Favorite Book Blogs

Current Blogs Covered by "The Bookaholics Guide to Book Blogs"

The book includes a glossary with descriptions, titles, and URLs for a large number of book blogs. Sadly only a few of these still seem to be active. Of those I would highlight:

  1. "Dovegreyreader" is a blog praised early on in "The Bookaholics Guide." Dovegreyreader is still a very active blog, and has become one of my favorites. Dovegreyreader lives and writes from her home the Devonshire countryside of England. Her blog is where, for example, I first learned about "H is for Hawk," as well as about the Wainwright Prize  (which ignorant me had never heard of before). 
  2. "Bookgasm" is another active blog, which covers genres I'm partial to, like horror and mystery.   
  3. -- Collection of articles about books, mostly nonfiction and interviews with authors of fiction and non fiction. Part of the the news site.


More of My Favorite Book Blogs

Beth Fish Reads -  Beth Fish is a freelance editor, reviewer, journalist and blogger. She reviews a variety of book types from literary fiction to cookbooks, and is also a fine photographer. Special features include "Wordless Wednesday" (a weekly photo post) and "Weekend Cooking." Naturally enough, "Weekend Cooking" features cook books and other books about food. Fellow bloggers are encouraged to share links to food-related posts. I have had a nice bump in views from a couple of posts I shared, and make a point to get out there and return the favor by reading links shared by other bloggers. [book review blog]

Chrisbookarama -  Chris is a book (and more) blogger living in Nova Scotia, Canada. If I'm remembering correctly, I found her blog through Beth Fish's "Weekend Cooking" feature. Since her reading tastes seemed similar to mine, I added her to my Feedly blog list. [personal blog with an emphasis on books and reading]

Book Riot -  Book Riot is managed by a core team, with a large number of contributors. The result is a variety of book types covered as well as a variety of opinion. The Book Riot team also has active Tumblr and Instagram accounts, which feature rather delightful pictures of books, readers, what to eat and drink while reading, and book-related art. [book review blog]

Brain Pickings -  Maria Popova's wonderful blog on books, thinking, and creativity. [personal blog with an emphasis on books and reading]

Book View Cafe Blog - The Book View Cafe Blog is associated with the Book View Cafe publishing co-op. Contributors to the blog include authors such as Sherwood Smith, Judith Tarr, and Ursula K. LeGuin. [writers' and co-op publisher's blog]

NPR Books - National Public Radio's web column of book review podcasts and articles. [blog affiliated with a news outlet]

The Guardian Books Blog - Book news, thoughts, and reviews from Britain's "Guardian" newspaper online. [blog affiliated with a news outlet]

If anyone has favorite book blogs to recommend, please share in a comment -- I would love to have more to check out!

Overall Conclusions About "The Bookaholics Guide"

I would only recommend "The Bookaholics' Guide to Book Blogs" with reservations -- to a niche audience with an interest in book blogging and the history of the Internet's impact on publishing, bookselling, writing, and reviewing. Book bloggers, those thinking about starting a book blog, as well as readers with an interest in trends in online writing about books would be likely to find it of interest.

I'd suggest doing what I did and seeking a library copy, or finding it second hand. There just isn't enough up to date information to make it a recommended purchase.

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