sunday salon || Are Some Books Too Personal? Are Some Books Truly Bad?

A couple of things for this week’s edition of the Sunday Salon: On “personal” books, on “bad” books. The technique of dubious-use-of-words-in-quotation-marks ahead, okidoki?

Should I let you know about all the books I read? I received an email from a reader named Camille (and I am posting this with permission to quote her side of the correspondence–so yeah, no hating here) about my 2010 Reads tab, an easy-to-handle list of the books I finish reading this 2010–and I say easy, because my Moleskine’s bursting with details about the books, some of them one-liners whose references I wouldn’t be able to remember in a few months’ time, and some of the books have been given two-three pages of my teensy writing.

Anyway. Camille asked me about items #03 to #07. She told me she couldn’t help but feel disappointed about them, and pointed out the stark differences between those items and the items that sandwich them:

I love what you have written about Yates, and you have amassed a readership that looks forward to your impressions on the books you read. You have a unique voice, as well as a new way of reviewing. Even your posts on romance novels are enjoyable. However, I don’t think you should put that in jeopardy by telling people you read erotic romance. I read erotic romance too, but I’m not going to tell everyone when it could potentially ruin what I have built for myself.

Camille and I went on to write each other about why I shouldn’t list down this side of my reading habits, and we both agreed that we’re going to put aside the debate about the shame attached to reading particular books. She said, It’s not about hiding particular titles because you need to give the wrong impression; it’s about not calling attention to those books, when they don’t “fit” into the scheme, when they just might cause people to draw conclusions about me. She told me, emphatically, that there is nothing wrong with reading erotic romance. She offered,

…but maybe some guilty pleasures should be exactly that. Yes, we like to read erotica. But what if your straightforwardness causes people to ignore the wonderful things you say about literary fiction?

I understand what Camille was saying, that it might just be iffy to some people, the disparity between the books I read and like to read. Because I do like to read erotic romance. Yes, it is different to reading literary fiction; these books are more affective, they go for the gut–they go for your goshdarned libido, okay?

Do I feel a certain gloating pleasure (haha) when I take Eugenides or Bronte out of my book? Yep. Have I read a romance novel (with the I-Am-A-Romance-Novel cover) in public? Yes. Will I read an erotic romance while waiting for the train? No. So why tell all of you that I do read romance? Should certain things be kept to myself?

I pointed out to Camille that I did a review of Beth Kery’s Wicked Burna contemporary erotic romance. And she responded that Kery’s book was well-written, it was a book–but the novels I posted in that list (released as e-books from Samhain and Ellora’s Cave) went for titillation rather than going for any kind of literary merit. Besides, she went on, they’re too personal. And I said, “So, by posting them, people will know I’m not reading them because I’m looking for the key to unlock the human condition?”

And Camille said, “Yes. To be crude about it, they know you’re reading them to get off.”

Oh my.

She pointed out one thing, though: “Why don’t you review those books? Doesn’t your silence on them indicate that they really are guilty pleasures? Just put them down, it’s for the best.” I like to think that I don’t review them because I have nothing to say about them that will contribute to their discussion. And how does one discuss an erotic romance? [“Passably-written exposition but good dialogue, interesting characters though little conflict, and man, was my boyfriend happy when I put it down!”?] I like to think I managed to give faithful impressions when I talked about Beth Kery’s book. But what about Lorelei James, who really rocks my world? But what about Delilah Devlin, who puzzles me sometimes?

Bah. I am telling you all this because I know there is no right or wrong attitude to this. Camille and I are still discussing this,I just need your feedback. I’m still thinking about this myself–and yes, I am thinking if I should take Camille’s advice (she means well, okay?) and revamp that list, just change the numbers (so people will know I’ve read a book that isn’t “relevant” to this book blog). I need to know what the rest of you think. Like, say, if you judge me for knowing that I read erotica, okay then. If you judge me for posting those erotic novels that I read and never ever ever ever return to this blog, even if you’d somehow heard that I discovered the true cause of Austen’s death by devouring all of her books? Now, that just confuses me.

So, people–a little help here?

