BBAW Day 5, Keeping the freshness alive

Today is the last day of Book Blogger Appreciation Week and fittingly things come a full circle!

Today’s prompt: One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

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Just a couple of days ago, Chris of calmgrove was talking about the art of reviewing. While reading his post it struck me that the reason I blog is because I like figuring out why a book works or doesn’t work for me, and writing my thoughts down helps me get there.

And then it’s fun to know if the things that worked for me worked for another reader. Or perhaps those very same things irritated them! Or maybe they picked up on something which sailed right past me.

Or conversely, to read a book that strikes a chord with someone else, and to see how I respond to it.

I guess what I’m saying is that I read and write, first and foremost, for myself. I love everything that follows as a result of it—the connections, the new books, the ideas, the new ways of looking at things—but primarily, I’m doing this for myself. So if at any point of time, for whatever reason, I start contemplating this thing that I enjoy as just another box to put a tick against, I’ll know that it’s time to take a break!

As for keeping things fresh in my reading, I’ve found that if it’s possible to, reading according to the mood I’m in, really adds to my reading experience. Which is probably why I’m in the middle of multiple books simultaneously. And is also why I love having a humongous TBR—it’s easy to go back and pick up something that sounds about right for the moment. And why it can take me such a WHILE to finish any one book!

How about you? Do you feel the pressure to keep a steady stream of words flowing in and out of your bloggy-verse?

BBAW Day 4, Community Connection

Today’s #BBAW prompt is all about community connection: How do you stay connected to the community? Examples: social media, regular commenting, participation in blog events, etc. Tell us your faves!

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I’m guessing only saying that I’m following your blog doesn’t really cut it, does it?

The thing is I’m not one for commenting unless I feel like I have something to say, and commenting is my primary way of staying connected to the community.

I feel like I should explain . . . Unless I think I can add to the conversation I think twice about commenting, and if I simply like what you’re saying without really having any thoughts about it, I will most likely “Like” the piece. . . Though I guess I could make more of an effort to find something to say. Does anyone else feel the same way?

I’ve just started being a wee bit active on Twitter though (say hi to me!) and I CAN see Twitter as a platform for quick exchanges of any and all sorts.

As for events, this is the first time that I’m participating in one and it has been a lot of fun. I’ve found books and blogs that are new to me and that I’m really looking forward to getting to know more of!

I’ve eyed Readalongs only from a distance but the whole reading together and discussing things as you go along sounds immensely appealing to me! Would anyone be interested in doing one for Middlemarch? I’ve read only about 25 pages so far and I can’t help thinking that it would be a very good candidate for reading along with a group of other bookish people! If anyone’s interested, let me know (comment here, or say hi on twitter or drop a mail at booksnooksncrannies at gmail dot com)—I’m willing to figure out the logistics et all!

I guess I’m nowhere near as active as a lot of other awesome bloggers that I know are.

Part of it is just because of who I am, and the way I re-charge and derive sustenance (I was so glad to see Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking pop up on a few lists the very first day of #BBAW—that book was one of the things that helped me in being ok with the way I am).

But part of it is also because of the fact that I have been a pretty erratic blogger for the longest time and have felt a bit ashamed in being really “out there”—it feels kind of one-sided, like I have so much fun when I visit your home but when you show up at mine, I’m always AWOL.

I’m hoping to change that as the year progresses so you should hear some more from me, I hope! In the meanwhile, if anything I’ve ever said has spoken to you in anyway, THANK YOU!

BBAW Day 3, Book Recommendations AKA Blame A Blogger

Today’s prompt for #BBAW: What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger?

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I can feel myself floundering at this question because what have I NOT read that does not in some shape or form originate from one blogger or the other?! Almost ALL the books I read I’ve found through blogs and bloggers! There might be a few exceptions—but they are very few!

So which are the ones that I have loved? TOO MANY TO COUNT! I shall however try!

My love for Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching series is by now well-documented. I’d been aware of Pratchett and his Discworld for a long time but perversely decided that someone so hyped-up couldn’t really live up to all that hype. Enter Ana’s thoughtful, heartfelt review, and suddenly I knew that I HAD to give this a try! And I did! And fell in love with it!

Speaking of Ana, she’s the one who convinced me to try Intisar Khanani’s Thorn, another book that I promptly fell in love with!

Then there’s LizMC2 and the books she talks about—many of them tailor-made for me! It was because of her recommendation that I tried out Merrie Haskell’s The Princess Curse. She’s also the one who made me read Daisy Hay’s Mr. and Mrs. Disraeli: A Strange Romance, a book that I throughly enjoyed!

Jenny of Reading the End was the first to talk about Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown which was just so much fun! She’s the one who persuaded me to give Diana Wynne Jones and Christopher Chant a chance. THANK YOU Jenny!

LH Johnson of Did You Ever Stop to Think and Forget to Start Again alerted me to what I know is going to be one of my favorite books of this year: Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. I love that I found her blog while searching for something on Elinor M. Brent-Dyer’s Chalet school series. Her twitter handle, which professes her love for this series loud and clear, was the only prompting I needed to start following her immediately!

