Sunday, January 31, 2010

TSS: What Impact Does Your Blog Have?

The Sunday Salon.comIt's hard to go through book blogosphere without bumping into a blog in which the author wants to "read deliberately" for the year- focusing on different types of deliberateness, such as reading slower, reading different genres, reading more classics, or reading books by authors of different ethnicities.  It's really interesting to me because, while I set goals I'd like to accomplish, I really just like to read for me and see where my whimsy takes me.  Then Amy wrote a post about Being a Public Reader, and how our reading choices impact the world around us that really got me thinking that maybe I am supposed to put more thought in my reading choices.

But... how much do my reading choices impact anything?  I think it's wonderful to consider your reading choices and reflect on how you do your choosing, but I don't think that I greatly impact anyone else's reading decisions through this blog.

Let me give you an example from my own experience.  Last year, I read and reviewed Wish Her Safe at Home, by Stephen Benatar.  I raved about this book.  I would use awkward segues to bring the book up in conversation ("Yes, I really like this beer, but let me tell you about this book that has nothing to do with beer...").  I listed it as my top book of 2009.  I have compared other women's literature to it.  I have pretty much exhausted any resources I have at my disposal to get people to read. that. book.

And yet, from what I can tell, no one that follows this blog (except my friend Sudha whom I gave my copy to borrow) has read, reserved, purchased or checked out this book, and I have seen no other reviews on the blogs I follow.

If you want to miss out on an excellent book, that is your prerogative ;-)  I'm just using this as an example because I don't think my reading decisions have much, if any, influence over other people's book choices.  So, while I may be a public reader, I don't think I am an impactful reader.

And I completely understand because I don't think other people's reading choices have a huge impact on what I decide to read today.  There are countless books that go on my Amazon wish list after I read a positive review (or five).  But I never buy the book immediately.  I rarely make an effort to obtain a book ASAP, unless it's one that I am already eagerly anticipating.  I may eventually get the book and read it, but that could be years from now, long after I remember what initially drew my attention to it in the first place.  And even if I get the book, that doesn't mean that I'll read it in any sort of reasonable time frame.

So really... how much influence do we really have?  Enough to change our own reading habits in the hopes of influencing other people's?

It saddens me because some books really are worth the trouble to acquire, and are deserving of blog movement and attention.  Some excellent books (The Help, The Professor and the Housekeeper, The Hunger Games, etc.) get so much attention just by being available on Shelf Awareness or through Amazon Vine or LibraryThing Early Reviewers, or because a very influential, highly followed and "recommendations viewed as gold standard" blogger brings them to our attention and everyone sits up and takes note.  Other excellent books are unloved in the corner just because the publisher couldn't afford to give away copies on a book newsletter, or because mid-level book bloggers rate it highly on their blogs. 

I truly believe that for a blog to really impact someone's reading choices, it has to be part of a movement.  That's why there are those blog tours, when you hear about the same book so many times in a month-long period.  That's why so many professional reviews are posted so soon after a book is initially published.  It is only when you get a "high-level" reviewer to mention the book positively- whether it be a New York Times reviewer or a book blogger that really has an influence or someone who recommends certain books to all her friends- that you are going to get people to move on actually acquiring the book.

I say this, but I still hope that my reading decisions will positively influence the sales of a book I truly believe in, however minimally.  That is why I am starting the With Reverent Hands segment on my blog, showcasing books that BookLust readers feel have been overlooked by the masses.  And that is why I am a co-host of the Spotlight Series, which brings blogosphere attention to great books published by small press publishers that can't afford the huge marketing pushes larger publishers can (Have you signed up yet to participate in the Spotlight on Unbridled Books yet?!  You should!).

But at the same time, I understand that old (and annoying) adage, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force it to drink."  So all we bloggers can really hope, I feel, is that we at least put the title of a book in someone else's head and that eventually, that book is read and enjoyed by someone else as much as it was read and enjoyed by us.

