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I’m Not a Housewife, But I Play One on My Blog

Daniela,

In late 2007, when I knew that what started out as an online journal to record each of the 52 books I planned on reading that year was going to continue on long after I met my goal, I brainstormed names for my blog with my husband. He is often a mad genius, but I had no idea just how ironic the title he came up with would be until today. Until I read your article published on SantaCruz.com in fact. You see, although my book blog is called The Literate Housewife Review, it is much like my taste in books (and your article I might add): mostly fiction.

Just as you assume about me by virtue of the fact that I’m a book blogger who *gasp* tweets, I am going to assume you’ve never read my blog. I want you to you know who I am, so here are some basic facts about me:

  • I will be 40 years old in October. Although I actually fit into your assumed 20 – 50 age range, I’m much closer to 50 than 20.
  • I am married and am the mother of two daughters. I do mention my husband and daughters on occasion, but this does not make me a “mommy blogger.” Being a) a mother and b) a blogger doesn’t marry the two. Although I’m open to correction, I believe “mommy bloggers” are those women (not girls) who blog about parenting. My blog, you see, was something I started to carve out a place in my life for me. I love my family to death, but I need and deserve a little place where I can be myself.
  • I work full-time, and usually more than 40 hours per week, as a Senior Business Systems Analyst for a local dental insurance company. In fact, over the past 10 years, I’ve had several promotions. I began my professional career as a technical writer after completing my Masters Degree. While I may daydream about the prospect of staying home all day and reading, my husband and I both work very hard to support our family. Even if I were a housewife, I know from experience that the life of a housewife is a far cry from lounging around and snacking while reading. I watched my mom growing up. It’s hard work. Underrated by some such as yourself, Daniela. I know myself well enough to understand that I would struggle as a housewife.
  • I am on Twitter (@lithousewife). A lot. As of last night I had 2750 followers, something that humbles me. I guess you can write me down as having 27.5 hundred followers.

Here are some facts about my reading life:

  • While I don’t read much romance, I’ve been known to indulge from time to time. Just as with any other book, if it’s well written and tells an interesting story, I enjoy it. If I reads it, I review it. For example, here is my review of Fire and Ice. I liked it’s fire. A lot. There are many spectacular book blogs out there that focus on romance. I’ll point out just one (I worry about your attention span based upon the hurried generalizations in your article): Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Go there. You’ve much to discover. She’s on Twitter (@smartbitches). She has an incredible 13,384 follows. Please mark her down for having 134 houndred followers. Yes, I am aware that I rounded up. She’ll be at 13,400 by the time you read this.
  • You group horror and vampire novels together. I’ll let someone else tackle that, as these genres, like romance, are not ones I visit very often. I have, however, read one horror novel and one zombie book this year (zombies are different from vampires, but I am sure you meant the full spectrum of ghouls in your article). The horror novel was Horns by Joe Hill. It was marvelous. It was thoughtful. It was well written. It gave me sympathy for the devil. I would follow Joe Hill anywhere. He doesn’t court anyone unremittingly, even though he is on Twitter (@joe_hill). He has an astounding 93,492 followers. Please mark him down for having 935 hundred followers. You know the drill. The zombie book I read in audio. It’s Paul Is Undead by Alan Golsher and narrated by Simon Vance. I’ve never laughed so hard reading a book in all my life. Daniela, you need to understand that while reading does broaden one’s horizons and leads to deeper thinking, but it also provides entertainment and joy. Joy. Seriously, imagine that.
  • Let’s move on, then, to paranormal books. Yes, I do read them. I just recently read and reviewed Justin Evans’ The White Devil. In 2009, I dedicated the entire month of November to reading Neil Gaiman. I even one a Top 10 prize for my review of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. I fear, however, that these weren’t the books you were thinking of when you painted all book bloggers with the same brush. Every genre contains books of literary value. Ever single one.

Moving on to my blog:

  • If you were to ever check my About page, you’d see that my most favorite genres are Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Gothic Fiction. My reading tastes and desires do fluctuate. Sometimes I love to read Historical Fiction and Chick Lit. Occasionally I read non-fiction and memoirs.
  • I have been blogging about books for almost 4 and a half years. I’ve been through the “OMG! I got a book in the mail – FOR FREE” phase. I’ve been through the “WTF am I going to do? I’ve accepted way too many review copies” phase. I’m now in a much more comfortable place where I accept only what I really want to read and only accept under the condition that I may not be able to get to the book.
  • I still buy books. A lot. I buy books in print, audiobooks, and eBooks. I like books in whatever format and, honestly, in whatever color.
  • Here are the books I’ve read just this year (in addition to most of those mentioned above):

The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine
Silver Sparrow
The King’s Speech
Faith
Maisie Dobbs
The Kitchen Daughter
Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1
Heads You Lose
The Book of Tomorrow
French Leave
Trespass
Born Under a Lucky Moon
Bad Marie

Picking Bones from Ash
Tipping the Velvet
Sea Change
So Much Pretty
The House of Tomorrow
The Uncoupling
Pictures of You
Wither
The Mistress of Nothing
Miss Entropia and the Adam Bomb
The Sherlockian
You Don’t Love This Man
The Raising

Room
The Fates Will Find Their Way
The Postmistress
A Thousand Rooms of Dreams and Fear

The Winter Sea
On Beauty

What I fear you may not grasp is that all readers have unique tastes in books. If you’d still like to put me in the box which is the argument in your article, so be it. I personally don’t know how I would characterize myself as a reader. I don’t have eclectic a taste as say @devourerofbooks (39 hundred followers), @bookladysblog (76 hundred followers), @bethfishreads (49 hundred followers) or @skrishna (30 hundred followers), but I never stay in one place for long. There are an equal number of those who specialize. Why shouldn’t they? We don’t read because it’s our job. We read because it’s our passion. Why do you read?