* * *

What makes a “bad” book? As if the writing of this post, Teresa of Shelf Love has posted her own Sunday Salon on “bad” books, called, uh, “Bad Books?” I bring this to your attention because I wrote a long-ass comment on that entry, which I will copy here:

I’ve been thinking about this too. But peripherally. :] So, this little comment is exploratory, at best.

When I was reading Little Children by Tom Perrotta, I really wanted to like that book, but, my problem became, as my post about it tried to explain–Perrotta’s novel was not Revolutionary Road. Yates has taken over the sub-genre, that it’s become the yardstick to any novel attempting to portray dissatisfied suburbia–even if I recognized that Perrotta was attacking the subject in a different (more satirical) manner. And I know now, as I knew then, that it was a good book. But it didn’t satisfy me, not the way I wanted it to.

So, is the blame to be put on Yates’ lap for writing a “too-good” novel? Since it has latched itself on to my expectations, as another voice in my head when I sit down with a book?

As someone who has resolved to not even attempt “journalistic” or “academic” book reviews–the blog I keep is very personal, and I have no qualms with that, not anymore–my subjectivity is a big factor when talking about books. Some people try to be as professional about it as they can, and “taste” becomes secondary. I can’t do that. Also, when I find that I can’t read a book because school is hitting me pretty hard, or the book just put me to sleep, I say so, but I try to make sure that I explore why I felt like this book was a “bad” book.

I appreciate “negative” reviews. It’s proof that this odd thing called personal taste is still floating out there. However, I believe in reasons, in explanations–there is a responsibility to yourself, to your readers, and that book you just held, after all. So if I say, “Man, that was terrible,” I try to follow it up with, “Because the language baffled me / Because I wanted to hit Character A / Because the song reminded me of a Beach Boys song, and that never sits well with me / Because it wasn’t *insert good book* here.”

When I read romance novels, I’ll say, “It made me swoon,”–people tend to forget the affective quality of the book, one that (IMO) should go hand in hand with the technicalities, the form. If I read, say, Flowers for Algernon and write, “It didn’t make me cry”–does that give me a black, black heart? [But I cried, haha. I think that it means the story seeped into me, and took hold of me. It’s what books do.]

That’s my two cents. It’s a long two cents. Gahk, I took over the comment box. :O

PS – Thank you for that Updike link. Although I have accepted the fact that I can’t do [traditional] reviews, that quote you gave will help guide my hand when I type my impressions up.

Still with me? Anyway, to the three of you still here (thanks for the support, Mom)–as you’d read, that wasn’t a very well-informed comment, it was me taking over the post with my own explorations on the subject. But, still. You should head on over there, to see what’s happening, to give in your own impressions. I still need to concretize mine. Expository Writing 101 would’ve been so ashamed of me.

Y’all have a great week now, y’hear?

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31 comments

  1. My guilty pleasures would include the Gossip girl series. I hardly review it too but it’s not because I’m embarassed but rather because I really hAve nothing I want to say about it that affects me tha much. I do like to keep track of the number of books I have read, and they’re part of the total, so I list them down. Plus since it’s my blog and I’m already down with the reasons why I keep on reading the series, I don’t really see the need to convince myself that it’s a satire or the characters are well-rounded, etc. but I just really like them, period. :)
    There are some books I’ve read that I don’t review too for reasons of my own but since it is my blog again, I’m trying to go easy on myself and just review what I feel like reviewing at any given time. :) Did that make sense? Haha :)

    1. What you feel about the Gossip Girl series is what I feel about the erotica I read. I mean, (leche, tatagalugin ko na, haha), hindi pa puwedeng hindi ko lang trip pag-usapan yung ibang mga libro? Na, fine, I like the books, I enjoy the books, but I don’t feel compelled to review it, or talk about it, because, well, I just don’t?

      Yep, you made a lot of sense–I guess I’m just a teensy bit embarrassed that I get worked up like this, haha. You’re admirable; I mean, I tend too forget that it’s MY blog, hahaha.

