Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchair BEA: Introductions

 
Well, everyone seems to be participating in Armchair BEA, and I am not as immune to peer pressure as I wish, so I figured I'd join in, too ;-)  I've never been to BEA before, but I do want to interact with more bloggers as I haven't really reached out to find new ones in a long time, and I bet a lot of you out there are TOTES awesome and people that I should know.  So here I am, making my introduction!

1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself:  Who are you?  How long have you been blogging?  Why did you get into blogging?

I feel this question is cheating by putting four questions into one!  Therefore, I am going to answer selectively.  My name is Aarti, and I have been book blogging for about 7 years now.  I haven't been blogging super-consistently over that time, but I have been very consistent over the past three years or so  As to why I got into blogging, see above- probably got into it because everyone else was doing it.  It's a sad answer, I know, but it's the truth.

Now, of course, I tell people that I got into blogging because I wanted a record of the books I read and to track my reading over time.  I would like to give my younger self credit for that forethought and sensitivity, but I can't really.  Now, though, I DO blog because I want a record of the books I read and to track my reading over time.  So... I have matured.

2.  What are you currently reading?

I am reading the behemoth A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth.  As an Indian, I generally give myself a Get Out of Jail Free card for reading books by Indian authors.  Mostly because a lot of Indian books are about Indian immigrants to other countries and how difficult it is to straddle two such different cultures.  Well, I know that from my own experience and don't need to read a book about it.

BUT reading books that actually take place in India is different because I do not have that experience at all and those books cover all sorts of different topics, not just arranged marriages (though those often come up), and so I figured I should make up for years of neglect by reading one book that is basically the equivalent of 6 regular books.  Also, one of my best friends says the book is amazing and I trust her judgment.  So far, it is pretty awesome.

3.  Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

I hate butterflies.

4.  Which is your favorite post that you have written that you want everyone to read?
Hmm, I don't really know.  I think I have written a lot of posts that I wish more people would read and comment on ;-)  I was really sad when my review of Incognegro didn't really get any comments.  In general, my reviews of non-fiction books also don't get as many people clicking through to read.  I don't know why- people seem really scared of non-fiction in a way that doesn't really make sense to me.

But I guess the posts that I feel most deeply about are the following:

http://aartichapati.blogspot.com/2010/01/rant-against-victorian-women.html
http://aartichapati.blogspot.com/2010/01/for-discussion-racism-in-fantasy-its.html

Clearly, I was very introspective in January 2010.

5.  What is your favorite part of the book blogging community?  Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?

I feel like most people's answer to the first part of this question will be "I love the community and the people."  As I don't think I'm really a central member of the community at all, and because I don't want to say the same thing that everyone else says, I'm going to say something different.  I love that book bloggers expose me to books that I'd never have stumbled across otherwise, and that the community has really challenged me to think more critically about the way I read.  When I started blogging, I read almost solely historical fiction and fantasy, and while those still comprise a good chunk of my reading material, I can also say that I've become more of a feminist and much more widely-read in the past few years than ever before in my life.  I mentioned all this in a post I wrote earlier this year.

As for what I would change in the community- I think we are unkind to each other.  Book bloggerdom has gotten so competitive, and it makes me sad.  There are so many flare-ups and hurtful comments made in the community.  People are accused and vilified for so many ridiculous things, and there is so much strong reaction to everything, to the extent that my Google Reader will be filled with "responses" to current drama in blogosphere and that blogger's specific reaction to the drama.  Seriously, I don't need you to tell me that you do not condone plagiarism in a blog post manifesto.  I just want to hear what you think about the books you read.  So I guess if I could see change in the community, I'd want people to worry less about what other people are doing and how many followers they have and how many ARCs they get and how many exclusive parties they're invited to and how welcoming they are to new bloggers.  Just focus on yourself and your blog and the books, and DROP THE DRAMA.

59 comments:

  1. Welcome to Armchair BEA! It's nice to meet you! I am now wondering if there is a reason you hate butterflies. Have fun this week!

    Lisa

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    1. There was a traumatic experience in my childhood that has not quite left me. Let's leave it at that :-)

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  2. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on reading and blogging. I'm really curious about the butterflies, though!

