Staying relevant as a book blogger by still reading new books, rediscovering old books
Happy 2023! Champagne clinks and literary links ushered in the new year. Innovating shelit.com for another year means thinking more about the blog’s future and purpose.
Like many readers, my library has expanded beyond its limits, multiplying on several shelves and already outgrowing those spaces. I love buying books from thrift stores, used bookstores, new bookstores, book festivals, library fairs, yard sales, garage sales, estate sales. Anywhere a book can be bought, I bought it.
The urge became more important when I noticed books by Black women on sale, sometimes a rare sight, a revelation I learned from The Free Black Women’s Library Los Angeles. Books by Black women are usually not uplifted online or in the bricks-and-mortar as much as they could be. Neither are books by women of Indigenous, Latine, and Asian descent.
Young adult author Kalynn Bayron shared her disdain for walking into a bookstore that promoted books by BookTokers and noticing only one out of the 10 books was by a non-Black author of color. Diversity is still a problem in the publishing industry in many aspects, especially when it comes to fewer marketing dollars being given to non-celebrity authors of color.
While I’ve been collecting gems by female authors, I also haven’t been reading as many books as I want. As a book blogger promoting new books for search engine optimization and overall audience boost, I ignored most of my books in favor of buying new books, getting new books from publishers, and checking new books out from the library.
Books were piling up like I hadn’t learned anything from Christine Platt’s The Afrominimalist’s Guide to Living with Less where she offers the viewpoint of having too much stuff to meet a Eurocentric society’s desire for excess. Or when Nedra Glover Tawwab’s Set Boundaries, Find Peace advised on how to ask yourself what’s working and what’s not working and reflect on how to make things work for you. So, I have too many books that will take me years to read. And I need to refocus my love for books on forgotten treasures while still checking on the over-marketed new books, especially if they’re written by a woman of color. #PublishingPaidMe is still relevant today as it was in 2020.
I have read books in the last year that I want to share more with readers who may not have known about the book or maybe never had the chance to read it. One example is Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills, which I bought from Myopic Books in Chicago. Another is bell hooks’ Bone Black. Both had been on my bookshelf for a while, so it felt gratifying to finally read these great works by great authors and discuss those stories.
More bookish outlets are also trying to elevate older works like Belletrist’s 2021 book club selection with Tananarive Due’s The Between, which was originally published in 1995. That book is also on my bookshelf. Thanks to the Ladera Heights Goodwill Store in Los Angeles for that find.
Books from previous years and even decades still need our support and attention. The marketing problem is a historic problem, where books by women, particularly women of color, got lost in the mix among Harry Potter-type fantasies, mysteries by men, and celebrity memoirs, just to name a few. I look forward to sharing my library and love for curation this year by discovering works that deserve to be rediscovered.