      1. *Ang daming typos sorry nakakahiya haha. Anyway, this is exactly why I made a separate book blog from my personal one, I felt that this is my sacred personal space where I can obsess and rant/rave about books that affect ME primarily, and maybe find some like-minded people who are also as obsessive. Haha. Kumbaga pasensya na lang dun sa di nakaka-gets nun pero akin naman to e. Wag mong basahin kung di mo type. Haha. :)

        1. I know. Minsan, iniisip ko na lang na, “If you don’t like this book that I’m talking about, or if it doesn’t interest you at all, then scroll down.” I mean, that’s what I do, haha.

  2. Hi, I’ve been lurking for quite a while now. I think I found your blog November, through Bookblogs.

    I love your posts. I love how personal they are. And yes, Camille was right when she said you have such a unique voice in the bookblogging world.

    Can I admit to feeling a little jarred when you posted those items? But I got over it soon, although I have noticed you like cowboys. ;p

    Thanks for this post. I’m sure everyone has thought about this at one point or another.

    1. Hey, Piper. :] Thank you, and no, I’m not blushing right now, haha. And I appreciate you telling me–us–that you were jarred. I understand why, and so I’m glad you got over it soon. :]

      And yes, I like cowboys. And men in kilts–but that’s for another day, haha.

      PS – Off-topic, but that’s a kickass name.

  3. I actually really respect you for posting things like that. I know some people would disagree with me on that, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be so crude as “You read them to get off.”I have never read a romance novel but I am uber curious about them. There is no reason to lie about what you read, I read some seriously freaking corny books (I mean total brain candy) and I still post about them. And I also post about literary fiction. Anyway, I guess there is no real answer. But this is your blog and if you feel comfortable with something then you feel comfortable with it. It doesn’t really matter that much if someone else doesn’t. That people who truly enjoy your blog will keep coming back (like me!).

    1. Hi, Ash. Is that you, Ash? :]

      Anyhoo, thank you so much. Yeah, even as I was writing the post, I realized that “there is no real answer”–I was just so confused about the feedback I was given. I mean, it’s MY reading blog, I know that–but people are reading my reading blog, and disagreements are sure to pop up. It was just so disconcerting that it was about my Books Read list.

      In fairness, she never stated I had to lie about what I read–just hide some parts of my reading habits. Which is just a matter of semantics, I know, haha.

      Yeah, I feel comfortable with the things I read. No erotica-on-trains for me any time soon, but that’s a matter of logistics, not shame. :]

      Again, thanks so much.

      1. Yes it’s me, I don’t know how I got logged into that. Must have been something during bloggiesta. And erotica on trains could be called sensation fiction! Oh I’m such a Victorian nerd. Glad you made the [ahem-right] choice.

  4. Quite honestly I have no idea why you wouldn’t write down every book you have read, even if they are books you don’t want to review or are not literary fiction. If you’re not ashamed of your reading choices (and really, why should you be?), then why behave as though you are and omit certain items from the list. I think as book bloggers we’ve all admitted to having our guilty pleasures. I don’t really read any romance novels now, but I used to, and that’s something I don’t hide and if someone wants to judge me because of that, well that’s their loss. I mean, say you read a book and really don’t like it – should you not put it up there because someone might see it on the list and think “but that book was garbage! I can’t believe she’d read that!” The point is, I personally view my blog as a means of tracking who I am as a reader and having lists/logs of what I’ve read is helpful for me to see what I enjoy reading and how that might change over the years.

    The thing is, Camille read your list and she saw titles there that also reflected who she was as a reader, even if she doesn’t advertise it on her own blog, and I think that’s great. Maybe if all you read and reviewed was erotic fiction I’d be less interested in your blog, but that’s because I’m not that interested in those types of books… the same is true if all you read were true crime novels!

    At the end of the day, think about why it is you blog. If you blog with the fear that your opinions or reading tastes may alienate others, then perhaps you should take down your more racy reading choices. But if you blog because you’re in some way creating a living history of your reading life, then why censor?

    1. Hello, Steph. I love your vehemence about the topic. As I said to Ash in my reply to her above, the feedback was just so confusing, I needed some help to figure it out. So, thank you.

