Friday, May 27, 2011

Armchair BEA ~ blogging about blogging

Today's topic for Armchair BEA week is — Blogging about blogging
How do you keep your blog fresh and interesting to your readers and yourself?
Early on, I decided not to limit my this blog to books.  As I say under my profile picture, "I read to explore ideas."  My slogan indicates I interpret that very broadly:  "Blogging about books and life since January 2007."
I include book reviews and ideas sparked by my reading, but also family activities and memes sent by other bloggers.  I even let my cat blog about whatever interests her.

Things changed dramatically around here when I got a digital camera and then a cell phone with camera, that I always had with me.  I was now able to post more than book covers I had found online.  Photos break up the blocks of words and make my blog more visually appealing.

Even though I wrote book reviews for a Chattanooga newspaper back in the 1960s, it felt different writing on my blog.  When I discovered that Dewey used a set of questions to give structure to her reviews, I started assembling my own sets of questions (notice that's plural).  The bloggers I found seemed to read mostly fiction, but I read lots of memoirs and nonfiction, as well.  Having taught college classes on religions of the world, I'm interested in religion, history, and cultures.  I made lists specifically for books of fiction, nonfiction, and memoirs.  It doesn't work to discuss characters and plot and point of view in a book about history or a memoir, for instance.

The questions were tools for collecting my thoughts about what I'd read, never to follow slavishly.  Over time, my list of questions solidified (see them in my Book review questions post).  Eventually, however, I quit using those questions in what I wrote, preferring instead to make what I said more personal.  One thing I never omit, even now:  "Title, author, copyright date, and genre."
Here are two examples of how I have done reviews.  The first one uses my list of questions, but I reviewed the other two together, comparing and contrasting them because they had a similar theme (death and traveling).  I highly recommend all three.
Latitudes of Melt ~ by Joan Clark, 2000, fiction (Canada), 9/10
Whirligig ~ by Paul Fleischman, 1998, YA fiction, 9/10
Annie Freeman's Fabulous Traveling Funeral ~ by Kris Radish, 2006, fiction, 9/10
I could go on, but ... enough!  My best short summary of what to include in a review:
Was it a good book?
Would you recommend it?
What did you like about it?
What did you dislike?
Tell us whatever you thought.


Bookfool said...

I've often used questions, too, but I change things all the time. I think I get bored with myself! LOL Nice post, Bonnie!

Helen's Book Blog said...

I always mean to include questions, but always forget. Duh me.

Bonnie Jacobs said...

I didn't participate in Armchair BEA to win anything, so I just today noticed I'm a winner!

"From your wonderful posts about Blogging About Blogging, the winners below have been chosen."

As instructed, I perused the list and decided my top five choices, in order, are:

1. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty ~ by G. Neri; Seeds of Change ~ by Jen Cullerton Johnson; Bird by Zetta Elliott (giveaway pack from Lee and Low Books)

2. The Gutenberg Rubric ~ by Nathan Everett (from Long Tale Press)

3. The Paperbark Shoe ~ by Goldie Goldbloom (from Caribou's Mom)

4. The Long Song ~ by Andrea Levy (from Caribou's Mom)

5. Cemetery of Dreams ~ by S. Mostofi (from Helen's Book Blog)

These all look good, so I'll be happy with whichever one I get. Thanks to all the sponsors, including Helen, who commented on this the day I posted it.