BBAW – How Do I Do Community?

Life as a book blogger is not always easy.

I have a job that while it is only 25 hours a week, I spend a night or two a week volunteering, I have a mandatory dinner date once a month with a group of girls I used to work with, I have an amazing book club of 14 strong that I meet with every month for in-depth book discussion, writing a book,  I try (TRY) to work out by bike riding rollerblading and classes at the gym, I am in a weekly study group, plan special events, spend the weekend with my hubby or traveling to nearby towns and festivals with friends… oh yeah…. and I read.  😛


Uhhh….. Sheila…. what does that have to do with the Book Blogging Community?


Well actually a lot.  By what I said above I think we can all agree I am a community girl.  I love love love getting in and trying new things, supporting great causes, meeting new people… and yeah – all of that takes time. 

Knowing all of this about me…. the Book Blogging Community is also so important to me.


But ummmm…. why?  You have so much going on?  Why care?  Why do it?


Well that is the beauty of the book blogging community.  Back when I felt like a lone reader (pre-blogging), I had people I could occasionally talk books with, but certainly not on a daily basis.  When I discovered book blogging, and that there are so many others like me…. seriously….. book lover heaven.  There is no other way to describe it. 

Yes – yes the early years were crazy (early years… ha!  Who am I kidding… I am three years in and it is still crazy!  :razz:)  I started out wanting to find book lovers who read what I liked to read, and yeah that worked…


I think the real community began when I started reading blogs and bookish topics that were not necessarily my genre, but I liked what they were saying….  and suddenly all sorts of great book blogs entered into my life and I was reading books I would have never thought to read….   and loving them… I had to read every post these bloggers wrote and I loved “comment chatting” it up with them and boy… did my book tastes open up to a whole new world. 



How do I keep up with it?  Well…. I enjoy it so I make time.  I try to comment on at least 10 blogs a day.  That usually comes easy as I my wind down time is usually seeing what others are reading anyway…  I recommend that if you are still trying to find your “community piece” of the blog world make sure you are commenting.  Conversations begin, and by the time I went to BEA in 2010…. the book bloggers I had connected with on-line were already like friends.  Meeting them in person was not awkward at all.  Seems to me that from my experience, book bloggers are pretty real people and I did not meet anyone that seemed different than who they were on their blog and in the blogesphere. 


SO … three years in I can say I have slowed down on the commenting but certainly not because I want too… just lack of time.  I love meeting new book lovers and I really get my fix through the Monday What Are You Reading meme.  Chatting books is a passion of mine and you – all of you who read and comment… you make my day.  SERIOUSLY.  I come home to comments and they make me smile, and occasionally laugh out loud.


You stretch me.  I love it!  My life since June 9, 2009 … when I first discovered book blogging…. has never been the same and I do not regret a minute of it.  I look forward to my time to unwind and catch up on the book world.  Thank you…. thank you…. to me, you are what makes book blogging so pleasurable. 

(*Note comments on this post will be entered into my BBAW drawing for today discussed in my morning post directly below this one.  😀 )

Thank you


Morning Meanderings… A Winner… A New Giveaway… And BBAW

Good morning! 

Last night was a wow wow wow book club meeting at my house…. it was a discussion over the book Postmistress, and I read this last fall  and found it to be an ok read, but not one I wanted to review again…. well… last nights discussion made me change my mind.  Later this week I will share the food, the discussion… did I mention the food?  😀

The winner of yesterdays BBAW giveaway of The Night Circus is: (using


GAH!!!  WOO HOO!!!  Congratulations.  Send me your address (no po boxes please) to

And now… another 24 hour giveaway of another smoking hot title that was released recently…

This beautiful new book is sitting on my kitchen table right now.  I have two copies – and one is about to go to one of your homes! 

