BBAW, day four: Changing how we read (and live)

We’re still sailing through Book Blogger Appreciation Week, happening now through Friday, and today’s topic is an opportunity to discuss how our reading habits have changed as a result of book blogging. Has book blogging affected our book acquisition habits? Have we made new connections with others because of book blogging?

And my simple answer is: yes.

The most obvious example of my changed world of reading is evident in my “to be read” stack, which is now less a stack and more of a . . . well, of a bookcase. Once upon a time — so far back now, I can barely remember — I had a literal stack of novels by my bedside (pictured below). Of the few dozen books in my room, these were the only books I hadn’t yet read — and once I was done with them, they would move on to other readers in my life: my sister; my coworkers; a friend from school.

When I began actively blogging about books and left my job at Borders, I became gluttonous. I truly remember stopping to think, “Now that I won’t be picking up so many books at work, I need to find another source.” Like an addict on the hunt for her fix, I turned to the Internet, my old friend, as a way to continue my conversations about books and add more to my pile.

And the pile grew. And grew. And grew. I joined websites like BookMooch, where I would trade my already-loved books for others. I entered tons of blog giveaways. In time I began receiving advanced reading copies of books from publishers . . . and that’s when I really began my downhill descent into madness. My “to be read” stack hasn’t been an actual stack in years; it’s now shelves upon shelves of beautiful books, all waiting patiently for their time in the sun (or my hands, as the case may be).

And I totally blame book blogging.

Here’s the thing: you all tempt me with your “You have to read this book!” talk so much that I’m powerless to resist your recommendations. When a blogger I love and admire says in the serious tone the well-read, “You can’t miss this one” — well, I can’t miss that one. So whether I’m accepting a review copy, buying it myself or tearing into a package from a generous friend, I have to have that book.

The more I read about books, the more I want them. The more I write about books, the more I want to read more of them. I love reading so much that I could happily spend most days wrapped up in words and plots and characters, and I never realized other people did, too. Not even when I spent every minute of most days in an English program in college. Not even when my other literature geek friends wanted to chat about Jane Austen and Shakespeare and Edith Wharton.

It wasn’t until I started blogging about books and “meeting” so many of you that I realized I had found “my peeps.” Not to get all sappy, but at a point in my life where it’s difficult to make new friends — we’re out of school; we’re working in the same job for years — the friendships I’ve formed through book blogging have filled a tangible gap in my life. And as I wrote last year, blogging has given me confidence to excel in so many areas of my life. It led to real-life work opportunities, a renewed interest in photography, and my friendship with fellow blogger Jessica — a buddy who would later encourage me to join an online dating site. And that’s how I met Spencer.

Could I have found this man I love without Jessica — or the dating site, or my blog? Eh . . . maybe. But probably not. And I don’t think it’s too big of a stretch to contribute the awesomeness of my life to the connections I’ve forged through blogging. And that’s to say nothing of the friendships I’ve formed with countless other people, and the fun “real life” times we’ve had at events like the Book Blogger Convention and National Book Festival (that’s Deborah and Heather above!).

So I love you guys. Thanks for making my “to be read” stack into less of a stack and more of a room, and for encouraging me to be funny and silly and ridiculous and open in a way that I never thought I could. Thanks for giving credence to some of the random things I say, and for making me feel so confident and free. Thanks for reminding me that I matter — and that we all do. Just thanks for being here.

BBAW, day two: Interview with Jodie of Book Gazing

One of my favorite parts of celebrating Book Blogger Appreciation Week, happening now through Friday, is the chance to find new-to-me bloggers and see what they’re all about. In the past, my interview with other bloggers have been such fun and helped me forge friendships with folks I might not have discovered on my own.

In that vein, I’m pleased to welcome Jodie from Book Gazing today! A U.K.-based blogger, Jodie is a big Oasis fan with a penchant for the written word (like so many of us). Through email, we recently discussed my adventurous ability to try haggis in Scotland and I gushed unabashedly about what a crazy anglophile I am. Seriously, it’s to the point that I freak out when I encounter a Brit and want to break out in a crazy accent.

But I’ve been really working on my British accent. Maybe it’s not so scary anymore.

Without further ado from yours truly, get to know Jodie in our interview swap for BBAW!


1. On your blog’s main page, you write, “Have you ever found yourself sat in front of a bookcase entranced by the options in front of you? Then you’re a bookgazer . . .,” a statement to which I can happily relate. When wandering a bookshop, what’s the fastest way to get a book in your hands? What qualities in a book cover grab you immediately?

