When I first starting book blogging, I pretty much expected to post my reviews into a void with maybe an occasional reader. I didn’t expect anyone to ever comment on my blog or to ever be truly interested in anything I had to say, let alone be interested in who I was.
In a way, I thought my blog would just be an outlet where I could write about books and maybe reflect on particular issues they raised. At the very most, I would use this blog, if I ever needed, to present writing samples when applying for jobs because there had been such requests when I applied for internships.
Discovering the Community
Clearly I had no idea about the book blogging community and all the lovely people in it. For a few months I contented myself with posting book reviews, thinking little about other possible content. Then when I tweeted at an author (specifically, Julie Mayhew), she replied! I got curious about author interactions with readers and bloggers and as a result, discovered all these book bloggers on Twitter.
As I’m sure many others are prone to do, I started lurking on other book blogs, amazed at all the interaction. So many people commented, bloggers replied comments, and book lovers were in constant conversation not only about books but everything else under the sun on Twitter, on blogs and Goodreads too.
The very first book blog I commented on was Asti‘s when she still blogged alone at A Bookish Heart. She was so sweet and happily reached out to me, which in turn gave me the courage to interact with other book bloggers too. And it’s not just bloggers, but also non-bloggers who are in conversation online because they love to read.
Togetherness and Commonality
In Sociology 101, the simplest definition for community is that derived from Ferdinand Tönnies, a German sociologist who lived around the turn of the 20th century. He wrote Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft. This book is translated as Community and Civil Society. According to Tönnies, a community is marked by feelings of togetherness and mutual bonds.
Technically communities were fostered through close spatial proximity such as in families, where commonality encouraged close ties. While such spatial proximities don’t apply to book blogging, I do think there is a close virtual proximity among book bloggers, regardless of location or time zone. The Internet makes it possible to stay connected around the clock, no matter where in the world we are.
Another mark of a community is memories. Memories bind people together, which is why siblings who have very little in common can still develop close relationships over time. Their childhood spent together manifests itself in the love siblings have for one another, even though siblings don’t have a choice about being part of each other’s lives.
Memories in book blogging pertain a lot to the same books that are read. Knowing that someone read the same book and enjoyed it just as much (or maybe hated it with the same passion) lays a common ground. Even talking about the same issues on blogs fosters shared experiences, as we rant about incidents of book banning or gush about author signings (though I’ve never been to one).
Beyond Virtual Spaces
As much as book blogging is largely conducted online, there are occasions when book bloggers get to meet. One event which draws many book bloggers is the annual Book Expo America (BEA). Those who have the opportunity to go make it a point to meet fellow bloggers. Other events are author signings. In some instances, bloggers organise meet-ups for those living in the same area or those who have struck up close friendships might even decide to meet in person.
Book Blogging as a Community
If we look beyond the mere act of reading and reviewing books and hacking away blog posts on keyboards, there is a community waiting to be discovered.
Bloggers are people who want to be heard. Why else would bloggers bother typing words on public domains? As an extension of wanting to be heard, bloggers want to communicate and communication is the backbone of a relationship.
Behind book blogs are very real people who are able to look beyond their screens and recognize the connections that they have with others who might very well live on the other side of the world.