To enter, leave a comment here telling me which book released (or yet to be released) in 2011 have you been most excited about.   (You can get in on a second entry for this book by commenting on my BBAW Community post that will go up yet today. )

My BBAW Interview Swap with Lu from Regular Rumination

Today I am very excited to share with you my interview of the amazing Lu from Regular Rumination. 

I admit I did not know Lu’s blog prior to her being linked to me for the interview exchanges but that is what is so great about this.  I immediately started stalking her blog which is pretty cool, and you must check it out.  😀

With no further yammering from me, please give a warm welcome to Lu.

I’m Lu (short for Lulu), no that’s not my real name, but there are people in real life who have been calling me that since I was 7 or so.  I’m a 20-something reader who wants to talk about her books with other people who think sleeping is overrated when compared to how many books you could read if sleeping was optional.

I started my blog so I could have a place to write and ramble about all the books I’m reading. I read pretty much anything and everything and if you tell me it’s good, I’m bound to give it a try. That doesn’t mean I like everything I read, because I definitely don’t. Reading and writing have been a passion of mine for a long time.

1.  How long have you been blogging and what influenced you to start a blog?

I’ve been book blogging for almost three (three?!) years now! I started my blog back when I was in college, home from winter break, and totally bored out of my mind because I had nothing to read. I decided to go to the library, but was suddenly overwhelmed with choices! Oddly I wasn’t a library user really before that winter break, since I had a horrible habit of forgetting to bring the books back, especially since I didn’t have a car. But in college, I could walk to the library, so I started using it more and more. Anyway, that winter break I was googling book reviews and stumbled across a book blog. It was definite an “I have found my people” moment. I had had a little sad craft blog that hadn’t gone anywhere and I realized it was because I wasn’t as passionate about it as I thought I was. Reading, however, was my life love. Book blogging and I just were meant to be! So I commented on all those blogs, wrote my first few reviews, and the rest is history.

2. What is your favorite part about Book Blogging?

For me, I love to be able to practice my writing. I love to write and blogging is just another way to work on it. But I think the best thing about book blogging, and I think most people would agree with me here, are the relationships you form. I think it’s the most unexpected thing about book blogging. Suddenly you have all these people who you can call friends, despite never having met them in the “real world.” It’s a really remarkable thing. 

Lu and Margaret Atwood

3. Name a book that you found out about by reading another blog that really turned out to be a fantastic read?

There are so many of these! I think Neil Gaiman is the one I always talk about, because I don’t know that I ever would have found out about Neil Gaiman if hadn’t been for blogging. That seems so silly and impossible now, but I remember having to look up who he was when everyone was participating in the Dream King challenge when I first started blogging! I also have gotten back into reading YA, after years of thinking I was too old for it. Ha! Right. I have loved getting back in touch with all the novels I loved as a teen and discovering so many more I wish I had read then.

4. What book do you wish you could jump into the pages of and travel right along the story line with the characters?<

When I was younger, it would make my heart ache that the worlds I read about weren’t real. I wanted so badly to travel the countryside with Ella in Ella Enchanted or various planets with Meg in A Wrinkle in Time. Who hasn’t wished they could live in the world of Harry Potter for one day? Forever? I know I do. Or, goodness, any of Charles de Lint’s novels? I used to dream about living in that world.

Lu with Tim O'Brien

5. Over the next year what is one thing you hope to either implement, improve on,or change about your current blog or blogging?

Oh, lots of things. My blog never has been and never will be perfect. I’m a lazy blogger. I often forget to write reviews or to update information. I’d like to do better with things like that. I also want to do better about finding new blogs. I feel like all the people I talk to regularly on my blog and on their blogs are people who I have been talking to for three years now. I love them, but I also wonder what I’m missing when I’m not looking for and reading new blogs. The book blogging community seems to have grown tenfold when I wasn’t looking, so I know there are great blogs out there that I haven’t found yet.<

6.  What advice would you give to a brand new book blogger?

BE YOURSELF. Find your voice and use it. Practically every blog has reviews, so you should do something to make it special. Talk about yourself, make it a little bit personal. Also, don’t be afraid to comment. Sometimes I still find myself lurking on blogs. Everyone loves a comment, no matter how intimidating they seem! Also, if someone comments on your blog, show them some love and visit their blogs once in a while. I know it can be hard, and it’s something I still work hard at, but it’s really the bread and butter of this community. But most of all, have fun. It’s a hobby and if you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. That’s why we’re all here, to be nerdy, passionate book lovers, so let that shine through on your blog!