What do you think?  Do you agree or disagree with me? And why?


  1. Arggg, stupid computer ate my post :(

    Ok, I make it shorter.
    My library sucks.
    I do not buy many books. Those I buy I am 90 % I will really enjoy, in genres that have proved good. I seldom even take a leap on my beloved fantasy.
    But titles I have heard are stored in my head, and this year I have read many books cos of bloggers.

    Will totally read Abercrombie cos of you, just hoping the library will pick it up. You have influenced me :)
    I am just to careful with my money to buy it, fantasy is dangerous territory for me. I either hate or love it

  2. I too will totally read Wish Her Safe at Home because of you. Eventually :P Stupid no library and book buying ban thing...

    But seriously, I agree - I don't think each individual blogger has much of an impact. It's together that we're strong. So when it comes to deciding to make books by POC more visible, for example, it might not matter if I do it, or you do it, or bloggers x and y do it...but together, if we're all doing it, it adds up.

  3. I agree too for the most part - the most influence seems to come from books being spread around a lot and then being blogged about by a lot of people. But still, you never know, because there isn't always direct feedback. I often write down the titles of books from good reviews, forget the name of the blog, later buy or somehow get the book, and love it. It happens, even if you don't always know it!

  4. Aarti.....I read your review on Wish Her Safe at Home, and took your advice. I did start this book last week, I am enjoying i but had to stop to finish a few other books. I should be able to post a review by next Sunday. It is very good. Thanks so much

  5. Anonymous1/31/2010

    Your post got me thinking and agreeing with you. I guess I never thought about how my blog posts and my reading could influence anyone - heck it's hard to influence my own daughters to read some of the excellent YA books I read. But when you think about the smaller publishers - I think we can have an influence. A couple of my reviews were seen by the authors and pushed out to their own sites - and I would like to hope that they may encourage one person to read their books. But in the end, advertising and peer pressure is what I suspect will win in the end. On that note - though - can you point me to more info on your "With Reverant Hands"?

  6. Really interesting thoughts. I know I've written down the titles of books based on one review and have had others say they're doing the same based on my reviews. The trouble I have is that my lists grow so quickly because of the many, many great books people are reading that it takes me forever to get around to reading recommended books. Plus, I think there's more pressure to read the books everyone is talking about, just to be in on the conversation, and that means missing out on some great "under the radar" books.

  7. Honestly I'd have to disagree. I think we CAN make an impact. I've had people buy/borrow and read books based on the things I've said. I think the problem is more that there are so many of us saying good things, so that even if you want to acquire all the books a blogger talks about, you may not get to reading them right away. I label each of the books that goes on my wishlist on Goodreads with the person who influenced me to put it on my TBR pile. When I eventually get around to reading it - I DO have 300+ books on there - I give that person credit. Sometimes books drop off the list as I learn more or as I change my mind, but there are definitely bloggers that have a huge impact on my reading habits, and I know I've influenced others as well. Maybe not as much as some bloggers (hem...Ana...), but still some.

  8. I'm in the middle ground because I do pick up books others recommend on blogs (when I was starting to get into YA bloggers were the only decent, trustworthy resource I had) and I add titles to my gigantic to be read physical list, whcih means eventually if it's on there I'll get to it.

    However I agree it's as a group effort that bloggers make a impact, that's why I like linking up my reviews with others review because if you read one review maybe you'll think about it, if you read a bunch you're more likely to think carefully about that book.

    Saying that I'm not a big fan of book tours (except the Classics tour) because I get book review burnout from having the same book shoved into my feedreader vision many times. But I love other big blogger efforts to get books into peoples hands.

  9. I don't know how much impact my reading choices have on the rest of the world. I do know that my preferences can shape the books I purchase for my Media Centers unless I deliberately try to disreguard my personal taste and strive for balance. It is easy to see the taste of some of my predocessors in the collections of my media centers. There was the librarian who loved cats and there was the major women's libber, for example.

