On being a book blogger

It has been a while now since I first decided to actually start calling myself a book blogger. I have always written about books here at Is That You Darling, but making a conscious decision to call myself a book blogger was an important step for me, as before that I felt as though I was losing my way as a blogger a little bit.

So since I added the words ‘Book blogger’ to my sidebar, I have been trying to incorporate as much bookish bits as possible. I’m lucky enough to be sent various books by publishers for review, so along with anything I buy myself and borrow from the library, I have been writing as many reviews as possible. Of the 33 books I have read so far this year, I’ve reviewed eighteen of them, and there are three more to come in the next few days. I’ve reviewed everything I’ve read since the start of May, and I’d like to say that there will be posts for every book I read for the rest of the year, but I know better than to make such promises!

Elsewhere, I’ve posted about my long library lists, and I’ve taken part a couple of times in The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesday posts.

I feel as though I am still finding my feet as a book blogger, and indeed reviewer. I write book reviews for Essex Life, and my word count is so minimal that I have to be very clever about how I write them. With my blog, I don’t have a word limit, and I find that I have a tendency to waffle on. It can be hard to synopsise the book and offer an critical opinion without using a lot of words, and I definitely think I am still learning the art of the well-worded review.

I’m also trying to decide if I want to continue giving star ratings on Goodreads. I’ve been wondering this for a while; I’m reluctant to stop, because I know people use it as a quick way of deciding whether or not I might recommend a particular book. But I really don’t like the idea of reducing a book down into a perfunctory number out of five. Goodreads also doesn’t allow you the option of giving a half star, so while I often think that a book might not warrant three stars, but isn’t as bad as two stars might suggest, Goodreads won’t let me show you that!

So after much consideration, I’ve decided that the best way to solve this is to only apply ratings to books that I feel are four or five star books. Anything lower than a four won’t get a rating. I’ll see how I feel in a few months, but I think this is probably the system that will work best for me.

So in the future, you can expect to see a lot more book reviews, and more general bookish posts. I’m also hoping to film some more videos. I toyed with the idea of dipping my toe into general lifestyle vlogs, but for now I think I will just stick with the booktuber side of things, and see how I get on. I’m also hoping to visit some beautiful libraries during the rest of the year, and write about them. There will be some aesthetic changes to the blog in the next couple of weeks (fingers crossed), but the content will remain as bookish as ever, and even more so, hopefully!

Knowing stuff


That’s a selfie I took with the statue of George Washington at the National Gallery. I look terrible, but I was more concerned with making sure he was completely in shot. ~

I’m pretty clever. I am not the most intelligent person in the world, but neither am I stupid. I like being clever, I like that people think I am clever. Nobody is ever going to describe me as the pretty one, or the funny one, or the bubbly one, but sometimes I am described as the clever one (depending on the situation, of course). I like this. I have never had any self-confidence when it comes to the way I look, ever since I realised that people judge you on the way you look, I have assumed that people are judging me negatively. But I’ve never, ever thought that I wasn’t good enough when it comes to my brain.

Even writing all that makes me feel a little uncomfortable, because I find it hard to talk about myself in such a positive way. I assume that people will think that I’m boasting. But I don’t think it is boasting, really, because it’s the truth. I don’t think I am more intelligent than the next person, and I certainly don’t think that being clever makes me better than anyone else. But it is something that I value about myself, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.

So I think it’s time to call a moratorium on the tendency some people have say things like “I’m a loser” or “I know it’s sad” because they are interested in or particularly knowledgeable about a certain subject. I’ve read blog posts, seen tweets and been around people who have displayed knowledge about something, and then said “Wow, I’m a loser for knowing that.” Firstly, no you’re not. Nobody is ever a loser, or sad, or uncool for knowing anything. How can knowledge be uncool?

Secondly, and the main reason for my disdain of people who choose to express themselves in such a way, is that I don’t actually believe they think they are sad. I think it’s faux modesty, wrapped up in those words to make people think, “Wow, she/he is really, really clever!” Which they are. If you know all of the US Presidents in chronological order, you’re pretty clever. Or at least you’re committed enough to make an effort to learn them all. But don’t pretend you don’t think it’s cool.

