Being a book lover does not preclude one from pursuing other passions. In fact, for some readers, books bring a whole new level of appreciation to their other favorite pass times, and vice versa.
Book bloggers David Gutowski, Josh Christie, and Vera Marie Badertscher are three such individuals. For each of them, blogging is the perfect outlet for combining their loves of literature with their loves for a little something else – music, beer, and travel respectively. Along the way, they’ve entertained and enriched the lives of countless of their readers.
Learn about each of them, and how they came to be bloggers of books and more, below:
David Gutowski of LargeHeartedBoy
David Gutowski of the blog, Largehearted Boy.
From the “about the blog” – Largehearted Boy is a music blog featuring daily free and legal music downloads as well as news from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture.
Which love came first, books or music?
Books were my first love. Growing up, there were always books in my house of all age levels, and my parents (both voracious readers) encouraged me to read from an early age.
How do you choose the books/authors for Book Notes? Are they books you are already reading, and you approach the authors to participate, or do you get submissions from authors? Or do they just happen?
When the series began in 2005, I would approach publishers about specific titles I had read and enjoyed. Now I am sent a multitude of books every week by publishers, publicists and authors to choose from. I still only choose books I personally enjoy for the series, though, and often get good suggestions from bloggers, friends, and even booksellers.
Not surprisingly, publicists have come to recognize my taste (the series mostly features literary fiction and nonfiction), so the bulk of my review pile consists of good candidates for the series. Over the past couple of years authors who have already contributed to the series have been probably the most surprising source of new submissions.
I don’t accept unsolicited submissions by authors or publicists. My criteria for inclusion in the series is simple, I have to enjoy the book (and I have been known to be quite picky).
Same question only different – How do you choose the musicians who write Note Books? Do you already know them and ask, or do they ask you if they can?
I have approached a majority of the musicians in the Note Books series directly, I try to focus that series on songwriters I greatly admire.
One of the reasons I started the Book Notes and Note Books series was that I would continually be impressed by music referenced by authors in interviews, and books named by musicians as their favorites. These series not only enlighten the blog’s readers, but also myself.
When starting the series I assumed musicians would be more receptive to writing about books than authors writing about music. I underestimated both the time available to musicians and the music love of writers.
As a rule, do you listen to music while reading?
I do. I keep two baskets of incoming mail just below my stereo in my office, music and books, and sample both throughout the day. I have always been able to multi-task, and reading while listening to music has never been a problem for me.
What’s your all time favorite pairing of music and book?
A friend of mine just asked me what music would pair well with Flannery O’Connor short stories, and I recommended anything by Sigur Ros. I tested the combination yesterday and found that Icelandic indie rock plus Southern Gothic fiction works remarkably well together.
Are you excited about the changes taking place in the publishing world? What hopes/fears do you have for books, authors, and readers?
I love the way authors are increasingly leveraging the internet to get direct access to their readers. Whether it is their own websites, forums, blogs, or guest essays and interviews. I am incredibly excited to see authors both approachable and humanized through their online interaction.
I worry that as a whole, people are reading less, but I never lose sleep over the quality of writing today. I am amazed almost every day by books from presses big and small.
My biggest concern is the plight of the independent bookstore in the digital age, especially with the growing use of e-books.
Largehearted Boy: http://blog.largeheartedboy.com/
Josh Christie of Brews and Books
of the blog Brews and Books
From the “about the blog” – Brews and Books is a site for everyone’s inner Hemingway – a site about books with a healthy passion for alcohol. Er, maybe a better example is everyone’s inner Sam Calagione, an English-major-turned-brewer. Wait, that isn’t perfect either. BrewsAndBooks.com is a site for everyone that loves a good book in one hand and a good beer in the other. The blog first arose out of a desire to share reviews of well-written books and lovingly-brewed beer. The site has evolved slightly from this original purpose, and now shares news in the brewing, publishing, bookselling and beer worlds along with reviews and editorial content.
So, why beer and books? Where did the idea come from, and have you found kindred spirits?
Basically, I didn’t think I had enough to say about either topic by itself. While I’m a lifelong reader and love craft beer, I’d hesitate to call myself an expert on either topic. At the time I started the blog, I knew far less about beer than I do now. While I could talk a bit about the dominant flavors and experience of drinking a beer, I just didn’t know enough about the topic to put out a half-dozen posts a week. Similarly, my job as a bookseller made books a natural topic for me to dive into, but I’ve never been particularly good at talking about books critically. I’d heard from a lot of bloggers that the two most factors in making a good blog are a passion for your topic and the ability to update regularly, and I figured I’d be able to write more if I wasn’t focusing on one niche.
I’ve found a few kindred spirits in other bloggers, authors, and brewers. I tend to focus on independent booksellers and independent breweries, and the entrepreneurial, indie spirit links these industries. If you look at the number of authors that (for good or ill) enjoyed beer a bit too much, or at the number of brewers that have written books (Dogfish’s Sam Calagione even has an English degree), I’m a bit surprised no one jumped on the book and beer idea before me.
What’s your all time fave brew?
This is one that probably changes every week. Although I’d probably get some flak in the beer geek community for saying it, my favorite beer isn’t one of the “white whales” out there; the rare, expensive superbeers that people seek out, wait in line for or buy on eBay. Instead, my fave is one I love for totally sentimental reasons – Alaskan Brewing’s Alaskan Amber.