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    1. The traumatic experience involved a very vivid nightmare that I still can't forget.

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  3. Welcome to Armchair BEA! I hear you about the drama and the hundreds of posts reacting - sometimes I want to hear about it, but usually I just want to ignore it. I think most of us grow up from when we first started blogging and that's a good thing!

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    1. Yes, thank goodness! Or I suppose we realize that the same drama comes around every couple of years.

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  4. YES - drop the drama already! I hope Armchair BEA does help you find new/more bloggers to interact with. I can't count how many great blogs I've found already today - including yours.

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    1. Thank you! I will be visiting your shortly as well and anticipate a lot of happiness there :-)

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  5. Hahaha, I think I must just be missing out on all the drama. I only ever read about it way after the fact. (The same way I ever get into TV shows, years and years after they're over.)

    Also, what? You hate butterflies? People don't hate butterflies. Really? How come? Too fluttery for you? You should have had one of those butterfly gardens like my sisters had when we were little. It came with all these cocoons, and you took care of them, and then one day they hatched into beautiful butterflies, and the red color from their wings wept onto your fingers. And then you released them into the wild to be happy! (Actually to die, I realize now, because butterflies don't live very long, but the packaging and whatnot said it was for them to be happy.)

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    1. I only find the drama after the fact, too, but then it is in ALL OF THE PLACES! Also, same about TV - case in point, I am now watching Battlestar Galactica.

      A butterfly garden sounds like my worst nightmare. I want none of those horrible insect wings weeping anywhere on me!

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  6. Oh yea, butterflies are TOO dramatic. (I just *knew* the Jenny who responded about the happy butterflies had to be the Jenny of Jenny's Books! yay)

    I have to admit, I have been avoiding most of the BEA and even the Armchair BEA rah-rah cuz I just want to hide and be on the fringe and not feel jealous/sad I'm not in NYC. AND sometimes I am weary of it, the so-called community. Boy, do I sound like a curmudgeon right now. Does that gobsmack you?!

    On the other hand, I love the friends I've made and I love readalongs and fun comment exchanges. and having a place to track my reading, pretending to think critically about my reading (I really don't feel like I'm evolving on that) and to have just a few people get excited about what I read, too, when I post on such.

    So, I'm glad you are a part of *MY* book blogging community. :)

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    1. Of COURSE it was Jenny's Books Jenny :-) Only she...

      I understand being weary of the community because it is so large and there is only so much commenting one can do and also there are so many memes to wade through!

      Nice use of gobsmack. Appreciative applause from this end of the internet!

      I am glad we are in the same blogging community, too :-)

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  7. One of my closest friends hates butterflies, too! The drama bothers me, but I chose not to get into in my post...

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    1. Haha, I know your feelings on the drama! I am glad I am not the only one who dislikes butterflies. Neither of my siblings likes them, either, but I think they are just copying me.

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  8. I'm seeing a pattern here, with the people I know have been blogging for a good while saying they don't notice or participate in the drama anymore. Although I do love drama, I'm with you about just wanting to hear what people think about the books!

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    1. Yes, to be fair, I only saw the drama for one thing this year, and that is because it took over my Google Reader and was pointed out to be in private emails. But it STILL annoyed me! Just get to the books, people :-)

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  9. You hate butterflies? How come?? I personally hate spiders and it's because when I was little I had one climb up my leg while wearing a dress...I've been afraid and hated them ever since! :P

    Unfortunately, I think you're right about the book blogging community being unkind to each other. At least not everyone is like that though I guess. And the community is very good at helping you discover new books to check out and new book interests. :)

    Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself Aarti! It's been great getting to know you! :)
    Ambur
    My Armchair BEA Introductions Post

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    1. Thanks, Ambur! I can see why you hate spiders. My experience was EVEN WORSE THAN THAT with butterflies, if you can imagine. Well, in my opinion, I guess. I assume your spider experience was pretty horrific for you, and I think it would freak me out, too, depending on the spider. I don't mind house spiders, but I don't like BIG spiders. Or, at least, not close to me.