Thank you Lu for hanging out here today.  Readers, be sure to stop in and see Lu in her natural environment at Regular Rumination… and if you stop by her blog today and leave a comment on her interview with me, I will put you in for an extra entry for today’s giveaway book …. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.


Three chances to enter :

1.  My post this morning – leave a comment there

2.  Leave a comment on the interview here with Lu

3.  Go over to Lu’s blog and leave a comment on her interview with me

Winner will be announced tomorrow morning.



Today’s Topic
While the awards are a fun part of BBAW, they can never accurately represent the depth and breadth of diversity in the book blogging community. Today you are encouraged to highlight a couple of bloggers that have made book blogging a unique experience for you. They can be your mentors, a blogger that encouraged you to try a different kind of book, opened your eyes to a new issue, made you laugh when you needed it, or left the first comment you ever got on your blog. Stay positive and give back to the people who make the community work for you!


This is a hard post for me to write as there are so many book bloggers out there I love to read, have picked up more than a book or two from their passionate reviews, or just hover around their blog because they are witty and fun to read.

I tried to narrow it down to a few bloggers who really have meant something to me over the last year and I came up with this:

A post on book bloggers who I appreciate would not be complete without me mentioning that crazy spirited teacher friend of mine, Reagan from Miss Remmers Reviews.  If it wasn’t for Reagan, I probably would not have gone to BEA.  If I had not gone to BEA, I would have missed a huge part of what I love most about book blogging – the community.  Mental *high five* to you my friend!  (The short version of this story is I wanted to go to BEA in 2010 but was nervous about not knowing anyone.  I knew Reagan from her blog only but she was also from Minnesota and we started chatting about the possibilities… now she has been my BEA roommate the past two years).


Amanda from Ramblings (previously from The Zen Leaf).  I think I first found Amanda over her love for all things Harry Potter.  It was so nice to find someone who was as big a Potter geek as myself!  😛  When I started reading Amanda’s blog I really appreciated and enjoyed her reviews.  Amanda made some changes this year and now has a new blog, it is not necessarily a book bog – but she talks books and that makes her a book blogger to me.  😀 


Alison from Alison’s Book Marks was someone I connected with at BEA in 2010. I enjoyed talking to her and really started following her blog when I returned home.  Amanda writes some incredible review and reads some pretty awesome books that have come to me through her recommendation. 


And this post would not be complete without adding Alyce from At Home With Books.   Alyce is just a sweet down to earth blogger who writes not only about books, but life, and happenings, and I just love that.  When you read Alyce’s blog you feel like you have just been invited into her home for a cup of coffee and a little conversation.

That’s my list for this year – there are so many wonderful hard-working book bloggers out there and I adore you all.  My sidebar list of blogs I follow (which needs a few more added to it) – that group I pretty much visit every time they write a post. 


Happy BBAW everyone!  Be sure to watch tomorrow morning for my first exciting giveaway!!!!

Morning Meanderings… Short Listed and 20 Miles is about 5 miles too much

Good Morning!  😀

I had a great weekend and hope you did too!  We spent Friday, Saturday, and half of Sunday at our cabin up North.  We (hubby and I) went out to eat, rode motorcycle around the shore, hung out at the cabin… he became hooked on the Game Show Network 🙄 and I read The Knife Of Never Letting Go (WOWZA!)  On Monday we both spent time in our offices getting caught up for the week that is upon vote us.

