I am so pleased today to share my interview with Iris from Iris on Books. Iris has given me the fantastic opportunity to accomplish two things in one post. Yesterday we were supposed to share a new blog that we had discovered since last year’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week, and Iris’s blog popped to mind. She does so many great eclectic book posts and I have spent so much time reading her blog and getting book ideas that she hardly seems like a newcomer. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with her more.
Congratulations Iris on making the shortlists for Best New Book Blog and Best Eclectic Book Blog! You really hit the ground running this year with your blog. How did you get started and did you know what you wanted your focus to be right away?
Making the shortlist was quite a surprise to me actually. I hadn’t expected to make the longlist, let alone the shortlist and I feel that there are many blogs out there who deserve to be on those list more than I do. Nonetheless, I am incredibly happy that people seem to enjoy my blog. To be quite honest, I didn’t know what I was getting into at first at all. I don’t think I even fully realised that what I was going to do would fall into the category of book blogging as I didn’t know there was such a big book blogging community out there. I always feel I started my blog quite unprepared. Compared to a few other new book bloggers out there, I hadn’t been following any book blogs before I started. In all honesty I started my former blog Candles and a Cup of Tea a few days after I first came across the blog Austenprose. I think that when I saw that blog I first started to realise that I could actually blog about a subject I loved. And since I was right in the middle of one of my obsessive Austen and historical fiction periods at that moment, I thought I would blog about the works of Austen, movie remakes of her stories, and other related books and movies. That soon changed however when I started to find other bookblogs. The blogs of Eva (astripedarmchair.wordpress.com) and Amy (amckiereads.wordpress.com) soon made me realise that Austen is just one of my loves and that I enjoy reading in general too much to just focus on one genre. They also made me realise that there are so many genres out there that I’d love to try. And so I changed my focus, became a book blog and eventually changed my name, because Candles and a Cup of Tea became associated with my former focus too much in my mind.
In a way, I wish I could have said that no it didn’t, because there really is something about just reading a book and not having to think of what to write in a review afterwards. But on the other hand, it has helped me think about books and reading a lot more and that can lead to some very interesting insights. All of this is not to say that I don’t like reviewing, I actually enjoy it a lot, but with certain books it is hard to not write up a quote every other page and then it can start to interfere with your reading.
In the end, what has really changed is that books and reading have become a much bigger part of my life. I thought about this just recently when I entered an all-English bookstore in Amsterdam (they do have English books in most bookstores over here, but only in a small corner of the store mostly). I had been there 2 years before but back then I didn’t recognize most of the “recent” titles on display. When I went to visit it 2 months ago though, I recognised almost every title! Reading blogs and thus keeping up with the bookish news has really allowed me to feel like I know my way around books so much better.
Also, I read more than ever since I started blogging. I might not read a lot compared to other bloggers, but most years before this one 75 books were a lot of books for one year, this year I am already on my 85th title.
I know I didn’t realize when I started how much time blogging would take and what an addiction it would become. How do you manage your blogging and reading schedule, and have you found that there have been things you have had to give up or do less of because of the time you spend with it?
I certainly know what you mean. Book blogging is so addicting and I don’t think I realised half of what would happen when I started. Reading has become an even bigger part of my life now and at times it is hard to time it well. Reading doesn’t interfere so much with my social life or with my other hobbies (my only other hobby is dancing and listening to music and I do continue to do both). What it does interfere with at times is my interest in my graduate school studies. The thing is, when you have to read a book for your studies and you could be reading a book for fun at the same time, it is sometimes hard to make stop reading the fun one. I have managed to combine blogging with graduate school most of the time, but I think especially because I am a new blogger and everything in the bloggingworld is so exciting when it is new, I have been a bit irresponsible at times. Also, there are weeks when I cannot blog because I am in over my head with essays and presentations, but I think that happens to the best of bloggers. Maybe planning and scheduling my posts well is something I could try and learn to do better though.
Tell me a little bit about your experience with reading over the years. Did you start out liking a particulargenre and then branch out, or were you always an eclectic reader? What were some of your favorite books growing up?