bookgazing: (i heart books)
bookgazing ([personal profile] bookgazing) wrote2014-03-25 10:54 pm

Why Book Blogging? - 25th March

The last question for this month is from chaila who wants to know, What do you think draws you to book blogging and reviewing?

If we’re talking basics, I like books and I like talking about them but I don’t have many chances to do that offline. I have offline friends who are into the same TV as me, but not many who regularly read the stuff I like. Searching for community was definitely why I started my blog. And, being “the reader” in my main group of friends, I find talking about books fraught – got to be careful how much I expand on my opinion sometimes or I end up making people feel crappy about their reading choices. So, it’s nice to have an online space where I can go and chat about books with people who’ve read them or want to read them, and where there isn’t quite so much baggage for me to dodge around. The one lesson I would urge on teens is to be nice to your friends about their media choices; otherwise, later in life you’re going to feel like a total heel.

Also, now that I’m out of university, life doesn’t much call on me to construct complex written thoughts. I actually spend a lot of time writing for work and sometimes I have to make joined up e-mail arguments, or write a very clear report but Marketing generally calls for simple structures. While trying to write short Marketing missives is its own enjoyable, riddlesome challenge (kind of like writing fifty word reviews as if your whole life depends on it) it’s not my favourite kind of challenge. Plus, trying to create punchy, attractive simplicity in a loud, busy office environment is not all that much fun. I personally prefer the challenges of long form writing (ha, who’d have guessed?) and the space it gives me to explore. Although I don’t miss working for marks, or three day stints of sitting in my pyjamas writing on a set essay topic, I do kind of miss having to make time in my day to sit and play with words, arrange concepts and work my way through all the spirals of long form arguments. Blogging and reviewing gives me a reason to exercise those long form muscles again.

Long form reviewing pushes me to shape my thoughts into a coherent narrative, which is kind of like playing through a complex puzzle. Where does this bit fit? Do I need to get out the hammer? I love crafting writing that I’m proud of; bending words a bit like metal until it has a satisfying shape and ring to it (never look back though – looking back is horrifying). I think sometimes people forget that critical non-fiction has similar narrative bones to fiction.

I often use writing to make sense of things. It doesn’t always work, but it’s interesting to try. I hash out my thoughts and see what’s on the page at the end of it – sometimes I draw stuff out by writing that just wasn’t as fully developed in my head and I start to see how much more interesting a work is than I first thought. I’ve said this before, but for me reviewing is kind of like taking the back off a clockwork watch and looking at how all the cogs fit together. I just think it’s fascinating to see (or to try and see) how things work. If everything clicks together in a book or a piece of media then great – examining how those pieces slot in to produce a particular effect is like watching magic. And even if the bits don’t quite all work in harmony I still gain a greater understanding of art from looking closely at what media is made up of.

I mean, I’ve absolutely had those moments when looking in more depth at something I love has shattered the surface illusion of its perfection, and felt a little bit sad, but… it was an illusion. Isn’t the reality so much more interesting and toothy? Close analysis breeds love for the oddest of subjects – ask any scientist.

And if you’re wondering why I stick with non-fiction if I like dragging understanding out of narrative so much, well, that’s just about fear. Expanding into fiction is terrifying for me and loaded down with “stuff” I’ve mostly been able to work through in regards to non-fiction. I probably promise not to bombard you with (any more) screechy e-mails about rarewomen >.>

On a personal level, reviewing also gives me a place to sort through all my thoughts and take a good hard look at them. I still think it is fascinating what you can learn about yourself from the simple act of reviewing a book. It’s not always comfortable, but reviewing requires you to think about your own prejudices and backgrounds, much like studying History sharpens your eye for other people’s biases writ large (ex-History student here).
chaila: Elizabeth Bennet reading a book, from the 2005 movie. (austen - lizzie/books)

[personal profile] chaila 2014-03-27 02:12 am (UTC)(link)
This was a really interesting read! I've become the opposite; my job now requires me to long form write ALL THE TIME; analyzing and constructing arguments is basically my entire job at the moment. And thus I have no motivation to do it for fun anymore, even though fannish writing would be on topics totally and completely unrelated to my professional writing. Still. I'm always impressed by people who can do it regularly and coherently like you do. And I feel like I get a better understanding of things by reading other people's writings, and then thinking about it or ideally having a conversation about it, so blogs like yours are great for me! Presuming I ever start reading books without pictures regularly again. :)

Close analysis breeds love for the oddest of subjects

I love this!

Emails, screechy and otherwise, always welcome!