Blogger Blackout -- Or why online reading communities matter to me.
For as long as I've been online, I've gone online to talk about books. Back in the 1990's it was on small websites and discussion boards, in the 00's on social media and blogs. The internet for me above anything else has been a place where I find other readers with which share opinions and perspectives. The kinds of books I went online to talk about has changed from Fantasy & Sci-fi to Comic Books & YA to Romance but talking about books and participating in online communities of readers has always been a huge part of my online life. The friendships and connections I've made online are real ones. The people behind the screen-names matter to me, their opinions matter to me and their real lives matter to me. My life is made richer because over the years I've been able to talk about books I love with a stay-at-home mom in the deep south, teachers in Quebec, Pennsylvania & California, doctors in Indiana, a teen-ager from No.Cali, the "baron" in New England and a reporter in Memphis among the many others.
Auth0rs have sometimes been part of my reading communities and I haven't had a regretful interaction with one yet. Nearly every author I've interacted with online has been gracious, respectful and encouraging, passionate about books and readers themselves. I am thankful for the lovely email Anne McAffery wrote back to my sister in 1992, the emails I've exchanged with Mr.Shanower about his comic books series Age of Bronze over the years, and the tweet exchanges I participate in today with some of my favorite Romance novel writers.
However positive my interactions have been, however lucky I've been, other bloggers, readers and reviewers have not been. I've seen author verbally abuse readers, some have been harassed by street teams, been subjected to tantrums and now most appallingly been subjected to stalking, while their stalker is applauded. I am just plain angry to see that kind of behavior rewarded and supported, and to see fantastic voices quieted out of fear or disgust.
On this blog I regularly review books I obtain directly from authors or from publishers via NetGalley or Edelweiss but I am not someone's else's promo platform. This blog is my platform where I alone choose which books I want to review. If I love a book, I will praise it and promote it. If I dislike it I will do my best to articulate why that book didn't work for me in a way that someone else might be able to recognize if it is or is not a book for them. I don't end up reading all the books I receive, but I do try to review all the review books I actually read. I always strive to write fair, honest and articulate reviews.
Even though my reviews tend to be positive (I rarely finish books that bore me, or enrage me, and I don't often write DNF reviews), I reserve the right to be critical of story elements or choices that didn't work for me. My reviews are my opinions and reactions, and they are not absolutist judgements, but I hope they are valuable and helpful to other readers. This might be my hobby but I strive to be professional in all my interactions.
One of the best thing about online reader-reader friendships and relationships is learning how something that appeals to one reviewer is the very same thing that repulses me. Something that crossed the line for me, was the very thing someone else is looking for. The trope or HEA one reader loved is the very same I dislike. There is also something precious when you find a fellow reader whose reviews you can trust to lead you to good books because you have a reading kinship.
So today I join other book bloggers in choosing not to publish any new book reviews for a week. I've not yet decided what I will write instead. I do this out of respect for fellow reviewers & readers and out of a desire to show support to those who are having their lives disrupted because of hurtful and abusive author/publisher behavior.
To read what others have said about the ongoing situations and how they are participating: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, Vacuous Minx, Romance Around the Corner, Love In the Margins, Book Thingo, Sonomalass’s Blog, Wendy the Superlibrarian, Kaetrin’s Musings, Dear Author, & Miss Bates Reads Romance