Alchemical Thoughts

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

Update note: I wrote this post back in 2007, and it ended up in the “private” section of the blog. I think the series of posts I have labeled as private got imported from someplace else (can’t quite remember where, which tells you how long ago that happened). Since they are private, I do not always remember they are there, so I recently went back to look over the cue. Some will likely remain private, as they have topics not necessarily for public consumption. But others like this can be public. It is a good reminder for bloggers and writers to keep on reading. So, via the old Wayback Machine, here is this bit from May 8, 2007.

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Karen Andrews, guest blogging at Problogger, has a post reminding bloggers to read. Yes, it is perfectly ok to unplug from the online world once in a while to actually read a book or a magazine. I know I try to do that now and then. In fact, as a reader, I face the conflict of having too much stuff to read and not enough time to read it in. Maybe I should take that advice and stay away from the feed reader a bit more often. Besides, if nothing else, reading can always provide you with something to talk about in social settings, but that is a different story. Ms. Andrews writes:

” Get off the chair and turn off the computer. It will be there in the morning. Pick up a magazine. Go to bed early with a novel you’ve had on your ‘must read’ list for a while. ‘De-plugging’ is a good option for those of us on the point of burnout. Standing back from your own words may give you a better perspective than if you are crouched over a desk.”

Maybe I should try the one about going to bed early with the book I have been meaning to read. I was not sure about this idea Ms. Andrews wrote:

” The skill of critically evaluating a text is commonly taught today. It is not enough to simply say you like (or don’t like) something anymore. You need to back up your claims and once properly done so you can debate a subject at a greater depth than you otherwise would have.”

I agree with the idea of being able to back up what you say. What struck me was the idea that such a skill was commonly taught. I am not sure I agree with it given my teaching experience. I am of the theory that standardized testing is ruining a generation. One way to the ruin is that students are not taught about critical reading or critical thinking as much these days. After all, the tests are mostly multiple choice, so not much critical thinking going on there. I had to learn how to argue and back up my points when I was in school, and it is a skill that serves me well today. It is also something I strive to teach my students. Reading broadly and diversely can help people learn how to think and evaluate texts critically. Anyhow, a good reminder of why reading is so important, especially for bloggers.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

Photo from Flickr user Raider of Gin (fairerdingo). Image used under terms of Creative Commons 2.0 Generic Attribution License.

In order to share my reviews a bit more, as well as keep track of what I did when, I will be posting lists of books I reviewed in a month with links to my main blog. As always, comments are welcomed, whether you comment here or on any of the posts linked. I will include a small segment from the blog to give readers an idea of what the book was about and maybe an incentive to read it as well. By the way, when I say reviewed, it does not mean all I read in a month. It means the books I managed to post a review for at the time.

I reviewed the following books at The Itinerant Librarian during the month of March 2014:

  • Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night. “This is a beautiful and pleasant book book that sings the praises of libraries, books, and those who work in them and use them in an erudite and elegant way.”
  • Red Sonja, Volume 1: Queen of Plagues. The first volume of Gail Simone’s run on Red Sonja. “It is a tale of adventure and intrigue where we also get glimpses of Red Sonja’s past, learning of her origins along the way.”
  • Half Past Danger by Stephen Mooney. “It is a very entertaining action comic that has it all in the midst of World War II.”
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. “The author manages to coordinate the photos with the novel very well, and this is certainly a great element and asset of the book, adding to the sense of wonder. “
  • March: Book One. “This is the story of Congressman John Lewis in graphic novel form. This is the first volume of a planned trilogy.”
  • Mike Richardson’s 47 Ronin. “This is Dark Horse’s version of the classic Japanese true story of bushido, with Kazuo Koike consulting on the tale as well.”
  • Mark Waid’s The Rocketeer/The Spirit: Pulp Friction. “It is the era of the advent of television, and the big corporations are trying their best to take over the public airwaves to make them into their own private advertising venues.”
  • Gene Luen Yang’s The Shadow Hero. Read the story of the first Asian American superhero as told by Yang. Yang is also the author of one of my favorites: American Born Chinese.
  • Best Bondage Erotica 2014 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. “This book is indeed a collection of opportunities to experience vicariously a diverse bouquet of pleasures.”
  • One for fans of Warhammer 40,000 novels. Check out James Swallow’s Hammer and Anvil. The Sisters of Battle return to the site of Sanctuary 101. “What exactly is hidden in Sanctuary 101?”
  • Chris Roberson’s The Shadow, Volume 3. “This time, award-winning author Chris Roberson brings us a story where The Shadow is hunting for a serial killer, a mysterious woman dressed in white who seems to be able to use the light to her advantage and moves like a spectre.”
  • Andrew Knapp’s Finding Momo. “This photography book by Andrew Knapp featuring his dog Momo is totally adorable, a beautiful book for folks of all ages.”