A pretty cover really is the way to open my purse, as I’m afraid I’m terribly shallow when it comes to impulse purchases. I’ve been known to override doubts about content because a book looks delicious, which has obvious problems. Fortunately I have pretty wide tastes in book covers, so a book needs to be attractive, but I find that beauty comes in many forms.


2. I see that, like me, you’re a panelist in the Indie Lit Awards — and as voting members, we’ll be getting our reading list from open nominations in the months to come. Do you enjoy assigned reading? Or would you rather choose all of your reading material yourself?

I can be contrary when it comes to assigned reading. I contribute to a group blog called Lady Business and I look forward to the other contributors giving me book recommendations. Last year I had no trouble getting excited about reading my five Indie Lit books. I’ve taken part in a couple of successful readalongs, with individual bloggers and a group called The Slaves of Golconda.

However, although I love all the list-making I consistently fail at reading the books I pick for other people’s challenges. I think the key to getting myself to read assigned books is to keep the unreasonable little voice inside me from harping on about approaching deadlines, otherwise I have a bad reaction and ditch books as some kind of weird readerly rebellion against pressure I’ve put on myself.


3. What do you think is the most underrated young adult novel you’ve ever encountered? Are there any YA books you’d really like to champion — and try to promote when you can?

This is a hard one to answer, because I don’t interact with all the different kinds of readers who pick up YA (young readers, teenagers, readers who aren’t bloggers) and living in the blogging world skews my perception of how certain books are being received. I would never have guessed ‘The Monstrumologist’ wasn’t making enough money, for example, because I kept seeing lots of bloggers talk about it.

Sarwat Chadda’s two Billi Sangreal books ‘Devil’s Kiss’ and ‘Dark Goddess’ about a teenage girl who belongs to the Knights Templars always felt rather neglected by mainstream media, but it’s possible we’ll see a film adaptation soon, so how neglected it really was must be up for debate. Chadda’s books are well written, well paced adventure novels featuring Knights Templars, who live to fight the forces of evil, have proved extremely popular in the adult book and film market. Billi skews the stereotypical kickass warrior character by retaining her ability to emotionally connect and I think we realy need more warriors like that in literature. I’m really pleased to see that Chadda has received a publishing contract for a new series.

Here’s a sampling of some other YA books I think deserve more notice than they get. I am constantly banging on about them all over the place, so sorry for repeating myself:

• ‘8th Grade Super Zero’ by Olugbemisola – contemporary fiction that contains a very relateable, conflicted teenage protagonist

• ‘A Wish After Midnight’ by Zetta Elliot – a ‘be careful what you wish for’ time travel narrative that deals out very real consequences to a girl who tosses pennies in a fountain

• ‘Ten Cents a Dance’ by Christina Fletcher – a girl struggles to keep her family afloat and herself out of the depressing cannery factories by becoming a taxi dancer, as WWII begins

• ‘What They Always Tell Us’ by Martin Wilson – contemporary YA about emptiness, brothers, running, and happy, romantic love between boys

• ‘The Agency’ series by Y S Lee – Female spies in Victorian London. Need I say more?


4. What’s your favorite part of running a book blog? What do you find the most challenging?

I’m terrible at design, which is why I got my banner from a talented graphics professional. I also generally lack enthusiasm for all the upkeep that can be necessary to make a blog really great (SEO work, tidying etc).

My favourite part has to be all the people that I get to engage with (I know, sappy). This year I feel like I’ve started to become really close to a few bloggers, even though I haven’t been posting as much. Hugs to everyone!


5. Let’s play the desert island game. You can take three books from three different genres with you to a desert island — and that’s your only reading material for a year. Which do you choose?

If I can only read three books for a year I need a couple of guaranteed re-reads. There has to be something by Pratchett (I’ve reread most of his books already). It’s a hard choice but in the end I plump for ‘Good Omens’ by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, a book from the fantasy genre.

Next I’ll fill a slot with a classic that would have been contemporary fiction when it was first written. I have a feeling I could learn a lot about patience and being a grown up from a reread of ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen.

Finally I’d choose something new and unread for variety, something I’m really looking forward to digging into. Maybe some historical fiction, like ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters, since I’ve just finished her fourth novel ‘The Night Watch’. Her writing consistently floors me.