      And yes, when I began this blog about three months ago, I was sure this was going to be a reading diary, and not a review site. The fact that this blog actually has readers still pleasantly confounds me sometimes, haha–so I suppose this post was my way of trying to grapple the “shoulds” and “musts” of keeping a reading diary online–and whether there are such things as “shoulds” and “musts.”

      So there–the list stays as is. I’m not here to impress people, I’m not hear to pretend all I read is literary fiction. I mean, in my thesis (for my Creative Writing major), I told everyone, plain and simple, that romances and erotica were part of my reading (we had to talk about influences in our writing), and reiterated it on my thesis defense. If I could do that in front of people I respect, people who matter, people I care about–why should it bother me to do the same in my own personal space on the internet? Why should the opinion of people who are virtually strangers, people who wouldn’t give me the time of day if they saw a racy title on my list/entries matter so much, then?

      You gave me a good ol’-fashioned shaking to clear my head, a rethink (yet again) my intentions. Thank you, Steph, thank you so much.

      1. P.S. I also read a lot of erotica written by women, mostly from the Herotica series or edited by Susie Bright, and I blog about it in my personal blog (which is mostly about twee rainbowy stuff) and I do get some pleasant surprises from what I think are twee lj-friends about how they are also fond of erotica. I guess the point is, you will probably turn off some people who judge you based on books you read, if they’re not comfortable with your choices, but you also attract some readers who are also erotica fans, right? It shouldn’t really matter, I think, if you, like me, enjoy documenting books I’ve purchased/read for my own personal reasons. :)

        1. I’ve realized that it’s the same thing as when I encounter people (in real life) who say, “Oh, you read romance novels? But you’re so smart/you write so well/you don’t look it.” Parang, HA? Hehe, yeah, again–this blog started because I needed a record of my reading habits, my reading, and how I think about books. Notice that I’ll even post entries about why I can’t finish reading said book, or something. :]

          Salamat ha. :]

  5. I have to say, I think this is a GREAT post. I think you touch on a number of issues that bloggers deal with on a fairly regular basis. I know that I too have wondered whether I should review (or even list) the erotic romance books I read on a semi-regular basis. So, let me preface what I’m about to say with I’m sure that Camille is a great person and I have no doubt that she means well, but… well, I couldn’t agree less with her opinion.

    Your blog is about YOU and the things that YOU enjoy to read. So what if you like to read erotic romance? Is your opinion of Tolstoy and Cheever less valid because you enjoy doing so? I’ve always been a firm believer that we read books for different things. We read to be educated, to be thrilled, to be moved, and sometimes even to be tittilated. There is no SHAME is this final item. Does reading erotic romance make you happy? Then have at it!

    I think we should carefully examine why one would think that simply mentioning the fact that you read erotic romance on your blog might “destroy everything” you have built for yourself. What does this mean exactly? That because some of your readers don’t read erotic romance, they will never, ever visit your blog again? Despite the interesting things you might have to say on books they *are* interested in reading? I’m sorry to say this, but if such a reader does exist they are very closed-minded. Here’s an incredibly personal and anecdotal example: I am not a very religious person (in fact, I’m not religious at all), but I faithfully follow bloggers who are. I even follow one blogger who’s a minister’s wife. You know what I do when they post about a book I have no interest whatsoever in reading? I SKIP it, or I read what they have to say, move on, and wait until they post about something I AM interested in. Do I tell them that I’m disappointed in their reading choice because it doesn’t fit into my view of what they SHOULD be writing about? Of course not. Because a blog is a personal endeavor that should, at its best, be a reflection of who you are as a reader.

    I’ve used the term “guilty pleasure” a lot in every day conversation, but I don’t really think there is such a thing when it comes to reading. Why should you feel guilty for doing something that you enjoy? You hurt no one and you pleasure yourself (Lol. pun not intended). I’m not saying that I’ve never wondered whether I should post about a story I’ve read on Ellorascave (which is excellent by the way). I have. I don’t post about those stories because, as snobby as it sounds, it’s not a book to me unless I have a hard copy in my hands. (I suppose when and if I ever get an eReader this will change) I did discover Lora Leigh through Ellorascave though, and once I started buying hard copies of her Breed series books I started reviewing them. Might some people have been disappointed that I read erotic romance? Possibly. But you know what? That’s their problem. Because I know for a fact that there ARE people who are interested in what I have to say about those books and maybe my talking about them will inspire others who have never heard of Lora Leigh to give her try. Isn’t that what blogging is all about?

