Book Blogging Over the Years

Coffee in one hand, Kindle in the other.

A post shared by Chachic (@chachickenpie) on

I’ve been book blogging since 2010. That’s seven years of being active in the online book community. That’s longer than any romantic relationship that I’ve had and even longer than any of my work stints in each of the companies I’ve worked for. πŸ˜‚ I keep doing it not because I earn any money from it, but because it’s so much fun to interact with fellow book lovers and authors, to discuss books with people who get you. Over the years, I’ve tried to influence family and friends to read books and I’ve been successful with some of them… but they’re not book nerds like book bloggers are. There are also fellow book bloggers who have become wonderful friends, and some of those have become more than just “online” friendships. I’ve met some of them in person when I traveled abroad and even the ones I don’t think I’ll ever meet, I’ve been comfortable enough with them to share more than just book updates. In a previous post, I mentioned that I feel like I have a sense of belonging in the online book community because I feel like I’ve carved out a niche for myself. I will keep doing this as long as it keeps me happy. And what makes me happy and engaged and excited to talk about books has changed from when I first started.

When I first started blogging about books, most of the posts that I made and the interactions that I had were through my blog (this WordPress site right here). I used to blog daily then it became weekly then it became monthly. Now I’d be happy if I manage to publish one post every month. There was a time when I would feel guilty about this, but like I’ve said plenty of times before, I want to keep my bookish interactions fun and part of that is blogging when I feel like it. I used to think that the reason why I didn’t blog as much was because I was busy – with work, with chores, with my social life. But now I understand that it has increasingly become more difficult to open my laptop and sit down to write a post. I don’t know why this is, maybe because being on apps on a smartphone just makes things easier? Or maybe because opening up a laptop feels too much like work, and blogging is something that I don’t want to feel like work. So now I’ve learned to not be too hard on myself. My WordPress blog will always be here whenever I’m in the mood to type out a post. I will keep updating my yearly posts like best books I’ve read in the year or my favorite fictional couples. But for more stream of consciousness type of updates, I’m on Twitter and Litsy (username: Chachic) on a daily basis, and Instagram whenever I feel like updating it. I know social media apps are not everyone’s cup of tea so please feel free to comment on any of my posts or send me a direct message in any of the apps I mentioned or an email if you feel like just chatting. πŸ™‚

What about you, what are the things that you’ve done to keep blogging fun? Is it also easier for you to interact using bookish apps? Or do you prefer something more personal like sending an email or messaging directly?

Litsy Addict

litsy-logo

I signed up for Litsy when it first became available for Android and I’ve been having fun with it ever since. I know I keep mentioning it here on the blog so it’s high time that I write another post about it. Given how much I enjoy shooting bookstagram shots, I knew it was likely that I would get addicted to Litsy. While I don’t want to call this a review for the app, I did make a list of reasons why I think Litsy is awesome and also the things about it that bug me:

Pros:
– Unlike Instagram, it’s an app specifically made for book-lovers, everyone on it is a reader. One issue I have with Instagram is that the people I follow and also my followers on it are a mix of real life and bookish friends but because it’s a public account tied to my blog, I usually just post book or food-related pictures instead of personal updates. At least with Litsy, I feel like my posts are more relevant to my followers there
– You can link your posts to book titles, which you can then click to see what other people have said about them
– There are a whole slew of hashtags that can be used like #Recommendsday every Wednesday or #BlameitonLitsy if you pick up a book because of Litsy or #SignedSundays on Sundays. I like having prompts like these to make it easier for me to decide what to take pics of!
– Other hashtags I use: #romantsy, #bookandtea, #bookandcoffee, #bookandbrew, #bookanddinner and one that I created: #bookanddessert
– #LitsyFeature is a hashtag that everyone can use if you’re interested in being featured on their Instagram page. One of my posts has been featured here
– URLs are clickable whenever you want to link to something like a blog post or an Amazon link to a book
– The app doesn’t count the number of posts you make, which for me is a good thing because I can post as much as I want and not worry about flooding my followers with too many book pics. I take pics of all sorts of books – my current reads, books I just bought, books I’m thinking of buying (whenever I visit the bookstore), books that I’ve read and would recommend, books that have been in my TBR pile for ages and I still haven’t read, and so many other books! Just whatever I could think of πŸ˜›
– Instead of number of posts, the site counts your “litfluence” which increases based on other people reacting to your post (e.g. liking, commenting, adding the book to their stack)
– It’s a mobile app that I can easily update on the go, so it’s much easier to post on it than here on WordPress. My personal laptop has been acting up lately so that’s also why it’s been difficult for me to blog. With an app like Litsy, I don’t have to put in as much effort but I still get to interact and chat with fellow book nerds
– There’s a 451 character limit on posts, including reviews, which is a good way of making sure everything posted is succinct and to the point. This means each of the posts in my feed won’t be too long, and it also makes it easier for me to write a review for a book because it’s a short post!
– I get to meet new bookish friends that I’ve missed meeting through all my other bookish social networks. Always a good thing in my eyes. πŸ™‚ And it never fails to make me happy when one of them picks up a book based on my recommendation
– I’m being followed by romance authors Eloisa James and Julia Quinn! Okay sure, they follow a lot of people there but it’s still a pretty big deal for me. I will never get tired of being able to connect with authors (who are rock stars for a reader like me). If you know of any other authors who are on Litsy, please feel free to let me know
– I’m also followed by Filipino romance authors Mina V. Esguerra, Ana Tejano and Miren B. Flores but we all follow each other on Twitter so that’s not a surprise. πŸ˜€ I hope more #romanceclass people join the fun on Litsy so we can talk more about their books