    In my personal reading, I read for pleasure and like to share my love of reading with others. But I will admit that my taste is ideosyncratic and variable. I am influenced by the blogs I read and purchase a lot of books that I know I won't soon get a chance to read. I have well over 500 on my TBR piles and more come in weekly. I wish I had the restraint to just add a book to a wishlist instead of actually purchasing it.

    I think, like one of the commenters above, that our impact is not so much individually but as a group. I think it is pretty clear that it was the uproar in the blogging community that caused the cover change for Magic Under Glass. That kind of power should also make us think about our responsibilities.

  10. The way you feel about Wish Her Safe at Home is how I feel about Rage: A Love Story.

    I don't think that I have any real sort of influence at all. I have a few friends, on the blog and off, who will go out of their way to try to find a book that I've raved about on my blog, but beyond that I don't think there's much I do. But I agree with what others have said, that bloggers can become influential en mass, which is why I am now actively promoting books by and about people of color. I'm not necessarily increasing the number of books I read - I've always been a pretty omnivorous reader. My deliberateness is taking the time in my review to say "yes, this book is about a person of color, even if you can't tell by the cover."

  11. Great post! I hadn't really thought about my impact on what people choose to read, but I do love it when I read a book and then someone else told me they read it too. It's a shared love of a certain book. Book bloggers do have influence (Bloomsbury, for example) but you are correct that there tends to be "big" books that make the circuit and get lots of attention. Honestly, when I see the same book reviewed over and over I start to skip the reviews since I feel like I've heard enough (blog tours for example).

    I read the books I want to read, not what everyone else is reading. I try to keep in mind the students at my school as well so that I can recommend good books to them. For that reason I try to read a variety of genres, settings, and authors (POC, LGBTQ, etc).

    But, I do love reading book blogs and getting recommendations for books I haven't heard of. Many of them end up on my "to buy" list for my library (personal and school) and find their way onto our shelves and into the hands of our students. I am pretty good at pushing books on students that I know will like them :-)

  12. I don't agree entirely with your assessment of the impact. For starters, not everyone who reads any book blog has a blog themselves to write a review of a recommended book on, alerting the original blogger that her recommendation has been taken. Add that to the fact that you may not routinely visit or follow all the bloggers that visit or follow you so you could easily miss someone taking up your recommendation. Then there's the habit we all have of forgetting to note where something piqued our interest and/or to credit or visit and offer our appreciation for the recommendation. I don't even always tell the people I know in person that I've followed up on their suggested reading and enjoyed it.

    I do know, from small comments made by friends and family members that they do use my blog as a place to ferret out books they might otherwise not come across. Do I receive this validation often? No. Very infrequently actually. But just the other day I had another small bit of proof of this as a family member thanked me profusely for the last book her book club read, saying it was a marvelous choice. Now, I also know from my mom, that this same family member has said that members of her book club check out my blog before taking suggestions to their meetings. Ironically enough, although the group meets here in my town, I've never been invited to join it. And this family member has never told me that her group uses my blog to this extent, telling my mother instead. How many people out there aren't related to me or personal friends who use the blog in a similar manner? That's certainly something I'll never know. But it is being done, and if it's being done on my little blog, it's being done on loads of other little blogs and certainly on bigger blogs.

    Authors and publishers rely in large part on word of mouth when they can't afford to blanket the blogging world with ARCs or to pay for prime placement on those front rounders in big bookstores. And there have been enough instances of book buzz carrying a book far past publisher expectations that this kind of advertising, of which blogging is a part, continues to be important. Book sellers aren't the only ones who handsell books. And just because there's no physical evidence in the blogging world that your recommendation has had an impact, like with the idea of the Butterfly Effect, the smallest mention can ultimately create a huge groundswell, even if the originator has no idea that it can be traced back to her and her blog. This is one of the reasons why I review everything I read on my blog, not just the review copies. Who knows how my positive review (I prefer not to think of the negative ones) affects things ultimately.


