Armchair BEA Day 2: Blog Development & Genre Fiction

Becoming a Better Blogger: Discussing Development

untitledToday’s Armchair BEA topic is all about developing one’s blog.  “Developing” and “becoming better” can carry different meanings, depending on who is asking and who is answering.  It might mean reaching a wider audience or becoming an expert in a chosen field.  It could also mean learning more about technology and building one’s skills to enhance the look, feel, and functionality of one’s own blog (which would likely come with the added benefits of ease-of-reading, which might naturally grow one’s readership).

I have written two posts in the past which, I think, explain what book blogging means to me and also how I charge myself with being an empathetic reader and an effective reviewer

But, in answer to the specific question of my approach to blogging and how I have tried to develop, personally and professionally, I have just a few thoughts:

1)      Honesty.  My book blog is more about me than it is about any book, author, genre, etc.  I read because I love it.  I engage with this community because I love it.  It would be doing myself and this community a great disservice, then, to be dishonest in my reviews.  Whether I have received a book from a publisher, picked it out on my own, won it in a contest, or been gifted it by a friend, I follow the same standard criteria when reviewing and am honest, though, hopefully, comprehensive and fair, in my posts.  I believe if I stay committed to fairness and quality and that if my readers can continue to trust that I will do this, then I am succeeding.

2)      Community.  I really do enjoy the book blogging community, and I respect it and the people involved.  For this reason, I do my best to engage on Twitter and Facebook (and sometimes Tumblr), to visit other blogs and leave comments so writers know that I’m reading, and also to reply to comments here on my blog.  I am a full-time doctoral student, an academic advisor, and a college English instructor, so I don’t have a whole lot of free time – but I do my best!

3)      Income and Events.  These two go hand-in-hand with the above topics.  I never accept payment for reviewsAustenAugustButton because I believe that, however honest and diligent I am, when money is involved, expectations change.  I do, however, certainly partner with publishers, authors, publicists, and other bloggers in joining and creating events that will spotlight new books (or classics to be rediscovered).  I do this because it is a fun way to engage with others who have similar interests and it also adds some spice and variety to my blog.  I love to give my readers options, such as my annual Austen in August event and the upcoming Beats of Summer event.  I’ve also hosted events for Andrew Smith, had authors interviewed and guest posting, and have helped to publicize new audiobook collections of Hemingway and others.   

On Genre Fiction

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (my favorite book of all-time).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky is my favorite non-series book of all-time.

Although I read primarily literary fiction and the Classics (thanks for yesterday’s topic!), I do also read plenty of genre fiction.  I’m an eclectic reader, I guess, though I do tend to veer towards timeless works.

Some of my favorite genres include Fantasy, LGBT fiction, and Young Adult (particularly dystopian).  I’m very picky about my YA books (I tend to enjoy YA that also appeals to older readers, such as the works of John Green, Andrew Smith, and David Levithan tend to do).    I do also read some horror, on occasion (I love Stephen King) and intellectual thrillers/puzzlers (Yes, I’m a fan of Dan Brown – it’s a guilty pleasure!). 

Out of all genre fiction, though, and, to be honest, of all books, my favorite all time reads are the books in the Harry Potter series.  I know, I know – that’s the most incredibly unique opinion, right?  But, seriously – the books are fantastic.  The world J.K. Rowling created, the history (factual and mythological) that she put into it, and the themes she explores, are all incredible.   Not only do the themes from book to book become deeper, darker, more complex and adult, but so does the narrative.  The difficulty level of the prose, the intricacy of the subplots, and the characters’ growth and development all allow the reader to grow along with the series.  It’s brilliant and, in my opinion, unmatched.   

Here are some of my favorite works of genre fiction, by category:

LGBT:

 Young Adult:

 Horror/Mystery/Thriller:             

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Dystopia:

 Magical Realism/Other

So, there you have it!  My thoughts on developing and a blogger and on genre fiction.  Now, I’m off to explore other blogs and other thoughts!

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24 thoughts on “Armchair BEA Day 2: Blog Development & Genre Fiction

  1. I subscribe via email ever since you started this years TBR Challenge, and your clean, honest and intelligent thoughts come through easily. I enjoy your posts but don’t come over to say that, so I am doing it now as my small homage to Armchair BEA since I just couldn’t get out of my self-imposed funk to participate this year.
    =)

  2. Interesting thoughts. Every blogger has a different set of goals for his/her blog, and it’s important to revisit and revise those goals as we go along. For me, the community is the best part, and I take as much pleasure in engaging with bloggers on their blogs as I do in posting material on my own. As for Harry Potter…well, that goes without saying!

  3. We rarely read the same thing but absolutely love your blog because it’s honest and you’re so passionate, creative and inspiring. (Actually, looking through your genre reads – I’m seeing that we do have some books in common – so yay genre fiction 🙂

    • Life-changing is absolutely correct, at least it was for me. And the film adapatation was BRILLIANT, but that’s because Stephen Chbosky was involved on every level: he wrote the screenplay, he helped cast the actors, and he oversaw the music/soundtrack.

  4. I enjoyed reading your thoughts about book blogging. For me, I never lose sight of the idea that the a blog is a web log, a diary, an accounting of what I read, enjoy, think about, and aspire to in the reading/writing life. I commented on another BEA armchair post on genre that I often see it more as a straitjacket than a guide.

    I enjoyed the HP books immensely and had I been younger when I read them, I think they would have become hardwired into my psyche in the same way that Austen, the Little House books, the Anne books, and GWTW did. Sometimes I think the HP books are proof positive that we humans share a collective unconscious, and JKR tapped into it.

  5. I tend to lurk around your blog – I need to do it more often!

    I’ve recently reread The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I’m so glad that my love for the book hasn’t decreased with time. It’s so well written and thought-out.

    There are a few books you’ve mentioned that I now want to make time for. I started reading The Giver once, but for some reason didn’t finish it. I’ve also heard good things about The Night Circus.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on books!

  6. YA paranormal is my go-to genre. I can’t get enough! I’m working on branching out though. 🙂

    Honesty on the blog – YES. Without it, there’s really no point.

  7. Another fabulous post, Adam.

    Honesty is really important to me as a blogger, too, and I think it is very important that reviewers share their honest thoughts on books, even those they didn’t enjoy.

    I’m a big historical fiction reader, but I also love fantasy and the Harry Potter series is an all-time favourite of mine, too. I also like Dan Brown’s books 🙂

  8. I’m the same when it comes to YA – I avoided the genre for ages because I just can’t deal with the paranormal Twilight-y books that seem to make up so much of it. There are some real gems in the YA genre though, and the ones that can reach adults as well as actual young adults are the ones that make the greatest impressions on me too.

  9. Fabulous post! I didn’t write one yesterday myself because I really had no idea what to say about either topic. I don’t read too much genre fiction (though I am trying to branch out) and I don’t feel like I have done enough with my blog to discuss becoming a better blogger (though I am work on making the blog actually *something*).

  10. Great post Adam. Community! It’s my favorite part of this whole book blogging thing 🙂

  11. I think Harry Potter will forever be one of my favorites of all time too. I love how you touched upon honesty. It is so important for readers to trust our opinions so that was a great thing to mention in your post. 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by my post!

    ~Sara @ Forever 17 Books

  12. Adam, you are right, In all situations, honesty is key. Even and more particularly in reviewing of books. I always enjoy your reviews, though like you time is not on my side and therefore visiting other blogs more often becomes almost difficult. Incidentally I love the thrillers/suspense/mysteries. I am a big fan of Dan Brown 🙂

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