Blogging – One Year On

Roquesreviews reached its first anniversary last week.  On 25 May 2015 my first book review appeared and now here I am a year on, 26 posts later, reflecting on how it’s going.

26 posts doesn’t sound very impressive, does it?  That’s an average of two a month which, given that the posts are mostly book reviews, is reasonable.  Not a complete disgrace anyway.  But is anyone actually enjoying the blog?  Social Media has been my main source of  readers but to be honest, though there have been a good number of visits and views, the likes can be counted on two hands and that’s pretty dispiriting.  Is there some coffee I need to wake up and smell here?

Cup of coffee

Reluctant to quit,  I’ve been doing some research. I recently stumbled upon WordPress’ ‘Blogging Fundamentals’ course which advises posting answers to various questions whether you’re new to blogging or have been at it for a while.  Today I’m focussing on this one:

Why are you blogging publicly instead of keeping a diary?

  • Predisposition
    The main reason is that I love writing.   Secondly,  I love reading.  The third reason is that I’m a Christian and I want to serve God with these two passions.  So I review the books that have touched my heart and mind in the hope that you might read them too and be encouraged and stimulated whether you share the Christian faith or not.  I keep a diary too as it happens (and have done since the age of 11) but the diary cannot by definition be a blessing to another.   It’s private.  And I want to bless others with my writing not store it up for myself.
  • Inspiration
    I was a late starter when it comes to literature.  It wasn’t until my ‘A’ levels that I really got going and became an avid reader.  Up until then I’d existed mostly on a diet of ‘Malory Towers’ and ‘Flambards’.  Then two English teachers and a friend studying art history, in their very different ways, inspired me.  I discovered Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, Kurt Vonnegut, Milan Kundera, Iris Murdoch, Jean Rees, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, E.M. Forster – the list goes on and on and despite a rejection from Oxford University I went on to study English at St Andrews… and read on.  I enjoyed writing about the books I was reading and have kept records ever since.
  • Conviction
    In the last couple of years I’ve been learning how the Lord can use literature (and the arts more generally) in the life of a believer to his/her own, and others’ encouragement.    Novels, music, paintings and films are not the big bad distraction from the Gospel that I’d always feared but are part of what is sometimes called ‘Common Grace’.  (I’m not talking about ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ here).  What I really want to do by writing this blog is to bless others, Christian or not, by sharing my thoughts on books (and the occasional painting or other art form) and how they have helped me understand and love Jesus more.

My prayer is that you will be helped or encouraged by what you find here.  It will then all be worth while.

 

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A memoir of a childhood

This Boy
by Alan Johnson

This Boy Alan JohnsonA book that I would not normally have chosen, I bought this on a 3 for 2 offer at Heffers bookshop in Cambridge along with a detective novel and a book on literary theory. And now I never want to be heard complaining about my circumstances again – ever. To my shame, I wouldn’t normally go for biography.   Particularly not the biography of a Labour politician.  I’m too easily drawn by the escapism of fiction. However, I was humbled and inspired by this account.  I was left with a sense of having met with the character of Lily, Alan’s mother, named Lily throughout, never ‘mum’ or ‘my mother’ and also with Alan himself.  Not the boy Alan that the writer describes, but the Alan who wrote the book, Alan the writer.  The adult Alan.  Like Pissarro in his impressionist paintings,  he only just peeps into his own work.  I love a person free from the shackles of their own ego and there was a wonderful absence of ego in this piece of writing.  No self-glorification, nor self-congratulation or self-anything.  Just a frank description, at times humorous, at times painfully bleak and moving of a childhood which I for one would not have survived.  Oddly, despite her key role in the story, Alan’s sister Linda did not come alive for me despite being very much alive herself.  It was Lily’s courage and vulnerability and perseverance and unselfishness that came to the fore. Continue reading