After the announcement of the BBAW shortlists and the resultant confusion (see a slight roundup with links over here and more on last week's controversy over one of the shortlisted sites charging for reviews here) I've been thinking about what makes me want to read a blog and how hard my favorite blogs are to classify. Guys Lit Wire is straight forward and we purposely designed it that way. If you want to visit a site with book recommendations for teenage boys then that is the site for you. We rarely stray from our mission and everything posted over there is designed for our specific audience. But here at Chasing Ray? Well, it's not so easy.
When I was notified by the BBAW folks that I was shortlisted for a few categories and had to provide five posts to fit those niches, it posed some questions (and in most cases I didn't try too hard). Do I write on YA here? Sometimes. But also sometimes I cover polar titles or environmental titles or war titles or hell - even picture books. Chasing Ray was designed for me, not for an audience so much and as such it is very personally directed. I don't think about posts garnering a big response among a readership, I think about what I'm reading and thinking (and writing) NOW. I imagine that this is a similar way that Jenny D., or Gwenda or Maud Newton or Tanita & Sarah (or so many others I read) operate. Is this the right or wrong way to blog? Oh please. It is however a nonclassifiable way to approach the blogosphere, and that gave me plenty of food for thought while reading over the BBAW shortlists.
For me a successful blog is one that engages my attention and, in the case of a book recommendation, makes me want to read the book. On that score, Jenny D. and Gwenda are consistently the "best" blogs I read. I have easily purchased/check out a dozen books over the past year based on recs from the two of them and I'm sure I will continue to seek out titles they mention. I have found that we have a lot in common when it comes to literary taste and so they have become significant blogs for me. But on the BBAW judging scale they clearly did not measure up. Which just goes to show that one person's clear winner is another's also-ran.
This also explains why I take the Oscar winners with a grain of salt every year.
After trying to parse my blog down to certain categories and certain posts, I have realized that I just don't write that way. (Which I think should have made me a shoo-in for "Most Eclectic Blog" ha!). It reminds me of the discussions we had in the bookstore where I worked over how to shelve certain books. This is why I love that Powells shelves in multiple areas - sometimes you have to accept that you don't fit securely in one place and that's all there is to it.
Is this a criticism of BBAW? No. It's more a personal revelation. I like not knowing before I get to Maud's site if I will find a book review or a post on her ancestors (if you've read those posts you'll know why they're so fascinating). I like that Gwenda covers SFF for adults and all sorts of books for teens. I like that Jenny D. can swing from academic criticism to running to mysteries. I like that Liz B. quotes Buffy while also discussing ALA or YALSA, and Jessa's snark commentary on the literary world and what Tanita and Sarah and Jules and Jen and Leila and Betsy and Pam and Doret and Susan and Little Willow and Erin and TEV and Beth Kephart and Lee and Greg and on and on all bring to the table. I just simply like several specific blogs that have broad interests (even beyond books). They are, to be blunt, my best in the lit blogosphere.
You're all part of my shortlist which will not result in wide accolades or even a button for your sidebar. However there is also no drama here either. And you've got me plus a lot of other dedicated readers who have been there all along and will continue to enjoy your thoughts, literary and otherwise. Awards come and go but faithful readers, we're the real achievement. I know I have a few and I appreciate you all, each and everyone. That's who I'd like to give an award to - the ones who have been with me all along and keep coming back to support my writing. I appreciate my readers, and I hope all of you do too.