When I was finishing up my Political Science degree, I spent half of my senior year living out in Juneau, AK. I was travelling alone, I had just turned 21, and I’d be living further from my family than I ever had before. After a long flight from New England to Seattle, I bought a pint of the Amber in Seattle while waiting for my connection to Juneau. It is a simple, crisp and slightly nutty amber ale, and the taste and experience have made it my favorite ever since.
Fave blog (other than your own)?
Whew, that’s a tough question for a guy that gets hundreds of posts in his Google Reader every day. For books, I love independent blogs like Largehearted Boy, Books on the Nightstand, and Bookgasm. For book news and reviews, I always read GalleyCat and the Onion AV Club, and there is stellar content going up from bookstores like Northshire and Inkwell on an almost daily basis. In terms of beer blogs, I’ve really been enjoying the Hop Press on RateBeer.com. I’ll admit that I’m a blogger for the site, but don’t think that’s the only reason it’s a favorite. There baker’s dozen of weekly columnists are some of the best beer writers on the internet, and are diverse in age, location, writing topics and areas of expertise.
Beyond brew and book blogs, I check iFanboy, NPR’s Monkey See, Destructoid, io9 and the Slate blogs every day.
What’s the best thing about blogging on books and beer?
Is it uncool to say the free beer and free books?
In all seriousness, the best thing about the blog is turning people on to good beer and good books. One of the great things about writing on two topics is that beer lovers who may never pick up a book will see book content on my blog and find a new favorite novel.
Similarly, readers who might have never tried good beer – real beer – will end up trying and loving something like a witbier or a chocolat tarted the site because I’m passionate about both topics, and seeing people find a new favorite beer or book because of me is probably the coolest feeling in the world.
Anything about it not to your liking?
Like Gary Vaynerchuk
says, blogging can be hard work. There are thousands of abandoned blogs out there with authors that just lost interest or couldn’t motivate themselves to write, and sometimes I feel like it’d be nice to take a week off and not write about anything. Other than that, I’m sure my complaints are the simple things that every blogger mentions – spam comments, disappearing articles, trolls and technical difficulties. Luckily, there isn’t anything that has made my motivation wane since starting Brews and Books
about ten months ago.
Vera Marie Badertscher of the blog, A Traveler’s Library
From the “about the blog” –SHORT VERSION: Here at the Library, we will wander the globe, in no particular order, ignoring the Dewey Decimal system, the alphabet, continental boundaries, or any other artificial organization.
What inspired you to create a blog devoted to pairing books with travel destinations?
I wanted to start a travel-related blog. Everyone advises blogging about something you love, and travel and books are my two great loves. As I read travel listserves and travel sites with user participation, I noticed that any time someone asked for a suggestion for books to read related to their trip, it generated a long list of replies. I searched the Internet for a web site or blog that provided books that inspire travel and found that while many came close to that subject, none hit it exactly. Voila! I then realized that movies have been as important as books in inspiring travel, so I found a name that would include movies as well as books.
How long has Traveler’s Library been in existence?
I started January 10, 2009.
How do you choose what books/locations to blog about?
Generally I put new books with strong presentation of culture or place at the top of my list, and love to develop contacts in publishing who alert me to their new books that fit; next come those that are on my shelf that I have already read–which means a lot of Greece since that is my main love; next I take the suggestions of my readers. Believe me, my readers have supplied me with enough suggestions to keep a blog going for several years. They are well read and contribute valuable information. Through it all, I keep an eye on current events and historic occasions that I can tie in to the blog posts.
Which of your posts are you proudest of/like best (so far)?
Oh boy, that’s tough. Probably the one I have not written yet–because in my mind they always sound so much better than when they are finished. I am passionate about the subject of my very first post, which concerns the repatriation of ancient artifacts, and the book Loot
. Related to that, I devoted a whole week to literature (and theater) related to Greece
leading up to the opening of the New Acropolis Museum
and my soapbox of getting back the Elgin marbles. Amazingly, my quote from Lord Byron’s Childe Harold
regarding Lord Elgin drew an enormous readership. I enjoy interviewing authors and had a lot of fun with Simon Cox who wrote Decoding the Lost Symbol.
While he is an inveterate researcher who seems to study just about everything, I enjoyed hearing him say that he actually does research as an excuse to travel.I could go on all day. Better stop there, before I list all my posts.
How do you find guest bloggers for your blog?
I meet other bloggers through Twitter and through other social networking tools. When I read the posts of a blogger who writes well and seems to have a feeling for literature and travel, particularly if they have some experience with a part of the world I have not been in, I ask him/her to do a guest blog for me. Also, sometimes people who comment on my blog get roped in.
What book blogs do you love, and why?
I tend to read more travel blogs than book blogs. Just because since I hired myself for this job of reviewing books that influence travel, I don’t have time left over to read outside those lines. That said, I particularly like Angela Nickerson‘s A Gypsy’s Guide. Novel Destinations takes the traveler to the home of an author, or place of famous literature. The Heiroglyphic Streets covers books for the traveler, as I do, but excerpts reviews from around the web. I like their approach, and wish they were better known, actually.
Your favorite travel destination is Greece, but what’s your all time favorite book?
You saw how much trouble I had choosing with your questions up above. With a lifetime of reading, a collection of books that tumbles out of bookshelves onto tables and floors, a well-worn library card–who can choose?
Vera Marie Badertscher
Do you have a favorite book blog? Share it with us in the comments!
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