Monday, August 31, 2009

a blogger reviews books about blogs...

Rough day at the bookstore last night. Customers were cranky, managers were cranky and coworkers were cranky, which left me at little cranky, too.


A customer made my day about an hour before we closed when I asked her if she needed any help. She said yes, she needed a good book to read. A bookseller's favorite type of customer; someone who is genuinely interested in your opinion. Granted, she ended up shooting down most of my recommendations (as she had already read them), but ended up leaving with three I had suggested. She went with Home by Marilynne Robinson, (the new release of Pulitzer prize winning author of Gilead; this is a required recommendation at my store, but one I can stand behind), The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perotta and my personal favorite of all the suggestions I shared with her: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Ask any bookseller, librarian or good friend you know and they'll all say the same thing: having someone accept a book recommendation is like receiving a really good hug. Or a fresh baked cookie. Anything that leaves you with a warm fuzzy.

Which leads me to the purpose of this post...

I've had a few friends talk to me about my blog and their aspirations to start/resuscitate their own blog. Having just started this venture, I didn't have a whole lot of advice to give, as I am attempting the whole learn-as-you-go paradigm. But one thing that I can share are a few book recommendations that have inspired the development with this blog. So if anyone out there wants to start a blog or is curious about the whole blog phenomenon, check these out from your local library:

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by the Editors of the Huffington Post and Arianna Huffington

This is the first book I picked up during my journey of becoming a blogger, and I was skeptical of reading it at first; it seems a little cheesy and a bit too self-promoting. After a few pages, I really got into it and I feel like it offered some very solid advice, especially on ways to develop content and strategies for getting your blog read. Much like a group blog, a lot of different voices are represented in the book, all offering unique perspectives. It also covers a lot of the basics of blogging and resources for getting started (if you are so inclined), so this is a great one to pick up and look through

Bloggers on the Bus: How the Internet Changed Politics and the Press by Eric Boehlert

This is a great narrative of how the Internet, and specifically blogging, affected the 2008 presidential elections. Ripping off Timothy Crouse's title, this is a fascinating look at the reach blogs are having in today's society. A great read for anyone interested in blogs, electoral politics or contemporary American Society

Blogging Heros: Interviews with 30 of the World's Top Bloggers by Michael A. Banks

I'm in the middle of this one right now, and discovering it's another great source for advice. Each blogger that Banks interviews dispenses their personal experiences with blogging, the various rewards they have gained while blogging, as well as their frustrations with the blogging venue and their hopes for the future. And at the end of each interview, Banks quickly summarizes each tip the blogger shares, reinforcing the advice they offer you. Again, great if you want to start blogging more or if you just want to read some one's prospective who has been doing this since the dawn of blog.

So check out these books if you're so inclined. But, in the words of LeVar Burton (r.i.p. Reading Rainbow), you don't have to take my word for it...


  1. It's even MORE rewarding when they've accepted your recommendation and they come back later to tell you how much they loved the book(s). Suddenly you have a very good friend who will seek you out every time they visit your bookstore or library. I do miss that part of public library service.

    BTW, Tom was in your store on Sunday morning buying a magazine. He said nobody tried to sell him a book. I guess they're still not all on the same page with the required sales pitch? NN

  2. I guess it depends on when he was in the store - during the morning and middle part of the day, it can be a little crazy trying to hit everyone up. By the end of the night we're more focused on reshelving and tend to give customers a bit more space. And for some reason booksellers tend to avoid the magazines - usually customers know exactly what they want in that part of the store...

  3. The good news actually is the current mandated slate of recommended bigbox titles. When I make a recommendation, I stand behind the authors I love and the decisions they make, and the fact that a customer may come back to seek out a new title makes me tingle. Robinson and Walls make this much easier, though Murakami and Carver (or Hobb and Martin and Rothfuss for those who need to escape the world entirely) are even more of a joy; the first time somebody said to me, "How did I live before "The Swimmer" or "Cathedral" or that other short story," and I say, "I don't know, I just don't know," I felt like I wrote it myslf. So I may read your above recs, and I may even let my life be changed.