Happy 2nd Birthday 52 Letters!

AHHHHHH I can’t believe it! My second blogoversary was yesterday! 52 Letters in the Alphabet has officially existed for two years!

This is crazy for me. When I started this blog, it was on a whim. I had no idea that I was joining one of the most special communities on the Internet or that I’d have as much fun blogging as I do. I never thought that blogging would become a daily source of excitement and joy, or that I’d have formed so many friendships in the blogging community.

I never thought that I’d grow to love the random orange theme that I picked on day one, or that I’d carry that color scheme with me when I redesigned my blog. (Let’s be honest, getting me to like the color orange is one of the biggest effects this blog has had on my life…sort of.)

I never thought that you could get me to join Twitter or any type of social media. I didn’t even know that things like blog awards or book tags existed.

I certainly never thought that my blog would have nearly 450 followers or that I would have had 390 posts on this blog.

I’d like to take a moment to thank every single one of you who has read, liked, or commented on any of my posts. It means the world to me to see that the words I randomly throw out into the Internet matter to other people. And to every one of my amazing followers, thank you so much for sticking around to hear what I have to say every time I decide to fangirl about a book or share some of my writing with you.

I’m really excited to start another year of blogging with all of you guys! I hope that you continue to enjoy my posts and that I can get to know each of you more as time goes on.

Which Blog Posts Do I Actually Read?

Okay, that’s a harsh title, but seriously. We all follow a ton of book blogs, we all have a ton of posts to read every day, and to be honest, we can’t read all of them. At least, I know I can’t.

So…what’s up with that?

Just to be clear, the purpose of this post isn’t to bash on anyone’s blog posts. I love the spectrum of posts that the blogging community creates. I know that we all have different focuses, schedules, and passions when it comes to the posts we create. I’ve even written the blog posts that I say I don’t read often, probably more than I should.

But I’m putting this out there, because I think it might just be interesting, and maybe a little helpful, and most of all, it will probably start a discussion. And since this is a discussion post… 😉

How often do I read each common book blog post…and why?


Lists!

lists

I’ve seen a lot of people criticizing memes like Top Ten Tuesday for their lack of originality. Recently, I feel like a lot of bloggers are turning away from memes and trying to focus more on original content. And I love that.

But I also loved reading TTTs. They’re quick. I can read a lot of different blog posts in a short sitting. I get an idea of what kind of books different bloggers like and I find out about new books. Though they aren’t the most unique or complex posts, I enjoy the simplicity of TTTs.

Discussion posts in the form of lists are also in my most-read category. This is kind of awful, but when a discussion post is clearly broken up into summary-esque titles, it makes the post easier to read quickly. When I’m reading blog posts, I’m generally in the middle of doing something else—watching TV, eating breakfast, going somewhere. Being able to get the gist of what someone is saying (and then get more detail if it’s interesting) is one of the best qualities of list-based posts.

Reviews for Books I’ve Read

reviews books ive read

I love seeing what other people think about books that I’ve already read. Being able to measure someone’s critiques and praises against my own experience makes book reviews more interesting for me.

It’s fun to see other people fangirl about a favorite of mine, and through them, relive some of my own obsession with the book.

In a weird way, I also like reading reviews that are critical of books that I loved. Usually, I find that I totally understand where the reviewer is coming from, and though I still love the book, I have new ways of thinking about other books I’ll read and review. Some of my most interesting comment conversations have come out of reviews of books where I disagree…but agree at the same time.

Reviews for Genres I Don’t Usually Read

reviews genre unread

Yeah, this is a bit weird. I follow a few bloggers who read mostly NA books, a genre that I don’t think I’ll move into right now. (Nothing against NA, I just love YA.)

The fact that I probably won’t read the books that other bloggers are talking about means that I’m able to read everything they say without fear of spoilers, or disagreeing with their assessment. I find it interesting to see how people describe different plots, especially ones that I’m not familiar with. I get to take away different critiquing styles—and notes for things to do/avoid in my own writing—that are still relevant, but tied to a slightly different genre (so that content changes a bit from what YA book reviews usually entail).

