Has the title caught your attention? Good. If you can spare me a couple minutes of your time, I would love to tell you a little story. And – as the title promises – my stance on all the “drama”.
So let’s do a little time travel, shall we? Let’s go back to May of 2018. This was when my little corner of the world wide web, The Artsy Reader, was born. I started my blog as a means to share my love of books and reading, to find like-minded people from all the different parts of the world and connect with them over our mutual love for books. I did this after thinking about it for quite a while, and by while I mean YEARS. Trust me, I know this overthinking business. That’s why all the possible reactions to my bookish thoughts had crossed my mind more than once, and I had obviously come up with all the scenarios that I had thought possible at that point. Sure, I was hoping to get as much positive feedback as possible, or – which would also have been ok with me – no feedback all. There’s no harm in nothing, right? At first, I was reluctant and anxious – could I really write what I thought and post it on the internet and expect not to get negative feedback? Well, after a month or so of blogging, I decided to join Twitter, nowadays also known as the place I love spending most of my time 😀 . And my wishes were granted – I met the most amazing people from all over the world, came to know people I now consider as really good friends. We bonded over our mutual favorite pastime – reading – shared our favorite stories, recommended each other books to read and fangirled over our most beloved characters. It’s easy to say I loved it (and still do).
Other than the occasional spam comment (which you can totally live with as it is usually not geared towards your content at all), I never experienced anything negative in these few months that I decided to join the bookish online world. Somehow I also thought it was all too good to be true. A few months ago then, I became aware of the first book blogger drama on Twitter. I don’t really remember what it was about, I think someone made a comment that book bloggers shouldn’t be taken seriously or SOMETHING. I remember how much of a wildfire it was though. This one person reached so many people and managed to make them angry, sad, or feel disheartened. A few weeks later there was the next drama, and a few days ago I came across people on Twitter defending their book blogs and some newbies stating that they didn’t like the negative feelings they were greeted with in this community.
Before I tell you what I think of all this, I have to tell you something about my personality first (in case, you know, it doesn’t come across on the Internet).
If you knew me in real life, you’d know how much of a shy and reticent person I usually am. The blogging and Twitter world gave me the possibility to open up and share my opinion and helped my voice be heard, which I love. I don’t usually live for drama, I don’t like confrontations and try to avoid them whenever possible. Sometimes though, it is important to stand up – for yourself, but also for others – and say what you think, to voice your opinion. Coincidentally, I have just read this really great book called Ban This Book by Alan Gratz, in which the main character, a book lover like myself, finds that her favorite book has been banned from the school library because some parents thought it inappropriate for children (she’s still in primary school). Later, the list of banned books gets longer and longer, some of our favorite books – Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland and many more – are on it! The main character is very shy, she usually never speaks up, never defends herself or says what she really thinks, even if she is always in disadvantage because of that. Because her beloved books are at stake now though she takes matters into her own hands and succeeds in getting the books back to the library (you can read my full review here).
Long story short, I still don’t want to partake in all the drama. I don’t want any negativity to taint my love for reading and sharing my thoughts on books and socialising on Twitter, BUT – since I feel very protective of what I love – I do feel like I have to say the things I’m going to say at least once to get them out there.
So what am I going to do about all the the negativity and drama now? To be honest? Nothing. For my own peace of mind I have decided not to care, which can be harder than you’d think. Obviously, I, too, want to know what is happening, so I do like to snoop around a bit and have a little read when I see comments surfacing. But, just as in real life, I refuse to become part of the drama or even let it drag me down. And why should I? I have found something I love doing, and as long as I share my personal opinion in a constructive way without bashing authors or books or people in general, I’m not going to stop book blogging. I don’t know everything that’s been going on, but the following points have made it onto my list because they really bothered me when I saw comments on Twitter.
So here’s what I’ve seen book bloggers being accused of / told to do / not to do (in no particular order) – and what I think of it:
- We are not reading the right kinds of books.
So apparently, book shaming is a thing now. Who knew? Nowadays, everything draws a negative response, no matter what you do. You are reading happy-ending-books or love stories? Bad – you shouldn’t look at life through rose-tinted glasses. You’re reading YA or middle grade books or – Heaven forbid! – picture books? You’re being childish and you’re definitely not a real reader. You like to read fantasy and science fiction? Well, you really shouldn’t, because life isn’t a fairytale and you have to grow up.Really? That’s what has become of this world? Why do people even care what we read? No matter what kind of book blogger you are and what you read and share with your audience, I guarantee you WILL have an audience and you WILL find your niche (this oh so famous “niche” everyone’s concerned with). Because with millions of book lovers all over the world, there will surely be other people who like to read the same genre, and who enjoy the same books as you. So don’t feel embarrassed by what you read, ever! I think maybe we should ban the term “guilty pleasure” from our dictionaries. So you just read a book aimed at 13 year olds AND enjoyed it? So what? The result is that you enjoyed it, and that’s the only thing that matters. And if you like to read a little bit of everything? In my opinion that’s not bad either (and doesn’t, as some people claim, make you a bad book blogger because you don’t stick to one genre). On the contrary, it’s great! As you can see, there’s a negative counterpart to literally EVERYTHING you do, so my advice is to just do what YOU want to do.
- We don’t have a significant reach and nobody cares what we think anyway.
