Sunday Salon: In Which I Am No Longer MIA from Book Blogging (!!!)

by Erin on October 13, 2013

The Sunday Salon (badge)So. It’s been a while. Like…10 months. When I quit blogging on Erin Reads back in mid-2012, I wasn’t sure I’d ever post here again.

But I’m back. Heck yes. *fist pump* *happy dance* *high five*

There’s a story, of course, that leads from quitting to reviving. Read on and you shall hear it. I’m also laying down some ground rules for myself before I move forward. And a few things — like where you’ll find me on Twitter and other fascinating tidbits — have changed. We’ll get to all of that.

But first, may I just say: Holy cow, am I happy to be back!

Why I Quit and What I Was Doing Instead of Blogging

Almost a year and a half ago to the day, I cut my posting on Erin Reads back drastically. A couple of months later, I all but gave up book blogging altogether. I was dangerously close to burnout and needed a break. And I had a new project I was working on, to which my free moments were given.

Taking a break in the woods (erinreads.com, photo by michael pollak via Flickr)

photo courtesy of michael pollak

For a long stretch of time, I did not blog about books. I did not track my reading in any way (and so, sadly, have no record of what books I actually read during that time). I didn’t even read that much. The only book discussions I really had were with my monthly IRL book group. It was a detox of sorts, I think.

Instead, I worked on my new site — Remade By Hand — which now houses my editing services. I experimented with running an Etsy shop. I blogged about non-book topics on my new site. In short, I took a massive book blogging break.

Why I Came Back to Erin Reads

When early 2013 rolled around, I realized I missed having a record of my reading. So I set up a couple of reading-focused Pinterest boards: one for books and the other for audiobooks. At least this way I had a record of what I’d read. I could even put a few thoughts about a book in the comment field of its pin. And that approach worked for a while, even as those thoughts gradually got longer and longer.

Except the discussion was missing. I found myself wandering over to book blogs I used to read. Would anyone know me if I commented? I felt like I didn’t know anyone in the book blogging community anymore, so much had changed. At least I had my book group.

Then my husband and I moved cross country. Goodbye, book group. Perhaps it sounds overly dramatic, but I felt like my last remaining tie to diehard readers had been severed.

Shelf of books (erinreads.com, photo by jayneandd via Flickr)

photo courtesy of jayneandd

A couple of weeks ago, an alarm popped up on my Google calendar: the Readathon, my very favorite event. I already had plans for the weekend, but — brace yourself for some serious cheesiness — the thought of all those readers reading at the same time across the world warmed my heart. I wanted to spend the whole day blissfully emerged in a book, knowing hundreds of others were doing the same. I wanted to track stats and do mini-challenges and post my answers to the end-of-event survey. I wanted to be part of that community again.

The proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was my friend Joel. He is seriously into curating. Like, way into it. He basically curates is whole life, and he’s writing a book about how you can (and why you should) curate yours as well. And I realized that on top of serving as a way to connect with other readers, Erin Reads is my curation system for the books I read or listen to. I can read my own review of a book from three years ago and it comes back to me with startling clarity. Pretty cool, considering I can’t even list the books I was reading (but not tracking) at this time last year.

Community. Curated reading. I wanted them both.

So yes. I’m back. I’ve even given Erin Reads a makeover. And the elation I feel as I type these words is amazing. I’m seriously grinning like a nut right now.

The Rules

I’m laying down some ground rules for myself. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, as they say. Looking back, I can see why I burned myself out so badly. And I’m hoping that by not doing those things this time around, I’ll be able to keep Erin Reads active and enjoyable to write. So here’s where I’m starting from.

Rule #1: Be Intentional about Book Acquisition

Most book bloggers will tell you one of the perks of the trade is the stream of galleys you receive from publishers for review. And I’m not gonna lie…it’s pretty awesome to have someone send you free books. But the pressure to read everything I received eventually meant I was no longer in control of my own reading choices. Yuck.

Then there’s the general book acquisition madness. I used to be a library sale addict, bringing home ten or twelve (or more) books every weekend. My TBR list was forever inflating at a terrifying pace because of all the books I read about on other blogs. I felt eternally behind, under pressure to read faster and more.