  13. In all honesty, I am far more inclined to search out books based on reviews from what you're calling mid-level book blogs, friends, and e-mail book lists than from the big names in reviewing, who not only very frequently don't align with my tastes but who only touch the tip of the iceberg of available books anyway (and usually only the big name authors or members of the inner circle in the publishing world anyway). I like to range further afield in my reading and so I round it out with recommendations from people whose tastes I trust. And certainly blogs can make me stretch myself, especially if I know from reading it for a long time that we have similar tastes. And sometimes it takes a while to trust a blogger's recommendations. That's why we follow those whose taste aligns so closely with our own. If that person liked books A, B, C, and D just like I did, I'm more inclined to look at Book X, which normally wouldn't appeal to me at all and say, "Well, maybe I *should* give this one a try." Do I generally go back and let the person know after I've read it that I appreciated the recommendation? Nope. I will review it but if the blogger doesn't follow my blog, she'll have no idea that I took and appreciated her recommendation. And I have to extrapolate and guess this happens all over blogland and with non-bloggers and with family and friends too.

    Our blogs may be but the flap of a butterfly wing in Brazil but that's no reason why they can't cause that tornado in Texas.

  14. Anonymous1/31/2010

    Just speaking personally, I have to say that my reading has changed a lot since I started blogging. Before starting my blog two years ago, I didn't read much YA, had never heard of a graphic novel, and didn't think at all about what nationality the authors were that I was reading (they were mostly white, btw). Now all that has changed. There are other ways I've been affected by reading blogs, but that is just one example. I don't plan to change the world with my blog, but if I can influence one person to pick up something they otherwise would not have, I consider that a success.

  15. I don't know about everyone else, but A LOT of the books I read these days are books I've heard about on other people's blogs. I started reading book blogs because I was suffering acute not-knowing-what-to-read-next and I'd exhausted the book recommendations of everyone I knew personally.

    I've just counted, and of the nineteen books I've reviewed so far this year, six are rereads, and nine I read because other bloggers said to. And then to make sure it wasn't a fluke, I started reading through my booklist from last year, and making tally marks for various categories, and yes! Books I got from the blogosphere were in a majority.

    And I know this wasn't your main point, but I totally intend to read Wish Her Safe at Home. As soon as my library buys it, I shall check it out, because it sounds wonderful.

  16. Blodeuedd- Haha, I'm glad! I'm not blaming you for not getting Abercrombie! I know exactly what you mean about either loving or hating books in a genre. I guess I just mean I'm not sure that one blog can make too much of an impact, if it's not part of a movement.

    Nymeth- Yes, exactly. I think the group thing is really pretty key.

    Rhapsody- Yes, it does happen, but not in a big number is what I mean. I think it's great to influence someone to buy a book- but like i said, it could take months or years for a person to move on that recommendation. Whereas if a lot of people are talking about something- either a book, a publisher or a problem- then movement tends to happen a lot faster. I don't think the individual tends to have much impact.

    Diane- I saw that as your Teaser :-) I hope you are able to finish it and I look forward to seeing your review.

    Michelle- Certainly! I will put the first With Reverent Hands post up this week, but here's a link to more information:

    Teresa- I completely agree about the pressure!

    Amanda- Yes, but that's what I mean. Maybe a blogger heavily influences *your* reading habits (and I know Ana influences =everyone's!), but I think it is unlikely that blogger will get a lot of attention to a book unless that blogger is part of a movement. For example, what happened with Daddy-Long-Legs. Randomly now, so many people are reading that because of a trickle through the blogs. But that probably wouldn't have happened without the "read, review, recommend" stream occurring as well, bringing the book to a lot of people's attention instead of just a few.

    Nerds- I also get review burnout! I agree with everything you said.