(I would add that I think there’s a different between intelligence and knowing facts. I don’t think that being able to reel off a list of world capitals is a measure of intelligence, as such, though I think the ability to do so certainly comes from having a certain level of intellect.)

So please, please resist the urge to pretend that you think that knowing stuff makes you a loser. You know it doesn’t, you know it makes you just a little bit awesome. There’s no need to show off, of course, but if you know something that someone else doesn’t know, modestly own it, and admit that you love knowing stuff. Knowing stuff is the best. I love knowing stuff.

BEDM ~ Blog Chat

Today’s topic is all about blogging, suggesting that maybe I should share some of my best blogging tips. I am part of a blogging group on Facebook, and there are often people on there sharing their tips, and a lot of people looking for advice. I don’t always offer advice, more often than not I read the posts too late to offer anything new, but it’s great that there are such places where people can go to ask questions from people who are more than happy to help.


Five Blogging Tips

  • Write about the things you are interested in. As I’ve mentioned before, since the start of the year, I have really tried to focus my blog on books, because I love reading more than almost anything else. It’s easy to write a book review, or about a list of books I want to read, because that’s what I spend my time thinking about. When I get dressed in the morning, I don’t care that much about what I am putting on, and I certainly don’t enjoy shopping in the same way I used to, so why do I think I’d be any good at writing about fashion? There might still be the odd outfit post on here (I do have a silly 32 Before 32 goal to meet, after all), but if you want fashion tips, you’re in the wrong place!
  • Don’t feel bad about accepting items for review or sponsored posts. I’ve gone backwards and forwards on this kind of thing before, but here’s my definitive position on it. If you are lucky enough to be offered items for review or money for writing a post, and you feel comfortable accepting, go for it! I consider it a compliment that companies think I might be able to influence my readers in such a way. However, for my own part, I don’t read blogs where every post is sponsored or in collaboration with the brand. It doesn’t give me any confidence in the blogger, I don’t think they believe in the product or service they are writing about, I think they are just taking money for anything.
  • Allow your blog to be exactly what you want it to be. If that means that you want to post every day, and you want to be so organised that you have a week’s worth of posts scheduled, that’s great. If you want to blog once a week and you just want to write a stream of consciousness and press post, that’s fine too. Blogging is, for most people, a hobby, a creative outlet, a way of connecting with other people, and if it’s not your main source of income, you shouldn’t let yourself become stressed out by it. I’ve learnt that mistake the hard way!
  • Read other blogs. This is an obvious one, really, but it’s great advice because by reading other blogs, you’ll be inspired! You’ll see something on another blog that will really resonate with you and make you want to write a post. You’ll also probably see something on another blog that will make you reach for your bank card and spend a load of money online, but that’s just something you have to live with as a blogger! The big world of blogging is, for the most part, a lovely community, and by reading and commenting on other blogs, you’ll feel part of that community.
  • Get involved. As I mentioned, I’m part of a UK Bloggers group on Facebook, and it’s great for sharing advice and tips, having a moan, finding other bloggers to follow and sharing links. I also connect with a lot of bloggers on Twitter, through the various hashtags (#lbloggers, #bbloggers, #fbloggers and many, many more!), and from time to time, I get involved with the chats. Of course, the more you share your link, the better your stats will look, but it’s about more than that. It’s about finding people who are interested in the same things as you, and who understand why you want to take a photo of your dessert when you go out for dinner (“It’s for my blog!”)


Now, I don’t kid myself that most bloggers don’t already know all of these things already. I don’t think I’ve hit upon any secret formula to make blogging as fun as it can be, but I do think that most of the time, people need to be reminded that blogging is supposed to be about writing, having fun and connecting with people. So that’s my advice to anyone who is either thinking of starting a blog, or those who have been blogging for years. Find the fun!