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  10. Read your rant about Victorian woman and it gave me some food for thought. I think I gave a past to Soulless because it was Steampunk and therefore not representative. I will have to mull this over. Hummmm....

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    1. Ooh, thanks for clicking the link and I'm glad it made you think a little bit. Once you notice it, though, it's hard to STOP noticing it ;-)

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  11. I could see the whole butterfly thing.

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    1. I KNEW you'd understand! Sigh. I am so glad we are friends.

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  12. Butterflies?! No! Not butterflies! Ok, I'll stop picking on you. I see that you also caved to peer pressure when you started blogging. See, it's not always bad.

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    1. Haha, very true! Sometimes it can be grand :-)

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  13. I love your answer about the best part of the blogging community. I love that I have been exposed to so many books that I would otherwise probably missed out on if it had not been for the blogging community! They really have sold me a TON of books! I love seeing the selling power of the community talked about because I believe we DO sell books!

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    1. I agree! Or, at least send a lot of people to the library, which I also count as a real win.

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  14. I'll admit, I just totally burst out laughing at "I hate butterflies." My little girls would be heartbroken to hear there's a person in the world who hates butterflies. ;-)

    Nice to meet you! Thanks for stopping by my Armchair BEA intro!

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    1. Less butterflies near me means more butterflies near them!

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  15. I can't believe I've been reading The Project Gutenburg blog but haven't taken the tim to come here a well. And while I don't hate butterflies, I'm a little puzzled by those who go crazy over them.

    Hope you enjoy your week

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    1. You could say I'm biased, but I'm puzzled by those people, too.

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  16. Too fluttery? ha ha Jenny

    It's true about all the book exposure; I forgot about that aspect, and sometimes that is the part I like best, since I flee the drama. No manifestos on my blog, thank you very much. Luckily, most of the people I hang around with also avoid the drama.

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    1. Yes, that makes it easier to avoid! My Reader has mostly been culled of drama-rific people.

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  17. I agree with you about the community thing. I do like the small community of people I communicate with now, but I have significantly limited the number of blogs I follow. I do see a lot of things in the blogging community I don't like, and it's so much easier for me to just stick to a small little circle.

    I'll admit, sometimes I want to comment on your posts but I'll feel intimidated about what you read that I don't know what to say, LOL. I know, I need to not let myself think that way!

    I find it interesting that you don't necessarily read books about Indian people straddling the cultures... I a half Korean and am always wanting to read more about how people do that, but I guess it's been a big issue for me and I am always interested in seeing how other people do it and/or relating to them! Although I will agree I look for there to be something more to it or maybe deeper than that just being the main plot point.

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    1. Yes, I like small communities, too. I generally prefer small groups to large groups, so that makes sense generally.

      I'm really sad that I intimidate you! I'm a very nice and friendly person, I promise :-)

      As for the Indian books, I don't know. I have read some books about it, but I feel like so many of them are very black and white and ignore the gray areas. Maybe I'm reading the wrong ones? They present one culture as very restrictive and the other as very liberal, and I don't think that is necessarily true. For example, my parents were quite strict on school things, but they were not nearly so limiting on my social stuff as a lot of the books make Indian parents out to be.

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  18. Not to give you nightmares or anything, but my mom has a butterfly tattoo.

    I don't. In fact, I will pledge my blog as a butterfly-free zone.:-D

    And yes, let's all just drop the drama and be friends.

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    1. WHEW, thanks for the butterfly-free zone! Too bad all of the internet can't be declared as that :-)

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  19. Hi Aarti, I have just recently found your blog, I cant wait to read your review of A Suitable Boy, I was given this book years ago, but keep moving it around the bookshe;ves as it is so ...big.

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    1. It IS really big! I have trouble committing to it myself as it feels like I never make any progress. But I will read it!

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  20. As I pointed out in my intro, I don't feel like I blog often enough or consistently enough to get caught up in any drama, but I agree with you--let's keep it about the books!

    Your feelings about butterflies are obvious, but what about caterpillars? I'm okay with butterflies, but caterpillars can be a little creepy.

