A History of ….. Book Reviewing

I have touched on this subject tangentially when I talked about my History of Journaling and Reading but have not done a “A History of ….” post for this specific subject. After some digging it would appear that I did write on this back in ’16 when I was still at Booklikes.com. That post, “16 Years of Book Recording” had as much to do with my journey to finding Booklikes as anything. A lot of the contents from that post will be included here but since many of you weren’t around then, it will be all new. And if you were around, do you REALLY remember one single post of mine from 5 years ago? I didn’t even remember it for goodness sake! So without further ado, the next entry in Bookstooge’s A History of …… Series.

In April 2000 I began tracking what I read. I started with a little Mead 3×5 spiral notebook, much like one of these:

In it, I simply noted the date/day, title, author and genre.  Mind you, this was before Goodreads was even a thought [that I’m aware of] and reviews tended to be either word of mouth or by professionals in a newspaper. I wasn’t reviewing but simply recording what I’d read, so that I wouldn’t spend “precious” reading time reading the same thing over by mistake. That had happened several times in Bible School. As my mortality was now within my gaze (I did a lot of growing up during those 3 years], I realized that I didn’t have time to accidentally re-read books, and this was before the plague of indie dreck inundated the reading world. It was also a natural outgrowth of my journaling every day during those 3 years.

In 2004-5, blogging hit my social group and we all began our own blogs and for about a year it was an explosion of words. Things began to wind down and I thought about how else I might make use of blogger. It was also at this point that my notebook began falling apart and I realized I needed to replace it. The thought of writing it all down, AGAIN, was not a nice prospect. So I decided to start typing it, at least that way it would stay online. Thus began a journey that was messy and that I’m still cleaning up today. I ended up doing one big monthly post and then at the end of the year combined them all into one ginormous annual post. Separating them into individual posts is what my Under Construction project here at WP has been all about (aye yi yi, the things you learn as you go along!)

In 2007 I joined Devilreads but didn’t really start utilizing it until 2009. Even then, I never made more than a literal handful of friends and I think it stayed in the single digits. In 2012 I actually stopped Recording my books at Blogspot and started using Devilreads exclusively. I had some real adventures while on that platform, like an author calling me out to fisticuffs and a fan telling me to stick my hand in a blender, plus some other crap. However, in ’13, with the free speech ban, I left GR. No platform that is about book reviewing gets to tell its users what must or must not be in their reviews.

When I left Devilreads, I found a new place called Booklikes.com. Having learned my lesson however, I also joined up with WordPress, Librarything, Leafmarks and began recording my reviews at blogspot again. WP, LT and Blogger were all backups and I didn’t actually interact on those sites. Booklikes was a combination of Book Reviews with a Database and Blogging all rolled into one place. It was absolutely great, until it wasn’t. Over the next couple of years the owners pretty much abandoned the site and it began to become non-functional and taken over by spam accounts. A lot of devoted fans poured their heart and energy into trying to make it viable but by late ’16 I’d had enough. Leafmarks had Folded by June 2016 as well. By November I made the Jump to WordPress full time.

I began using LT in 2013 as a backup and when Booklikes and Leafmarks folded, I began trying to be social on LT. Over the years I tried time and again to make LT my social site but its socialness is based on groups and I do not interact well with groups. It has culminated in me simply giving up on LT for any sort of social interaction. The one good thing about LT is that because it is a book database (unlike WordPress), you can export/import reviews as CSV files. I did that in ’16 which led me to yet another backup plan, but this time offline.

Calibre. An offline ebook manager which I had been using for years. Turns out, I could re-purpose it to store my reviews and back them up. Because it is a database, I can search it so much easier than any of my online places. And it has a cover grid so I can simply look at covers and jog my memory that way too. I use it a LOT when searching for specific books or authors or date data. It is a wonderful utility to have under my belt. No way I could reference books the way I do without it.

I created my WP account in 2013 and mirrored my reviews from Booklikes. In late 2016 I moved and began blogging here full time. It soon became evident that the foundation of my blog, the reviews, were in a real right mess. I began Working on the Site in 2018. Since then I have cleaned up and edited my reviews from the present all the way back to 2003. Just a couple of more years worth of data to manage and then I can think about some other blog and book related project.

Just in case you were wondering how an old review looks compared to a new one, here’s a link to the first book I recorded reading back in 2000 and one for the latest that I posted at the beginning of this month:

And that should be a wrap. If you have any questions, or want to leave a comment, by all means, please do so.

40 thoughts on “A History of ….. Book Reviewing

  1. Cool post. You’ve been around.

    I started reading books around 2007 or so. By 2009 I used a Microsoft Excel fine to record all the books I read by author, title, year of publication and rating. Added some statistics. I still use that same Excel sheet. I tried blogging on Blogger for a year and then lost interest. That was in… 2012 or so. Then in 2015 I started this blog on WordPress. I recently used Calibre to read an ebook, but other than that I am not familiar with it. Also, I have no idea about LibraryThing and BookLikes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you.

      I suspect that if I hadn’t found blogger back in the day, I’d have gone the Excell route too. and if it weren’t for Calibre now, I’d go excel for my offline library. But calibre lets me do so much and allows me to add a nice looking cover, so the visuals are nicer than in excel 😀

      Do you keep a backup of your excel sheet?