Well, for people who claim this, I have one question: Have you ever been on Twitter before? Because look at all the people who state that they have bought books simply because a book blogger has recommended it to them – there are so many! Also, consider it this way: Us book bloggers, we do this thing because it is dear to us. After years and years of reading, we have become experts in this field, but we’re not “professional experts”, we don’t earn money. See, we put a lot of time and effort into this, but we are doing it because we love doing it, not because we have to, which, in my opinion, makes this significantly more special and also more valid. We take our time reading a book, we take notes while doing so, maybe highlight a quote or important passage, and then spend another good while writing a review, carefully weighing the words, maybe doing some research, and edit it in the end. If you did that from 9 to 5 on a daily basis, it would be called work and you would get a nice sum of cash at the end of each month (or week, or whatever). So I don’t know about you guys, but I would call this passion, and I think this is something to admire.
- We have to post regularly to call ourselves bloggers.
This one doesn’t necessarily have to but might tie in with the previous point. We blog about books because we love it, but most of us go to school or have regular jobs, families, kids, spouses and pets and other hobbies and households to take care of (and probably much more than I could think of now), so I find it even more admirable how often some book bloggers manage to publish posts. I know that many have a schedule for their blogs, and I applaud them for it! I myself don’t stick to a schedule because it would stress me out and I’m not sure I would like to see it as more of a regular job – I have the feeling that it would take away from the joy for me. But I do still consider me a blogger (and, if I might say, I think so should you 😉
- We should only post positive reviews.
Why? If it’s not bashing books and authors, you’re being constructive and don’t insult anybody, I don’t see why it should be forbidden to say if you haven’t liked a book. I can see that some bloggers aren’t comfortable with that and if they decide against it it’s fine, but it should be totally valid to say if you didn’t like book so and so just as much as it is ok to say you didn’t like lipstick x because it wasn’t long lasting or film xy because it promised to be child-friendly but ended up being violent. And yes, I’ve seen people complain that some book bloggers tag the authors when posting their one or two star reviews, and don’t necessarily think that needs to be done, but this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t say when a book didn’t appeal to us.
- You have to stick to one genre or You have to branch out more and broaden your (reading) horizon.
We covered this point above a little bit already, but I feel like it deserves its own little passage. I see the point – you shouldn’t necessarily say you hate something without having tried it first, right? Maybe you remember something similar from your childhood: I used to refuse to eat fish just because without actually having tried it before, but now as an adult, I love it! Or, another example, I refused to eat mushrooms, tried them when I was older, and still don’t eat them now because I don’t like the taste and consistency. Both I could only find out by trying. So, the same could be true for books. Maybe you think you won’t like fantasy when in reality (pun intended) you’d love the genre! Or you don’t, but there’s only one way of finding out. So for the sake of not losing years and years of your life without the one thing that qould bring you great joy and happiness, I’d RECOMMEND you to try out other genres out of your bookish comfort zone at least once. However, I do also think that if you’ve tried it and didn’t like it, or have a valid reason not to read something, you shouldn’t force yourself to. In the end, you should enjoy your reading time! On the other hand, some people might like different genres and post reviews for books from horror as well as chic-lit. But why should that be a bad thing?
- There’s only one right way to write a book review.
Book reviews shouldn’t be too long because nobody reads them then, but they also shouldn’t be too short because then they don’t express anything, but also you shouldn’t spoiler and give too much away, but also if you don’t include anything about the content you probably haven’t read the book and shoudn’t voice your opinion anyway. Sounds crazy, right? Well, all these points have been stated by people who think that their way of writing a review is the only right one. But I’d say, if you write a review that YOU would like to read yourself, chances are that there will be other people out there who will enjoy your review!
- And, the newest addition to the drama list: You’re only a book blogger, your opinion isn’t valid.
I don’t know what people who say this refer to – are we less of a blogger because it is books we’re talking about, and not films or make up or fashion? Did they do research and can present me tables and graphs and other significant proof? I’m not going to say more to this, because I feel like all my replies above can easily overpower this claim. Just know that I am silently shaking my head and rolling my eyes.
So what do we take from all this? No matter how carefully you plan everything, even for weeks and months or even years ahead, no matter how much you weigh all the options and possible outcomes, fact is: You can’t please everybody. That’s this way with reading, and book blogging, and cooking and singing and dancing and working. There will always be people who take offense, who find an error or will bash you simply because they don’t find one. But should that take away from the fact that you, too, should enjoy your life and do what you like to do? No. Noooooo. If you love books and reading, if you would like to share your opinion on the books you have read, do it. Don’t even think about who will or won’t read it, because it really doesn’t matter. The more we do, the more action area we are providing for the haters and doubters and critics and the more we let ourselves have arguments with them, the more their voices will be heard. So the less we care (or at least show that we care on the outside – don’t take me wrong, it’s making me furious, too) the better.
Of course, you are allowed to disagree on everything I’ve just said, but the question is…will I c a r e..?
(Lol, who is this sassy new me? Don’t know her )
If you’ve reached this part of the post you have made it through all my ramblings, and I want to thank you for giving me a good portion of your precious time! You really deserve at least 100 artsy reader points for it, you know. I hope that you (despite all the seemingly cool “we shoudln’t care what anybody thinks” talk) did agree with at least some of the things I’ve said, but either way, let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear your opinion on the matter!
So dear fellow book bloggers and book lovers – one last thing before I let you return to your day: Let’s keep the good work up, shall we? Let us continue to do what we love and let’s all support each other, so that negativity doesn’t even have a choice to worm its way into our positive bookish lives!
Thanks for reading!