    I’m saying all of this to say: do YOU. If you feel you have nothing to add to the discussion of a certain erotic novel (or any novel for the matter) then you’re certainly free not to talk about it. But if you’d like to include that book in the list of books that you’ve read, do so. This is your blog. There are no expectations to live up to except for the ones you create for yourself. Finally, I don’t think you need to worry that you’ll lose readers who have come to appreciate your unique blogging voice because you enjoy erotic romance. A few readers might be a little jarred, but like Piper, they’ll get over it. My vote? Don’t change a thing about your blog or your reading habits (unless YOU think it’s for the best). Personally, I like you and your blog just the way they are – erotic novels and all. ;)

    Okay, sputtering rant over. Clearly, this is a subject I’m, uh… passionate about. =)

    1. Hi, Joy. Your comment made me smile a little wobbly, haha–thank you for the support. You’re so sweet, :] And, uh, passionate, yes. ;p

      It’s a little adjustment, I admit. I remember your wonderful comment when I wrote about how Nick Hornby influenced my reading, how I had to take this blog’s reigns before it gets muddled up by things that actually take away some of the pleasure of reading (romance/erotica or not). I remember you said, and I rephrase you (hehe), “You go, girl!” Well, I think when I considered conceding to Camille, I backslid a little.

      This blog is about me. It’s about me reading. I have always emphasized that this isn’t a book review blog, not in the conventional sense of the word. That’s a decision borne out of the awareness of my own limitations (I will wound your eyes if I attempt summaries), and my prerogative–books are a very vital part of my life, they’ve seeped in to every little experience (I almost always remember what book I was reading at a momentous time in my life, or, more usual, what was happening to my life when I was reading a book). Books are personal. Reading is personal. It’s a ginormous part of my life.

      Ah, prerogative. Isn’t that what reading is all about? Why should a blog that only seeks to share that reading be any different?

      Going back to my correspondence with Camille, I think, yes, she was pointing out what you wrote, “because some of your readers don’t read erotic romance, they will never, ever visit your blog again”–it’s true, at least that’s how she sees some people would do. Funny, but she told me she won’t stop reading my blog, but our entire correspondence was merely based on her wanting to give me a word of caution.

      On guilt and shame–maybe it’s left-over Catholic guilt (well, technically, I am Catholic only in forms–sorry, God). Or some mixture of your usual “romance-reader-stereotype” and the usually straitlaced academe. But I’ve gotten over it, I mean, I have my reasons, these books make me happy, make me swoon, and, er, please me. I’m quoting what I said in my response to Steph: “I’m not here to impress people, I’m not hear to pretend all I read is literary fiction… [W]hy should it bother me to do the same in my own personal space on the internet? Why should the opinion of people who are virtually strangers, people who wouldn’t give me the time of day if they saw a racy title on my list/entries matter so much, then?”

      The list stays. Because this is a reading diary before it is a book blog. I mean, would I lie to myself when I scribble my reads and impressions on my handy-dandy notebook?

      Thank you, Joy. I appreciate what you said about not changing, unless it’s my prerogative. And thank you for coming to visit, thank you for helping me out with this, thank you for sputtering. ;p

  6. toynbeeconvector · · Reply

    I agree with Steph.

    This whole democratic opinion tossing mechanism that blogging has created can sometimes make us doubt ourselves as writers and readers. Do I write about the things that make me better at communicating a certain message? Or can I stray every now and then to talk about random things that affect me nonetheless? Am I being honest? True to myself and my readers?

