Book Blog or Lit Blog?

Here is a question for the group: Is there a difference between a “book” blogger and a “literary” blogger. What if one likes to read and enjoys a general discussion of books but has no formal training or education (or even a self taught familiarity) with literary culture. How does a blog from this perspective differ from one written by a English major or MFA grad?

There is likely no surprise why I raise this question (and I probably have raised it before): it seems to apply to me. I am an avid reader and book addict but only had one literature class in all my years in college (I have a Masters in History). I don’t tend to read the most current books, nor have I read the “hot” books of the last few years. I am not plugged into a literary scene where I live nor do I follow one via the Internet.

The reason this has relevance is that in some important way blogging is about community. It is about communication. Recently I have begun to realize that this blog seems to lack a clear community. I am not really a part of the lit blog community – even though many of them have graciously linked to me – for a number of reasons. Politics has become a clear difference in this election year, but the title of this post is another difference. I really don’t share the interests or background of the lit blog community. Because of this I don’t feel like I am having a conversation or part of a larger discussion. It feels like I am dumping half-assed opinions into the Google stream; like I am some sort of late night AM radio DJ talking and talking but with no one really listening.

So, what does this all mean? Well, the original question still interests me. Do you think there is an important difference between people who love books and people who love literature? Are the resulting blogs very different things?

In addition to positing questions, I am also venting my own feelings. Obviously I am feeling some angst about what this blog is all about and whether I think it is worth anything. This is not just insecurity about my “worth” as a blogger nor is a complaint about my site traffic. It is more about risk reward, about whether I am wisely investing my time and energy. I have been milling some things over in my head lately and will have more to share on that front soon. For now I am going to continue as a “book blog” whatever that means.

About the author

Kevin Holtsberry

I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season – oh, and watching golf too).

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4 Comments

  • Oh, geesh, no. Your blog has to be what _you_ want it to be. Worrying about labels is a kind of navel-gazing. I think you’re worried you don’t sound pretentious enough to run with the art snobs. Stop it.

  • I think the words Lit and Book are interchangeable and it only means something to the person who writes it, although of course, not all books are literary, but I think most all of the book blogs tend toward the literary. Certainly there are, for example, S King blogs out there somewhere, but that’s different.

    As for my blog – and I would say my background is similar to yours (Masters Econ, few lit classes) – I call it a “personal literary journal” – that’s pretentious, I know, but I love books, I rarely read new things, and consider my blog to be about sharing the discovery of classic (broadly defined) literature + a bit of conversation.

    It’s difficult to maintain a blog writing habit and I’ve seen others question their doing so as you are rightly venting about.

    About community? That will evolve. One person writing on a blog is more vanity than community (coming from one who does it), but after having my own since last spring, I do feel like I know a little bit about the people whose sites I read. The problem lies in the system of comments, I think, that limits feedback.

    Perhaps a better sense of community will be had in Wikis when they get more popular (?) or at least collectively contributed sites. And there is also the example of the Gaddis Drinking club going on right now where several people are using the blog to share comments on a book we are all reading.

    I just looked at your site meter and you get decent traffic (more than mine) and I would think that if you are getting a bunch of people to read your site every day, that should be pretty gratifying. You are creating community in that way.

  • Kevin,

    I’m a writer and read book blogs because they’re a lot more interesting than say Publishers Weekly or Writers Digest which reduce writing to to the level of Hobby Barn. I’ve exchanged emails with a lot of the writers reviewed here on the site and they’re delighted by the exposure. Blogs reveal the chaotic underbelly of the book scene. You’re an integral part of that scene.

  • Kevin,

    I’m a writer and read book blogs because they’re a lot more interesting than say Publishers Weekly or Writers Digest which reduce writing to to the level of Hobby Barn. I’ve exchanged emails with a lot of the writers reviewed here on the site and they’re delighted by the exposure. Blogs reveal the chaotic underbelly of the book scene. You’re an integral part of that scene.