Just before I left to head off to work this morning there was a discussion on Radio 4’s Today programme (it happened at 8.20 and you can listen to it online) about the differences between literary bloggers and traditional critics. This is a long running debate but the latest attempt to ignite the war of words failed mainly because the blogging representative from ReadySteadyBook.com was almost as qualified as the academic reviewer.
Of course there are people blogging with axes to grind and idiotic views to share. But unless you take everything you read completely on trust there is always the option to go elsewhere. The ability to share a gut reaction to a book is very powerful in some cases because it is raw analysis. Obviously being able to put it into a literary context is helpful but there is this is not an either or debate there is a place for both approaches.
As a blogger one of the things I have wrestled with is a feeling that more time needs to be spent producing long essay length posts about literature. The reason finally for deciding not to do those is not just because of time, and possibly a certain amount of talent lacking, but primarily because writing those type of posts never motivated me to start blogging in the first place.
Broadly there seem to be two types of blogs: those that are written for personal reasons – for instance just sharing the joy of books and reading – and those that are written with a firm eye on the commercial opportunities and traffic stats.
Maybe the problems occur in the first category but that’s where myself and lots of other fantastic bloggers are happy existing.