I worked a short day on Monday and then went rollerblading with my friend Wendy.  We had not chatted in a while due to busy schedules so the trail is a great place to catch up while getting a work out at the same time.  At the seven mile marker Wendy suggested turning around but I thought we should set the goal of ten miles up the trail and so …. we did.  Perhaps, in hind site that was not the best plan as neither of us had bladed in the last couple of months and neither of us had went that far this year.   We started feeling the effects of that “choice” on the way back at about mile 15.  I told her I hope she didn’t mind if I whined the last 5 miles back, she said she did not as she planned to whine too.  😛

Well obviously I am typing this so…

we survived.  😛

However may not have been the smartest idea with my still recovering from the sinus infection and still taking antibiotics… (lets just say there was a point there I was coughing so hard I thought I was going to lose a lung….) 😯

In other fun news… It’s Monday!  What Are You  Reading made the short list for best book blog meme.  Ahhhh…. that’s so fun!  Make sure to take a minute or two this week to vote for the book blogs on the short list – there are many awesome categories and awesome blogs up for nomination.  I just love Book Blogger Appreciation Week (coming up September 12) there is so many incredible book blogs out there, set aside some time during BBAW to visit them!  😀


*** ERROR – Re Votes Needed as of 9/9/11

Please note – the Best Book Blog Meme Category had a glitch in the voting system and all previous votes  this category were lost.  PLEASE take a moment and re vote, or vote if you have not already.  Its quick and easy.  😀

BBAW is so exciting!  Thank you to everyone who voted for “It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?” for Best Book Blog Meme.  There are some wonderful memes on this list!

Morning Meanderings…. I Need Your Help

Good Morning!

I am at camp this week…. up early for a bike ride to start my morning before every one else gets up.  😀  I figure I can get in a little exercise this  week so brought my bike. 

Here is where I need your help.  I  have made the long list in the 2011 BBAW Awards in the following niche categories:

Best Audiobook Blog

Best Eclectic Book Blog

SSSSQQQUUUEEEEE!!!!  Really, thank you, that is exciting 😀
Now I can only move forward in one category.  I do LOVE LOVE LOVE audio and promote it to no end here…. but know a few other blogs that are super audio blogs too…. even more so than my own.  I know I am an eclectic blog and love to read diverse styles of books.   So the questions lies with…. which one do I go forward with? 
Please let me know your thoughts and they will be taken into consideration.  Just when I think I have chosen…. my head goes the other way….  😛
Thank you in advance for your help.
As for camp day one…. awesome.  I really thought it might be a bit scary, but really….. everyone is soooooo nice.  Already I have laughed and cried several times…. 
Also – on another note….. it is not too late to sign up for a Blogger interview swap for BBAW week.  Trust me, this is a lot of fun.

BBAW: Book Journey Interviews In Spring It Is The Dawn

My interview swap partner this years for BBAW is Nat from In Spring It Is The Dawn.  What a lovely blog she has and for my readers that love books on different cultures, Nat is a Canadian who is living in Japan.

Whoa…. wait a minute. I get to go to Japan to do an interview?  😛


Yup, that’s right!  Nat is blogging from Japan about books I am drooling over as I nosed around her blog. Well…. I have to know more about Nat and I hope you do too.  Please welcome to Book Journey this morning, Nat from In Spring It Is The Dawn.

Nat from In Spring It Is The Dawn

So of course my first question has to be, Nat how did you wind up in Japan from Canada?

Nat: Well, just after high school I spent a year in France on a student exchange, and this experience gave me my wanderlust, my desire to travel to different places.  When I came back to Canada for university I decided to major in Applied Linguisitics (Teaching English as a Second Language) since it seemed the easiest way for a non-scientific, non-mathematical person like myself to be able to live and work overseas. Then when I graduated, I looked into a few different countries but Japan made the most sense at the time.  While I was teaching English in Tokyo, I met the man who is now my husband, and I guess the rest is history.  I never expected to be here in Japan this long (it’s been about 9 years all together now!) and I do hope to move back to Canada or thereabouts in the next few years.

