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What Book Blogging Means to Me (#BBAW Day 3)

So, here we are on Day 3 of Book Blogging Appreciation Week.  It’s about the half-way point of this incredibly fun and interactive event and today’s topic/question is a good (but sorta tough!) one:

“What does Book Blogging mean to you?”

Goodness gracious, where does one begin with a question like that?  I sit here wondering:  Should I take the question literally and point out the various elements of Book Blogging that are specifically relevant to me and my blog, such as writing reviews, hosting events, or babbling about literary topics

Or, perhaps I should talk about the events like Top Ten Tuesdays, Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, and Banned Books Week that are hosted by other bloggers, but which are enjoyable for me (and so, therefore, I try to participate in them as often as possible).

But, the more I think about it, the more I want to really answer the question of meaning.  For some, book blogging is a fun hobby: it is a way to connect with other like-minded people who have similar interests.  Book blogging can be a means of expression, or it can be a reading journal, or it can be a professional platform which is intended to lead to bigger and better things. 

All of these elements of Book Blogging are valid and important, and they are absolutely part of the purpose for me, too; but purpose is not meaning.

So, what does Book Blogging mean to me?  Well, this is where I put my serious face on.  This is where I become sentimental and revelatory.  This is where I thank the casual readers for stopping by and let them know that I understand if they decide to click on to the next blog, now. 

Book Blogging has meant, for me, two things:

Rebirth.

Most people who I know now or whom I have met recently assume that reading has always been an important (or even the most important) part of my life.  After all, I currently hold two degrees in English (B.A. – English; M.A. English, emphasis in American Lit.) and I’m working on my third (Ph.D.) right now!  But, actually, it was not until my second year of college that I really became a reader.  In fact, I started college as a Biology Pre-Med major, with every intention of going on to Medical School and becoming a physician (oh, if only I had a Time-Turner!). 

Sure, I read books when I was a kid.  I read Goosebumps when I was young (I used to wait eagerly for the Scholastic catalogs to come out so that I could get my hands on the next ones!).  In junior high, I read The Giver, My Brother Sam is Dead, and And Then There Were None.  In high school, I remember reading Of Mice and Men, Kaffir Boy and Macbeth.   I enjoyed reading – I liked pretty much every book I tried (with the exception of The Great Gatsby, which I learned to love much later), but I never saw reading as a pursuit or hobby that could actually “be something.”   

After my first year of college, I had some medical complications which quickly and permanently resolved me against the pursuit of an M.D.  I was in search of another major.  I tried History.  I tried Geology.  I tried Spanish.   I found myself, in the middle of my junior year, still without a permanent, satisfying major: What the heck am I supposed to be doing with my life!?  And then I tried English.  College-level English.  The in-depth, close-reading, study and analysis of literature.  Hello, World!

Once I figured out that my place, my destiny, was to be with literature, always, it wasn’t long before I discovered the world of book blogging.  I had already been keeping an online journal for my personal thoughts and creative writing.  But I was reading so many books for classes (and promptly forgetting what they were all about just a semester later) that I realized I needed to store this information somewhere, for future reference.

My first blog became a second.  My second became a third.  The third blog, finally, was specifically a book blog – and that blog became Roof Beam Reader.  Now, more than three years later, I have a distinct “Book Blogger” presence and personality.  It is so different from what I ever expected of myself but, somehow, it is everything I always wanted it to be. 

Safety

For all my life, I have been gay and, for most of my life, I was very overweight.  Although I did not “come out” until college, I suffered from a young age the burden of hiding who I truly was.  I also had the added difficulty of growing up “the fat kid,” who was teased, bullied, and picked-on from time-to-time (though my experiences were not nearly as horrendous as I have witnessed of others).  In college, I managed to get in shape and to become friends with an extraordinary group of people; but, though I became more comfortable and satisfied with my physical experience – it was still what the world couldn’t see that was haunting me. 

There was (and, to some degree, there still is) a fear of not being accepted or of being simply “tolerated.”  And, scariest of all, there is always a fear of being truly persecuted because of who I am.  For the most part, I have been fortunate enough to have friends and family who are incredibly caring and accepting (although, they’re so beyond “accepting” that accepting doesn’t seem to fit).  Still, there have been and always will be people who just can’t seem to look past this one part of me to see the whole of me, or to even be willing to try.  I remember one day, in college, coming home from class to see the word “FAG” written in black permanent marker on my apartment door.  I couldn’t imagine what I might have done to upset someone that much, and it was a very long time before I realized that I wasn’t the one responsible for how they felt and for what they did.

For me, although I have had a semi-charmed life, compared to what many have experienced, I have learned enough about life and about human nature to know that we all need a safe space.  Roof Beam Reader, just a book blog, is, nonetheless my book blog.  It is my space to say, think, and feel what I want, without fear of rejection or disapproval.  It is also my space to welcome others – all others – and to guarantee that, when they are here, they, too, have a safe space to share, to communicate, to learn, and to laugh.       

So, this is what Book Blogging means to me.  It means owning who I am and welcoming others to be a part of my journey.  It means giving others, those who are like me or not, a safe space to talk about the one thing we all have in common: a love of books and reading!  It means meeting people from all over the world, growing vicariously through their experiences and hoping to share with them some of my own.

Book Blogging, in effect, means more to me than I could ever express, and I sincerely thank each and every one of you who have made a place for me in this world.

