As part of my launch of Between the Covers v2.0 I hunted around for some sites to kickstart the Links section. Not only did I get to choose some favourites, I got a good look at the competition. The experience gave me a serious case of blog envy.
Some blogs had an elegant minimalist layout. Some had gorgeous header images that were truly custom-made, not just a reworking of an eighteenth-century painting. The design that had looked so nice when it was a file on my desktop began to seem amateurish in comparison.
The content also lost its shine. There were bloggers writing about Kafka and Coetzee and other such intellectual authors. There were bloggers writing reviews that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a state newspaper. Bloggers thinking critically about characterisation and meaning and symbolism and like examples of the literary art. And I began to think - what on earth made me think I was qualified to write about books?
Sure, I read a lot of them. I have always loved to read, and I have a true book addiction of five years’ standing. But I’m not a critical reader. If I do see the profound underlying meaning of a literary masterpiece, it will probably be by luck or accident. My reviews aren’t anything that anyone would publish and they certainly don’t examine the books very closely, and a lot of the books I read are quite . . . common. I began to wonder if I hadn’t made a very wrong move in daring to set myself up as a book blogger.
Then I realised none of this makes me wrong, it makes me what I am: a girl who reads, not to experience fine literature or complex characterisation or layers of meaning, but to escape from an unhappy life and to spend some time in the persona of someone she likes more than she likes herself. A girl whose literary voracity drags her through books too quickly to appreciate the subtleties, and whose addiction frequently leads to her borrowing so many library books that such speed becomes a necessity. A girl whose fourteen-year love of mysteries means that she prefers a fast plot to high art. A girl whose writing has a tendency to be concise (except when she’s waxing eloquent like now). And a girl who never aspired to write newspaper-worthy reviews, but to say what she thought and chronicle the adventure of her life between the covers.
And that, at least, is one thing for which it’s okay to simply be myself.