Litsy screenshot

Here’s my current litfluence

Cons:
– Not a lot of people have it or if they do, they’re not updating their accounts. I need more bookish friends to be on it! If more of my bookish Twitter or Instagram friends become active on Litsy, that would be awesome. I would also be open to following more people who either read the same kinds of books that I do or who post pretty book pics (because come on, who doesn’t like seeing beautiful book shots? πŸ˜› )
– Cross-posting to other social networking sites is done manually. There isn’t a way to link your sites together and cross-post automatically
– I can’t link to my Litsy profile, only to individual posts. So I usually just mention my username whenever I want to spread the word about my profile. Even on this blog’s sidebar, I only have the Litsy logo and my username
– I can’t embed my Litsy posts here on WordPress, which I can do with Instagram posts. If I could, I would have probably done weekly recaps of my Litsy posts. I could have also added Litsy pics to this post!
– Their database is still being updated, so there are times when I have to manually ask for books to be added so I can tag them. But there are ways to work around this, such as tagging another book by the same author
– The editing tools for pics (e.g. brightness, contrast, saturation, etc.) aren’t as good as the options in Instagram

Like I said, this isn’t really a review of the app but just me sharing my thoughts about it. The issues I have with it are minor and you can probably tell from what I’ve said that I love using the app. I’m sure I’ll remember some things I’ve forgotten to include once I hit publish on this post, but I’ve been sitting on a draft of this for a while now so I want to put it up. Are you on Litsy? If you are, what’s your username? If you aren’t, what’s holding you back from signing up? πŸ™‚

Litsy on Android

The bookish app Litsy is now available on Android. I found out about it thanks to a heads up from my good friend Brandy. I downloaded it and signed up as chachic over there. It’s described as a combination of Instagram and Goodreads, and I’m trying to see if it would be fun to be an active member over there. I like that it’s more book-focused that Instagram and more visual than Goodreads. I think my main problem with it is that there aren’t a lot of my friends on it (no surprise there given that they just started with Android) but it might get better if more people sign up.

Litsy screenshot

Are you on it? What’s your username? Also, what do you think of it so far?

Sense of Belonging

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

My smoked duck salad dinner while working one evening

It has been a couple of months since I made major changes in real life and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since then. When I first moved to Singapore back in 2012, I had a very hard time adjusting to living in a different country for the first time in my life and being away from family and friends. It was one of the most difficult experiences that I’ve been through but I have no regrets because I’ve learned a lot, and hopefully, I’ve also grown both on a personal and professional level. When I made the transition to a new job a few months ago, I thought it would be easy to settle into this role. I figured that I’ve adjusted well enough to living in Singapore, and my new job is in the same industry as my previous one. I should have expected that in life, anything new would required an adjustment period! I have been trying to understand why it hasn’t been easy, and I don’t think it’s because of the company, the role, or even my co-workers (everyone has been as polite and professional as they can be). I realized that I can’t really say that I’m happy or comfortable in my current role (yet) because I don’t feel like I belong. Kind of like my presence doesn’t matter because I’m not making a relevant contribution (yet), which leads to feeling insignificant and lonely. This reminded me of a passage from a book that I loved, Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer:

β€œI can’t be the only one faking it. I’m not the only lonely small-town girl drowning in this big city. I’m not the only refugee feeling invisible and alone. I’m not the only one who wants to scream, “NOTICE ME! I MATTER!” Maybe everyone is faking it. Maybe they’re just better at it than I am.”

I know I matter! And I hope that I would start feeling like I do matter professionally in a few more months. I’d like to think that every newbie feels weird and awkward in the first few months, and that will change as time passes. A physical place where I would always feel like I matter is back home in Manila because that is where I’m the most comfortable and where I always feel like I belong. Virtually, I definitely feel a sense of belonging in the book blogging community. I feel like I’ve carved out a niche for myself, and I’ve found people who not only enjoy reading as much as I do but also read the same type of books that I love. I’m definitely not a famous or big time book blogger but it makes me happy to know that there are people who enjoy having bookish discussions with me and there are people who ask me what I think about books before they decide whether to read it. I have way more posts than followers on Instagram but I have a lot of fun taking bookish pictures, and friends have mentioned that they like seeing what I come up with. I’ve had authors respond to tweets or blog posts or emails, and that’s something that never gets old. I find myself lucky that I can even consider some of them friends, because we’ve had enough interaction to get to know each other. I’ve met so many lovely people in this community, and I still keep meeting more! With everything that’s happened in real life, it hasn’t been easy to keep blogging, tweeting or bookstagramming but I will keep doing all of those for as long as I can because I would miss it too much if I stop. I would miss the sense of belonging, the camaraderie, the blog comments, and the book recommendations. While I’m a firm believer of keeping blogging fun and not forcing myself to write a review or a blog post if I don’t feel like doing so, I will do my best to make more of a conscious effort to be an active blogger. For now, I’m here to stay because this is where I matter.