Saturday, 5 April 2008

things I have learned......

Things I have learned this week, this month, and this past 6 months of blogging:

- I went to Carl's site tonight and found not one, but two posts on faerie: Neil Gaiman (and the first photo made my heart stop, it is so breathtaking of Neil), and Brian Froud, and the links between them. I just watched Labyrinth (Brian Froud was the designer)last summer, for the first time in 20 years, and I enjoyed it, surprisingly so. and the poster that Carl was giving away, "Instructions" by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Brian Froud, is one i am too late to put my name in the draw for (since the draw was yesterday!), but I want that too - the poem is instructions for entering the dark wood of fairytales, and it is beautiful and wondrous and magical, and found in "Fragile Things", Neil's latest short story collection that I am in the process of reading. I had read the poem recently and fell in love with it, and now I know it's a birthday list is growing! Please check out Carl's two posts, they each are incredible. What I learned - other than the same synchronicity Carl was talking about, at work in my life! - was that there is a whole group of us who love fairy tales and fantasy books, which are my main love. I am not alone!! I know people read fantasy in Ottawa (we've held conventions over the years, and had two specialty bookstores for science fiction, both gone now), but not so many people talk about it, and that is what I have been missing.

- I have discovered that we love books, and talking about them, sharing our thoughts, reactions, joys and disappointments. In amongst the books, we talk about our lives, too, and it's like a glimpse of one another through starlight - here's a star in Minneapolis, there's another in Germany, another in South Korea, several in Canada, oh another in England and still another in Ireland - oh look, France has joined....Australia....many many more the world over - so many in the US- I know this is what the Internet is, but this is wondrous, that we all can connect over our love of books. It's like how long-distance letter writing used to be (and I remember those days!), only this is more immediate, and this has its good sides (we get immediate comments on our ideas and thoughts, and cheered up and find amazing books!) and its bad side (those of us who write books end up blogging more instead of creatively writing!! and spouses come wandering over to see where we disappeared to...). I'm still in my baby steps, and i have to admit that it is a thrill to check my blog every night when I come home from work and see who has dropped by.

- BAFAB week - all the giveaways and contests. I don't care if I won or not. This is my first year blogging, and my very first witnessing to the incredible sharing of books in the book blogging world. What a wonderful idea, and it's amazing and fun to see how generous we are with our books. It's like saying "here, read this!" over and over! I had no idea when I started my blog that this book blogging community even existed, and I am thrilled to be part of it. Next BAFAB, I will be ready!

- that we have lots of thoughts about what we read. I know there has been a growing backlash from 'critics' about book bloggers and our lack of credentials, but I've decided that the book critics are jealous. We write about books because we love them, and we have an instinctual - and good reaction to whether we like them or not, or if they make sense. I studied literature at university, and it killed my ability to write for several years after. Not on purpose, but the critiquing of method, novel set-up, characterization, etc, made me incapable of writing anything because I was instantly analyzing before I had finished putting it down on paper! We need literary critics, and I also now think the book world needs us - we're the ones who love books, and pay our money for them, and we treat what we read with respect - even if we don't like a book, we give a thoughtful approach to why. And it's fun, it's like we have a huge book circle! Oprah, move over, the real book-reading world has far better choices about what to read! Hmmm,
and this is really odd - further signs of synchronicity - over at Neil Gaiman's journal site he has just written several answers to questions in the last week on creative writing classes and writing, and do they help or hurt writing? Oh....and he's gained "a tub' size in jeans, I'm not the only one this long long winter has affected!! Oh hurray!! very shallow of me, but hey, you have to read his description of his closet (see journal entry "snowdrops"....). note to self: must get a copy of "Odd and The Frost Giants" somehow......

- we really like fairy tales.

- it's really fun to sign up for challenges!!

- and even more fun to choose the books for each challenge!

- I got my sister to read Jane Austen for the first time through this blog! (Stand up, Lady P!!)

- Oh - Inkheart is getting better near the end, I'm almost finished!

- and the best of all, you, dear Gentle Readers. Meeting you, finding your blogs, sharing books and ideas and thoughts, I had no idea this was waiting for me. So, as I reflect on my first six months - I can't believe it's been only 6 months! - of blogging, I raise my milk bottle (baby blog can't drink yet...) to you in a toast - thank you - and I really thank all the writers out there, old ones and new, because without them we wouldn't have any books at all. And it's now 25 weeks, 2 days, 22 hours, and 35 minutes until *Neil's* next book, "The Graveyard Book" is out in the US (and hopefully Canada and the UK). :-)


Chris said...

What a sweet post :) I couldn't love book blogging more! It really is true that this is one of the most amazing communities. I really didn't have anyone that I could share my love of books with before. Sure I had other friends who read and we'd talk casually about "whatcha reading?" But here we can focus on that...and like you said, we actually get to know each other somewhat too. There are some great people here! And I think this community brings something totally different than a critics view as far as reviews go. I'm much more likely to buy a book after reading a bloggers's more honest.

So glad to hear you're a fan of Gaiman's journal by the way! Isn't it great? I've been reading it for years. My biggest fan moment of my life was just a couple of weeks ago. He actually linked to my review and Nymeth's review of Odd and the Frost Giants in his post!! Can you believe that? I freaked! Nymeth's one of my favorite bloggers too, so it was great to be able to share that experience with her :)

brideofthebookgod said...

I'm glad you are enjoying Fragile Things; I read it this time last year and wrote about it here -
I'll be interested to see what you think!

Charlotte said...