    Kathy- Yes, definitely. As a group, we can have a big impact.

    Angela- I shall seek out your review of Rage ASAP. And I think your approach is great. Just doing what you can and hoping for the best.

    hcmurdoch- That is so cool that you push certain books on your students :-)

    Kristen- Wow, thanks for your detailed response! I don't disagree with you. I just think that for bloggers to make a more quantifiable difference (I used to be an accountant- I like quantifiable things), it has to be more of a movement than the "cheese stands alone" approach.

    Heather- That's a really great example! But would you say that you've been influenced by *several* blogs telling you that you should read YA and graphic novels and books by POC, or just one? I would guess it's a group thing rather than just one blog. And I think blogging is great for spreading ideas on that high level. But I'm not sure if it has as big an impact on specific titles, particularly ones that aren't read widely.

    Jenny- SIX rereads? Are you part of the Flashback Challenge? :-) And I didn't mean that blogs in general won't influence people's reading. Just that *one* blog in *particular* isn't likely to make a huge impact.

    I am totally aware that perhaps the movement from my head to my hand did not work well above!

  17. I am actually more likely to read a book if it isn't part of a flood of reviews. I like it when a new to me book shows up in the reader and the reviewer is raving about it. I now have both Wish Her Safe At Home and Blankets on my TBR list thanks to you (and Ana).

    I blog for my own sake but if I can show people what is out there then I am happy. I might not convince them to read something but maybe I cause them to think.

  18. Zee- I like new, "smaller" books, too. I think your approach is good. That's kind of what I say at the end of the post. I don't really think individual bloggers can make a huge difference or impact on reading as a whole. But I still try to maybe get one or two people going my way and start a *tiny* movement like that.

  19. Most of what I wanted to say has been said, so simply put: I agree. Individually I'm unsure of our influence because we are primarily preaching to readers...and readers already know what they want to read for the most part.

  20. This is a really great post and I enjoyed reading everyone's comments too :) I somewhat agree. I started reading book blogs before I started my own because I frustrated with book reviews I was getting in magazines that were just being paid for my publishers - I wanted honest reviews so I knew whether I really should read a book. So yeah, I have bloggers that I do really trust reviews from and those I kind of do. Also, if a book is mentioned over and over again on many blogs then I'll take note if it's in a genre I like. I have to wonder how many people I influence because the vast majority of people who visit my blog don't comment so who even really knows but you hope at least a little bit!

    I did have the same scenario with you last year where I read a book last year, 'Love in the Present Tense' where I wanted to tell everyone they should read it and give it everyone for Christmas and still I haven't seen anyone review it. Oh well. Upwards and onwards!

  21. hear, hear!

    Great post!

  22. Excellent post! I really hadn't thought much about my individual blog having any impact. But you raised some thought provoking points. I'd like to make more of an effort to read and review promising new books that aren't receiving much attention.

  23. Anonymous1/31/2010

    Well, you did get me to buy and read The King's English. :-)

    But I do agree with you. Ultimately, I read what I feel like reading. Someone might mention a book (and like Jill I'll forget where I saw it) that I end up putting on my tbr list, but I still buy most of my books after cruising through the bookstore.

  24. Wow, this is a very interesting topic and one that has been on my mind lately. Especially when an author or publicist e-mails me and offers me a book to review. I've been lurking around on the fringes of the book blogosphere for, I guess, a relatively long time. I definitely don't have the time and can't spare the effort to be a "top" book blogger. So, yes, when such an e-mail arrives in my box, my first thought is, "Geez, what made them pick me? What made this author/publisher/publicist think that a review on my comparatively feeble blog is going to make a big difference in who reads or doesn't read their book?" I certainly sympathize with your concerns that as individuals we might not have any sort of immediate impact on peoples' book purchases, especially considering that I myself very rarely run out and buy a book immediately even based on the most glowing review from the most convincing blogger. (But then, I wouldn't run out and buy a book immediately based on a glowing review in a "trusted" print publication either. So, maybe that's all beside the point.) Despite the lack of immediacy, though, I don't often forget a truly glowing review. Though I might not run out and grab that book immediately, a seed is planted, and that book does lurk in the back of my mind so that perhaps the next time I just happen to be at the book store, I *will* pick that book up. So, then, I guess I would say that individually it is *possible* we could impact a few readers to pick up the books we loved.

