Tag: Book Blogging

Catfishing, Negative Reviews and Fear of Blogging

Posted November 6, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 29 Comments

There have been a few news stories about authors behaving badly; that is not to say that some bloggers are probably doing the same. What I am referring to is the article about catfishing and dog poo in the mailbox. This has lead to some bloggers being involved in a review blackout and others too scared to blog at all. It is a sad day when a small group of people ruin it for the rest of us. I am not standing on the side of the bloggers or the author; these articles are one sided and until I have both sides I cannot justify picking a side.

I am a book blogger and therefore I am more likely to side with the bloggers. We do not owe an author anything; we are first and foremost readers and we are allowed to love or hate a book. As bloggers we are just passionate readers that love books so much that we wish to share it. For the most part we review books, some of will offer literary criticism but for the mostly it is just a personal opinion.

My biggest concern is that people are scared to blog and share their passion because of fear. Writing is a passion and I get that authors can get overly protective of their work but by doing this they are trying to squash someone else’s passion. If I was to ever to write a book, I don’t think I would ever want to read the reviews; book tastes vary and not everyone is going to like it.

I have even wondered if my reviews are going to set an author off. I have had some negative reviews (see The Steadfast Reader’s great post on The Necessary Evil of Negative Reviews) and I am not afraid to express my opinion but I am not going to censor myself. For one thing, my opinion is not the typical norm, I’m a small fish in the blogging world and finally my average rating on Goodreads is 3.5. So that means I love most of the books I read and it isn’t too often that I have to write a negative review.

What it all comes down to acceptance of others people’s opinions. I am a big believer of negative reviews, it allows our readers to know what we like and don’t like. As a blogger we don’t owe anything to authors; our readers expect honesty. However I want to remind book bloggers to be respectful and constructive. I would love to know what others think about the current articles going around.

ArmchairBEA 2014: Wrap Up

Posted May 31, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 2 Comments


 The Book Expo of America ends today, which means this is the end for Armchair BEA.I hope everyone had a fun time and have filled your twitter and RSS feed with new blogs to follow (I really miss Google Reader). As always, I went into Armchair BEA with an opportunity to find more male book bloggers and while I found some, I’m still a little sad at how many there are out there. I have neglected some of my book reviews this week and I’m hoping none of my readers are too upset with this fact; I’ve got plenty of good ones coming up next month. Please be sure to check out my other ArmchairBEA posts, thanks for great event.

Other ArmchairBEA 2014 posts

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

ArmchairBEA 2014: Expanding Blogging Horizons & Novellas/Short Stories

Posted May 28, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 24 Comments


 We are back for day three and today’s topic is Expanding Blogging Horizons and Novellas/Short Stories. So, let’s kick off with Expanding Blogging Horizons. This is a topic I think a lot about; what will I be doing in the future? I would like to think that my blog will still be going but I’m always looking for ways to evolve and improve. I want to be seen as a book critic and to do that, I need to work towards improving myself; see my book blogging manifesto for information about how I plan to do this.

I also need to think about how blogging is changing and what I can do to continue to make my own blog interesting and exciting. I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be involved in a podcast, but I love the idea. I think a good podcast needs two or more people that interact well (I’m too introverted) and has differing opinions (I have that). There is also vlogging or the terrible name ‘book tube’, I’m not bubbly or interesting enough to ever consider that option, but I hope to see more vloggers out there that do something other than YA.

I’m not sure what the future holds, but I like to think there will always be a place for book bloggers; I would love to see more male book bloggers and some diversity. I tend to worry when everyone is reading the same books, almost makes me not want to read that book. I understand new books are always appealing and we all get excited when we receive a book in the mail that looks great. I guess I worry about all the books that get missed. Life is short and we all have too many books to read, better get back to it.

As for novellas and short stories, I’m trying to make an effort to read more short story collections but I’m often not too sure how to review them. If all the stories are a little different then writing a very general view can be difficult.  Novellas are easier and I love novellas, there are so many great ones out there that come to mind.

