My recent foray into The Louisa Challenge has introduced me to some interesting new online friends. I had no idea that I had not created something original — there are LOTS of book challenges out there among the book bloggers. It makes me feel kind of naive; I’ve just been poking along in my little 4th bedroom/office, writing about my life and the places to which I travel and dishes and catalog dreaming and the books I read.
My son, the social media guru and recently published e-book author, has told me that I need to isolate my niche. Contentedly blathering away about the things that touch my heart, I’ve been blogging for about 2 1/2 years, but I’ve yet to gain a widespread following. My loyal friends and family comment regularly, and I love them for that. Frankly, I’m satisfied with a small group of online friends, because it fills a gap in my soul to just write about what’s on my mind. Many of you probably feel this same need in our busy society; expressing one’s self is difficult because very few people actually take the time to listen. After all, we can always read about it later… or look at the video online. But who doesn’t want to be Pioneer Woman deep in one’s private soul?
Recently I got one and then another email from a medical malpractice attorney (???) who apparently stalks blogs to see if she can convince someone to allow her to do a guest post along with a link-up in return. I’ve always figured this was a scam, but surely many bloggers get unsolicited requests to promote a product. I have assumed I was small potatoes and there was no way I could ever “monetize my blog.” And did I want to? When Illinois no longer allowed amazon.com to pay me referrals, I kind of gave up. Do I actually have a niche, or am I just writing an online diary for the world to see about being an empty nester and woman in her latent prime?
Miraculously, I’ve been saved from these difficult questions by finding a bunch of kindred spirits. I immediately recognized the reconstructed shack on the shore of Walden Pond and the allusion in Jillian’s A Room of One’s Own. I’ve been intrigued by the reviews and challenges provided by Jenner at Life With Books. I’ve been inspired by the photography and creativity of Michele at The Great Read. I was absolutely thrilled to find out that someone loves Louisa May Alcott as much as I do by meeting Susan at Louisa May Alcott is My Passion. I’ve met Merrick at Elf Paper who’s reading along with us on The Louisa Challenge. I love that my niece, Vanderbilt Wife, who is raising two toddlers, editing other people’s books, cooking, and reading and writing as much as her busy life will allow, connects up with The Louisa Challenge. She also loves Gwendolyn Brooks and March, the fictional biography of Bronson Alcott, while he’s “off at the Civil War.” Who else is lurking out there? I’ve yet to meet her or him, but I’m looking forward to it.
Linking up with my new online friends, I was obsessed with the layers of book challenges:
- Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress by Howard Zinn
- War and Peace in 2011 (extended in 2012 because it’s just too darn long!) 🙂
- Books I Started but Didn’t Finish Reading
- Anna Karenina Read Along
- Venice in February Reading Challenge (doesn’t THAT sound like fun?)
- Novel Challenges (a compendium of book challenges)
- Classics Challenge
My students are currently deciding which book to read in literature circles for the Holocaust unit. I’ve recommended Night by Elie Wiesel if they’ve never read it; it’s a classic and belongs in the current canon, in my opinion. What’s in your canon? Many of the writers I’ve linked here have ideas about what should be in a modern-day list of must-read books.
To paraphrase one of my favorite movies, what’s your dream? What do you wish you had time to read?
“Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your dream? Everybody comes here; this is Hollywood, land of dreams. Some dreams come true, some don’t; but keep on dreamin’ – this is Hollywood. Always time to dream, so keep on dreamin’.”