    As a community, though, I think the book blogosphere has been evolving into a powerful force, much more powerful than when I wrote my first few posts on my baby blog a couple of years ago. Even if we don't, as individual bloggers, have much of an impact, I think as a community we have a powerful ability to create buzz, even about books that aren't out on blog tours or being sent en mass to all sorts of bloggers everywhere. I've seen books that definitely aren't in the current spotlight gain a following as a result of a wave of bloggers reading them of their own accord. Sure, it doesn't happen every time, but it does, and when it does, it reminds me that even if I don't always think my one small glowing review has an impact on its own, as a part of a larger community creating positive buzz about a title it does seem to have an impact. Word of mouth is an essential tool in selling any product, and I think what we have, as a book blogosphere, is essentially word of mouth but with a much larger audience than we would normally be able to reach. The thing about word of mouth, though, is that it does take time.

    So I guess what I'm trying to say is that we can have an impact as individuals in our ability to start the ball rolling with a certain great book, and if the book blogosphere ends up coming along for the ride, then we can really make a difference all together. In the way of old adages, then, if a long journey begins with a single step, then I think it can be said that a lot of book buzz can begin with a single blogger. (Deep, huh?)

  25. I could say quite a bit about this post, but I'll try to keep this short, as you already have a bagazillion huge comments.
    I don't really believe in reading deliberately and more, like you, believe in just reading for me.
    I kind of disagree about the impact thing, though, at least for me. If I hear a raving review from someone whose reviews I have really come to trust, the chances of me reading that book in a timely fashion are raised extraordinarily. A timely fashion is, in general, for me, within a year.
    But I think if my review causes a book to even make it to someone's amazon wishlist, that's a pretty big impact.
    I think you have more power than you believe. :-)

  26. Trisha- Thank you for your comment. I agree :-) No one is going to read something they don't want to read any more.

    Amused- I will certainly look into that book you mention! I hope it becomes a hit.

    She- Haha, thanks.

    Stephanie- I want to do the same. I hope I can, somehow!

    Softdrink- I love that about your blog! That you find so many books no one else is reading through your perusal of the shelves. Like Eudora Welty, for example. And I'm thrilled you read and enjoyed The King's English :-D

    Megan- Um, your blog is not what I'd call on the fringe! I'm a devoted follower :-) You're right about individuals creating a movement. That hopefully makes it into a bigger and bigger snowball.

    Brizmus- Yes, I think bloggers can influence a few other bloggers... but not reading as a movement, especially with older books or ones that don't have as much marketing behind them. I think it's easier when a lot of people are reviewing the same book. Not so easy if it's sort of a one-off. But I'd be thrilled to have more impact than I think :-)

  27. What a wonderful thought-provoking post!!! I love it. So much to think about.

    I personally like to try all kinds of things to read, and I've found that reading book blogs has really expanded my awareness of what books are out there. I do notice that I tend to add books I'm predisposed to like anyway but just didn't know about OR if I've read someone's blog for awhile and know that they tend to like a lot of the same things I like (the trust factor is there).

    I do find it tiresome to hear about the same books over and over again. But I get that there are "hot" books out there. I have gotten burned though in hearing so many raves about a book and then trying it and not loving it like everyone else. But still ... if 20 bloggers seem to love a book, chances are I'll try it to see what the hype is about.

