There seems to be quite a havoc going on in the reading blogosphere recently. I have read all the posts (I think) concerning the reviewing policies and culture, the reasons why we even blog, the lengths bloggers will or will not go as far as getting the coveted ARCs, and so forth. I am sure you all are familiar with the issues and I don’t like to repeat what has already been discussed by bloggers much more experienced and well versed in book reviewing than I am.
What I want to do here is just put in writing all my thoughts and feelings triggered by the controversial posts. I wanted to forego that but it seems to be quite stuck in my head and won’t leave until I write what I think down.
I am a fairly new blogger. I started my blog in November, 2008 and I do still have a loooong way to go in order to ever dream of achieving the status of being ‘popular’. But that’s quite all right with me because popularity and wide readership were never my reasons to start a blog in the first place. My history with books and reading is quite difficult and sometimes tumultuous even. When and where I was growing up played a major role. I was a kid in the times of great, communist censorship, the one that thankfully kids nowadays only read about and seems like a story taken out of Orwell’s 1984. It was very real for me and other children, teenagers and adults around me. We were not allowed to have access to international literature, we knew nothing about America’s great children’s authors, no Dr. Seuss or Beatrix Potter for me. All we were allowed to read were magazines published in the Soviet Union, narrowing our horizons and knowledge to the greatness of socialism and communism. The same articles and other propagandist books or writings made sure that no individualism was allowed and that our love of reading would soon be extinguished before it even had a chance to fully bloom. Yet, somehow I came out of it with a great love and appreciation for a written word. I suspect I was lucky enough to also experience the fall of communism in my country while still being a young girl. You can only imagine my joy, surprise and exhilaration when I got my hands on Winnie the Pooh and Anne of Green Gables. I think that when I was first allowed to enter my school’s library and to check out these books was the time when I knew I was doomed. I became obsessed. Since then, I grew to realize that most of the people around me would never share my obsession and unconditional love for books. I almost became resigned to my fate of being the nerdy, geeky person who never had anything else to talk about other than books.
Suddenly, lo’ and behold, I came upon a website where a person seemed to show the same signs of geeky-ness I had. I didn’t know then that it was a blog or that there were countless other blogs and people who loved books as much as I do. I believe that when this realization finally hit me, my emotions could only be compared to the ones I felt when entering the school library. I proceeded to be flabbergasted when I noticed that I also can have a blog like that, that I can actually read a book and then write about it and know that I no longer would be perceived as a weirdo, but a member of great community of people who share the passion for reading and who understand my need to use every spare moment on reading these extra pages of a book.
So there’s my story. I do not want to become disillusioned with my great blogging community because of a few bad eggs that apparently have blogs only to get copies of books from publishers. And I don’t think there is such a risk for me. There are many wonderful bloggers out there whom I consider my blogging friends, they are smart, funny and clearly as obsessed with books as I am.
And last but not least, a note for and on publishers. I appreciate them greatly, we have had great relationships. Because they deem my amateur reviews worthy, I get to receive copies of books they want me to review. I think it’s grand and still honestly beyond my expectations. In return for the kindness, I read and review the books they send me, I try to always mention some positive aspects of a book and if I cannot find any (which of course happens), I do communicate with a publisher and leave it up to them whether they still want my review up or not. And I do not think it’s selling out. I simply don’t write anything about a badly written book. I do post negative reviews but mostly of books that I bought. I do it because I want to be honest about my feelings. And most of my library (some 500 books) comprises books bought by me, only small percentage belongs to ARCs, so I do support authors because even if I do not like a certain book, I can only imagine how hard their job is.