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52 thoughts on “What Book Blogging Means to Me (#BBAW Day 3)

  1. Thanks you for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us, Adam. I’ll never be able to understand what it is like to fear other people’s awful prejudices against who you are inside. I grew up with racism, even a few years ago a kid looked at me in disbelief when I said he was saying something that was hurtful and racist… words may not kill but the can hurt. But the world can see the colour of my skin. I can’t hide it. I’ve not known the fear of coming out or not.

    In my image of you, even if I don’t know you that well, you are a strong, well-spoken and intelligent person. Someone who can face and has conquered many an adversity and who leads by example. I hope you will succeed in achieving much more, through your PhD and other endeavors!

  2. I was deeply touched and was literally brought to tears by this~ Though I just recently became one of the followers of the blog, I read many of your past reviews and I’m truly grateful that you created such a fantastic, warm, and welcoming space, where everyone can share and embrace one another’s reading experiences and opinions on books, so I want to thank you, too :)

  3. Beautiful post, Adam. Thanks for sharing. I hope you’ll feel more and more accepted (rather than tolerated) by the world as your career and your life develops. I found that having a PhD is a great boost for my confidence and I hope it works the same way for you.

    1. Thanks, Judith – so glad to have connected with you! You’re one of those folks who I consider a “book blogging long-distance international friend.” I should really come up with another name for that. BBLDIF? Hmmm… to be continued…

      1. Thank you! You know, a short way of writing Amsterdam is A’dam. Except I don’t live there. Otherwise I could be Dr A’dam and you Dr Adam. :-)

        Oops, that does make even less sense than BBLDIF!

  4. I really appreciate what you’ve written here. And I recognise myself in parts of your story. I’m still struggling myself so I really admire you for your courage (isn’t it sad that we need something like courage in the first place?).

    I’ve only just begun taking blogging more seriously myself. I used to use other spaces on the internet (such as forums or sites like Livejournal) as my ‘safe space’, but they have all become too quiet. I hope I can turn my blog into a wonderful place like you did!

  5. I love this post – so much of this is what I failed to express in my own post today. Your blog is such a great one and always feels like a bit of a reading sanctuary to me. Thanks for sharing :-)

  6. Wow, this is such a great post. Thanks for opening and sharing what blogging really means to you. It’s good to get to know you better :) I’m glad I found the BBAW this year because it has connected me to so many great book bloggers!

  7. This is such an absolutely beautiful post. I had no idea, first of all, that you started out reading like me. You have given me confidence with this post, because you have got to be one of the most well-read people I know.

    And as for your personal story — the honesty? That is what book blogging means to me — getting the honor of being the reader of posts like this one. I love that we can connect with one another, and share our stories as perhaps we wouldn’t, if stood in a room together. I’ve found blogging to be a place where I can share as well. And where I can be offered the pieces of the hearts that beat behind my computer monitor.

    You’re a beautiful person, Adam. xx

  8. Wondrous! This is such a fantastic post I am a little lost for words/feel I’ve nothing constructive to say. Thank you for sharing, it is wonderful that literature and book blogging can be such a marvellous medium to transcend the discrimination we can encounter day to day.

  9. When I started reading, I was not prepared to read something so beautiful and deeply revealing about yourself. What a wonderful surprise! I love it, and I appreciate so much hearing your story…how you arrived here, to this place <3

  10. I felt your whole commentary about your life and your reading life…inextricably intertwined…very deeply moving as sincerely as I can put it. Your love for literature must be very deep for you to make it your life and then pursue it as far scholastically and academically as you have. In the past, I have noticed that when you admire a writer that you don’t agree with in some ways, that you don’t let it stint your admiration for his work and I respect and appreciate that too.

    1. Thank you very much. I do definitely try to separate, as much as possible, the author/writer from the work. Because, let’s face it, there are some not-so-great people out there who have created some incredible pieces of art and literature. I just try to buy their books used, whenever possible. ;)

  11. Wow, this is amazing. I am also gay, but I haven’t experienced any of those horror stories that I often hear and read (my worst, so far, is uneducated kids calling me a faggot). I guess I’m fortunate that the people I’ve encountered are more tolerant and accepting, or at the least not violent about it.

  12. Wow! Missed this on Wednesday — fortunately, Jillian linked to it during her wrap-up post on A Room of One’s Own. A beautiful piece — perfect for me to read on the last day of BBAW.

    1. Thank you! I’m grateful to her for doing that. There were so many excellent things happening this week – I’m jus happy that I could participate in a qualitative (and, heck, even a quantitative) way.

  13. This is a beautiful article, Adam, I’m so glad I found my way over here. I have similar feelings about books — they’ve given me solace during some really rough, lonely times and helped create a sense of purpose. Thanks for this honest and eloquent post.

  14. I almost missed this post! Just came over from Chrisbookarama to read it. I never really stopped to think about how I never see an unkind comment on any of the book blogs I read and how open and welcoming book bloggers are! Thank you for sharing your story with your readers!

  15. Adam, thank you for sharing such a beautiful and honest post. Blogging has, in a lot of ways, been the same sort of safe haven for me. When things are hard, I can always turn to my blog and the people I have met through my blog to help me get through it. I’m so glad that you were able to find the same sort of space. I love Roof Beam Reader and everything you do here. Congratulations on the fact that you are living your dream and getting your PhD!

  16. Pingback: Smash Attack Reads

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