    I know some people have gotten a book to read based on what I've written on my blog and find that both terrifying and gratifying at the same time. I feel somewhat responsible if someone reads a book I rave about. What if they don't like it? They won't trust me anymore. But still... reading is such a personal thing; you just never know.

    I always feel bad when I visit blogs who love genres that I just don't care for. I'm not a "cozy mystery" person (it doesn't appeal to me) so I always feel "fake" when commenting on a post about those books. But I still want to be encouraging.

    I think the most we can hope for is to be exposed to other books, enjoy writing our posts and call it a day.

    Wonderful post!!!!

  28. Sometimes I want to try to read books that others aren't reading and sometimes I want to read what I want read. I'm in a cozy mystery mood lately and that is hardly influential reading. When I'm in the right mood though, I want something no one else is reading.
    Book tours never influence me. Book recommendations from bloggers I trust do though, and something I started this year keeping a spreadsheet to write down the books that look good and the bloggers that recommend them.

  29. Thanks, Jenners! I know exactly what you mean about the terrifed/gratified balance :-)

  30. Well, now that you've mentioned that book again, I really want to read it! So seems like you do have an influence there.

  31. Hey - I've been wondering the same thing, whether anyone picks up books I've reviewed because I've reviewed them. I've noticed, at least on my blog, that reviews are the posts that get the fewest number of comments, whereas posts about a particular topic generate a lot more in-depth conversation. I wish it were the opposite, but oh well...

    For my own blog-perusing, a positive review by a blogger is usually a validation of a book I'm already interested in. I almost never read a review of a book I haven't heard of and go out and buy it immediately.

    One other point - while you may have had trouble convincing people to read the books you've enjoyed, you've been successful in influencing me, at least, to do something else book-related: I first read about Open Books on your blog, and just started volunteering at the store - absolutely love it so far and can't think you enough for bringing it to my attention!



  32. What a wonderful post :) I agree with a lot of the points that you made in the post, but I found myself agreeing with a lot of the commenters as well regarding book bloggers as a whole promotions POC authors etc. Something more to think about...

  33. I bought Wish Her Safe at Home! I plan to read it in March. I think you under estimate the power of your blog, as many people will buy books, but not tell you.

  34. What a great post. I have to say, I love your Sunday Salon posts because they always make me think (and yes, I know I've said that before).

    I think I agree with you in some ways - I understand what you mean about being part of a movement in order to get books recognition and such. But, for example, I have been tirelessly crusading for people to read Thrity Umrigar for about a year now, and people are finally getting to her on their TBR lists (and loving her, yay!). Sometimes I think it takes awhile to see the fruits of our labor because bloggers are so bogged down with books to read. Your blog is one where if you love a book, I'll automatically add it to my TBR list. When I'll get to it is a COMPLETELY different story. :-)

  35. Lu- Do it! It's amazing :-)

    Greg- Oh, I'm thrilled! When do you volunteer? Would be fun to meet face-to-face some time! And you should tell Kevin you're there because of me ;-)

    Clover- Yes, lots to mull!

    Farmlanebooks- Yay! I am looking forward to your review.

    S. Krishna- Thank you! I enjoy writing the Sunday Salon posts. You're right about it taking a while to see the fruits of our labor- sometimes it can be a while but I guess it's still an influence!

  36. Aarti - I'll be there tomorrow night from 5-7 pm and next Monday (2/8) from 5-7 pm. Yeah, it would be fun to say 'hi.'

    I actually did tell Kevin I heard about the organization from your blog - he was impressed! :)

  37. Bloggers definitely influence the books I read, especially in the early days before I blogged and I only followed 3 or 4 blogs. Amanda over at Zen Leaf was one of the first book blogs I regularly read and I added so many books to my reading wishlist directly due to her recommendations. I might not have necessarily read them yet, but I definitely will someday. Great topic as always!