    It’s good to have these questions and it’s great that this post of yours reflects a real issue faced by all kinds of bloggers. :) Personally though, you should write what you want knowing that our blogs aren’t meant to be digital representations of newly discovered vital organs. These pages are appendices that are very much a part of who we are but need not fully define us. My worry with Camille’s comment is that there’s this whole process of trying to box you in to a particular “genre”—It’s like going into a bookstore and being guided by the labels instead of just wandering past bookshelves, you know? Don’t post your erotica because if you do, type a and b people won’t follow you anymore. Or worse, your more “meaningful” posts might lose their luster. —But really, Steph was right, it boils down to purpose and conviction. What is this blog for? Answer this and you’ll know what’s important to you.

    p.s. My brother in law who reads all the “intelligent” novels like peanuts brought a few copies of self-help/parenting books with him when we went on vacation. When I saw it, I made a joke about my sister being into all these silly “guidebooks”–As it turns out, he reads the mommy books along with his novels and my sister reads the chicklit without having to consult her mommy books. See? It’s all just perception and our identity as readers/people isn’t completely determined by what sits on our bookshelves.

    And a note about books: We might read the same ones but we often have different things to say about them. Erotica for example might be “smut” to others and used like porn but it doesn’t end there. And the ideas you get when you read books don’t belong to everyone so in a way this writer-reader dialogue isn’t a passive flow of one idea to another but rather an exchange between both parties. The text lives just like its reader.

    Hay, basta. Go discover your purpose then you’ll know what matters. :)

    1. Oh, Nash, I could hug you right now. :] Thanks for your comment, and your support, and for helping me figure things out about this little mess. This is a reading diary, and it has been from the start. Now and then, I would slip and call my posts “reviews,” but they’re mostly just thoughts about my reading experience with certain books. I’ve said this in one of the comments–this is a reading diary first, a book blog second. It’s a digital and internetty version of the notebook I scribble on.

      I suppose this packaging thing comes as a peril to book-blogging. What do books do I feature? What readership should I appeal to? Primarily, well, my readership is Sasha, because this is a personal thing–books will always be personal for me, as well as my reading of them. And the people who stop by and visit, people like you, well, it makes me giddy still. But it’s about me. I have to take the reigns.

      When Camille told me that I could invalidate my impressions on literary fiction because I read “smut” [my favorite term is “girl-porn,” hahaha], I was confused. I mean, five years of literature-infused schooling’s now moot? As well as growing up surrounded by books, not to mention the fact that I feel naked when I’m not carting a book with me?

      Purpose, we have that covered. Conviction, that needs working on. But your comment, as well as the support of everyone who has responded, well, I’m working on that.

      The list stays. Oh well. :]

  7. I love seeing what other books bloggers are reading, even if they don’t review them. If it makes you happy to list all the books you’re reading, then by all means list them. I for one am not going to say your opinions on Yates or Perotta are invalied just because you read erotic fiction. Hardly any readers are committed to just one kind of book, so why should you pretend to be on your blog?

    This topic is actually pertinent to me at the moment because it occurred to me yesterday that I don’t ever mention books that I read for school on my blog. The main reason, I suppose, is that I don’t sit down and read them straight through—there’s a chapter here, a chapter there. Maybe I skip some chapters entirely. Also, I’m pretty sure only a handful of my readers are interested in theology texts of the type I read for school. My school reading doesn’t feel like reading–it’s studying–so I’ll probably continue to leave those books off unless I run across one that I read in its entirety and do think will interest general readers.

    1. Hi, Teresa. I love lists, lists make the happy little OC in me happier (I make lists during my morning cup of coffee, but that’s a sob story not to be explored here). And there’s a satisfaction in seeing my Books Read list lengthen, you know?

      I know I mention the books (or, usually, just texts) I read for school in an offhand manner, but the chances of me reviewing them are very slim. Two years-ish ago, I had to take a Philosophy class (for some reason, my university has Philosophy and Theology in the [required for everyone] core curriculum)–and had to read all of Foucault’s books, plus some Aristotle and Socrates on the side. Did my brain bleed a little? Yes. Did I write down in my handy-dandy notebook that I’d read them? Yes. If I had read them now for school, would I review them? Definitely not. Bad enough that I had to be graded for reading them. (Although I have grown fond of Foucault, :p)

      The same thing applies now with the things I have to read for school, so I get you. If I do “finish” a required book, I’ll probably note it. And I’ll probably slip it in a post and whine about it, but that’s about it. Funny that we’ve chosen to lump Philo and Theo readings in the same category as erotic romance, in this discussion, haha.

