The Way it Was
I used to be a book blogger.
I'm not anymore. In the Lady Business introduction post, I said I hadn't read a book since July 2010 and I wasn't kidding. Of course, in this case book = recreational reading of original material, school does not count, I REFUSE TO COUNT YOU, MACBETH. I have been reading, mostly fanfiction, generally of the porny variety, and so am hilariously unprepared for our foray into group book blogging. But this is why I asked Ana and Jodie along, after all. They accept me and my flaws. ♥
I'm the day of the week everyone is going to avoid. People will subscribe for Ana's thoughtful reviews and Jodie's interesting essays and they will quickly mark the Friday post as read because Jesus Christ does she have to talk about gay sex so much
or is she still trying to read Peter Pan through a lens of feminism, STFU
or RENAY SHUT UP NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR BURNING HATRED FOR LOVE TRIANGLES
But, you see, I used to be a book blogger and that's the type of book blogger I was. A lot of people have asked me over the years why I stopped being a book blogger and I've given a lot of responses but the answer really was this review
, which was negative and which garnered comments like this from the author:
I am the author of David Inside Out. Sadly, the homophobia which bubbles white hot just below the surface of this review must be flagged for the unwary reader.
Yes. Me, a queer lady who writes queer fanficion where dudes have sex wrote a review filled with white hot homophobia
. It almost makes you think of a terribly-named mixed drink. The sad part is, I might have given the criticism some thought if he had just used the term heterosexist
instead. OBJECT LESSON: be precise in your language, kids!
In Summer 2009, tired of the constant moderating I had to do with people calling me a bitch for disliking a book they loved, calling me a cunt for any scathing remark I made about rape culture in the YA Title of Which We Don't Speak, telling me I was stupid for finding an author's work problematic, to get this kind of response from an author and his rape apologist minions simply for being a critic
was the nail in the coffin of being a book blogger. And maybe I was wrong, after all -- you'd have to read the review
and the comments on the review
and make up your own mind on whether I flounced for the right reasons. But I simply wasn't ready to engage with authors in that way, to fight with someone much more privileged than myself and it killed all the love I had for blogging about books, where a critical review meant to start a conversation became don't read this book
(which I never said, which I actually invited people to do
for additional perspectives).This is what being a critic in this community gets you,
I thought back then. I will never fit in here unless I censor myself, unless I play into the cult of nice, unless I play by their rules of engagement, unless I pretend to be the type of writer I'm not, unless I lie to myself, and the authors who ask me to review their books.
I wasn't interested then and I'm not interested now. So yes, I used to be a book blogger. The above is why I quit, the above is why I am a little ashamed of the lack of critical analysis in the YA community, the backlash to critical analysis in the YA community, the derision in the YA community over having an emotional reaction to a book that is not all sunshine and rainbows. Steady on, to those who claim the mantle of book blogger and still write negative reviews, your positive experiences, your negative experiences, your well-traveled road, bless your moderation woes, I can't imagine what they look like. You have my respect and my envy for making it, for weaving through the jungle of the "Be nice!"
bullshit so many authors like to throw around (and god, it's so much bullshit, if I ever see an author say that I strike them from every reading list I've made, burn it and salt the ashes left behind). I simply wasn't interested in a community where authors could
attempt to silence critics like me, to discredit and shame us, and they can, even now, do it and get away with it if you're not a BNR
. That whole YA Mafia business didn't happen in a vacuum, let's say, it's just all coming to a head.The Way It Will Be
I still wrote about books after I left YA Fabulous! I wrote a co-review of Will Grayson, Will Grayson
with Ana, I read and reviewed Soulless
, which went on to become my favorite book of the year (and one of the last books I would read). I read Havemercy and reviewed it fairly critically
, although I liked it. I ripped apart the dead and the gone and this world we live in
in aggravation as a great, ridiculous idea was driven into the ground. I got in touch with parts of myself I hadn't really thought about when I read Ash
. I could still talk about books, but I could only do so on my terms, in space I felt safe, in my own way. I was never going to fit into the mold that was being set down by the establishment. It wasn't for me. I am still, even now, a very special snowflake.
So while I used to be a book blogger, I don't know if that's what I'm going to be here. Maybe I'll be able to reclaim the title and maybe I won't. Maybe I'll find my love for YA again, maybe I won't. Maybe I'll do nothing but flail about pretty covers and fanfiction, or maybe I won't. Maybe I'll write something that pisses someone off, and maybe I won't.Oh, wait.
Never mind, I definitely will piss someone off.
I will probably make some people mad, I will probably make some people uncomfortable, I am definitely going to make the sexist jerks that permeate the book blogging community feel like complete fuckmuppets as often as possible (they know who they are). I am going to swear (a lot) and use macros (too many) and ramble (tl;dr) and capslock (no apologies) and go my own way because every time I have tried to follow the leader, whether it's review format or reading choices or how to properly rate my reviews or interacting with authors and publishers I have felt trapped and boxed in by expectations -- punished when I've gone outside of them.
I used to read books for free, sometimes I paid for the privilege, and I talked about them and definitely wrote about them and told my friends about them at the cost of my time, which is fucking precious
the older I get. I'm ready to reclaim the books, the books and their stories and their millions of interesting people I've yet to meet, at least. That's a start. So no, I'm not a book blogger again yet, but I'm pretty awesome and I like to talk about books with glee and and capslock. I won't let another author make feel worthless ever again -- that's a promise to myself and that's enough for now.
Hello, world of literature. I'm back. ♥