  38. I do agree with you, I'm not sure I have a huge individual impact. I have had a few people pick up books based on my recommendations (and I love that) but I think it's all more powerful if many, many bloggers review a particular loved book. I know I rarely buy a book I've just heard about on impulse, unless I see it for $1. I just can't afford to buy them all (or any right now, hah). They do appear eventually, though, so I'm torn with how I feel towards other bloggers and what I feel my own effect is.

    Great, thoughtful post, Aarti!

  39. Very insightful post Aarti. I must say that I read a lot of blogs on books, and most of the time, if I read a great review, or a series of great reviews, it does influence my reading choices at times. Some bloggers tend to veer heavily into books that I know I am going to like, and I really look to them to find books that I would not otherwise know existed. Your blog is that way for me. I have purchased several books that you have been excited about, and if it were not for commitments on my reading time, I would have been able to delve in by now!! I do hope that I can read Wish Her Safe at Home very soon, and as a matter of fact, it is on the top of my pile, staring at me whenever I look at my side table! On the other hand, I don't think that my reviews or opinions really hold any sway over other readers, so I can understand how you can feel that way. I guess what I am thinking is that although we may not think that we hold sway over others with our reviews and opinions, I think that in some special cases, we do, and that even though we don't often see our recommendations working, they really do sometimes.

  40. This is a really interesting post. I've had a few bloggers and friends read books I suggsted or raved about, and that's a really good feeling. But overall, do I think I'm convincing people to read a ton more nonfiction or literary journalism -- probably not.

    That said, a lot of the blogging and writing I do is for me. And writing about books isn't necessarily to get people to read them, but maybe read and think about the issues the book raises for me.

    And I agree with what other people have said -- in mass, I think bloggers to have an impact on what is read and not read. I tend to avoid books advertised on some of the sites you mentioned, just because I lik eto read things that other people aren't reading, but that may also be part of why my personal impact is so small.

  41. This is a great topic, Aarti. I really am not sure where I stand. In the big picture, I don't see my blog as being a change agent in anyway. On the small scale, among those who follow my blog, I know of readers who have read books because of something I said. Just as other bloggers have encouraged me to read books I might not have read otherwise.

    Like you, I read for myself. And that sometimes includes the book titles and authors that seem to get a lot of attention online. I only read books I really want to read, that I think I can get something out of. Even though I have a blog where I talk about the books I read, I still think of my reading experience as a personal one. I read for a variety of reasons, depending on what I most need in that moment. If someone reading my blog is inspired by something I've said, then great. If not, that's okay too.

  42. Wish Her Safe at Home looks good. Not at my library, I'll have to check the LBS.

    I read for myself but that said, since I've been offline since my Dad died, I've noticed that I read a lot more books just for me, which is odd, because I had no idea I was even thinking of the blog or any comments on my books. But as it turns out.....

  43. This is a very interesting discussion. Something Kristen said way back rings a bell for me, about how we're not all as systematic about listing who brought what book to our attention, and how it can be years afterwards that we read a recommended book (I'm noting the title you mention, but who knows when I'll get to it).

    I don't much want to be part of movements like the blog tours. I don't really want to influence peoples' reading. Maybe this is because I'm a teacher and get to assign books to college students.

    What I want to do is talk about books with other people who love them. The thing that rings a bell is that communicating that kind of love is ultimately the only thing that can ever "make" someone read a book you recommend. This is something I know from occasional comments from former students--they remember what I communicated real love for, and often it influenced them in ways I didn't notice and couldn't have predicted.

  44. As someone who is deliberate about their reading, I don't do it to impact other people. I do it for myself. :)

    I pretty much agree w/ Ana's view of the situation, lol. So I guess I don't really have anything smart to say, but there you go. For me, reading deliberately is less about changing the world than changing my view of it. That being said, I believe that if more individual book bloggers read more POC authors, we could start a trend that would have an impact. So I hope that by reviewing/mentioning/etc. the POC books that I read, I encourage people, consciously or not, to read outside of the white wash zone.


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