Poems

poems

This isn’t really a book blogger thing, but I also follow a lot of poet bloggers. I love reading short poems as I blog hop. Most of them are really amazing, and they get me thinking in the space of a minute or two.

Random YA Book Reviews

reviews random

Let’s be honest, my WordPress Reader is flooded with book reviews. I love that, but I can’t read all of them.

Often, whether or not I’ll read a review is based on if the description of the book sounds interesting. If a plot sounds like something I’d never read (this time because of cliches or lame plots, not genre type), I probably won’t stick around to read the review. Sorry about that.

Then again, there’s a good chance that I’ll randomly decide to read a book review, no matter what the book’s description is like. I’m unpredictable 😉

Discussion Posts

discussion posts

These are hit-or-miss for me. Sometimes I’m really in the mood to read the amazingly creative and insightful posts that everyone has created, in which case I can’t get enough of discussion posts.

But sometimes, when I’m on a time crunch or if I’m tired from school, I don’t actually feel like reading through long discussion posts. I’d rather read a quick list or skim a book review than not give a discussion post the attention it deserves.

I’m trying to get myself to read all of the discussion posts that interest me, no matter the mood I’m in.

Random Memes

memes

Readathon TBRs/wrap-ups, Waiting on Wednesdays, blog awards, and other random meme-esque posts that pop up can be really interesting. Or really boring. Again, they’re usually shorter, so I’m more likely to read all the way through them, but I get less out of them than a great book review or an interesting discussion post.

Reviews for Books I Plan to Read

reviews tbr

I’m afraid of spoilers, I’m afraid of hype, and I’m afraid of someone telling me that the book I just spent ≈$20 on sucks. If I know that I want to read book (and even more if I already own a book), I rarely read reviews for it until I’ve actually read it. I like to keep my expectations clear of other’s viewpoints.


Do you agree? Or not?

What do you look for when reading blog posts? How do your most-read posts stack up with mine?

Blogging and Bookish Resolutions for 2016

Hey everyone! As we begin a new year of reading and blogging, I thought that it would be a good time to write down some goals I have for improving this blog next year.

1. Post three times a week. 

I was doing pretty well for this before the last two months. Hopefully these three posts would be a review, a discussion/meme, and something writing based.

2. Read 75 books. 

I read 74 books this year. Stretching my goal to 75 might be an awful idea–next year is going to be crazy stressful–but I think I can do it.

3. Use better graphics consistently.

I have Photoshop, and I honestly love working with it, but I often get lazy when I’m writing posts and go with simpler graphics than I could make. This year, I want to stop this habit and really develop the graphic design part of this blog.

4. More discussion posts!

Discussion posts are definitely the hardest posts to write because they take time, effort, and thought. However, I wrote a few discussion posts last year that I was really proud of and I got a lot of positive feedback, so I want to continue to deliver discussion-based content. Going with #1, I also want to work in better graphics to my discussions.

5. Write reviews directly after I finish a book.

Right now, I have a horrible habit of waiting anywhere from one to two weeks after reading a book to sit down and write the review. GAH I know it’s awful and I need to kick this habit.

6. Interact more with the blogging community!

I want to start commenting back, following more blogs, and really developing friendships with members of the blogging community. I also want to build my Twitter following and interact with more of you guys on Twitter.

7. Start doing read-a-thons. 

This goes with #4, but I want to start doing RATs to get to know more of you better. I haven’t done them in the past because of school, but I want to get over the fear of not being able to read a ton of books and join RATs anyway.

8. Get back to Weekend Words. 

This is an original feature of my blog that I started about halfway through the year. I’ve only been doing it off-and-on (and mostly off recently), but I love the feature that I came up with and I just need to remind myself to actually DO IT.

9. Increase the writing focus of 52 Letters.

I want to get back to sharing short stories and poems with you guys. I also want to branch out into writing-based discussions and share with you my experiences with my WIP.