In addition, this month I also reviewed some first issues of new comics series. I do not usually review single issues, but I got these as teasers from NetGalley, and since I wrote feedback for them, I also posted the reviews online. You may be interested in checking these out as well:

Happy reading.

This post was prompted by this blog post at Booking Through Thursday. I should note that I wrote this before I heard the news that GoodReads was selling out to Amazon, so I will probably have more to say on that topic later on.

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I keep lists of books I want to read in a few places. I have a large folder of clippings and handwritten lists. I started it as a reader’s advisory tool, and I still review it and add items to it now and then. In addition, now and then I jot down titles in the personal journal or in my small pocket notebook (one I carry to use for when I can’t get my hands on my personal journal). Those then I move to the folder, or I put them in GoodReads.

Once I discovered GoodReads, it became a great tool for me. I use it quite a bit to track books I want to read. I also use it to keep a record of books I have read. I even went back through old journals to find notes on books I’ve read and added them to GoodReads as well. I still make notes on books I’ve read in my personal journal, but this has always been for books I really want to remember. Now with GoodReads, I record every book I read, then I expand any brief review I think is worth noting into a larger review and note for one of my blogs or for my personal journal.

Finally, I keep another running tally of books I want to read here in Alchemical Thoughts. I basically make the lists from reviews that come in on my RSS feeds. I do include links to the reviews on the blog posts here.

Now, this may seem fragmented, but it gives me different places to browse for ideas when I need to find the next book to read.

This post was inspired a bit by this post on “5 Reasons Why You Should Comment on Blogs” from the Journal Addict blog.

I was recently rereading this post, which I had saved in my feed reader’s cue, and I got a moment to ponder on my own practice on how I comment on other people’s blogs. It also made me consider when I choose not to comment on other folks’ blogs. While I would not say that I have a consistent pattern to how I comment, I can say that there are some small informal rules or reasons in how I comment or not on blogs.

For starters, I do not bother commenting on large, famous blogs with tons of traffic. The idea of adding yet another comment on a thread that may already contain hundreds of replies seems a bit futile to me. This goes along with my blogging philosophy in librarianship (and to some extent in my casual and personal blogging too), that if a topic in the profession has been beaten to death by the celebrity librarian bloggers then I don’t see a point in adding a blog post or commenting. This may lead to my next point: I don’t care for drama or less than bright arguments in the blogosphere.

My  four readers may notice that in my blogs I keep politics to a minimum. I may  have started to address some issues of concern recently, but the current climate of misinformation, repression, ignorance, and regressive attitudes mean that I can’t really stay quiet. However, I write about such things in my personal blog, The Itinerant Librarian. I never bring such things up in my professional blog, The Gypsy Librarian. By the way, for me, this blog here is more of a commonplace book and a place for half-baked ideas not quite ready for prime time. So, this is where the topic of comments returns: I never really comment on blogs related to politics or religion. In other words, I don’t really comment on blogs that deal in topics not discussed in polite company. People on those blogs are more interested in parroting their agendas, simply spreading talking points from some pundit who likely knows less than they do, and all this regardless of actual facts, evidence, or reasonable argumentation. Such places tend to be examples of the worst in people, and I would rather stay out of such muck.

So I usually comment in smaller blogs where the odds are better that the actual blogger will read the comment. I do like showing some appreciation when a blogger wrote something I found  useful or insightful. If they visit my blogs, it’s nice, but I certainly do not expect it nor feel entitled to such reciprocity. For me, commenting on a blog is about thanking someone for sharing some good writing and maybe responding to something they said if I am so moved.

I guess in the end there’s not much to it for me.

Here goes another link post of my semi-regular (as in when I get enough clips together to make a post) series of post collecting clips about blogging and writing. My small way of keeping track of things that inspire me or just give me ideas for things to try out in my blogging and writing.

Though I do not blog professionally, or at least with the intention of making money, I always find many of Darren Rowse’s posts to be useful and informative. I always find myself clipping them to look at later for ideas on how to improve my blogging. And who knows, maybe someday, I might make a penny or two from my blogging. In the meantime, hear are some items from ProBlogger blog,

Write to Done is another blog I find useful when it comes to writing advice. From Write to Done,

The folks at Dumb Little Man do more than just blog about writing and blogging. I always find something interesting there. From Dumb Little Man,

  • 10 Hard Truths About Blogging.” A few important reminders that I think, as a blogger, I need to hear once in a while.
  • Five Reasons to Keep a Journal.” Even when I take long breaks from blogging (voluntary or otherwise), I always go back to my personal journal.  And though I do not write in it as often as I would like, I do write in it, and I always know I have it there.


From On Techies,

CW, at Ruminations,

  • Wondering how to increase her professional blogging. I know I am wondering that question right now, up to and even considering whether I want to increase it at all (or decrease it). Some food for thought and useful links.
  • A short exercise I would like to try out sometime. I may even consider using the result for my About page in the blog, which I am considering how to redo. She writes “Life in 100 Words.” Writing it may not be as easy as it sounds.


July 2020


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