Blogger Best Friends ~ Charlie and Leah

Today I am starting a brand new feature, called Blogger Best Friends. I know that a lot of bloggers have developed some really great friendships through their blogs, so I thought I’d celebrate that, and ask some bloggers to tell me about their Blogger Best Friend (BBF).

First up we have Charlie from The Runner Beans and Leah from Naturally Leah. I asked them to write a post talking about how they met and why they love each other, and this is what they had to say.

How did you meet?

Charlie: I started following Leah on Twitter, and we began chatting about various running events in London. Leah saw my blog and commented on a post about my recent trip to New Zealand – giving us lots to talk about immediately.

Leah: I’m pretty sure Charlie first tweeted me as she had been at the same Nike Flyknit run as me (my recap here, Charlie’s recap here) – but we didn’t know each other then. I started reading her blog and seen she had been to New Zealand over Christmas (which excited me no end) – before I knew it we were tweeting each other regularly and decided to meet up.

When did you first meet in real life?

Charlie: At a Boutique Sport run club, one very wet March evening!

Leah: I was a regular member at the Boutique Sport run club, where I had met lots of Twitter-runner friends. Charlie decided to come along and I spotted her straight away and went up and introduced myself. We ended up running together and chatting the whole way – which resulted in some very sore ab muscles the next day. Since then, we haven’t stopped running (and chatting) together since!


Why is being Blogger Best Friends awesome?

Charlie: Because she gets it. She doesn’t think I’m nerdy, or obsessed with running (ok, a little obsessed) like some of my other friends. Leah is great as a sounding board for blog ideas, techy stuff and life advice.

Leah: Because we can talk about all the blog and running stuff that our other friends don’t. We can get into in-depth techy conversations, we can bounce ideas and get creative together and we support each other’s initiatives and posts.

Why do you love each other?

Charlie: Because I can convince her to sign up for races to do with me, we encourage each other to go out for a run even when we don’t want to, and I can pick her brain for advice about anything! We are in constant contact on text, email, whatsapp, facebook, twitter, instagram and about any other site that we’re friends on! I know she’s one of my biggest fans, she even once waited for ages in the rain for me to finish a 24 mile race!

I love that our boyfriends are now friends, and moan about our running to each other! At a recent run, another friend listened to them complaining to each other (about us!) for ages without realising they were being overheard!

My two favourite days together were when we went to the Isle of Wight for lunch. My boyfriend, a pilot, flew us there and Leah screamed the whole way! I also loved the Zest 10K challenge, where we took our time running around the course, taking photos and attempting obstacles, then went for a slap up pub lunch in Henley!

Leah: Charlie has the most infectious enthusiasm, and can convince me and motivate me to try and do almost anything. Whenever I don’t want to go for a run, I know that a text or a tweet from Charlie will convince me otherwise.

We never run out of things to talk about, and enjoy so many similar activities – I know she is always up for anything even if it is the craziest class ever. We even tried a Flying Trapeze class together!

Sometimes Charlie can be a bad influence – and our boyfriends don’t seem to like us hanging out too much because we come home with some new off the wall race we want to do together – but that’s all part of the fun. My two favourite days together have been when Charlie took me running along her favourite path in London – the Thames tow path. It was so beautiful and such an energising experience – I love that she is always trying to show me new sides of London to help me fall in love with this city. The other day was more recently – it was when Charlie ran the New York Marathon. Even though I couldn’t be there in person to cheer her on, I was glued to my TV screen watching the coverage, and my iPhone app tracking her every move. I live-tweeted her progress to keep our friends up to date – and had tears of joy and pride when I saw she had crossed the finish line. Charlie did amazingly well, and is such an inspiration to me!

Charlie and I have had some fabulous experiences together, have so much in common, and I know that our friendship will be lifelong. I feel so incredibly lucky that our blogs have brought us together!

Thanks so much to Charlie and Leah for being my first Blogger Best Friend pair! Don’t forget to check out their blogs and go say hi on Twitter – @charliedwatson and @leahnaturally.

If you’d like to get involved and tell everyone about your Blogger Best Friend, please do get in touch!