Thursday, August 02, 2007

A year in the strife

One year ago today, I opened up two chat windows and ran an idea past the people I thought would be most interested: Let's start a book blog where the only rule is that you post about every book you read. Ket thought it was a fantastic idea, and pondered whether it would force her to start reading a bit more highbrow. You be the judge.

The idea actually took hold three days earlier, when I sent an email to three people (only one of whom became a contributor). When that contributor finally responded, she was the first chat window I opened. Ket came immediately after, and helped name the blog. By the end of that day, she had added two more people as contributors, changed the color scheme and template no less than 34 times, and thereby brought the great towering bureaucracy of her employer to a crushing halt still referred to in hushed tones as "Black Wednesday."

October 8 marked the one and only time we've all been in the same room (state and local agencies have requested that this happen as little as possible, or in international waters). Ket put the meeting together, was the last to arrive, and found that we had already managed to find the other strangers in the bookstore. She had lost her status as the only person who had actually met all the other contributors.

My first post was meant to serve as an example, and as a beacon of poor taste. If I could admit that I had read something so terrible that its memory haunts me to this very day (I gave the book away at the first opportunity, and an argument ensued after the receiver read it and tried, unsuccessfully, to convince me to take it back), then certainly none of the other contributors would worry about having anything to hide regarding their guilty reading pleasures. Looking back, I sometimes fear that I had awakened a dragon. However, our second post, coming only hours later, and culminating the work of at least six minutes, actually garnered our fledgling project citations and traffic from sources we never would have suspected (Later, we started getting hits from some rather bizarre Google searches). For the first time, we realized that we were not the only people who read our blog. Of course, that was before we started to get some very telling comments--sometimes from the authors we had reviewed.

Since our inception, there have been over 158 posts, a few attacking er, reviewing multiple books. That's over three books a week read by five busy professionals, but in a few cases, we are so intrigued by each other's reviews that the same book gets posted more than once (this happened often enough with romance novels that I'm not linking to those--I can't keep all of those titles straight).

Some of us happily read whatever we can get our hands on. Some have more discerning tastes. Most of us like others to think we have more discerning taste, but given the rules of the blog, everyone knows better. Occasionally, we have to read something for work. Everything gets posted. From classics to contemporary to camp to kid's stuff (because who doesn't love a good monster poop poem?), and plenty of fascinating non-fiction, too.

I'm thrilled to see that this blog has become everything I'd hoped that it would. We read good stuff, we read awful stuff, and end up spending an inordinate amount of time sniping at each other for our choices (in literature and in life). We claim two industry professionals (a librarian and a bookseller), a legal mind in case we ever get sued for defamation after a particularly nasty post, and two engineers who by usual standards have no business being well-read enough to start a project like this. Some of us hope to write books (and hide them from the hyper-critical eyes of our own blog), some to sell and share books, some to find something suitable to prop up a coffee table, but we all keep reading them.

Here's to many happy returns, and scathing reviews. Happy Anniversary, Ragers.

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posted by reyn at 8:00 AM


Blogger Elizabeth said...

Hear, hear!

Although I can't say it as eloquently as reyn did above, I just wanted to briefly chime in with my own thoughts on this joyous day. Throughout law school, I constantly bemoaned the lack of companions who were as giddy over books as I was. Oh, other people read, of course, but so few of those people read trash, or geeky books just for pleasure of reading about hordes of the undead. My discontent grew and grew. By my final year, I was known as a girl to avoid at parties, since I would often harangue innocent bystanders about books for hours. At the final party my roommate and I threw, I stood by my bookshelf for at least an hour, explaining why Moby-Dick really IS the highpoint of American lit.

But then Rage in the Page came along, and my social life was saved. Here, at last, was an outlet where all those geeky, bookish thoughts could roam freely -- an outlet where if I scared people, all they had to do was click the "BACK" button to escape me. I've been cooler (in real life) ever since.

I've been very lax about posting recently. There's a tower of bookson my shelf waiting to review. If it should ever topple over, it'll take the fire department weeks to retrieve my body. But there's light at the end of my "crazy summer" tunnel, and hopefully I'll be able to put more effort into reviewing soon.

Meanwhile, thanks, Ragers, for such a great year! Cheers!

(So much for getting to bed before midnight...)

8/02/2007 10:53 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Oh, I forgot something! It's awesome that the "hands on" link cuts away to Sleeping Beauty. Hehe! Well done, reyn!

8/02/2007 10:55 PM  

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