Book Blogging Community: #BBAW Day 4

CommunityConnection

Today’s prompt

Day 4 How do you stay connected to the community? Examples: social media, regular commenting, participation in blog events, etc. Tell us your faves! We all know that the book blogging community is BIG, and it’s growing every day. It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed or totally lost. We want to know how you feel connected. Is it a specific tribe you run with? Events that keep you grounded? Twitter? Instagram? Comments? Again, the sky’s the limit when it comes to the ways to “plug in” to this big ole network of book lovers, and we are dying to know methods.

How do I stay connected

I would like to answer this in a couple of ways. First, how do I stay connected technologically (literally) speaking? Well, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Tumblr.  As far as the community choices I make; well, yes, I suppose I do have a regular “group” that I chat with, keep in touch with, and participate in events with.

In the last year, and for the next year, my participation is minimal due to professional and academic obligations (I teach college English full-time and am writing my doctoral dissertation for the PhD in American Literature). The book blogging community is still important to me, though. I’ve been highly engaged this week, for example, because BBAW holds a special place in my heart.  I’ve been blogging for ten years, and a self-identified “book blogger” for seven, and it’s not something I’m eager to give up entirely.

Why do I stay connected

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. 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, seven 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. 

Identity

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 has been 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. Happy BBAW!

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7 thoughts on “Book Blogging Community: #BBAW Day 4

  1. Thanks for sharing Adam. I had no idea literature made a fairly recent entry into your life. I’m glad it did and I feel privileged to be part of your book blogging community, and maybe, neighbors as we are, we will finally meet at BEA this year?

    • I had every intention of (finally) attending BEA this year, but it is scheduled for the same week as my college’s final exams! I’ll work it out if I can, but I haven’t managed to come up with a plan just yet.

  2. Thank you for this beautiful statement of your reading and blogging and life journey. I believe that in this seemingly frivolous activity of “book blogging” we are sharing something of our deepest essence, and when it’s met with sympathy and understanding that is a precious gift. Many thanks for all that you do for and with the community.

  3. Thank you for sharing this lovely post about your experience of reading and blogging, and for continuing to share your blog with us even though you are so busy (as a fellow PhD student I am consistently impressed!). I haven’t experienced the same thing–but I have been conscious my whole life of being the weird one, the awkward one–which had previously been a source of social isolation. I have great friends now but blogging is still important as a place where I feel like I can be unapologetically enthusiastic about stuff without being teased. I am happy that it is such a safe place for other people too 😊

  4. Thanks for sharing, Adam! We’ve been blog friends for a while, but I had no idea literature was relatively new in your life. Nice how it worked out for you, after trying some alternatives.

  5. Oh, this is lovely. I’ve really enjoyed reading about how reading, and book blogging in particular, has changed so many people’s lives for the better.

    I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the internet as it exists now, with this huge group of (mostly) supportive people and all the “safe” spaces availabe for us to be book nerds together, even a continent away.

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