I didn’t realize until a couple of days ago that it has officially been ONE YEAR since my first blog post. Oh my goodness, where has the time gone? Wasn’t it just January 2009 — or at least the beginning of summer vacation? The older I get, the more I realize that my mother was right in all areas of life, but most especially when she used to tell me “The older you get, the faster time flies.”
What have I learned in this first year of book blogging? The first thing I learned is that blogging is not a solitary activity but a community of fun, caring, and encouraging friends whom I may never meet in person, but I feel as though I have known all my life. I had one comment on my first post from Sheri of A Novel Menagerie. Sheri quickly became a cyber-space friend whom I have learned to love and appreciate with each and every one of her posts. I had the unique experience of going to the Book Expo 2009 and meeting face-to-face several book blogging “celebrities” most notably, Bermudia Onion, Booking Mama, My Friend Amy, Stephanie’s Written Word, She is Too Fond of Books, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin?, Linus’s Blanket, and Beth Fish Reads (I missed Maw Books by just a few minutes, but I hope to meet her in person sometime soon). In meeting these wonderful bloggers I realized that the person we think they are, is truly the person they are. Book bloggers are real, they are honest, and they are not pretentious. What a refreshing alternative to what I experience in “real” life. While I don’t pay too much attention to stats, I must admit that I am flabbergasted that Google Reader shows that over 200 of you follow my blog, and for that I deeply humbled. A year ago I never anticipated meeting so many wonderful cyber-space friends.
The second lesson learned is that reading is an ACT-ivity, not a passivity. Now I try to teach this to my students all the time: you must interact with the text in order to analyze the text. However I never dreamed that reading could be considered an olympic sport: there are 24 hour read-athons, mystery read-athons, and basically one can make up a read-athon whenever they want! I have never considered myself an athlete and have felt like I have missed a lot of comaraderie with my fellow man because of that genetic flaw, but the book blogging world has helped me to recapture this lost opportunity from the past and to compete in an activity in which I have confidence.
The third lesson learned is that reading can be FUN. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have always loved reading — but I never knew that I could “challenge” myself to read in fun, exciting, mind-opening ways. What is it about a challenge that gets my blood pressure up, my adrenaline pumping, and my creative juices flowing? I signed up for far more challenges than I could ever hope to complete, but the intentions were good, I promise. For those that I failed to complete this year, I still maintain that I will finish them at some point in my lifetime, most notably the Everything Austen challenge and the Harry Potter challenge. Who knows….perhaps I will host my own challenge in the years ahead that will rekindle this interst among future book bloggers. This less-than-perfect challenge record will not deter me, however, from signing up for challenges in 2010. I read A Novel Challenge faithfully every day to keep track of the challenges for the new year. I am constantly amazed at the creativity of book bloggers and their ability to combine the love of reading with other life interests.
The fourth thing I have learned this year is to become a better organizer and record-keeper of my book buying and reading activities. I have created an excel spreadsheet in which I attempt to keep track of the number of books read, number of pages read, books that I want to read, books purchased (and price paid), and books won. Yes… that is right….books won. Initially I wasn’t going to enter any book contests because I didn’t think that I would win anything. But then Sheri, the same Sheri who was my first blogosphere friend, informed me that I had nothing to lose. And you know….she was right!! In the short time that I have allowed myself to enter these contests, I have won a total of 18 books. Isn’t that unbelievable?! While I have not read many of these books yet, I know that I will read them at some point in the future, and when I do I have a record of who to thank. While I will save my other statistics for an end-of-the-year post, I can say that there is deep satisfaction in knowing how many books/pages read over the course of a year. It makes me realize that even though I may not have completed all challenges, I have accomplished quite a lot in 12 months time.
So on this day of celebration I not only say “Happy Birthday to me” — but I also say THANK YOU to all those who have deeply impacted my life over these internet wires. You have blessed and inspired me more than you will ever know.