And don’t miss my interview questions over at Book Gazing!

BBAW: Celebrating the vast awesomeness of our community

Though I give this same spiel every year, I can’t believe it’s almost September — and time again to celebrate Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Now in my third year of blogging, I see with clear eyes how much work and dedication it takes to make a site succeed. It’s not just about reading books and reviewing them, as we all know; it’s about personality. Panache. Passion. (And some other “P” words I can’t think of right now.)

BBAW is our yearly celebration of all things book blogging — and the voices behind those websites: yours and mine. Speaking at the Book Blogger Convention this year reaffirmed my commitment to and love of all things book blogging, and I hope you’ll take some time to honor your favorites by participating this year.

The awards process has changed for 2011 — basically, you create an account with the site, register with your own profile and then nominate your much-loved blogs in many different categories. Also note that self-nomination is not allowed this year, which is a change-up from previous BBAW celebrations.

But BBAW isn’t only about awards. In the past, our blogging community has come together to interview one another, celebrate books we’ve loved in the past and so much more. Last fall, I shared how blogging has made my life pretty awesome — and I still mean every word. The idea is really just to celebrate one another, raise our collective (metaphorical) champagne glasses and toast one another’s hard work.

Because we’re important. Our voices matter. The publishing industry takes us seriously. Some of our favorite authors know who we are. And you know what? We’re pretty great. Talented, erudite, honest and great.

I mean, I love us. So let’s all spread that through BBAW participation.

Award nominations are happening now through August 13 at the site, so don’t forget to march your little self on over there and get to it!

Book Blogger Convention, year two

After much preparation and a few anxiety-ridden nights on behalf of yours truly, the Book Blogger Convention in New York City was another success! Bloggers from around the world met on May 27 at the Javits Center to meet, chat and share our passion (obsession?) with books.

Spencer and I arrived in the city the night before and, like a timid 4-year-old en route to her first day of preschool, my boyfriend was kind enough to walk me from our hotel to Javits. Shaking like a leaf, I tried to contain my nerves as he dropped me off with a reassuring hug before my 10 a.m. panel. I was nervous, as I shared — and I’ll make no bones about it. Despite feeling like I know a bit about this crazy thing called blogging, the morning was colored with my anxiety over saying something ridiculous in front of you kind people.

But it didn’t go down that way — it never goes down that way. For the many, many times I’ve sat around freaking myself out regarding public speaking, I’ve never blanked out, humiliated myself or gone on a terrible coughing jag the way I do in my imagination. I just had the morning to stew about it.

After enjoying breakfast, where I was found by the lovely Kim from Sophisticated Dorkiness, I reconnected with friends and met one of my favorite publishing ladies (hi Lydia!). It’s always nice to start the day in a social way (hey, that rhymes!) — chatting with everyone is my favorite part of any blogger meet-up. Putting a face to a name (or email, or avatar) is what makes something like the BBC such a good time — it reminds us that we’re all . . . well, people. Real people. Real people who really, really like books.

Our event’s keynote speaker was Sarah Wendell, the queen blogger at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. I’ve been reading SBTB for years (and even won a David Hasselhoff prize pack from a contest there), so I was excited to hear her speak. I loved Sarah’s overall message and am kicking myself for not having paper handy (what kind of writer am I?), but it was all about keeping perspective. On one hand, she said, remember that “you are but a grain of sand.” Wise words — especially online. It’s also true, though, that “the world was made for you” — and we all have something important to say. Though millions of blogs are updated daily, no one has a truer voice — a “you”-er voice — than . . . you.

The first panel of the day was up next, so I popped out of the main room long enough to get acclimated for our “Practical Challenges of Blogging” set. Joined by Raych, Jenn, Lenore and Kristen, we discussed topics that perplex all of us — how much personal information to share online; how to manage review copies; how to interact with authors, publishers, publicists — and, I hope, provided some useful ideas. Once I got on a roll, my nerves calmed considerably — and I had a great time talking with the ladies and audience about blogging and reading, two of my favorite topics. Thanks to everyone for their thoughtful comments and questions, too; once folks started raising their hands, I knew we would be okay.

Lunch was a good sort of blur after I came down from my adrenaline high, and the build-your-own-swag bag portion of the day was up next. I was a good girl and only walked away with one book at first; I’ve been making a concentrated effort not to be a total book glutton. If my caving bookshelves weren’t enough to dissuade me from bringing in more novels, the stress of accepting slews of review copies — and the accompanying guilt — would be. This year’s bags were really cute and perfect for — you guessed it! — carrying books. Love them.