9 years!  That is amazing!  How long have you been blogging?

Nat:  I started my blog, In Spring it is the Dawn, on January 30th, 2006, so it’ll be 5 years come next January.  How time flies!  Many of those early posts are quite embarrassing now though!

Nat loves to take photos! This is a lotus flower from this summer. Click on this picture to go to her photo blog

I hear you there Nat – I laugh about some of my early posts….  and almost 5 years!  How did you start your blogging process?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Nat:  Before blogging I used to belong to several Yahoo book groups. They were pretty much my only way then to chat about books, as most of my friends in real life don’t read much.  Some of the friends I made in those groups started book blogs, and after a while I decided to try it out for myself.  (Andi, of Estella’s Revenge ( is one of the first people I met online all those years ago, and her blog is one that inspired me to start my own.)  And here I still am.  Book blogging long ago replaced those online book groups as my main source of all things bookish.

I know Andi and her blog, I love that we all seem to remember those early connections.   What do you like to blog about?

Nat:  When I first started my blog I didn’t think I’d have enough to post about regularly on just books (I’m a slow reader) so I originally thought it would be part books, part photo blog, and I used to post photos more regularly.  Nowadays you can find more of my photos on my dedicated photo blog, watashi no shashin, which in Japanese literally means “my photos”, and is a replacement for my older photo blog which had been on hiatus.  I do still post photos occasionally on In Spring it is the Dawn, of places we visit here in Japan, or anything from daily life that somehow seems to warrant a photo.  I’ve found though that there is no shortage of bookish things to talk about, so it’s now primarily a book blog, with a bit of everyday randomness thrown in.

I try to talk about all the books I read (although I’m woefully behind on reviews right now) which often ends up being a mix of various genres, but inspired by my circumstances of living in Japan, my blog has evolved into having more of a focus on Japan and Japanese literature over the last couple of years.  To that end, I host a Japanese Literature Book Group, as well as some read-alongs of Japanese lit.  Plus, I also host the Hello Japan! monthly mini-challenge, with topics and tasks (and prizes!) related to some aspect of Japanese culture.  I’m enjoying discovering some great Japanese books and authors myself, and am happy to hopefully bring a little taste of Japan to the blogging community.

You are very community oriented!  I love that!  Are there certain genres you prefer?

Double stacked book shelf of Japanese books

Nat:  I like to think I’m willing to at least try most genres but I definitely have a fondness for literature in translation.  Whenever I hear about a book that’s been translated into English from another language, my ears always perk up! I think it goes back to my original travel bug, as I love experiencing different places and cultures through books.  Otherwise, if you look at my shelves you’ll mostly see literary fiction, classics, my bookshelf dedicated to Japanese and Japan-related literature, and with some YA/kids lit, and non-fiction mixed in.

Ok…. let’s have some fun.  You have been given a 30 minute notice that your boss is sending you to a remote island for a little weekend R and R.  There will be no electricity just plenty of sun and beach time.  The limo (I like to think big) will be picking you up in mere minutes – what book do you grab off your shelf and why?

Nat:  Just one book?  Something thick then, to last the weekend, and which promises to be entertaining.  In other words, a book to get lost in.  Perhaps The Passage by Justin Cronin, which I got at BEA but still haven’t read yet.  Or maybe it would be a good time to finally read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova.  Or maybe a big classic like The Count of Monte Cristo, which I started earlier this year but has been languishing on my nightstand.  Or maybe The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, since I haven’t read any of those yet.  Ultimately, it would probably end up being whichever one caught my eye as I madly dashed around throwing a few things into a bag to take with me.

LOL… that would be my first reaction too Nat, “just one book?” What is one thing you wish you would have known from day one of blogging that you would like to share with those considering or starting out?