This time around, I will be more intentional about what books make it into my sphere. I’ve actually been reading almost exclusively from my own shelves for the past six months or so, which is ridiculously amazing. I hereby give myself permission to continue doing so.

Rule #2: Skip the Challenges, Reading Goals, and Obsessive Stat Tracking

Chart (erinreads.com, photo by kevin dooley via Flickr)

photo courtesy of kevin dooley

Challenges were never really my thing, tempting as they always sound. But oh man. I got really, really into reading goals and stat tracking once I found the book blogging community. I counted every page, tracked numbers in a spreadsheet, and looked forward with relish to the end of each year, when I could write up my big annual stats post. And while my reading goals definitely expanded my horizons and the tracking made me more aware of what I was reading, they also put constant pressure on me. Eventually, I just got sick of picking my next book to fulfill some challenge or goal. And I got tired of keeping track of Every. Little. Thing.

So for now, no challenges. No reading goals. No stat tracking (aside from maybe counting up the number of books I read each month and picking a favorite). When the urge to start one (or more) of those up again strikes, I’ll reevaluate.

Rule #3: No Rules (Except for These Three!)

I’ve tried posting on a schedule. I’ve tried planning my reading out ahead of time. I’ve tried creating projects to encourage myself to read more classics, for instance, or to read along with other people. I love my projects. And I know I’ll feel the pull to post at least on a semi-regular basis. But I also know forcing myself to do either, especially as I’m getting back into blogging, would be a mistake.

In the beginning, then: no posting schedule, and no projects. Nothing but me, talking about the books I want to talk about, when I want to talk about them. And we’ll go from there.

The Practical Stuff

Alright. So I’m back. With some ground rules. And I’m feeling good about the whole thing.

There have been a few changes around Erin Reads, though. Here’s what you need to know:

  • I’m no longer @ErinReadsblog on Twitter. Come hang out with me @erinkurup instead!
  • Speaking of social media, G+ and Pinterest have seriously taken off, huh? I’m on those, too, if they’re your cup of te.
  • The RSS feed is the same, but I’m now using MailChimp to deliver posts by email. If you were subscribed to posts before, I’ve moved you over, so you don’t have to do anything. (In fact, I hope this post came right to your inbox!) If you want posts by email, get ‘em here!

I Need Your Help to Get Back in the Loop!

I’m counting on you to tell me what I’ve missed. Tell me in the comments: What’s the absolute best book you read (or listened to) in 2013? What’s your favorite book blog to read? (And if I haven’t met you yet, what’s your blog?) What else has happened in the past year and a half that you think I should know?? Help!

Care to share?

You might also like:

Join the conversation!

30 comments
Vasilly
Vasilly

Glad to see you're back, Erin! I've missed checking out your blog! :-) I think all three of your rules are fantastic! They're also my rules. One of the best book I've read this year has been Ruth Ozeki's A Tale for the Time Being. 

BkClubCare
BkClubCare

Hello! When I first saw your comment on my blog, I reacted "WHA?! Erin is BACK!?" - it did seem like you didn't just give up blogging but made a clean break of it! So GREAT to see you again. I've really slowed down but am blogging when I feel like it. I am taking two grad classes and it is seriously freaking me out to have to do homework and such. Stress stress stress but I did manage to read book 6 and 7 of Harry Potter last week to finally finish that series. Best book lately? Um, I really liked Beautiful Ruins and Life After Life (Kate Atkinson).  And so you'll see me pop by every so often. My blogging is erratic and I'm fine with that. :)

irisonbooks
irisonbooks

I'm so glad you're back, even if I am a little out-of-the-loop myself now. I'm sure I will find the time to return somewhere :) I think your rules make a lot of sense. And I'm trying to live by some of them as well - or will be pretty soon. Book blogging can be a lot of pressure. Even without the blogging, the unread books on the shelves can create pressure. And reading should never be about that, right?