Author speed dating was my next adventure — and oh, what an adventure. Overall, I really loved this chance to meet new-to-me authors and discuss their work — and I’ve never been happier to have Alison, the friendliest and sweetest person ever, sitting across from me at an event. Without her wit and easygoing demeanor, we could have had quite the mess on our hands. Some of these authors were not playing around.

Among the many writers that took a seat at our two-blogger-team table were Chikota Webb, Anna North, Laurie Boris, Alafair Burke and Jim Higley — and it was Jim’s story that had me riveted, the one shared in the forthcoming Bobblehead Dad. By the time he finished telling us about his family and experiences with cancer, I was practically racing out of the room to grab a copy of his book. That was the fun of this event: being “sold” a book by none other than the creator him/herself. While Bobblehead Dad isn’t a book I would have chosen on my own, I read half of the memoir on the train ride home and am loving it. Life is very surprising.

And, of course, I was beyond excited to meet Krissy Gasbarre in person. Last month, I fell in love with her debut memoir How To Love An American Man , promptly decided to become her best friend and sent her a very fan-girly email. After trading notes, I decided she was one of my new favorite people. Meeting her — and gushing like a maniac — was a definite highlight of the BBC, and I can’t wait to see what else she has in store for us. I was delighted to learn that she’s just as sweet and sincere as she seems in her book, and I’m hoping great things are afoot for her. (Seriously, get that book in August — it cut right to the core of me.)

The day was wrapped up by a series of panels on blogging for a niche market and technology for blogging, and I tried to bounce between the two and snap as many photos as I could. I settled in with Heather and decompressed while reminiscing about Ireland with she and Gabriela. It was a great, chill way to end a fun and demanding afternoon, and I was thrilled to have met so many interesting people, passed out every single one of my business cards and survived my first public speaking opportunity in years. When Spencer arrived to collect me out front, I practically sagged with relief into his arms.

I’m not as fearless as I used to be. I guess huddling around my computer for hours each day has made me tentative.

But it’s made me bold, too, which shouldn’t make sense — but it does. As I shared on the panel, projecting myself as a friendly and confident person through writing has made me a friendly, confident person in real life. Sharing my life and favorite reads with you has transformed me from a bit of a stalled-out writer to a young woman ready to get out there, network and tackle the world. I’m thankful for the opportunity — and loved spending the weekend in New York. Here’s to many more bright, bold and bookish adventures!


Preparing for the BBC: Practical Challenges of Blogging

Now that I’m not coughing myself into oblivion, friends, I think it’s high time I got back on the blogging wagon and began pondering the Big Projects I have going on this spring.

After a somewhat frantic 2010, I was looking forward to cooling my jets, relaxing and not overextending myself too much in 2011. Three months in and I can already tell you, for sure, that my jets are far from cooled. They’re on fire. And one of the biggest, most exciting projects I’m planning involves the upcoming Book Blogger Convention in New York City.

Were you there last year? Was your mind blown by the informative panels and  face-to-face time with folks we know only by Gravatar or Twitter handle? Did you tweet live from the event and then write a blog about blogging, all meta-style?

I did. It was awesome.

I’ll be going this year and bringing Spencer with me to the Big Apple, and I can’t wait to visit the city again and meet so many of you — whether for the first, second or third time.

And not only that. In addition to attending this year’s BBC, I’ll actually be speaking on one of several panels happening Friday, May 27.

Gulp.

Together with the lovely and talented Raych, Jenn, Lenore and Kristen, we’ll be leading the Practical Challenges of Blogging panel from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. (lunch!). I’m very, very excited but also very, very nervous, so I’m trying to plan this methodically so I don’t stand up in front of everyone with the glassy, terrified expression of a slack-jawed nut. I mean, this is two hours, friends. Two hours of us talking to you. About things. About blogging.

Blogging.

We all have an opinion on it, obviously — we’re here doing it. Night and day. Day and night. Regardless of the weather, we’re talkin’ books and reading and authors and it’s fun.

But what happens when life keeps us from our keyboards? We all have families, spouses, children, full- or part-time jobs. We have other hobbies. We travel. We have to make dinner.

How do we accomplish it all?

As our panel puts together the topics we’ll cover at the BBC, I’d like you all to take the floor now:

Bloggers, what do you find most challenging about maintaining a book blog?


