The meaning of blogging

I was over reading Simon Sweetman's Blog on the Tracks - and something he said struck me as a recurring theme that I've encountered many a time on my own blog. I'm going to repost the quote here, but I also suggest you click over and read his entire quite wonderful post on its own, if you have the time and inclination.

Simon says: "Blogs are brain-dumps, they're conversation-starters, they're discussion-points, they're a bit of dribble to pass the time; you glance at it on your lunch break or as you fire up your computer for the day, before you start your real work.

"If a blog post ends up being ever-so-slightly more than that - an interview with a musician or a review of a gig or a think-piece that seems to have legs (for whatever reason) then that's wonderful. But the new day brings a new deadline and you just load up a few more thoughts. It's become a part-time job explaining to people that not everything here (actually, technically not anything here) is a review or an article." 

What has kick-started this train of thought was a few emails I received from a certain bookstore that I mentioned last week. Now I love independent bookshops and have spent most of my life browsing through their shelves, ferreting out some gem or other. Last week, I was so excited for Eleanor Catton and The Luminaries that I briefly mentioned my experience purchasing it.

I detailed the chat I had with the girl at the counter, who mentioned that they had sold "x" number of books. In my previous life as an actual journalist, I had also done café, bar, movie and book reviews. Everyone understands that reviews are undertaken anonymously.

I was a paying customer, buying a book, and did not feel the need to disclose that I also blogged for Stuff, a fact which I felt was irrelevant, as I don't see how that distinguishes me from any other reader out to get a book and a yarn.

The shop in question, however, seems to have taken offence to the fact that I did not disclose I was a journalist (technically, I am not, I am a blogger - what I write is my own opinion, based on personal experience) while asking how many copies they had sold.

It was something I asked out of personal inquisitiveness. There was certainly no newshound instinct on my part to dig up dirt about...well, I'm not sure what the implication was - that I was deliberately exposing commercially sensitive information? Though to what end that would help this blog or me, I really can't imagine. I was merely reviewing a customer experience, a positive one, in fact. Reviewers are not generally expected to disclose their credentials before publication, for obvious reasons.

It was altogether very bizarre, as I've written about other bookstores I love before - Time Out in Mt Eden, and Chapter Book and Tea, without also disclosing to them who I was while visiting. And it doesn't seem to have caused much of a splash either way.

But still, the incident has got me thinking about the potential for misunderstanding when it comes to the world of book blogging.

To me, a blog is exactly what Simon described above, a conversation starter, a discussion point. It's impossible to update a blog twice or thrice a week with regular reviews and interviews. I am only one woman.

Besides, the beauty of Reading is Bliss or any other blog, to me, is its wonderful informality. The sense that you are reading someone's musings, which is after all, what a blog means: a discussion.

I love that this blog engages a community of literate, opinionated, funny and passionate readers and writers of all genres, some of whom actively comment, like, share, tweet and send me Facebook messages. Others who lurk, but occasionally pop up with some hilarious gem.

I think books are the perfect subject to blog about because they are already so thematically rich. Not just books, but the whole universe involved with reading, which is infinite.

To that end, the question I have for my readers this week is: what do blogs mean to you? 

P/S: And if you have any book blogs you want to recommend to me, please do!

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