Great novella examples

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

ArmchairBEA 2014: Introduction and Literature

Posted May 26, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in ArmchairBEA / 30 Comments


This is my third year participating in the Armchair BEA event. While I am not an American I do like the opportunity to join with book bloggers around the world and talk about our favourite subject, books. I am sure most people know already but just in case; BEA is the Book Expo of America, held in New York, where people in the book industry of America get to be enticed with new books from publishers. There is an event now known as BookCon where book lovers can experience the same enticement, however they won’t get any diversity. Putting aside the problems with BookCon, I’m pleased to join all the fun with Armchair BEA. This is a virtual conference for the book bloggers that can’t make it to BEA. Over the next few days I will be joining in with this event and their daily blog post topic suggestions.

For the past two years I’ve been enjoying this event, it is a great way to meet new bloggers and show off your own book blog. As this is the first day of Armchair BEA I probably should move on to the topics for the day. Today we are introducing ourselves and talking about my favourite topic…literature. As a way of introduction Armchair BEA has provided ten questions and asks everyone to pick their favourite five and answer them.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

My name is Michael, I hail from North Queensland in Australia and I only became a reader in 2009. I started blogging not long after that over at Knowledge Lost as a way to sort my thoughts and explain what I had learnt along the way. I know I need to spend more time on that blog and I’m hoping to get back into it now that I’m forcing myself to write every day. I started Literary Exploration as a way to document my book journey and soon discovered I’m very passionate about books and book blogging. There is one thing I hate about book blogging but for the most part I really enjoy the whole experience.

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. — so we can connect more online.

Literary Exploration is documentation of my bookish journey as I explore literature in all its forms.

You can normally find me on twitter: @knowledgelost or my blog @litexploration as well as Facebook, Instagram, sometimes Tumblr and Pinterest. I’m also very active on Goodreads (also check out the Literary Exploration Book Club), Literally and Booklikes.

What was your favourite book read last year? What’s your favourite book so far this year?

Highlights of 2013 include;

For more books check out my best of 2013 post

Highlights of 2014 (so far) include;

What is your favourite blogging resource?

One of the best investments I’ve made for my blog is the Ultimate Book Blogging Plugin. This one plugin has saved me a lot of time and makes my life so much easier. I can collect a lot of relevant information thanks to this plugin and it automatically updates my review index. It has a lot of cool features and I highly recommend it to all book bloggers. Of course you’ll all have to move to a self-hosted WordPress platform but that is a good idea anyway.

Spread the love by naming your favourite book blogs:

I’m always happy to recommend some great book blogs; here are some that I’m always happy to see updates from;

Time now to look at that all important topic of Literature: I’m a bit of a pretentious reader, so I’m always interested in reading books that are considered high literature. I’ve even set myself a life goal of reading the entire 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List, I might even try to review them all too. I find myself drawn to literary more as I become a better reader; there is something about the prose and structure that stands out. As a literary explorer I try not to entrench myself in just one genre, but luckily there is plenty of great literary genre novels out there. I don’t have to sacrifice quality in order to read genre fiction.

However there are so many classics out there that I still have to read and I feel bad for not having read books like Middlemarch, The Brothers Karamazov, The Woman in White, The House of Mirth and so on. I want to catch up on all these great novels and I think classics are an essential part of the reading journey. I recommend every reader try to read more classics and to help you along, I suggest joining something like The Classics Club is a great way to challenge yourself to more classics. I want to take to the conversation to the comments but I’d like to ask some questions of the readers to help the conversation along;

  • What is your favourite literary novel (in any genre)?
  • Which classic would you like to read but are dreading?
  • What genre do you spend most of you time reading?
  • What genres tend to scare you?
  • Finally, are there classics that just seem too hard and why?

ArmchairBEA is a virtual convention for book blogger who can’t attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention. Button by Sarah of Puss Reboots

My Bookish Manifesto

Posted May 10, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 20 Comments

I love my blog, I’ve been very proud of it and I can’t think of anything better. I like to spend my time playing with it, slowly improving it and writing posts for it. I don’t make money off my blog but it is a real passion of mine and something I plan to continue for a very long time. Recently I read a fantastic article on advice to young critics, while this is focused on the TV and movie industry I think it is still relevant to what I want to achieve.

Feeling all inspired by this article, I started thinking about what I want to achieve in life. I want to be considered a critic and I would love to get paid to do what I love but if that never happens I will still enjoy doing it. I’m not satisfied to with my current skill level and I want to continuously be improving. I took the advice given in the article on board and decided to adapt it to reflect my intentions. Being as pretentious as I am, I’m calling this my book critic manifesto.

