Friday, November 12, 2010

The Purpose of This (Response to an E-mail).

Hello all.

I feel that I have harped on this enough in the past so that my readers know why I started this whole shebang and why I am "forcing" myself through this list of the classics. Late last summer I hit a wall and this idea came to me in the middle of the night. At the time, I was insanely frustrated with where I was headed in my professional life. I had no permanent job (and I still don't), was doubting what my purpose was, and needed to find some answers (You can find more about this in my "About Me" page up at the top of my blog).

So I turned to something that has always been there for me in times of need before: books. I decided what better way to improve my circumstances than by reading through a list of classics. Who better to teach me about life and love? And since then, I have read nearly 80 books from the list and each of them has taught me something. I am an incredibly different person than who I was just over a year ago.

On Wednesday, I had an e-mail from a reader in my inbox. I read it, thinking they were asking a question about a post or something of that sort, but I was wrong. Instead, it was a rant TO ME about what I am doing here. I won't quote the entire thing here, but to give you a small taste of what the e-mail said, here is a short portion;

"The thing about your blog is that no one really cares. You're reading from this list like you're some big deal, but you're not. You offer nothing new or intelligent on any of the books you've read and you are torturing yourself through books you don't like. I don't understand your purpose or why you're trying to do this. Its almost as if you are trying to become something you are CLEARLY not.

Do us all a favor and revert back to what you usually read. Perhaps then your posts will be more intelligent and better written."

I don't feel like I need to explain myself to anyone, and originally I wasn't going to give any kind of a reply. Matt convinced me otherwise.

Here's the thing...I don't give a crap what anyone thinks of what I am writing. When I started this whole shebang I didn't even know how extensive the book blogging community was. I figured my mom and a few friends would read every once in awhile. This whole blog and project was for me, not for any of you (sorry if that offends you). My goals and reasons for starting this had nothing to do with reviewing books, but recording what I learned while I was reading them, and my reflections about each book and author when I finished with them.

I have tried to stay true to that as I have explored the vastness of the book blogging community. And while I may call myself a book blogger, I don't do it to review books. I do it as purely selfish thing and I'm still amazed by the response I get. When I had my first comment that was not from my mom or a friend, I was absolutely astounded. And if everyone decided to banish me from the community, I would be okay to continue on with writing for myself. I participate in the things that interest me, and I don't have a heart attack if I can't meet a commitment for a post or a read-a-long. That's why it has never really bothered me when people comment on my "unconventional reviewing technique." I post in a way that works for me and I will continue to do it as long as I think it serves its purpose.

I don't like defending myself or my project to anyone. And if you don't like what I am doing, or why I am doing it, or the method I choose to complete it in, then please don't read anymore.

And with that, I have one more thing to say. For all of you who have been supportive and welcoming and who have taken the time to come by and read, THANK YOU. I truly appreciate all of the support, advice, and mentorship I have received since starting this little project over a year ago. I talk about all of you to my husband until he gets twitchy. This has become another home for me and I enjoy writing here. And I hope you enjoy reading here.



  1. geez... what an @sshole. I love your blog and your "reviewing style." Forget the haters!

  2. Wow. That's...insane Allie! I have no idea who sent you that email or why they have such a grudge, but I don't think I've ever seen anything quite like that in the book blogging world. Normally we're all so supportive of each other!

    I'm glad you are confident and sure of yourself in this project, because there are so many of us who find your journey inspiring. Your posts are definitely intelligent, as I'm sure they would be if you were reviewing a different set of books as well.

    Gosh. I'm not sure what else to say. I offer you huge hugs and tell you once again how happy I am that I found your blog six months ago!

  3. The person who wrote that email needs to get over themselves. I think that most of us blog because we enjoy it, not to prove ourselves to anyone.

    If you are not enjoying what a blogger is posting about - STOP READING. There's no need to write them a nasty email and be rude.

    I agree with Amanda - forget the haters!

  4. Yeah, I agree with Amanda. Honestly, I do not begin to understand mean-spirited people. There is something in them, and it has absolutely nothing to do with you or your life. You need to be very careful to not voluntarily 'inherit' any of that on yourself.

    I don't know about you guys, but I honestly post to my blog for myself. I do it for my own intellectual edification. Now, if some of the rest of you find my ramblings and musings useful, that is a bonus. And were I to post crap I expect that one or more of you would probably (gently) let me know.

    You write because you want to write, and we read your blog because we want to read what you're writing. There it is, it is as simple as that.