      Again, prerogative (I’ve babbled about it in the comments above). I just need to chill, I guess. :] It’s my reading diary, a diary that just happens to be public, but a diary still. So I am King of the Hill.

      Thank you, Teresa. Your response means a lot to me, and this little dilemma I’ve pushed myself in. :] Thank you!

      1. Yes, I suspect there are people who’d have the same reaction to seeing a bunch of theological books listed on a blog as others would have to seeing a bunch of erotic books mentioned, i.e., “Eek! Run away! Run away!”

  8. What an interesting post. My thought? It’s your blog, do whatever you want :) Or if you are worried about your professional reputation, you can always have one blog for serious books, and one for guilty pleasures… sometimes, I wonder if I don’t like a book, whether I should blog about it or not. I figured reading/books are subjective, so today I’d just posted a not-so-glowing review, and tried to explain why I didn’t like it.

    I don’t judge a person what genre they read – I think when I browse different blogs, it’s fun to see if there are other have similar reading interests to me :) By reading reviews of other genre, sometimes it may spark my interest to read something I normally won’t choose :)

    1. Hi, Christa. Thank you for dropping by, and commenting. I’ve pretty much reached a decision–and it took this discussion of supportive book blogger friends, old and new–to help me with that.

      Also, I don’t think I have a professional reputation, hahaha. This is a book blog, yes, but it’s a reading journal first–it’s always very personal. Besides, people are right (even my gut was right): it’s my blog, and besides, I am not going to hide my reading habits when, well, they’re mine. :]

      Again, thank you!

  9. I’m going to be really random about this comment.

    Should people be judged based on the types of books they read? I mean, like if a blogger reads and enjoys books with strong LGBT themes, is somoene going to go all “Oh, he/she is gay/lesbian!”? And if this someone happens to be of the prejudiced kind, is he/she going to never visit the blog ever again? And if this really happens, is it right? Or rather, would it matter that much to the blogger if he/she lost this particular reader?

    For me, books are books are books. So you read erotica. I don’t. Doesn’t mean we can’t still share thoughts and opinions on books as and when our paths cross. And I’m a firm believer of gaining any kind of knowledge/information through books and reading. Any kind at all. There are so many random facts out there that appear in snippets in all kinds of books that just make me go, “Oh! I didn’t know that!” And it doesn’t always have to come from a strictly literary book. I learn things I never knew from children’s books all the time.

    So what am I getting at? Hah.. um..

    But anyway, I think keeping a list of all the books you’ve read is great. I guess in a way, it’s also about how truthful you want your blog to be. Nothing’s too personal if you don’t think it is. That’s my two cents.

    *

    As for ‘bad’ books.

    I think it’s only fair that we don’t always like/love all the books we read. Reading is sometimes a personal experience, meaning my experience of a book might not be the same as yours. Expectations are different. Then again, reading is also like this relationship you have with the author/characters of the book. You either have a good and lasting relationship, or it just doesn’t kick off, or maybe it turns sour after 56 pages.

    If you gush about a book that I just don’t feel like reading, it’s because we have different tastes and interests. And if you review books that just aren’t for me (say, for example, if I just simply hate erotica and don’t ever want to read any of it), I stay away from that review. Don’t mean I don’t come back for your other reviews of books that might be up my alley.

    *

    Does my comment make sense? It’s a little jumbled up. But yea, my four cents. =)

    1. Hello, Michelle. :] It’s okay, random tends to be second gear for me (next to inane), haha. I love your four cents–your response, as well as all the others, have helped me realize that, well, this is MY blog, and MY reading. It’s a reading journal before it is a public blog; in fact it’s just a typed-up version of my notebook.

      The issue obviously affected me a lot, even if the emotion I felt was mostly confusion–so thank you for helping out. It’s my blog, my reading, my OC-listing. :]

      Re the “bad” books thing, well, I’m very very very open to the fact that not everyone likes the same things. I mean, I’m not a YA fan, but a lot of people whose blogs I like to read really love their YA. And there are books that I have let go of, or plainly stated that I really didn’t like, but I gave my reasons, and I make sure that my reasons are valid.

