Kernels of Nonsense is a bimonthly feature, posted on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month, where I discuss various blogging and bookish topics. Today I want to talk about how blogging has influence my reading.
Do you ever look back on some of the books you’ve read and wonder why you found them so enjoyable? I don’t want to call these titles bad, but when I compare some of them to the books I enjoy now, they’re a little lackluster. They were satisfying in the moment when I was looking for a specific kind of book to entertain me, but they were never going to be my all-time favorite books. I was never going to treasure them and reread them.
Since I started blogging, I’ve noticed a shift in how I read. The books I rate highest are the ones I want to hold on to, they’re the ones I want to reread, the ones that will (if they haven’t already) find a home on my shelves. It isn’t a passing infatuation, meant to satisfy for a brief moment, it’s rather like a marriage. A bit of a polyandrous marriage, now that I think about it. The point is, blogging has made me crave more from books than ever before.
I don’t know too many people in real life (this always feels strange to say, like all of us on the internet are somehow not real) who read. I don’t know anyone at all who’s as crazy about reading as I am. In the past the only one who influenced what I read was me. This meant I picked up whatever sounded interesting without ever reading any kind of feedback on it. I’ve read my fair share of one-star books as a result.
Once I came across book blogging, my selection of reading material became more…well, selective. I was no longer looking for a cute, quick read. I wanted something with more substance. Since I started my own blog, I’m down-right picky with my reading time. I want to read good books because if nothing else, blogging has opened my eyes to how many wonderful books are out there and what little time we have to read them.
I’ll probably write a whole post someday on reading out of my comfort zone, but I do want to touch on it briefly. There are certain kinds of books that appeal to me because of my personality, but it’s very easy to get stuck in the same genre with the same kind of books with the same kind of protagonist and the same kind of plot. I’ve been there when nothing is new and your reading life feels stagnant and mundane. With blogging there’s always new books being recommended, old books being discussed, and other genres yet to be explored.
I feel like I get more out of books now than ever before. This isn’t necessarily because I’m reading better books (though I do think I am), but more about how I approach them. Book blogging, and more specifically book reviewing, has changed the way I read. I’m more attuned to characterization, setting, and plot. I’m not just reading about characters, I’m trying to feel and think like they do in an effort to get a better handle on who they are. The setting isn’t just a backdrop to be ignored, it influences the characters and it brings a book to life. Conflict is more than just an outside struggle, it can be internal.
I’m no longer looking for a simple happily-ever-after story. I want things a little messy. I don’t necessarily look for likable characters either. I need complex ones who make mistakes and who can sometimes be unlikable. I want compelling characters that are fully realized. Unique storylines are interesting, but I also need them to be engaging, I need them to draw me in as a reader. I need character development, multilayered worlds, and plot lines that are thought-provoking.
Blogging has made me appreciate other people’s points of view. No, you’ll never find another blogger whose taste in books is exactly like your own. You will rate a book five-stars and then come across a blogger who’s only given it two-stars. We all approach books differently and bring different experiences to the table. Regardless of the reason, we all have a mutual appreciation for literature and I think this is beautiful.
I should probably mention something negative about blogging’s influence and the best I can come up with is that I spend a heck of a lot more money on books now than I did when I wasn’t blogging. I want to regret this, but one look at my shelves and I’m grinning like a Cheshire cat.
How has blogging influenced your reading? Do you think you are a more discerning reader as a result? Do you read out of your comfort zone because of other blogger’s recommendations? Share your thoughts in the comments.