    Now, go have yourself a wonderful weekend, watch a little college football and have a few beers. Life is good! Cheers! Chris

  5. People can be such schmucks. I love your reviews, and I applaud you for sticking up for yourself.

  6. What in the world????????? I love what you say about how you're not the same person you were a year ago. I feel like my whole heart just lit up with joy. That's awesome. Just ignore the haters. I find it really bizarre they'd take the time to bother.

  7. That's so weird! I mean, if I'm not enjoying a blog, I just exit out of it. Why go through all the hassle of sending such a mean and cranky e-mail?!

    You're in my feed reader, and I'm quite picky about which blogs are there. So I obviously enjoy your posts and your project! I'm also glad that you blog for yourself as well as the community: I think that's one of the keys to not burning oneself out.


  8. Your email hater was wrong. I care! And I know I'm not the only one. I think your project is awesome, and I have absolutely no problem with your writing style.

  9. Well, I guess that certain person is not having a very good day and managed to take it out on you. Personally, if he/she doesn't like your style, then don't read the blog.

    Yes, you are a big deal and quite intelligent. You have enlightened me to a whole new world of literature, that frankly I really didn't know. I'm learning about your books through your writings and thought process. I love learning how all those times you were reading as a child, how it affected you and I think back to that time and try and remember what was going on at the time. I find your comments and thoughts to be comforting and at times they stop and make me think, where I probably never would have before.

    As for torturing yourself; every person out here who reads, finds authors that they do not care for. You could have deleted those authors you knew you really didn't care for, but didn't in keeping with what you thought were 250 of the most popular classics out there. I give you a lot of credit for tackling authors, sizes of books that many would just say no way, and still being able to give a thought provoking analysis of how it affects you. It is good that you have books that you end up not liking-that is part of the process. No one likes all the books they read. That is why we have our favorites and go back to time and again.

    This blog is for-you. We all are on the journey with you, because we want to.

    To the person who wrote the comments to Allie, I think quite frankly you are the one who doesn't get it, and to say that Allie cannot write, I think you are the one who needs to get a reality check and revert back into your own world, because quite frankly your comments that are posted here show that you actually could learn something from Allie. You obviously haven't followed for very long, because I love reading the comments of many of her followers. I'm sure they all find something useful here. If you don't, please leave. Thank you.

    Love, Mom

    Love, Mom

  10. I really care about this blog! I love it!

    And, if that person doesn't care about it... why does he/she/whatever read it?

  11. What a pathetic excuse for a human being! And good for you not letting he/she get away with a private email.

    You're in my google reader , I enjoy your posts and appreciated the time and effort that went into the readalongs which were great fun.


  12. Small-minded people tend to speak for all rather than stand valiantly behind their own opinions. I speak for myself when I say that I DO care about what you’re doing here, Allie. You’ve inspired me, and continue to inspire me.

    Small-minded people who read only for entertainment are stagnant.

    Sorry! It’s true. If you’re not stretching yourself, you’re stagnant.

    Children don’t go to school cheering for an education. Why? Because it isn’t comfortable. It isn’t fun. And let’s face it: some literature isn’t comfortable. But that lack of comfort? That’s the education. That’s the opportunity to move beyond what’s cozy and LEARN. Experience the uncomfortable to experience the wisdom.

    Shame on you, email writer. How small, how cold, and how cowardly. Speak valiantly, or say nothing at all.

    This is my favorite blog. It’s clear this is a personal record, as well as a way to reach out to fellow readers of the classics. (We’re a rare lot, but not so rare online!)

    I’ve only read 18 off my list. I’m incredibly changed, too. I’ve read of Kenya and England and the Southern plight. I’ve read of pioneers and intend to read SO much more, and learn so much more, that I couldn’t possibly experience reading ‘the usual stuff.’ I feel that every book on my list is a human voice, teaching, sharing, showing me what I’ve yet to learn. Each author is a witness to life, locked in time, and in so many ways, they teach me.

    This doesn’t mean the learning is easy. It means it’s RIGHT THERE.

    What you do here, Allie (and I know you write for you, but inspiration is infectious) is that you point a finger to all that wisdom, all that learning, and you do it humbly. You say, ‘Look what bit I discovered today. Look what’s waiting for you.’

    I write for myself, too. Absolutely. I hope, when I’m finished, to make my blog into a personal keepsake book – a map from what I was to what I became. Something I can give my grandchildren. Something to show them the soul of me. I want to remember how I felt about the classics when I started – with Jane Eyre. I want to record that newbie drudgery as I open Hemingway for the first time. (I’m sure I’ll have some drudgery, but that drudgery will grow into respect.)