10. Have fun.

This one goes without saying, but I want to make sure that I’m blogging because I enjoy it, not because I feel like I need to. I doubt that this will really be a problem, but you never know.


And that’s it! Ten seems like a good number.

What are your goals and resolutions for 2016? Do we share any?

Why I Love Broken Spines and Crinkled Pages

Before you start yelling–yes, I know, that was a controversial title, but bear with me.

Recently, Ava @ Bookishness and Tea had a post on her blog where she wondered if being a book blogger has made her shallow. Basically, before becoming a book blogger, she didn’t care what her books looked like, but now that she is incredibly protective of her books’ physical appearances, sometimes to a ridiculous extent.

I connected with a lot of the things she said. I love having my bookshelves look pristine. I love it when I get a new copy of a book and it is perfect, and I’ve gotten angry when books I’ve ordered come less-than perfect, even if they are still in pretty good shape. I never read books with the dusk jacket on because I want it to stay safe  so that it will be forever gorgeous on my shelf.

However, I also love it when my books get worn out. I actually pride some of my favorite books in being so worn that you can barely read the spines. Which got me thinking…

Why do I simultaneously love perfect and well-worn books?

Loving perfect books is simpler to understand, so I’ll start with that one. This applies to hardcover books more often for me, because it is actually possible to keep dusk jackets pristine (basically, never let them leave the house). Hardcover books in shiny dusk jackets are gorgeous–I think all of us can agree. They photograph well, look cohesive when they are a part of a series, and give bookshelves an air of “aren’t you jealous of how pretty I am.”

My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don't include TOG itself)
My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don’t include TOG itself)

Sometimes I try to keep books in pristine condition because I know that they will be important to me. If I can tell that I love a book from the beginning pages, or if it is part of a beloved series, I am more likely to take care of it as I read it. I’ll have visceral reactions to getting food smudges on pages or accidentally crumpling pages. It is a way to show respect for the book, to keep it in good condition.

However, I cannot keep all of books in perfect condition. I read in the morning while I eat breakfast, so there are some crumbs/smudges on my pages. I’ve never been one to dog-ear pages or write in books, but my books do get crammed in my backpack, under my lunchbox and pummeled by the constant in-and-out of binders and notebooks through my backpack. Paperbacks get their covers bent, some pages get accidentally smeared. And for the most part, this sucks.

these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
wrong... (under the dusk jackets)
wrong… (under the dusk jackets)

However, some of my favorite books–the ones that I should logically want to look perfect–are absolutely destroyed. I’ve considered re-buying them to have nicer copies, but even the idea of replacing these worn-out books freaks me out. I love how worn these books are.

Why?

For me, a book being worn-out means that it has been read over and over. Most of my favorite books have been read by my sister, my mom, my grandmother, and me. I’ve also reread most of these books at least twice, probably three times–and my sister has done the same. The wear doesn’t come from not loving the books or accidents, it comes from love.

these books have been read a LOT
these books have been read a LOT

A book cannot be read upwards of a dozen times without showing it. Spines break. Covers fade. My favorite book even has a page that has completely fallen out and is tucked into the right place like a bookmark.

wpid-20151124_115825.jpg
whoops…

Then there are the intentional marks: favorite quotes underlined, favorite scenes bookmarked with Post-It notes. Happy faces and hearts penciled into margins. Little details you missed the first time you read it discovered the second and marked for the third.

In these crumpled pages and broken spines are signs that these books have been loved, not just by me, but by my entire family. There is history trapped in these books, and to replace them in the name of cleanliness would destroy that history. When I see these worn-out books, I smile, because they make me remember just how much I’ve loved them throughout the years.

So yes, if I buy a book today, I want it to be perfect. I want it to stand proudly on my bookshelf. I’ll be angry if the pages get smashed or if the dusk jacket gets bent.

But if in five years that book has been read so many times that its pages are marked with love and its spine is broken, I’ll also be happy. I’ll be proud. And don’t you dare take it away from me.


What do you think? Are any of your beloved books worn out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!