Saturday, September 19, 2009


It was one year ago today that I published the very first post of This Book and I Could Be Friends.

Many have said that they were inspired to start blogging by other book bloggers. But I actually had no idea the book blogosphere even existed when I first started out. In fact, I had never read a single blog of any category. My inspiration to begin this project came from unexpected quarters: a job interview for an industry magazine in which the interviewer expressed astonishment at the fact that, while I claimed to enjoy writing and had dreams of becoming a novelist, I never actually wrote anything. "You don't even have a blog?" she asked. It was then that I realized how lame I looked.

I had graduated from college that June and had a ton of papers that I was very proud of, including some reader's reports from an internship with Open Letter Press. At the moment, they were being stored in a flash drive sitting in a dark drawer with all my desk supplies. Well! Why not post them online? I thought. What a great idea! So that's all This Book and I Could Be Friends was at first: me posting stuff I had written in college. It was pretty easy: just tweak the formatting a bit (i.e. double-spaced to single) and add some HTML.

The name for this blog, by the way, came from one of my friend Caitlin's Facebook albums of her study abroad time in Japan. There was a photo of a funny-looking bird in Ueno Zoo. "I think this bird and I could be good friends," someone posted on September 16, 2008. "It's a Secretary Bird," Caitlin replied. "They're pretty much the closest living thing to velociraptors and they stomp their prey to death. So awesome."

I received my first comment on October 3, 2008 from Mrs. C. of How Do We Tell Ourselves the Truth? She is a high school English teacher who had set up her own blog to supplement her classroom reading. She was also my very first follower.

At this time, I still had no knowledge of the book blogging world. Despite the name, I intended this blog to be rather generalized: I wrote a bit about fashion, music, and current events too. But by November 2008, my focus was narrowing. I don't remember how exactly I became aware of book blogging, but I had a good idea by the start of 2009 of what I wanted this blog to be: a book blog with a focus on translated fiction. I had already posted about quite a few translated works I had read during my time with Open Letter Press. As I slowly familiarized myself with other book blogs, however, I kept noticing the same titles popping up on different blogs, which kind of bugged me. I realized that, in order to stand out, I needed a niche, and then remembered Chad Post telling us about how America just does not read international literature.

I was first contacted, however, by self-published author named Ara 13. He left a comment on my Watchmen post, probably because I discussed metafiction, which is a prominent feature in Ara 13's works. I received a copy of his award-winning Drawers & Booths, which I reviewed here. I then received my very first ARC: Ara's Fiction. I felt rather established now, so I contacted Open Letter Press and began receiving ARC's from them, as well as Simon & Schuster.

So from there I've worked my way up, slowly but steadily gaining more exposure. I've made some stupid mistakes, like accidentally accusing an author of plagiarism and trying to make a point about reading and doing it very badly (specifically: I mentioned another blog and got chastised for it). But you learn. I have also met some amazing people! In fact, my participation in the 2666 read-along was something of a breakthrough. It was the first time I ever really connected with other book bloggers. I can't wait to start the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy read-along with the same group!

Overall, I am very optimistic about my endeavors. I look forward to another great year in blogging and would like to thank everyone who has supported me and enriched my experiences! Thanks so much guys! (Book Blogger Appreciation Week couldn't have come at a better time!)


Leslie said...

Happy Blogiversary!!!

It was so interesting to read your blog story. I love reading your blog and all the thoughtful things you have to say about books!

Kristin Lavransdatter finally came in the mail! It's so beautiful! I can't get enough of it and I really can't wait to start reading it.

E. L. Fay said...

I haven't ordered Kristin yet but I can't wait to read it. Apparently it's modernist historical fiction.

I'm glad you liked my blog story. Hopefully this coming year will give me more great stories to tell!

Emily said...

Bon anniversaire! (...du blog.) :-)

I'm psyched that so many people are excited about Kristin. Really takes the bite out of the end of 2666.

Here's to many happy returns of the day!

Gavin said...

Congratulations E.L.! I can't wait for Kristin..

Frances said...

Happy times! Congrats on that first year, mistakes and all. We love having you around. Can't wait for Kristin. My doorstop arrived this week. Happy reading!

JoAnn said...

Happy First Blogiversary!! So nice that it coincided with with BBAW. Glad I found your blog!

Mrs. C said...

Congrats,elf, and it is my continuing pleasure to read you. It was through this page that I met Ara 13, too, and his D&B had a profound effect on my kids as they ended their high school careers with me last June. How fortuitous for us all that a nudge from an interviewer should throw you out here onto the 'webs, which is, of course, the frontier for publishing. You, my dear, are a writer, and you are being read. All my best.

E. L. Fay said...

Emily, Gavin, Frances, JoAnn: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. JoAnn: you should consider participating in our Kristin read-along!

Mrs. C: Maybe with my new contacts now I can begin a CAREER in publishing once the economy improves! Oh, to live in New York City!

Diane said...

I think you have been doing a great job with your blog. Many more happy years sharing your love of books with us.

JoAnn said...

Where is the Kristin Lavransdatter read-along? I read the first book a few years ago and loved it. Have been meaning to finish the other two ever since...may have to reread the first one at this point, though!

E. L. Fay said...

Diane: Many thanks! I plan to keep at this for awhile!

JoAnn: You can read more about the read-along here on Richard's blog (which I strongly recommend).

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