Tag Archives: Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Sunday Salon/ Currently: 2/21/2016



Sunday Salon banner

Quiet, low-key weekend here. Yesterday was as spectacular of a weather day as it gets in Pittsburgh — made even better by the fact that it’s February. Nearly 70 degrees, I did errands with my car window rolled down and it was warm enough to sit out on our enclosed deck.

When Breath Becomes AirThis week I finished When Breath Becomes Air, the posthumous memoir by Paul Kalanithi, a doctor who was diagnosed at age 36 with terminal cancer just as he was on the cusp of finishing ten years of medical training to be a neurosurgeon.  Without a doubt, at year’s end this will be high atop my Best Books I Read in 2016, if not my favorite book of the year. It certainly is so far. I am so in awe of this book, which I am recommending to everyone. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Saying that this is a thoughtful reflection on life and death sounds too simplistic; so does saying that it’s about time and what we do with the time we have.”What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present?” is the question posed in the book jacket description. It’s about the connection between science and the soul. What an incredible writer, doctor, and person Paul Kalanithi was.  What a tremendous loss to the medical and literature worlds.

When Breath Becomes Air is the type of book that requires something less intense as a follow-up read.  A collection of essays about Hillary Clinton and the 2016 presidential race probably doesn’t qualify as a less intense read, but nonetheless, I’m reading Love Her, Love Her Not: The Hillary Paradox which is edited by Joanne Cronrath Bamberger.

Love Her Love Her Not

Ten essays in (of 28 total), this anthology seems balanced towards the Love Her side of the polarizing effect of HRC.  That’s fine with me, since I’m a Hillary supporter and have been since the ’90s. I’ll be curious to see if the subsequent essays present a different view of her candidacy.

The Witches

After nearly four months, I decided to give up on The Witches: Salem 1692 by Stacy Schiff — at least temporarily. It’s incredibly detailed and very well researched, but for whatever reason I can’t seem to make much progress with this one. I think it’s the type of book that demands close focus and while I am trying to read only one book at a time, that hasn’t been the case with this.  I may give this another attempt at some point with an audiobook/print edition combination.


I’m still catching up with all the Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) posts from this week. A month or so ago, I first learned that the ladies from The Estella Society were bringing back this event, but it didn’t register that this was the week.  Hence, my participation was limited to two posts:  Why I Love Book Blogger Appreciation Week and Staying Connected with the Book Blogging Community (and 326 Book Blogs).

One BBAW-related post that I really liked was by Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness who wrote about Six Ways to Avoid Book Blogger Burnout. Her tips are great ones to keep in mind regardless of whether you identify as a book blogger or not.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my friend Florinda for including me in her BBAW Superlatives list as the blogger “most likely to go off on a tangent.”

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

Thanks for sharing this post!

Staying Connected with the Book Blogging Community (and 326 Book Blogs)

BBAW 2016

I’ve been doing this book blogging thing for 7 years now, and here’s something I’ve learned.

People either get it or they don’t.

And I think most people fall into the latter camp.

Say it’s a Monday morning and a group of coworkers are talking about the weekend.  While everyone else has been binging on Netflix shows or running a marathon or driving a team of kids across the state for a soccer tournament, you’ve spent two glorious days reading and blogging and tweeting as part of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon.

If you even mention this at all (which, after a few raised eyebrows, you’ve probably learned not to) you get a comment like, “How do you have time to read so much?”  or “But you don’t actually know these people, right?”

Well, that’s the thing.  Just like someone doesn’t know every single marathoner in that 5,000 person race, it’s impossible for us to know every single blogger. That doesn’t make the bond that we book bloggers have any less of a community.

Staying connected to and with the book blogging community is HARD. It can feel like a full-time job. According to my Feedly, at this moment I am subscribed to 326 book blogs. Yes, that’s right. Three hundred and twenty six. And that’s AFTER a fairly recent vigorous weeding of defunct (no posts in more than a year) blogs.

(Note that this number is just book blogs; it doesn’t include 35 blogs about parenting a child with autism, or 102 food blogs, or 180 blogs that are written by my fellow Pittsburgh bloggers, or …. yeah.  I have kind of an intricate categorizing system going on.)

No, I don’t read every single post from every single one of the more than a thousand blogs in my reader.  Even if that was the only thing I did all day, every day, I still wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I skip and skim quite a bit, and I don’t comment as frequently as I once did — because, honestly, I hate commenting with Twitter, Facebook, Google and ESPECIALLY Disqus (I have never been able to figure Disqus out, ever).

