why so many book reports?
When I first started blogging in 2005 my posts tended to be links to other people's posts or news. It was like Justin Taylor's blog back then, but I linked to him very much. I still do that some, usually when I come across some inexpensive or simple DIY home building website. With Google Reader, now I can share blogs that interest me, as I read them, on the top of this blog, and on Facebook.
When the political season really heated up, for the first time in this blog's life, the election cycle of 2008, I wrote repeatedly about abortion and received the most views and visitors I ever had. I find it very hard to come up with something new to say about abortion. Sometimes when I'm thrashing out a difficult position in my mind, like gay marriage, I'll throw out a bunch of posts on the topic, usually as a result of conversations I'm having with other people. I think I do a pretty good job sticking to the original theme of my blog, "My thoughts on the church, the world, and their interaction" (except when I'm talking about yurts, or underground houses, or rammed earth architecture). Lately, this blog is starting to resemble Challies, or what Challie's blog used to be, mostly book reviews. But I'm not a reformed guy like he is, so I don't have the Calvinist mafia supporting me.
But I'm not trying to be Challies. Reading is my preferred indulgence of free time. But I wanted to do more with what I read. I wanted to justify the time I spent reading, by communicating highlights from books, partly for myself, but also to help others in their research. I didn't take myself that seriously, so I didn't want to call them book "reviews." Little did I know how much traffic one could get if one titled posts, book "reports." Who knows how many kids in school have found my blog looking for a book report on Twilight. I'm sure they weren't happy with my report, though. But books also provide me with ideas to respond to. I like reacting to the authors' ideas. Sometimes, usually, I have positive things to say, and sometimes, I really disagree. It's been really neat when authors show up and leave a comment as well.
One commenter at a book report post of mine suggested I also share it on Amazon. Which I did, and kept on doing as I got books out of my local library. Then I found out about publishers giving books away to bloggers for reviews. I believe I could be a homeless guy and hold up a sign saying "will work for books." I review for Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, and Crossway now. I get to pick the books that interest me. I'd like to review for a few more, like IVP and secular publishing houses which print the historical stuff I really like. In between interesting books, I get other books, some from the library, some I buy, some I get for free or real cheap on my Kindle. My wife had to stop me from buying books years ago, because there was no room left, and the babies needed diapers. Now the babies are bookworms as well. One of my best date nights recently was a trip with my wife to Starbucks then to the local used book store, the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut. We were on a mission to find some books for next year's home school curriculum, but I ended up with a few history books for myself on the Crusades. I love that my wife loves books enough to spend a date night looking for books. God is good to me.
I want to be a good communicator. That's why I've been in Toastmasters for 8 years. In fact, I'm an advanced communicator Gold now as well as an advanced leader Bronze (too bad that sounds like some weird $cientology thing), and this blog is to help me become a better writer in addition to being a better speaker. I have made progress over the years. I am much better at capitalizing.
If the book reports bore you, my dear reader, please check out the feeds on the top. They are usually well written and say things in a way that I can't. Otherwise, I hope some of these books sound interesting enough to pursue on your own. One of my ongoing weaknesses in public speaking and writing is my weak closings. I need to finish with some strong call to action. So, stop reading this and go read a book!