  • Read a lot of different books – make sure to explore a wide range of genres, going outside more comfort zones and reading from more nationalities, different translations and genres.
  • Read from the back list – avoid only reading from the novels that have only just come out. Read books from all periods of time. Go back further than the 18th century and try to understand how books from the past have paved a way for the present.
  • Learn about the book industry – the politics and what goes on behind the scenes, it is important to have a finger on the pulse of the bookish world and understand trends and strategies deployed by the publishers.
  • Write every day – Commit to writing at least one post a day, it doesn’t matter if they get published or not, develop a habit. Writing takes practice and the more you practise the better you will be come. This is an essential step for self-improvement.
  • Find time to read every day – I can’t improve as a book critic if I’m not spending time reading, make the time. Listen to audiobooks while working, driving or exercising. Carry a book (or ebook) at all times and use any free time to read a little more.
  • Write it down – any good ideas or notes I have need to be written down before I forget. I’ve started carrying a notepad with me and finding other methods to jot down notes and thoughts as they come to me.
  • Rewrite – Edit, edit and edit some more. First drafts are never going to be my best writing but I often don’t like to rewrite. I must disciple myself to put my best work forward and thing will mean rewriting.
  • Proof read – I’m lucky enough to have a great editor (my wife) who is supportive of my blogging. She generously takes the time to read over every post I write before it hits the blog. I have to train her to be tougher on me and tell me if I need to re-write something but with her help I will improve. However I need to make her life easier not harder, I need to make sure I’m not relying on her and I’m checking my work thoroughly before she sees it.
  • Read up on history and psychology – It is fascinating to see how helpful knowledge of history and psychology can help with critical thinking. I am to critique books, so I need to understand more about the historical context and the psychology behind it.
  • Study literary theory – I need to understand literary criticism better; I know I will never understand all the theories but a basic knowledge will be useful. I suspect that my primary focus will be Marxist and Psychoanalytical theory but I would also like to be able to read a book from a Feminist, Post-Colonial, etc. view point as well.
  • Learn about language – Read more books about language and grammar, they can be fun and I can learn a lot from them.
  • Interact with the bookish community – it is important to continually seek out people with different viewpoints, I don’t want to become an echo chamber. Interacting with people that read and review books differently to me will help me develop my style and avoid becoming stale. We don’t want to live in a world where everyone says the same thing and if I can spend time reading different opinions I hope to avoid being similar to the crowd.
  • Learn about creative writing – I sometimes wish I could write a story but I feel I’m better suited as a critic and a reader than an author. I do need to learn the tools of the trade so I can understand why an author does what they do and develop an appreciation for the craft.
  • Develop my voice – I feel like my style is very conversational and personal; this is how I relate to the novels and this is how I feel. With practice I can perfect my style but I must always remember what I’m trying to achieve and how I want to come across in my writing.
  • Avoid only writing reviews – I don’t want to fall in the habit of only writing book reviews, if I’m writing every day I’m never going to keep up. I will write non-review posts, about my bookish thoughts or what ever is going on in the bookish world. Memes are great but I don’t want to rely heavily on them.
  • Meet deadlines – If I’m going to request an ARC then I must make sure that I read and review the book before the deadline or release date. Non-solicited ARCs don’t need to be read before a deadline or at all. I have written a review policy that clearly states that not all ARCs will be read but I need to make sure if I’ve committed to one that I read it.
  • Don’t be afraid to be different – I’ve found that I often hate books that others may enjoy, I do enjoy writing a negative review and I must remember that there is nothing wrong with that. However I must also remember that the job of an author is hard and I must always use tack and constructive criticism. I can’t be afraid to try something different and have a voice that differs from the rest, stand firm in what I think and be uncompromising in my writing.
  • Be the best you can be – I need to learn that sometimes a piece of writing isn’t working and I should dump it and start again. I shouldn’t be afraid to start over, I want my editor to be hard on me and I should be hard on myself too. I can learn a lot from others and I must be willing to take criticism. It is a helpful to my growth as a critic and also essential. If I’m not happy with a piece how can I expect others to enjoy it. Try and try again until you get it right.
  • Just write – I know that there will be times where I will feel like I’m not writing well or am suffering from a writer’s block. I need to remember that I don’t have to publish everything I write to my blog. I can write a bad piece and then dump it and try again, I might get some decent lines out of my bad writing that can help form a better piece.
  • Have fun – This is a passion not a chore.

