I recently read and blogged about James Joyce’s Ulysses. My commentary on that book is here. The particular entry on Joyce’s work ended up just a little different from my typical posts. As my comprehension of that novel was so much below my usual level, I chose to devote four or five paragraphs of my post to my personal impressions of the reading experience itself. Though I have posted in similar ways on a few other occasions, this does not reflect my usual blogging style. I should note that I subsequently rounded out this particular entry with some commentary on various aspects of the novel, thus making the commentary a little less centered upon myself.
For a moment as I was formulating the post, I questioned myself, is this the way to write about a book? I am wary of analyzing books from too personal of a view. I often eschew doing so. I believe that too much personal bias gets in the way of understanding what an author is trying to say. Though I did not venture into the territory of “I liked this character” or “I related to that character,” I was writing mostly about my own reading comprehension and what I got out of the book in relation to my own limitations in understanding.
Then I asked myself, is this train of thought taking the idea of blogging too seriously? This thought in turn expanded to thinking about the entire nature of my blog and of what I want to accomplish with it.
I realize that I am not engaged in literary criticism, but what exactly am I doing? I cannot pretend to be conducting serious analysis. I am not qualified to do so, and one look at my commentary indicates that I am not formally doing this. In fact, when I look back at many of my posts, it turns out that to some degree, at least, I commonly incorporate my own experiences in my commentary. Yet, at the same time, albeit in an amateurish way, I do apply some aspects of criticism to my writing.
Of course, what I am doing, plain and simple, is talking about books. With that, part of the way that I like to talk about books is to include some unprofessional form of literary criticism. I liken this to participating in a local sports league. One does not need to be a professional or even a very good athlete to enjoy playing a sport.
So do I need to adhere to strict rules regarding criticism? Of course I do not. I do not want to restrict myself in any way like that. Nor would my unqualified efforts stand up to such a serious approach. As I allude to above, blogging about books, for me, is about sharing thoughts and ideas. Whatever thoughts and ideas seem interesting to me at the time of writing is what I write about. Why not occasionally think about and share my personal impressions of various works based upon my own biases, including likeability of characters?
Yet, sometimes I like to dabble into such slightly more formal territory. Ironically for me, it adds to the fun. One beautiful thing about having one’s own blog is that there are no rules. So I can write posts in so many different ways.
I can summarize a book and give my opinion on it. I can hone in on a book’s main point and agree, disagree or take a neutral stand on it. I can focus on a particular theme, passage or character and analyze that. I can just talk about how a book affected me, how I felt about it or what I learned from it. From time to time, I have found it worthwhile to employ all these approaches.
Since likability or relatability of characters or plot developments is not something that I usually find very interesting, I will very rarely incorporate such musings in a post. However, I reserve the right to do so, especially if I find a noteworthy angle to that chain of reasoning.
I love blogging about books. I love sharing my thoughts on reading and other issues. An eclectic approach, not just in my choice of books, but also to the way that I approach the discussion of a tome, seems to work very well for me. It has added to the joy and fun that writing and sharing ideas concerning books entails. There really are no rules. After all, I am just talking about books.