Yet I still feel connected to the book blogging community.

With so many blogs, how’s that possible?

I try to participate in events like this one (Book Blogger Appreciation Week), Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon, Bloggiesta, read-alongs and different blogging projects. It all depends on what’s going on at that particular time.  Same with weekly features like The Sunday Salon and Weekend Cooking. Most of my comments and camaraderie stem from these sorts of activities — plus, I find them enjoyable and fun.

Like anything else worth doing, what you get out of book blogging is related to what you put into it — without being judgmental or overly competitive. There’s an investment of time, but we all choose what activities receive our attention. In a way, this is no different.

I love the book blogging community that we have created. I’m so glad to be part of it, and I’m glad you are, too.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Why I Love Book Blogger Appreciation Week

BBAW 2016

A few weeks ago, I was delighted to read that Ana, Jenny, Heather, and Andi of The Estella Society (one of my very favorite blogs) were bringing back the very fun book blogging event known as Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW).

I always loved this event for many reasons — the camaraderie of those of us who love reading and writing about books, discovering new blogs to follow (one can never have too many, as my Feedly proves to me every day), and celebrating what we do as book bloggers.

But this event is special to me because it represents, for me, my introduction to this wonderful book blogging community 7 years ago.  I had just started my blog in August 2008 when Amy from My Friend Amy  decided to create, as the ladies from The Estella Society wrote: “an online festival for book bloggers called Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Her intent was simple:

Acknowledging the hard work of book bloggers and their growing impact on book marketing and their essential contribution to book buzz in general, I am excited to announce the first Book Blogger Appreciation Week. Think of it as a retreat for book bloggers and a chance for us to totally nerd out over books together. And of course, shower each other with love and appreciation.

For me, BBAW came at the perfect time. I was new to the blogging world and to find other people who also loved reading as much as I did — and, who, even more unbelievably, loved WRITING ABOUT THE BOOKS THEY READ  — well, this was a game changer for me.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that book blogging changed my life. I’ve made new friends from all over the world who I would never have met otherwise.  I’ve traveled (by myself!) to New York City for the Book Blogger Con (back when it used to be called the Book Blogger Con), spoken at Podcamp Pittsburgh, and started writing book reviews for our local newspaper. I’ve connected with some of my favorite authors and met new writers who have become some of my favorites. I’ve learned about the publishing industry and strengthened my own writing. I’ve increased the number of books I read each year and discovered new writers and genres.

If you’re new to my blog (either because of finding me via BBAW or Listen to Your Mother), welcome! I’m so glad you’re here.

By way of introducing ourselves for BBAW, we’re asked to tell about five books that represent ourselves in some way or our interests/lifestyle. Looking through my Goodreads list, here are five that seem fitting:

B is for Betsy - orig

B is For Betsy by Carolyn Haywood

In a January 2009 blog post called Happy 111th Birthday, Carolyn Haywood!, I wrote about why B is for Betsy (and all of Carolyn Haywood’s books) were important to me as a child. “The Betsy books were just the beginning of my love affair with books. I still have the same feeling upon discovering a new author, a new work of literature (and your books were, most definitely, literature), a book that pulls me into its world.” 

Stones from the RiverStones from the River, by Ursula Hegi

I read this because OPRAH TOLD ME TO.  (It was an Oprah Book Club selection.) And I’m so glad she did, because this was one of those books that found me at precisely the right time.

The Complete Stories of Flannery O'Connor

The Collected Stories by Flannery O’Connor

In college, I took an English course called “Faulkner, O’Connor, and Morrison” which introduced me to the short stories of Flannery O’Connor. That was more than 25 years ago now, but I can still remember how in awe I felt when I first read her work.  Her stories made me fall in love with the short story and, of course, with every word she wrote.

Making Peace with Autism

Making Peace with Autism, by Susan Senator

When our boy was diagnosed with “clinical features of autism spectrum disorder” shortly after his second birthday, we were lost. What we needed — instead of the badly-photocopied article that the “specialist” practically tossed at us as she dismissed us from the tiniest exam room in all of Philadelphia — was some reassurance that our boy would be OK.  That our family would be OK. Susan Senator gave me that hope during some very dark days and for that I am very grateful.

Little Nightmares Little Dreams

Little Nightmares, Little Dreams, by Rachel Simon

When this book came out in 1990, I went to a local writing conference where author Rachel Simon was the main speaker.  That book and that event sparked a friendship with Rachel that I am so grateful for, as she is one of my writing mentors.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week continues for the next four days, with writing prompts and much more bookish fun.

Thanks for sharing this post!