      Anyway. I’m random too, haha.

  10. interesting discussion, sasha, and definitely will rattle a few! i feel that what one blogs about should be pretty personal in the first place, ergo when one posts blog reviews (ok, rants, thoughts, whatever you cal them) of specific books is personal (by default!). why blog at all if what you’re blogging about isn’t your interest in the first place? (hopefully that made sense :) )

    1. Hi, Aloi. *waves* I know now that it was silly to even consider “curbing” my reading habits, or clean them up for the purposes of this blog. I don’t want this to be a chore, after all, as I know it’ll affect my reading. :) Besides, this all started because I needed something to help me keep track of my reading, age 20 and beyond. :)

      Thanks for your comment, for dropping by. :]

  11. Hi,
    I come kind of late to this topic (and to blogging) but it is something I feel really strongly about so why not…
    I don’t know anyone who reads romance novels let alone erotica. In the city where I live there are no bookstores with a dedicated romance section. Although they do dedicate shelfspace to Dark Fantasy (a.k.a paranormal romance) which I can only assume is the sales team jumping on the bandwagon of the Twilight saga.
    So I rely on the internet. Amazon to buy books, bloggers to read about what other people think and to get recommendations. And yes, sometimes it is reassuring to know that there are other people out there who enjoy these types of books and who write about them in an entertaining and literate way. It’s a refuge from the intellectual snobbery that you get when you don’t hide the covers of your books on the bus. Or when people visit your home and mock the fact that you collect romance novels. If the only thing important about a book is the kudos you get for reading it then that is a waste of paper. Being open about everything you read means that other people can be open as well and you can provide a venue for an interesting discussion. The only qualification for a good book is an enjoyable story.

    1. Hello, Cathy. Thank you for your words. I don’t really have much to add–except, perhaps, to say that I’ve been nodding in agreement to everything you’ve written. The internet has helped me too, meeting like-minded people who celebrate diverse–perhaps, eccentric to some–reading. I like to read. When Raymond Carver or Lydia Davis just don’t quite hit the mark, I have no qualms about picking up Meredith Duran or Julia Quinn. A book is a book is a book. What’s more important is the experience, one’s personal encounter with it–not so much the people in the wings commenting on one’s choices.

      The past year or so, I’ve been braver in public. I even remember the first time I read a romance novel in public, without disguising the cover. I open discussions, mention that I read romance novels, don’t really hide my bookshelves dedicated to the genre. And I’ve found out that people I’ve known for years apparently read romance too. It really is wonderful.

      Thanks so much, Cathy. Looking forward to sharing the intarwebz with you. :]

  12. […] writes about everything from classics to literary fiction to erotic fiction (and she’s not afraid to admit it!), and is also a devoted short story reader (check out her review of My Mistress’s Sparrow is […]

  13. Hi! I’m one of your new followers on tumblr and I’m so glad I found your book blog. This is pretty late but is somewhat related to the issue aforementioned in this entry. One of the things that makes you stand out from the other “book bloggers” I’ve visited is that you are very genuine. You don’t discriminate. I’m not much of a “fiction” reader, and I often get a lot of negative comments from the people around me as well. Sabe nga nila “loser” raw ako for reading those stuff. Your book blog encouraged me to explore different genres and read more books. Keep on writing! Thank you for never being afraid to share what you read. I’m sure you are inspiring a lot to pick up whatever book they fancy and just read.

    1. Hello, comments are always welcome. Thank you for taking the time to dig through the archives, especially since you’re all the way from Tumblr, haha.

      Thank you so much! Nakakataba talaga ng puso, haha. I never intended to be an inspiration, or to champion the cause for reading. I just really wanted to read, and I wanted a record. Pero basa lang ng basa. Tinitingnan ako ng masama pag nagbabasa ako ng romance novels in public, pero kevs na, haha. Marami ring malabong tao na mang-aaway dahil lang sa nagbabasa ka. Dios mio.

      Again, thank you, thank you, thank you. :)

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