DanCafaro
DanCafaro

Welcome back, Erin!  If you're still interested in small press titles, give me a shout and I'll be happy to send you our forthcoming Atticus fall title.  No pressure, no pressure (really!)... we don't want you to disappear another 10+ months.  Hope you're enjoying the left coast...

theardentreader
theardentreader

Erin, I'm so happy to see you posting once more. Sounds like you have been pursuing some very interesting projects. I've taken a (unspoken) break from book blogging as I pursue grad school, but I'm still reading here and there and posting my thoughts. Can't wait to see what wonderful books you've been reading.

virginie
virginie

Hi Erin! Good to see you're back! You've been missed

JenHartling
JenHartling

Welcome back Erin :D I wonder if we ever bumped into one another in the days before you took your break? Your name sounds very familiar...but I have a terrible memory so who knows?! I think I've been at this for around 16 months now.

I look forward to poking around your blog! 

Jenny at Reading the End
Jenny at Reading the End

Hiiiiii! You're back and I missed you and now you're back, hooray! I changed my name from Jenny's Books to Reading the End, and I don't know if it's the best book I've read all year, but Laurent Binet's HHhH was absolutely superb. Oh and also Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves was wonderful. Hi!

Kim at Bookmark To Blog
Kim at Bookmark To Blog

Welcome back Erin! I recently came back to book blogging after about a six month break. I left and came back for all the reasons you stated as well. I too felt like I was a bit out of the loop but I quickly found that that's why the book blogging community is so awesome! You can just ease right back in and everyone is happy to have you. So, welcome back! 

Tif Sweeney
Tif Sweeney

Welcome back!  It's good to see you back in the book blogosphere!!  :)

joyweesemoll
joyweesemoll

Welcome back!

I have ready answers to favorite book questions because it was one of the Dewey's Read-a-Thon mini-challenges. Favorite fiction: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Favorite non-fiction: Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo.

<a href="http://www.joyweesemoll.com/">Joy's Book Blog</a>

booksnyc
booksnyc

Welcome back! I love how intentional you are being about getting back in the book blogging world - I am sure those boundaries will serve you well!

sarahemily
sarahemily

Woohoo!! Site looks amazing and I can't wait to hear about what you're reading (even if I have the same tendency to feel reading pressure that you discuss.)  :-)

joeyjoejoe
joeyjoejoe

I'm all for people building community and curating. And when you can combine the two, hooooo boy! Nice!

Welcome back (even though I didn't read this before you left).

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@Vasilly Thanks! On all counts! I haven't even heard of that book. So out of the loop :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@BkClubCare I thought maybe I had! But I couldn't bring myself to give up the URL, so maybe part of me knew I'd be back at some point. I'm pretty sure my blogging will be crazy slow too, even though I don't have the classes excuse. I haven't heard either of those books...will check them out, thanks!!

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@irisonbooks It's amazing how much pressure something we claim to do for fun can be, isn't it? Reading is something I love so much I don't want to make it un-fun by adding too many expectations. I guess that's something most of us are trying to balance. Glad to see you're still around :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@theardentreader Awesome, I'm glad you're still at least somewhat blogging and that you tracked me down :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@virginie Thank you! I've missed my blogging friends, too. It's good to be back :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@JenHartling Thanks! Your name is familiar too. Sounds like the beginning of your blogging "career" came right around when I was starting to wind down. I'm glad you (re?)found me, though! Looking forward to checking your blog out as well :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@Jenny at Reading the End Yay! There you are! I missed something somewhere and couldn't track down the right site for you, so I'm extra glad you popped up over here. HHhH?? What an odd title. I'm so intrigued. Thanks for the recs and the welcome. And hi back!

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@Kim at Bookmark To Blog Thanks! I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one going through this stuff and that your re-entry into book blogging was good. It truly is an amazing community, isn't it?

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@Tif Sweeney Thanks! Seeing some familiar faces makes me even happier to be blogging again :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@joyweesemoll Oh wow, I haven't heard of either of those books. Ack, I feel so behind! Gotta get reading again. Thank you for the recs, and for the welcome!

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@booksnyc Thank you! So good to see some familiar faces here. Can't tell you how happy it makes me!

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@sarahemily Thanks! Hey, maybe we can keep one another from getting too buried under the weight of reading pressure :)

erinkurup
erinkurup moderator

@joeyjoejoe Yeah, hey, those are both things you do well! Thanks for the last push I needed to get back into blogging here, even if it was unintentional :)