    “Nobody cares?”

    For shame.

  13. Wow, that's nasty. I'm speechless. I really hope people like that are the exception.

    I really enjoy reading your blog, and even though I don't like every book you like, I really respect and admire your project. I'm sure lots of people spend their unemployment sitting on their butts watching TV and letting their minds turn to Jell-O. You are exploring great books, and that's amazing. And your blog postings are excellent. You've stuck with books that I would have abandoned.

    Again, I'm just shocked that someone would be rude enough send such an email.

  14. Delete. That's all the response they deserve. Don't feed the trolls!

  15. Once and a while I would get a rude comment on my blog also-over time I noticed all these comments were by some anonymous-all the spam attempts were also from anonymous-I never got a sincere comment from an anonymous reader-so I simply disallowed anonymous comments-it is like you spend a lot of time creating a work of art then should allow someone who does not have the courage to use an identity (not even a created one) write over what you have done-dont worry about these idiots-stay true to yourself and your real readers will stick with you

  16. I am glad you are taking the email so well. To be honest I would have been quite hurt. That email is so mean and I really don't understand why someone would take the time to email a blogowner of a blog he/she clearly does not want to read. I hope it helps that all of the commenters here clearly love your blog, including me :)

  17. What a jerk! Your posts are well written and I enjoy reading about your journey through the classics. Your style is unique to you and I enjoy your approach. I think that what you're doing is inspiring. I know the classics I have read have changed me. There is a reason they are classics. They have something to offer and many have changed my outlook on life.

  18. This is the part I get hung up on: "You offer nothing new or intelligent on any of the books you've read..."

    It's so patently false that it's almost comical. Maybe this person expects you to be some literary critic but you're clearly reading things that are challenging to you and documenting YOUR experiences.

    That email is total B.S.

  19. This is hilarious. What a ridiculous e-mail. Hopefully you are taking it with a grain of salt since clearly there are those who do believe what you are doing is worthwhile!

  20. Completely ridiculous, people amaze me sometimes. But look at all these other people writing in their support for your blog and their disdain at the e-mail writer. Clearly we all enjoy what you write and are anxious for more. I'm somewhat new to your blog, was thrilled to find it, and am excited to follow your journey.

  21. I have no idea why somebody would send an e-mail like that, but i think it's both stupid and entirely untrue. I absolutely love your blog and your refreshing take on classics, but besides the point- reading classics is something you do for yourself anyway, and I don't see why it's any of that person's concern. some people are just stupid.

  22. This is my first time reading one of your posts and I have to say whoever wrote that email is probably feeling pretty small and insignificant and decided to bring someone else down with them. It's so easy to just stop reading a blog when it no longer interests us, so it's amazing that someone would decide to not only write an email like that one but also send it off to you. Keep doing what you're doing. Your project brings you happiness and that's all that matters.

  23. Well it certainly looks like this person was having a pretty bad day and decided to take it out on you for some reason.

    First of all you do matter and are very intelligent. Your writing is awesome and it brings to light many thoughts and feelings that you have expressed beautifully.

    It is obvious from the responses, that your blog is something that not only you and I enjoy, but many others.

    As for torturing yourself, I feel it was a great idea to choose 250 books that are considered some of the top classics out there. Even more awesome is that you kept authors on the list, even though you knew you didn't like their writings and or size of their books. To be able to still read and then write your thought process is truly amazing, because so many of us would just stop and not continue. You do, and that is what makes this blog so special. (Everyone has authors they do not like the way they write)

    I personally enjoy when you talk about how certain books you read earlier in your life how they affected you then, because I try to think back to what was going on then and get a personal little kick out of it. I also like how that same book now affects you. So much of life is exactly the same way.

    Sometimes in life there are people who for some reason just have to be mean spirited. What they don't realize is, that they are the ones who really need to take a good look at themselves and correct their own problems with themselves, because that is where the vile personal attacks go back to.

    Keep up the good work Allie and just enjoy.

    Love, Mom

  24. I love your blog and reviews. I don't think I could do what you are doing and I think it is a cool thing to do. :)

  25. Your mother said it best, Allie; and that is just what mothers do, isn't it? I'd like to think I could write something just as wonderful to one of my daughters if the occasion arose. Cheers! Chris

  26. That was a terrible email, they had no right to say those things. What a mean spirited person. I admire the way you handled it and stuck up for yourself!

