I’ve been wondering lately: why keep blogging when no one reads blogs anymore? Of course, that’s not completely true because you are reading this now. I still get nice comments occasionally – even on books I posted about months or years ago from readers who have just experienced the book and want to discuss it (these are the best!) And probably most people who read blogs do so passively without commenting at all which is totally fine and understandable.
I guess I feel that no one reads blogs anymore because when I started blogging six years ago many of my “contemporaries” who used to regularly update their book blogs only post occasionally or not at all these days. Certainly there are still great bloggers I read regularly like JacquiWine, ALifeInBooks, Books & Bao and Years of Reading Selfishly. But many people only discuss what they’re reading on social media by posting a picture with a few words about it. For instance, the wonderful writer Max Porter will occasionally post a picture of a pile of books and write nothing more about them than “Good books.” This sometimes seems sufficient and it’s good that people pay attention to these posts because he has impeccable taste.
Many bloggers have also moved on to host events at literary festivals, open bookshops or publish their own books – which is all wonderful to see! And here I am still geekily posting about what I’m reading week after week even though no one may be reading it. So, in a way, I feel like the guy who hangs around at a party long after it’s over looking for someone who will finish a bottle of wine with him. This has created a different kind of loneliness to the one I initially felt when I first started this blog and had no one with whom to discuss what I’m reading.
I continue to have this yearning sensation and hope for a connection with other readers when I put my thoughts out there. I’ve just a memoir by Tove Ditlevsen and in describing her feelings of isolation in childhood she writes “I always dream about meeting some mysterious person who will listen to me and understand me.” I guess I still long for this. Though I’ve had many wonderful discussions with readers online, digital connections are often fleeting.
Certainly any social eco-system functions in this transient way – especially online ones. Groups of people connect for a period of time and then gradually disperse, grow apart, move onto other things. And new blogs still pop up all the time. And the media keeps changing – I’ve certainly enjoyed the pleasure of being part of BookTube and Bookstagram in addition to blogging. And there are always new readers hungry to discuss a good book. This is lovely and encouraging. But I still get a solemn feeling now and then that all I’m doing is talking to myself – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The best thing about keeping a regular book blog is that it demands I sit down (often for hours) trying to articulate exactly what I think and how I feel about a book. There’s a deep pleasure in doing this rather than letting that rich reading experience disintegrate and be forgotten. In the six years since I started this blog the internet has grown even more fast-paced and consequently our attention spans get shorter and shorter. But writing blog posts and reading them demand extended contemplation. Good blog posts give much more than a simple star rating and I value bloggers who still thoughtfully write out their complex reactions to books. Because the experience of reading a book makes us think and feel so many things I believe they deserve a more nuanced reaction than a simple thumbs up or thumbs down.
That’s why I value this space for quiet reflection as well as the room it grants for meaningful discussions with other readers. So thank you for reading and thank you for being a reader.