Is it managing review copies? Finding time to write thoughtful reviews? Fielding emails from other bloggers, authors, or publishers? Writing negative reviews? Or, you know, justifying to your family why you’re checking your blog stats again?

In New York, we’ll be talking about how we blog — but I’d like your input before we set foot in the Javits Center.

And just to sweeten the pot, leave a response before Tuesday, March 22 and I’ll enter you in a giveaway for Melissa Ford’s Life From Scratch, one of my favorite recent novels about — surprise! — a blogger. Just make sure I have a way to contact you!

Thank you — and see you in May?

How blogging has made my life pretty awesome

When I started write meg! in June 2008, I was a quiet(er) 22-year-old working for three newspapers in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. As an assistant editor, my duties were relegated to putting together a variety of sections for my employer, including but not limited to pieces on real estate, automotive trends and local businesses.

Now, I still do those things — but I do about a hundred other things, too. Creative things. I now write a biweekly column that reaches tens of thousands of people in my community and has been, to date, one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

Beyond that, I can now walk into a room full of people I don’t know and barely break a sweat. I’ve shaken the hands of countless folks whom I “know,” and who know me, and have had some truly awesome conversations — online and off. I speak and walk confidently; I write more, and better. I feel like I’m making a difference, even if it’s small.

And yes, I’m going to attribute it all to blogging.

Because we have not the time nor interest to discuss the changing nature of the newspaper business, a subject that has been covered by far more intelligent and braver people than me, I’ll give you a short synopsis of what the changing nature of my newspaper business has meant: with the expansion of the Internet and online resources (which are great), we still need a way to bring readers back to the print editions of our publications and keep them viable.

And a columnist position opened up in our company.

I’ve made no secret of my blogging activity, though I didn’t used to go out of my way to advertise write meg! with friends, family and associates. Once upon a time, I thought my blog would be like an online diary — a place I stored my thoughts anonymously, and definitely not something I would want my “real life” cohorts to know about.

Well, I was wrong — on many levels. Blogging has never been a private pursuit for me, just in the way that writing has never been a private pursuit for me. Quite frankly, I love an audience. I’m a drama queen. I enjoy having a place to write about whatever I wish and then get feedback — mostly positive, some negative — on what I’m saying.

I write because I love it, yes, and because I can’t imagine doing anything else. But I don’t write in a vacuum. And though I like the sound of my own voice, more than that? I like the sound of my own voice in conversation. I love talking. I love feedback. I thrive on discourse.

And I swear I’m not as cocky as I sound right now.

When the columnist position opened up at work, I was doing some enjoyable but decidedly non-creative things at the papers. Because one of my coworkers knew I was a blogger who wrote regularly, this got reported back to one of our managers. And one of those managers, presumably, checked out my site — this site. And thought I’d be a good fit for the job.

A job I now have — and love. In addition to my editing duties at work, I get paid twice a week to write about things I love — anything and everything, but mostly myself, growing up and learning. I get “recognized” in the community, have stories hanging on the wall of my old elementary school as a “notable alum,” and field phone calls and emails from folks who call themselves “my fans.” Some of those are real letters, handwritten and addressed. To me. And what do they say? They look forward to my column. It brightens their day. It makes them think differently.

That makes me feel incredible.

I’m not going to tell you a sob story about how I was stuck in a rut before blogging, before my column, before Spencer, before this life. But I will say that I was struggling mightily to find a place to channel my creativity and do something more. I talk about that often: doing something more. And if I’d never started blogging for myself, I wouldn’t now be writing publicly for anyone else. At work, I might still be in that quiet vacuum. I might still be the old me.

Book Blogger Convention was a really big step for me — I mean, I went to New York City for the weekend! To meet people face-to-face with whom I’d only ever emailed! And everyone was really nice and exactly the way I expected, which was awesome. (And I met Jessica from Cover To Cover when we were both randomly in San Diego. And countless other lovely folks at last year’s National Book Festival. And the list goes on.)

And my social anxiety didn’t cripple me, threatening to keep me locked up in a tiny space for all eternity. I branched out and talked. I made introductions. I tried not to look awkward. And I hope — hope — it worked. (Y’all are still talking to me, so I guess I didn’t freak you out too badly.)