    Don't let it get you down. Good on you for staying true to yourself, and doing something that makes you happy. You've got plenty of support from your readers, and I hope to see more good things from you in the future.

    I love your blog. Keep on being awesome :)

    Best wishes XXX

  27. I'm so sorry you had to deal with something like this, Allie. I got my first (and only, thankfully!) hate e-mail earlier this year, and even though I'm sure the person sending it was an idiot with too much time on their hands, it still stung. I know you don't need to be told this, but rest assured that plenty of us DO care.

  28. Amen! That's why I do my blog too on Louisa May Alcott. All the experiences you've had, I've had too, and it's changed my life as well. Some people just have too much time on their hands and have to go out of their way to dish someone. I too am very sorry you had to go through that.

    You get such a response because you share from your heart and other people relate to it. You're doing a wonderful service and I'm glad you're keeping it up.

    Hang in there!

  29. As someone who discovered the whole world of book blogging very recently (after I made plans for my own classics-reading project), I must say that I really love your approach. The idea of reviewing classics seems kind of silly--and the idea of providing true literary criticism seems completely unnecessary given the all the academic studies published each year. You give something entirely different. What I enjoy about your blog is seeing how you as an individual person interact with these classics--the PERSONAL response, that is. And as someone committed to a kind of similar project, I am so happy you have continued to fine it enjoyable and profitable!

  30. I still can't believe how many people out there seem to think it okay to say negative things to other people simply because they can hide behind the anonymity of their computer screen. I've seen this happen in other spots of the 'net, too, and it's disheartening to think of the people who are either so mean-spirited or have such a poor self image they have to be hurtful to others.

    One of the things I love about the book blog community is all the options--if you want to read and discuss classics, there's blogs that do that; if you want to read YA, there's blogs for that; if you want to read literature from a particular country or era: it's all out there. I've never understood why people feel the need to stick around someplace they don't like and try to change it, this doesn't seem necessary with all the options available. This isn't a small town with just one library!

    Keep reading, keep reviewing, have fun! We'll be here.

  31. I've had a few comments like this in the past. It says much more about the person commenting than it does about you. I LOVE your blog and I'm glad you are writing - keep up the good work! *hugs*

  32. I cannot believe someone would actually take the time to write such a hateful post. What in the world did they expect to be the result of it? I think Heather J. above is completely right--this e-mail says a lot more about the person writing it than it says about you. I think someone should tell this person what the true nature of a blog is i.e. a personal journal that can be read publicly. If he/she doesn't like it, or, more likely, is jealous of your abilities and determination, then don't read it!! Keep it up, Allie, and just ignore this very ignorant person. We love you and your blog!

  33. What a troll! I love reading your blog and admire you for this hefty project that you have undertaken (It's inspired me to get through my own TBR pile of classics!). If this person is so concerned about reading book reviews and opinions that meet his/her criteria, I challenge them prove they can maintain a book blog of their own. Put up or shut up.

    You rock Allie.

  34. Wow, I am with the others in feeling incredulous that someone would write such a horrible email to a fellow blogger!? I read along because I like your blog, I like your style, and I love to hear how your project is going. I'm with you: reading classics helps us grow.

  35. I'm honestly blown away that someone would take the time to write such an awful email. If they don't like your blog why do they read it? I hope you know how much others (me included!) love your blog, your comments on books and the whole project. Screw them.

  36. Hmm... Your "email hater" seems to be getting outvoted by a landslide, doesn't he/she?? :-)

    I have nothing new to add to what others have already said (and said better than I would have). I just am commenting to show my support. :-)

  37. I love love love your blog, even though I am I guess, technically a YA blogger, I still enjoy reading your posts about the classics you are reading, etc.

    You are mad awesome. Continue to be your marvelous self!! :-)

  38. I was going through my Google Reader and I saw this. This is absolutely ridiculous and infuriates me! I love reading your reviews! (I'll be honest..I have a folder in my GR called "favorites" and you are in it!) And if someone doesn't...then nobody is forcing them to read your blog. Why go through the trouble of emailing somebody like this?? Just move on. I can't believe somebody would do that. It's so rude. Clearly you can tell that so many people enjoy your blog so don't take what this person said to heart. They clearly have issues if they are getting so worked up about it.

  39. Sometimes there is nothing better than an attack on us to confirm that the path we are on, the path that we've chosen is absolutely the right one. And thank you for making this journey of yours public and for taking us along.