Nat:  I often wonder if I would have ever started blogging if I’d known how much time it would take, and how much my To Be Read stack would explode from all the book recommendations.  But now, even when I play with the idea of giving it all up, I can’t really imagine my life without it.

Great answer! I always like to know how other bloggers pre for a book review.  How do you do yours?

Nat:  While I’m reading I’ll add little sticky notes to any passages that stand out, or that I want to refer back to later.  Then when I’m finished reading the book, I’ll try to put down some of my thoughts about it.  I usually let a review sit for a day or so after I’ve written the draft as I invariably seem to change it up as the story continues to rattle around in my head.  I used to be quite good about writing reviews just after reading the book, but this year I’ve gotten so behind that I sometimes write reviews quite some time after I’ve finished the books.  This can make it hard to have enough to say though, and I certainly don’t recommend it.

One of Nat's favorite books, The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki, that she is currently rereading.

If you could hang out with any fictional character who would it be and why?

Nat:  Hmmm… one of the first that comes to mind is Thursday Next, from Jasper Fforde’s series.  It would probably be a lot of fun hanging out with her, meeting all those characters, and visiting inside their stories.  It sounds like a book geek’s fantasy come true!  But then again, Thursday does seem to find herself in trouble quite a lot…

Please share a little known fact about yourself.

Nat:  I used to play the piano, and took lessons for years.  One year at the local music festival, my friend and I even won a medal for our piano duet.  (I wonder where that medal is?)  Sadly it’s been years since I’ve even touched a piano.  It’s not something that would fit in our typically small Japanese apartment, that’s for sure.  Besides, I’d rather save that precious space for books!

Thanks Nat, this was so much fun getting to know you!  Readers, please take time to stop in and see Nat’s gorgeous blog and leave her a comment or two or three….  😀  She will also be interviewing me today!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW)

Ok – I bit the bullet…. or perhaps the book binding in this case, and registered for BBAW.  I love the book blogging community and I am so thrilled that this event takes place each year.

This year, as the team that makes BBAW possible is working to always improve, they have set it up  that if you want to be considered for a category – you must nominate yourself.

*Gulp*  (this is where the biting of the book binding comes in…)

BBAW is a wonderful way to appreciate all the wonderful bloggers out there.  I had so much fun last year just joining in on all the happenings.  So now as we near the deadline to enter, I am officially in.  The categories I entered are:

Niche Category:  Best Eclectic Book Blog—This blog doesn’t specialize in any one book genre. It is known for consistently excellent reviews, recommendations, analysis, and other content in a variety of genres

Here are the 5 posts I entered for consideration of this category:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

The Mercy Seller by Brenda Ruchman Vantrease

Morning Meanderings… Bookaholic

Best Written Book Blog—This blog is consistently well-written, clear, and engaging, no matter what the subject. [Note that nominated bloggers for this award are required to submit 3 reviews, recommendations, or analyses of a specific title; 2 are up to the nominated blogger.

The Carpet Boys Gift byPegi Deitz Shea

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

It’s My Blogiversary!

Vampires, Werewolves, Seamonsters…. and me

Best Author Interviews—This blogger does his or her research and asks the questions no one else does. These interviews are top-notch. Note that this award reflects the quality of the interviews, not the popularity of the person being interviewed. [Note that nominated bloggers for this award are required to submit 4 interviews; 1 post is left to their discretion.]

Donna Woolfork Cross – Author Of Pope Joan

Jay Asher – Author of Thirteen Reasons Why

Sarah Pekkanen – Author of Opposite Of Me

Kay Cassidy – Author of The Cinderella Society

Lauren Oliver – Author of Before I Fall

Tomorrow, July 7th is the deadline to register your blog.  Even if you are not interested in putting your blog in the ring for an award, you can still register to have your blog added to the Directory of Book Blogs.  You can link to the information here.