This is still a work in progress and I plan to add more to this manifesto when I think of it. I feel like I have a goal in sight and I want to work towards it. This is not about getting a job or anything like that; this is about developing my skills to be the best book blogger/critic I can be. I’m passionate about books and I love talking about them, I will improve and this is how I plan to do just that. If you have any good advice that I can add to this, let me know in the comments below.

What I Hate about Book Blogging

Posted April 26, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 12 Comments

As much as I love book blogging and have no desire to slow down anytime soon, there is one thing that annoys me. It is not exactly a huge problem and I think this falls under the category ‘First World Problems’ but it has been coming an increasing annoyance for me. I’m not talking about the lack of commenting (I know I’m guilty of this) or the struggle to be part of the crowd of first readers, who boost about all the wonderful ARC’s they read. I’m even not complaining about the lack of male book bloggers or the excess of blogs talking about the exact same thing, this is something completely different.

I started book blogging in April 2012 as a way to track my reading journal. I have an autodidactic blog where I previously discussed literature, but I found myself losing focus on what that blog was all about. I transferred most of my literary posts onto this blog and started blogging passionately about the books I’ve read, loved and hated. I love the way this blog documents my reading journey but the problem is the fact that it only covers my journey from 2012 onwards.

I started reading in 2009 when the reading bug hit me hard; in that time I read some fantastic books but they don’t show up on my blog. I’m at a point in blogging were I want to make reference to books I read before I started blogging but I have no post to link it to. This isn’t a huge problem but it is something that has become increasingly annoying.

I’m now at a stage in my book blogging where I want to go back and re-read a lot of those great or interesting books just so I can blog about them. This also means if I ever want to write a blog post on every book that is on the ‘1001 Books you must Read Before you Die’ list (a life goal of mine) then I will have to re-read over 50 of the books on the list. I was just wondering if I’m the only one who feels this way or if anyone has gone to the extreme of re-reading most of the books from their past just to blog about them?

Do You Know About BookBlogging.net?

Posted December 10, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Random / 4 Comments

Book Blogging Community

I’ve only just discovered BookBlogging.net and was wondering if other people know about it or even use it. It could be a handy community if book bloggers around the world get involved. I don’t know much about the site, there is no about page, mission statement or similar so I’m not sure what the goal is and how we can help them achieve it. They call themselves a resource hub, database, and community for book bloggers, so I guess that is what they want to achieve.

I’m still exploring the site but I’ve found an easy way to find other Australian bloggers via member search and there is even an Aussie Book Bloggers group. I’m interested to see how useful the site will be and if you do join please send me a friends request.

Book Buzz or Manipulation?

Posted November 16, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 8 Comments

Recently I found myself reading, and discussing on twitter, a particular piece found on the NetGalley tumblr page. This article is a typical puff piece about how great NetGalley is and what they can do to create book buzz and make a book popular. It was transcript of a speech Lindsey Rudnickas (NetGalley’s Digital Marketing Manager) gave on ‘“Book Buzz & Discoverability in the Future of Storytelling’. Basically she was saying, give NetGalley your business and we can make your upcoming book a hit.

Sure, this was a typical marketing pitch but it left a bad taste in my mouth. I felt more like a tool (the literal meaning of tool) rather than a book blogger. I use NetGalley and have enjoyed the benefits of getting to read a book before it’s released from publishers as well. I just wondered are we just tools used to manipulate people into buying the books they want to promote.

This is a little cynical but it was worth taking the time to think about. I have the opportunity to be in direct contact with some people who work marketing for a publisher. Most of them are friendly and supportive of book bloggers. We just have to remember this whole thing is a win-win situation for both the blogger and the publisher.

I know most people know this but this article made me feel more manipulated that I wanted. Should I feel manipulated? Out of the 272 reviews post so far (as of the 4th of November) 64% of the books are book I own, 19% are provided by a publisher, NetGalley or a similar service and 17% are library books. This is nothing to be ashamed of; I think if I read what I want to read then I shouldn’t feel this way.

It was just something to think about; I’ve often said these publicists could save money by being selective with what books they send to the bloggers. I know some of them will be more selective or communicate with the blogger before sending out books. This whole strategy of sending every blogger the same book may seem weird but reading this article I can see what they want to achieve. If there are a heap of reviews on the one book (positive or negative) the book will be recognised, talked about and there we have buzz.