      1. It‘s just the sort of info about my online friends I‘m interested in … so naturally something is * bound * to stick — and I was (am) profoundly impressed with the notebooks. I‘ve always been a ravenous reader, but until a Very short time ago, notebooks to keep track of things wouldn‘t even have occurred to me …!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. That was interesting. I started my booksite back in 1998 and it was always just a personal website, not on any platform. Now I used WordPress just because it makes things easier, most of the time. Was never tempted by Devilreads.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Did you use a paysite from the get-go? I started using blogger because it was free. I couldn’t justify paying for a website then and even now, with the issues I had with going dotcom earlier, it wasn’t worth the hassle to me.

      Do you belong to any movie reviewing sites?


      1. No, originally I did it all myself. But I just wasn’t up-to-speed enough to keep things going that way.

        I don’t write for any other sites but my own. Is that what you mean by belonging to movie reviewing sites?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So you coded your own site? Impressive!

          Kind of. I just wondered if you copy/pasted your reviews to any other places. For example, Lashaan at Bookidote belongs to some movie/tv place where he can keep track of all the stuff he watches and he puts his reviews there and on his blog. No clue what the place is called though.


          1. I did know the basics of HTML. But I didn’t keep up, and things changed. Using a platform is a lot easier.

            No, I don’t cross post on any other sites. But that sort of thing probably helps build an audience.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You have surely been around in the blogosphere (or thereabouts…)! 🙂
    The “hand in the blender” incident sounds exactly like the kind of snide comment (and I’m being diplomatic here) one makes when the web makes them faceless and oh-so-bold… I’m glad you found a better community here at WP 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thankfully, the older I’m getting, the less hopping about I’m doing, or even willing to do. And since I’ve been at WP for 5 years now, that’s a good sign.

      And I agree. Being nameless and faceless does bad things to people. Which is why I try to do posts like this to make me human AND to remind myself that others aren’t nameless and faceless either.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post!

    I can kinda relate, a few years back when I was getting into anime and manga, no matter what I want to keep a record of all the mangas I read so that I can keep a memory of them. I just kept a small diary where I wrote short reviews of mangas that impacted me the most so that whenever I read it again, I can cherish all the thoughts I had during it. It was a great way for me to keep a record of things but I figured using a online list is much more convenient and I left my diary and moved onto online.

    Reviews on my blog was something I never considered but happy that I got into that because now I’m having a lot of fun sharing my opinions a lot of people. I’m glad that my first resort was WP, that’s a lot of sites you went through but glad you finally found a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Egg! Glad to have you comment 😉

      I am glad to hear you had your own journey but for your sake I am glad it wasn’t as protracted as mine, hahahaa!

      Have you found a good rhythm to your writing and posting yet or are you still trying to figure that out?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I would say I’m doing well right now. Everything I write makes sense, so that’s glad to know and it’s glad to know that people are taking time to read my posts. I’m happy to be in a community where everybody is encouraging each other, your advices have really helped me out.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. I started blogging in 2012 and I think your blog was one of the first one’s I followed as it covered reviews on books, and I enjoyed your writing and honest opinions. You’ve had a great journey, keep up the great work. The blogging landscape has changed a lot since then, I tend to review Film, TV, and comic books mostly, and I still love it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I do know that in my followers list you’re right amongst those from the earliest point 😀

      Things certainly have changed. For so many on so many levels. Just gotta ride it out I guess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, same here, you were one of my first followers her on WordPress. Things have changed a lot but I think blogging is still one of the most positive aspects on this modern media age. I started blogging just as a hobby and it led to lots of opportunities for me in other areas. I’ve been very lucky. I still love blogging, I might not post as much these days, I just write what I want when I want, but I’m always here reading and interacting when I can. That’s still my favourite aspect of blogging 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I really enjoy reading posts like this one. I like getting a glimpse into other people’s journeys. Yours is a long and compelling one, you’ve certainly been around the blogosphere. So your main goal is to keep a record of everything you’ve read? It must be a heck of a lot by now. Your amount of reading always impresses me, and as someone else commented, I like your frank and honest style. Do you still use the spiral notebooks as a physical backup to your online reviews? If not, do you miss it?

    I don’t know why but there’s something about spiral notebooks that really appeals to me. I keep a very basic journal in which I keep a note of books read, things watched, reviews written, videos recorded, that kind of stuff. I’m not even sure why I do it. There’s just something about writing it down that feels good for me. I’m waffling now, just wanted to say “nice post!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yep, the goal is to have a record of everything I read, good, bad and the ugly. I passed the 3800 mark this year so I should be hitting the 4000 mark either late next year or early ’23 😀

      I do not still record this stuff into a notebook. I do journal still, but that has it’s own History of Post that I did a year or two ago, so it’s pretty up to date.

      For me, the impermanence of the spiral notebook is what keeps me away from it.

      Thanks! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a journey. It’s nice to see it neatly depicted in one post. It shows all the niggles you encountered and what you require as a reader/reviewer/blogger. Anything seems possible at this point and hopefully we’ll enjoy what we’re doing no matter what platform we decide to stick to! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve simply gotten to the point where I don’t want things to change. Even while fully knowing they will.

      And if I have to go to some other place than WP someday, then I will. But I will bellyache about it the entire time and tell anyone who will listen just how tough my life is because of it 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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