Welcome to Melissa's Bookshelf, Amanda! Why don't you tell us a little about yourself? Anything at all--bookish, or not :-)
Well, to start, I'm a huge science nerd and dog lover who lives in Columbus, Ohio. Go Buckeyes! I have two Weimaraners and they are practically my kids. My husband and I volunteer with a rescue group and anyone that knows me will tell you I'm an advocate for adopting shelter dogs. I've been married for about a year and a half to a wonderful guy and we coach swimming together, which is how we met 4 years ago. And it's pretty obvious I love to read, right? :)
What made you decide to start your book blog? How long have you been blogging now?
I have a personal blog that I've been posting on and off for about a year, and I found myself posting more often about books and what I was reading. On top of that, friends and family started asking more and more frequently for recommendations, so I decided to branch off and devote a blog just to books. I've been a book blogger for just about two months now, so I'm relatively new on the scene.
What genres do you like to read and review on your blog?
I read a little bit of everything. Too much of any one kind of book quickly makes me bored with reading. I try not to read too many of the same authors back to back either, for fear of seeing repetitive patterns. During my commutes to work, I usually have a non-fiction CD in the car that are on a wide range of topics. Occasionally I'll revisit a Young Adult novel that I missed out on years ago. Most of the time though, you'll find me reading semi-popular fiction published in the last 20 years.
What kind of a review/rating system do you use?
I keep track of ratings through GoodReads.com but I don't include ratings on my blog. My goal is to pique the interest of others through my reviews, so at this time I don't feel the need to include number of stars along with my impression of the book. If certain parts of a book bug me, I say so; if certain parts move me, I try my best to do the book justice.
What are your favorite reads of 2009 (so far)?
Oh goodness! Where do I start? Columbine is hands down my favorite non-fiction. It is so incredibly researched and well done. Atul Gawande's Complications and Better are close behind. I also loved The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, The Thirteenth Tale, Pillars of the Earth, The Last Bridge, and The Road. They all have interesting and curious characters in common.
What memes and features do you participate in? Which one is your favorite?
I really like Miz B's Teaser Tuesday where you share a sentence or two from a random page of your current read. Most of the time when I am perusing for new books, I want to know something unique without revealing too much. Teaser Tuesday does just that. Also, I recently started my own meme, Flashback Friday. I won an Advanced Copy of After You by Julie Buxbaum and the main character Ellie is described as always having a book associated with certain big events in her life. I am similar in that I can usually remember what I was reading when something prominent or memorable happened. So, Flashback Friday is all about sharing a book you were reading at an interesting time in your life and telling a little about both.
How do you market your blog?
Since I'm still relatively new, most of my audience is composed of family and Facebook friends. I recently joined Twitter and have found quite a few other book bloggers there. No billboards just yet!
What makes your blog unique from other book blogs?
For me to become interested in a book, it doesn't take much. Sometimes I notice a catchy title or cover art, or a unique premise or storyline. I try to write reviews similar to those I like to read, and far too often I've had a book spoiled by a review with too much plot detail. I try my best to post reviews that discuss the book as it relates to current events and how it affects my life, and don't necessarily reiterate information you could find on the inside cover. Often I assume others have a basic understanding of the book premise and strive to interest them without telling too much of what happens.
What advice do you have for anyone looking to start a book blog (or any blog at all)?
I believe this applies to most things in life -- have fun and be yourself! If you set out trying to be anything else, the blog will feel like a chore rather than a rewarding outlet. Some days I don't feel like blogging, so I don't make myself. I'd much rather wait and come back when I am inspired. It's better that way.
Thanks for swapping interviews, Amanda!