So how do you feel about ARCs or Galleys? Do they over take your life? As a blogger do you think you have a healthy balance between what you want to read and what has been sent to you? Do you feel manipulated? Let me know in the comments; maybe I’m one of the few but at least it was something to think about.

Building a Better Book Blogging Community

Posted September 6, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about the book blogging community lately. There are so many book bloggers out there but how do you find them all. A lot of book bloggers are great at commenting and this is a great way to build community but it can be a battle to find new bloggers and help people get started. So I’ve been trying to think about better ways to unite the bloggers and build a community.

The best thought I have had so far is to try and create a book bloggers online journal. I thought I would share my idea and see if people have some better ideas to share and maybe we can work out a way to build a community. My idea for a book bloggers online journal is like a group book blog that focuses on book blogging and books in general. I know these can be hit and miss and that is the problem and I worry that a few people will end up doing all the work and it ends up going nowhere.

But anyway here is what I think; we could get bloggers to write some non-review posts and contribute onto the one site. Think futurebook.net for the book bloggers. The idea is that each post is about book blogging or books and also serves as a way to introduce the readers to new bloggers. If we get each person to try and recruit another blogger (like a pyramid scheme) we could get a workable journal that will showcase the community.

I know this isn’t a perfect idea, but I think it could work if there are people willing to commit. People should be free to post their posts to their own blogs as well and I think they can contribute as much or as little as they like. It might be a place to talk all things bookish (trying to stay away from reviews), from buzz books, blogging, reading, recent bookish news, blog hops, book tubes, translated fiction and so many other topics. I know there are places like Guardian books, AV club books, Huffington Post books and Bookriot but they don’t really feel inviting towards contributors and I would love to see a place were people can come together, discover new book bloggers and even make friends.

There you have it, my idea; feel free to pick it apart, offer ideas to improve it or even offer better ideas. A collaborative blog with bookish people around the world seems like my best idea. I know The Classics Club does a decent job in building a community and I love their work. They do seem too focused (which works well) but what about all the other genres and topics. Think about ‘How to improve the book blogger community?’ and let me know your thoughts. I’m sure we can find a way to make things easier to discover new blogs and meet like-minded bookish people.

Why I’m Quitting Ratings

Posted June 8, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 0 Comments

fiction-genre-cloud-600x312Rating books is too hard, how can I give five stars to a book like Frankenstein, which is my all-time favourite novel and give five star ratings to other books like The Sense of an Ending, Super Sad True Love Story and The Marriage Plot. Sure I love those books and will reread them when I get a chance but really they are not on the same level as Frankenstein. Five Star ratings are the easiest ratings too, imagine comparing books with a 3, 3 and a half or 4 star rating. There are books there that really are not worthy to be sharing the same rating as others. Ratings are personal, often changing and are never really a true reflection of what I think about the book.

When I starting book blogging I thought a star rating is a good TL:DR way for people to see what I thought of a book but I’ve come to the realisation that maybe they do too much harm than good. So after weeks of wondering what to do about ratings I’ve decided to quit them for my blog. I probably will still rate books on Goodreads, but that is because that community is based more around ratings than reviews. It’s not an accurate representation and who knows I might quit rating there as well but I think it’s time to say goodbye to ratings on this blog.

In all honesty I would love to quit genres as well but as a literary explorer I think they need to stay, just so I knew which genres need to be focused on. My problem with genres is most books don’t fit neatly into a single genre and sometimes categorising books become too damaging. For now the genres have a place, unfortunately, but I don’t think ratings anymore. I’ve looked around the book blogger community and see a lot of blogs that don’t rate books and I think they have the right idea; trying to pick a rating for a book is hard and often it changes from day to day. I feel like I’m passionate about books and like to try and pick at books and write what I like and don’t like about a book then you see the stars and think the review doesn’t match that rating.

So let’s see how the blog goes without rating the books, if you want to know what I think of the book read my reviews or if you are lazy, check my Goodreads page. I feel like this is the right decision and I even think it is a liberating step as well. I don’t want to be constricted to telling people what star value a book is worth, read the book and find out for yourself. I rather talk about what I liked or didn’t like about each and every book.