We all know how quickly word can spread through the book blogging community. It’s like a lightning round of telephone! One person hits “post” on a particularly heartfelt review and sits back in that post-review quiet and holds her breath. Wondering. Will anyone respond? Will they get the book the way she did. Then someone else reads the review and thinks, “Wow, I really want to track that book down now.” Maybe they go ahead and link to it from Twitter or make a comment about it on someone else’s site. Another person gets the bug and goes out and checks it out or buys it the next day. Soon the reviews and comments are flying and something remarkable has happened. I love watching this particular phenomenon play out most of all when the book in question happens to be one that maybe not so many people know about—an under-the-radar book, an old favorite, some out-of-print darling that sits in a place of honor on your shelf but that you have no one else to talk to about because you literally don’t know a solitary soul who’s actually read it. Maybe you’ve scoured the internets for inexpensive used copies to give as gifts to any receptive friends and family members. You’ve read it over and over and the richness and awesomeosity of it fills you up to bursting every time. And all you want to do is share it or you might explode in a shower of well-chosen words and dog-eared pages.
Just over a year ago I began to realize a growing chunk of the best recommendations I was getting from other bloggers were for books that weren’t the latest rage. Rather, they were for the ones I’d never heard of before. And it occurred to me that there was a slew of old beloved titles I would love to talk about with them. And so Retro Friday was born. I hoped to be able to spend a little precious blog-time discussing a few reads that weren’t Brand New. I also looked forward to these reviews coming from a slightly wider variety of genres than is my norm, as they would be drawn from many years of past reading rather than just what I’m crushing on in the here and now. And, more importantly, perhaps these retro reviews would be more than just reviews. Perhaps they would provide the opportunity to talk on a regular basis about reading influences, reader’s nostalgia, and other topics near and dear to my heart. The whole thing felt downright refreshing. Now, it is in many ways a very self-serving endeavor. I wanted to get other readers to read the books I’ve loved for so long so I could talk about them with others. At the same time, I felt a strong pull to feature books that deserve so much more credit than they’ve gotten. Because with all the buzz about ARCs and early reviews, giveaways and followers, it’s important to remember that—for me at least—book blogging isn’t about who’s read what, when, and how fast. It’s about the entire vast and complicated range of our collective love for stories—no matter what the cover looks like, what genre it’s been labeled, how old the protagonist is, or whether it’s a debut novel or the eighth in a series. I review “old books” because I am fascinated by how we get to be the kind of readers we are and why the books of our lives are the ones they are. In the beautiful words of W.B. Yeats, “I bring you with reverent hands / the books of my numberless dreams.”
Angie blogs at Angieville about her love of stories old and new.