The confidence I’ve gained through meeting people online and forming friendships is what allowed me to join OkCupid, the dating site through which I met Spencer. With the encouragement of friends and my parents, I realized that no, not everyone on the Internet is a raging psychopath poised to shank us. I mean, look at all of us! We’re awesome! We talk all the time, friends, and all on the Internet! It’s crazy. It’s amazing. And it was the knowledge that people are often the same “in real life” as they are through the web that allowed me to push my anxiety off and meet Spence. (And I’m darn happy, let me tell you.)

This is a long post and I apologize — but this is all to say that basically, blogging has made my life awesome. Thank you for the countless emails, Twitter replies, comments and shows of support, large or small. It’s through the people I’ve met, the experiences we’ve shared, the things we’ve accomplished and the confidence I’ve gained that has enriched my life in countless, countless ways.

And thanks for these, because I don’t know if I said it boldly enough early; I get teary-eyed looking at them. Congratulations to Jen at Devourer Of Books and Steph Su of Steph Su Reads, the winners in our categories — y’all rock, as do the many, many talented folks who contribute to our wonderful book blogosphere as a whole! Happy Book Blogger Appreciation Week to everyone. Here’s to the happy, bookish and delightful years to come.


BBAW: First Treasure

The fun has arrived! Today marks the start of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, five days of fun celebrating the hard work, dedication and zaniness of folks who spend their days (and nights, and weekends) discussing, analyzing and promoting the written word.

If you’re new to write meg!, welcome — I’m Meg, an editor, writer and — yes! — book blogger from Maryland. I love long walks on the beach, pumpkin spice lattes and cupcakes. Lots of them. If I can have or do any combination of those things and have a book in my hand, I’m a happy lady.

Our first day of BBAW prompts, “We invite you to share with us about a great new book blog you’ve discovered since BBAW last year! If you are new to BBAW or book blogging, share with us the very first book blog you discovered. Tell us why this blog rocks your socks off and why you keep going back for more.”

Through the course of any given day, many book blogs keep me entertained with great reviews, thought-provoking discussions and, above all, awesome content. Since the start of last year’s BBAW, which I discussed here, I’ve started spending plenty of time with a variety of bloggers — and their wonderful sites! But I can’t mention new ones without bringing up the tried-and-true favorites. So, because I’m me, I’ll make two lists.


Meg’s fresh finds


Chick Lit Is Not Dead Liz and Lisa, novelists themselves, run a great blog dedicated to promoting — what else? — chick lit and women’s fiction authors through interviews, reviews and giveaways. And their giveaways? Fan-freakin’-tastic. And constant. Don’t miss out — I won an audio version of Emily Giffin’s Heart Of The Matter earlier this year.

The Book Chick — Jonita’s blog is filled with fresh, interesting reviews on all the books I love to read, and I rarely leave without adding a hefty amount to my wishlist! She always answers the questions I most want to know about a book, too, and her opinion carries tremendous weight with me.

Hist-Fic Chick — Another “Chick” blog, but hey — it works. I only recently discovered Allie’s blog, but I enjoy her way with words and the lovely look of her site. Just as I judge books by their covers, I judge blogs by their layouts. There’s just something . . . incredibly harmonious about it.


Can’t forget the classics


Austenprose — Laurel Ann is my go-to for all things Austen, and I’m never left unsatisfied after stopping by Austenprose. Her informative, fun posts keep me in the know on all things regarding our dear Miss Jane, and I’m fortunate to call her a friend.

Book, Line, and Sinker — Natalie is one of my closest bloggy buds and her posts on everything from taking better photos of your TBR stack to crafting envelopes from old book pages are as fun as they are inspirational. I love her witty sense of humor and succinct, intelligent book reviews, always trusting what she has to say. And she introduced me to Marcus Flutie so, you know . . . I owe her a huge debt of gratitude. A formal invitation to the marrige of Meg and Marcus is forthcoming.

The Infinite Shelf — In addition to being an incredibly nice person, Kay is another blogger whose opinion I know I can always rely on. We have very similar tastes in young adult and contemporary fiction, and I can’t get enough of her hilarious comics and gorgeous photography! Seriously, she’s a master. I die in envy each time I see one of her travel posts. Die.

Steph Su Reads — Steph is another blogger I trust whole-heartedly and so look forward to her reviews! She manages to say something intelligent and kind about even the most not-so-interesting-sounding reads, and I really appreciate her insights on the books I’ve loved and ones I hope to read someday. Her blog is another I can’t leave without adding a million books to my TBR stack.