Lovely post, thank you. I agree that blogging, and specifically book blogging, has been a great experience characterised by the generosity and intelligence of most bloggers. Glad your first six months has been so much, and looking forward to celebrating your first year with you.

Bybee said...

I'm really glad that you're on the blog hit the ground running, that's for sure -- despite your extreme youth, no crawling for you!
Here's looking at your first anniversary when you'll be toasting us holding your tippy cup!

Jeane said...

I've really come to love book blogging, too. For me it's so much more fun and fulfilling to read how others readers respond personally to a book, than to read an analysis that picks it all to pieces. I am glad to be part of this blogging community!

Nymeth said...

Freaking out along with Chris about the links was awesome :D I had such a fangirl moment :P

Anyway, I love this post :) I agree with all the things you said about blogging. It's so nice to have an outlet for my thoughts, to be able to read the thoughts of others, to interact with people who understand how ridiculously excited I get about things like book bargains, books arriving in the mail, new releases by favourite authors of mine, etc.

The academic world, the world of "literary criticism", is one that I am not particularly fond of. Well, for the most part anyway. I do believe that the levels of elitism and close-mindedness are declining, but sadly you still find a lot of that.

About Odd and the Frost Giants, when looking around to find the best way to send it to the winner of my draw, I realized that you can get it at The Book Depository. The price is £3.50 and not the £1 it should be, but they offer free shipping worldwide, so it's probably still a better option than paying for international shipping on

I have such a huge dilemma about The Graveyard Book. I wanted to get the US edition because it comes out a month earlier than the UK edition (and how can I wait a whole month? :P) but just the other day he announced that the UK adult edition will have that fantastic Dave McKean cover with the knife...what to do, what to do. I'll probably end up getting the US version, reading it, then getting the UK one when it comes out and giving the first one away. The things fandom makes you do :P

Chris said...

Nymeth, Or you can keep both editions of The Graveyard book and become really obsessive like me...I swear, I think I have 3 versions of Anansi Boys and at least 4 different Coralines! Every time I see a new cover or edition of any of his books I buy them :p Except for the Hill House much as I love those, I can never afford them. The Subterranean ones, I buy though...though I may pass on Interworld, wasn't as crazy about that one. By the way, Subterranean is using the same cover as the UK edition of Graveyard Book and it's signed by McKean and Gaiman! Haven't announced the price yet, but they're usually between $40-$60. Sorry I just took over your blog, Susan :(

Susan said...

Chris: *blush* thanks!
i agree about going to get a book after a book review by a blogger - I like how you put it, "the review is more honest".
As for Neil G. linking to your post and Nymeth's blog's - wow! i've been smiling about it all day. Wow. there almost aren't any words to express how happy I am for you (see below, will answer you and Nymeth again)- - wow, to get noticed for a book blog by Mr G himself!!! Wow. You must have been floating all day, I know I would be....what a thrilling, exciting moment!And yes, I think his journal is great, i found it before I got the idea about blogging. I love how he writes about writing, and his life, and what helps him, and what doesn't, and we get to see the book evolve before our eyes, and how he loves his family and his life. He takes the myth out of the idea that an artist has to be unhappy in order to create.

brideofthebookgod - nice to meet you, love your blog name! Will be checking your site shortly for the link, will let you know!

charlotte: thank you! *blush* again. as you just celebrated your birthday, it means alot that you - everyone - have welcomed me in. Just like moving somewhere new,I was the new girl in town....i hope by the time I celebrate my first year, you and I are further along with our novels!

bybee: I have my tippy cup already bought! (I'm using one from my journals! hee) You all are making me blush today! Thanks for overlooking the painfully long way it's taken me to figure out how to link....

jeane: I have linked to your blog now! thank you for coming by, I really enjoy your comments. And I agree totally with what you say, about bloggers vs critical analysis of a book. I really like your blog, and the pictures of your bookshelves. I wanted to come over and take a look at the books on them! Irresistible to me!!!

nymeth: freaking out would be right. I'm so thrilled for you and Chris, that is so cool.
I love how you put that you get 'ridiculously excited' over book bargains, new releases, suddenly finding that special book - that's me to a T! And all of us, I think. so it really does feel like a community, even if we can't see each other.
I will check out the Book Depository tonight, THANK YOU! I must get this book....then I have to get Coraline, and then Neverwhere, which having been on the London Underground, I really want to see what he does with it.

Now, you(Nymeth) and Chris: go ahead and share my blog! I think that's what's so great - it's like having a cup of tea (coffe anyone else?) with friends at a house, and you two are having a conversation that I sit back and watch because you're such good friends already! I love how you Chris go out and by different editions of the same book!!! (and i agree,Hill House is really expensive, but darn they look so worth it....) Guess we all are going to go for the Subterranean edition of the Graveyard (Christmas, anyone?)?

It's been fun watching Neil post the different covers Dave did for him, hasn't it? I haven't quite decided which cover i like best...the little boy walking along the blade is also very cool...the whole story concept is so amazing! I can hardly wait to read it!!
Soon as i get a copy of Odd and The Frost Giants I will let you two especially know!!
And the more I think about it, the more cool and amazing it is that he linked to your blogs! so congratulations to both of you are in order! :-) and I will go find your posts and be able to say, "hey, my book-blogging friends are mentioned on Neil Gaiman's blog!!!"

Susan said...

BrideoftheBookGod: Love your blog! You are added to mine now. I love your header. Someday I'll figure out how to add pictures - both with my blog signature as well as on the header. Next step for blogbaby....