Kerry Clare of Pickle Me This has led me to an interest I never thought I would have—children’s picture books! I’m still figuring out my way through them but Oh! MY! I love knowing that there’s a whole world out there composed of pictures and illustrations and sketches and colors! She’s also responsible for making me putting Carol Shields on hold, ordering Light Years: Memoir of a Modern Lighthouse Keeper, (I’m quite cranky at my library for having a selection that seems to consist mainly of American authors), and for one of the most gorgeous books that I have ever read Eula Biss’s, On Immunity: An Inoculation.

Then there’s Shawna Lemay of Calm Things whose blog I’ve started following only recently but who’s already made me read my first Virgina Woolf, A Writer’s Diary.

I’m in awe of the talent and the passion that people have for books and the written word. I feel so blessed to be able to partake of this love fest in whatever way I can!

Introduce Yourself! BBAW Day 1

When two of my favorite book bloggers on the internetz co-host an event, I HAVE to be a part of it!

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So here’s what you’re supposed to do on Day 1: Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

Let’s start with the newest one in this list—The Wee Free Men which I got around to reading after Ana’s heartfelt review of The Shepherd’s Crown, the last one in the Tiffany Aching series (The Wee Free Men is the first).

Why am I choosing this book? Because in Pratchett, and in Pratchett’s portrayal of Tiffany Aching, I have found a kindred spirit. Like I said in my review of The Wee Free Men: The Wee Free Men struck a deep and resonant chord with me. Its nine-year old protagonist reminded me of the girl I used to be though Tiffany Aching is WAAAYYYYYYY MORE smarter, and MUCH more put together than I ever was at her age! Even more, I felt this sense of familiarity that is hard to put words to. It was as if the nebulous mist that I carry around in my head had suddenly coalesced into words, and shapes, and forms! In Pratchett, I feel like I have found a kindred spirit.

the wee free men terry pratchettAlso, BOOKS! AREN’T THEY GIRNORMOUSLY AWESOME?!! I’m not a nine-year-old. Nor do I live on the chalks. Or have an army of tiny, blue tattooed fairies all around me. BUT oh, there is this sense of RECOGNITION, this feeling of the very depths of my soul being reflected in what Terry Pratchett writes that takes my breath away. (Did you notice how I carefully refrained from mentioning how I’m NOT a witch like Tiffany Aching is?)

Second is one of my favorite books of poetry by my favorite translator-poets of all time, Daniel Ladinsky: Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West. Ladinsky is famous for his translations, or non-translations according to many, of one of the greatest Sufi poets of all times, Hafiz. I’ve been reading his work for more than ten years now, and if Pratchett’s writings is my soul’s translation in prose, then Hafiz and Ladinsky are probably its poetic version. Here’s my favoritest of all Hafiz-Ladinsky collaborations:

Even
after
all this time
the sun never says to the earth,

“You owe me.”

Look
what happens
with a love like that—

it lights up the whole
world.

The next one has to be Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. See, I’m the kind of person who thinks that life lies in the details of our day to day existence. I love celebrating the “big events” that mark our lives and ratcheting up words in their favor but what I love even more is finding the poetry in the everyday stuff of our lives. It just seems a tad stupid to me to leave happy feelings for only the “occasions.” The occasions matter of course but what about the morning sunlight, and the afternoon teas, and the quiet conversations and the deep breaths and that sort of stuff? Emily St. John Mandel agrees (Or so I think anyway!). And that is why I’m choosing Station Eleven as the third book that I think says something about me.

love poems from god daniel ladinskyFourth is The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I’m choosing this one because the tension that it depicts between Gogol and his parents struck very close to home for me. It’s not that Gogol doesn’t love his parents, nor that his parents don’t love Gogol, just that. . . there’s a weight of expectations, a lot of it stemming from the cultural milieu that is India, that puts them at cross-purposes with one another. Lahiri really captured the experience of generations of Indian parents and children in her book.

Fifth is not a book, but a poet, Mary Oliver. . . What do I say about her that is coherent and weaves together all my love for not only the images she paints but also the words that she paints them with? To say that she writes about nature would be to paint an incomplete picture. She talks about moments in time and often those moments feature oaks, and fishes, and herons, and “wild geese, high in the clean blue air.” But that’s not it. It’s what she does with those snapshots, mixing them up with her own essential self, that makes her poetry what it is. My current favorite from her is not even about nature. It’s just a four-liner that I often chant to myself:

Things take the time they take,
Don’t worry.
How many roads did Saint Augustine follow
Before he became Saint Augustine?

I also want to mention Walt Whitman though it’s only recently that I have started reading Leaves of Grass. I wish I could end every sentence that I write in relation to him with an exclamation point—such is Whitman’s exuberance and vigor. His vision and the all-encompassing largeness of it, and the generosity with which he proclaims from his poetic pulpit amaze and enthrall me each time that I dip in and out of his words.

So yes, that’s it from me. I would love to know what five books you think speak to who you are. And of course if you’re participating in BBAW, do leave a link to your own post!