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    1. Caterpillars *can* be creepy. Not surprising, as they become butterflies later in life.

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  21. Butterflies, really? Hm. Well I'm not here to judge. ;)
    I had read A Suitable Boy years ago and really enjoyed it. Though I couldn't get into Seth's other book, An Equal Music.

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    1. Everyone who has read A Suitable Boy tells me that they loved it, so I continue to power through. I'm 315 pages in now, so there's no looking back ;-)

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  22. Seven years, wow! I love your post on racism in fantasy books. You make some wonderful points.

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    1. Thank you! It is a very frustrating situation, and I hope publishers deal with it accordingly. Sometimes I wish I could go to BEA solely to say, "HEY - I am not white and I enjoy fantasy, too. So write for me!"

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  23. "Well, I know that from my own experience and don't need to read a book about it."

    Excellent point.

    I don't think I've been around that much blogging drama. I remember that article that came out saying YA today is too gritty and everyone got in a huff about it, but otherwise, nothin' really. I think I subconsciously avoid those areas of the internet, though. :D

    Also DUDE I can't believe you've been blogging that long.

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    1. I do not remember the huff on YA grittiness, but I imagine it caused a stir.

      And yes, I'm an old school blogger- just didn't want to seem like too much of a grandma with you last night ;-)

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  24. I don't think your reason for blogging is sad at all! Doing things other people are doing is often a good way to find out what you're interested in. And your reasoning for not reading many Indian authors makes sense, I avoid some books because of a similar sort of thing.

    Regarding posts you like not having had any comments, have you considering reposting them or linking to them again on Twitter? Maybe it's the "heavy-reading" label non-fiction gets that puts people off? It's good that there are some novel-like non-fictions out there and that it's becoming more widespread.

    Yay to blogging improving critical reading! I reckon that's just as good as saying you love the community because it takes reading other people's work and responding to it to make you want to improve.

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    1. Hi Charlie, thanks for the positive reinforcement! All my blog posts link automatically to Twitter, so I don't think it's really lack of exposure. I think maybe the titles just don't grab people's attentions. Perhaps I should use more interesting subject lines for my posts, but I am too lazy to be that creative :-)

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  25. I feel you on the non-fiction books. I read a mix of fiction and non-fiction and the non-fiction reviews always get way less traffic. Non-fiction can be awesome!!!

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    1. It really can! Glad you're with me :-)

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  26. True, lot of cattiness and bitchiness in the blogging world, with authors and bloggers alike. I just want to read about books too

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    1. Well, we can at least not participate in the drama.

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  27. I think one of the reasons people don't click through on non fiction titles is just because they aren't as familiar with them. Perhaps they feel a bit like reading non fiction is homework not realizing how entertaining those titles can be. Just a theory...

    I hear you about the drama.

    I hope you are enjoying Armchair BEA, I certainly am.

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    1. Yeah, I don't know why people think reading a non-fiction book would be harder than, say, reading Tolstoy. But maybe it is...

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  28. Amen! A few weeks ago, I had to unfollow a blogger that I've been following for years. She wrote a few posts that I thought were unnecessary and bitchy. It felt like the posts were written to get more followers or hits. I don't have the time or energy for any of that.

    I love your nonfiction posts! Not a lot of bloggers read non-fiction so I'm more likely to tune in to those posts than the fiction ones.

    What's up with not liking butterflies? :-D

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    1. Ohh, now I want to know which blogger you stopped following! That's sad, though. I'm glad you like the non-fiction posts, though :-)

      As for the butterflies... I'd rather not revisit that experience ;-)

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  29. Most of the time I'm so out of the loop that a controversy has to be pretty big for me to know that there's drama going on. :)

    I like butterflies, but I could see people thinking they're gross because of the whole insect aspect. Is that why you don't like them?

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  30. I'm very selective about which blogs I add to my Reader, mostly because I don't have time to read more, so I usually remain oblivious of any drama and I think I prefer it that way.
    I always have a reading slump somewhere in the middle of a massive book, at the point when it feels like it will never end. But most of the time perseverance pays off. Hope A Suitable Boy proves worthy of your effort!

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