You seem to almost take delight in the so-called death of the book. The fact that you paint a group of people to which I am honored to belong is a curiosity to me. We may now be considered media as a result of the digital age, but we began as readers who love all things books. If we all lived in the same neighborhood, we’d have one hell of an awesome book club. We don’t. Instead, we meet online. We discuss things on Twitter. We consume books. We love them. We support publishers large and small. We spend our money in local bookstores as well as at larger chains. We frequent public libraries. We are not girls. In fact, some of the best among us are men. We are in our teens, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. In that I could even be wrong. Why shouldn’t there be book bloggers in their 70s and 80s? I think every single one of us would agree that we’ll stop reading when we’re dead. Even then, heaven will be packed full of books.

Daniela, when you’d like to paint a group of people you do not know and do not seem to like into a nice, tiny package you’d like to tie with a bow, do a little research first. Your publication seems to consider you a “great critical mind at work.” I suggest you never let them down again.

40 Comments

  • At 2011.06.22 15:21, Meghan said:

    Awesome, awesome post! I just saw this article on Twitter and my jaw dropped. Fantastic response.

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    • At 2011.06.22 15:22, Natalie at Coffee and a Book Chick said:

      Excellent response. I wrote a lengthy comment on the “blog-like” site, so we’ll see if it gets posted. If not, I’ll be putting on my blog as well.

      Doesn’t a journalist need to validate facts and figures by being transparent on where she gathers her data? 20 to 50? Known as mommy bloggers because they’re all housewives? Wha?

      • At 2011.06.22 15:25, Jennifer said:

        Thank you! I could not let this go without responding. You will not put book bloggers in a corner!

        • At 2011.06.22 15:31, Lisa said:

          Great response! You’re response summed up everything I was thinking perfectly.

          • At 2011.06.22 15:33, sassymonkey said:

            Love this post. :)

            • At 2011.06.22 15:34, April (Books&Wine) said:

              I could not help but pump my fist a little bit as I read this.

              What an eloquent, wonderful, well constructed response.

              Bravo, Jennifer!

              • At 2011.06.22 15:39, Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said:

                This is a really stellar response, thanks :)

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                • At 2011.06.22 15:42, Katie @ cakes, tea and dreams said:

                  Fantastic response to that article. Brava!

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                  • At 2011.06.22 15:47, Florinda said:

                    Thank you for this FANTASTIC response. I’ll be posting one tomorrow, and I’m linking back to, and quoting, yours.

                    • At 2011.06.22 15:49, jenn aka the picky girl said:

                      This incredibly-thoughtful and logical response is why I count you among my favorite bloggers and Twitter friends.

                      I try not to get embroiled, but I also cannot stand when someone touted (by others, no less) as a journalist is not in any way journalistic.

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                      • At 2011.06.22 16:00, bookmagic said:

                        Great post! I commented on her article. She certainly seemed bitter.

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                        • At 2011.06.22 16:29, Jennifer-Girls Gone Reading said:

                          I almost feel like I am supporting Daniela’s point by commenting…since she thinks we are all friends and only talk to each other :)

                          I love your response, and I am concerned about the writer of this article. She seems like a person who doesn’t like change. I agree that the world of books is changing, but it is changing like everything else.

                          Just because we get free books and post our opinions doesn’t mean we aren’t educated or that we are ruining books. Just because we talk on Twitter doesn’t mean that we aren’t doing anything else.

                          I thought my love of books, my masters in English, and my 11 years as an English teacher and college professor gave me some clout.

                          Guess Daniela is right…books will change in our hands. Maybe for the better :)

                          • At 2011.06.22 16:38, Beth Hoffman said:

                            Superb, Jennifer!!! Brava to you!

                            • At 2011.06.22 16:44, Serena said:

                              Had I more time, I would have loved to write a rebuttal post to this woman. Thank you for doing it so eloquently for me. I appreciate it.

                              I have a hard time with anyone who just spouts off stereotypes (erroneous ones at that) and claims to be a journalist without conducting research or validating facts.

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                              • At 2011.06.22 16:53, Jennifer said:

                                Thanks so much, everyone. I am glad that I was able to say this for you today. I know that in the past and in the future you will speak for me as well. We are an incredibly talented group of people. It’s a crying shame that Daniela chose to judge us instead of discover what we are all about.

                                • At 2011.06.22 17:07, Amy said:

                                  Love this response :) Thank you!

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                                  • At 2011.06.22 17:09, Karen @ Palent Books said:

                                    You ROCK!!! What.a brilliant response to such ignorance. Bravo!!

                                    • At 2011.06.22 17:46, Clarice Starling said:

                                      But is Daniela strong enough to point that high-powered perception at herself? What about it? Why doesn’t she look at herself and write down what she sees? Or maybe she’s afraid to.

                                      • At 2011.06.22 18:27, Jennifer said:

                                        Clarice, I hope that Daniela actually finds some high powered perception. She seems to have stolen the little that she has from an unnamed source.

                                        • At 2011.06.22 18:52, Heather @ Book Addiction said:

                                          AWESOME. That article made me want to throw something at a wall… I’m so happy to see your response here, way more eloquent than I could have said it! Book bloggers really are the best people around. :)

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                                          • At 2011.06.22 19:19, Mary said:

                                            Thanks for representing!!!

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                                            • At 2011.06.22 19:22, Anita said:

                                              Jennifer, thank you, thank you, thank you for so eloquently putting ms. Daniela in her place. Good Grief!!!
                                              Please let us know if you receive a reply!

                                              • At 2011.06.22 21:05, Stephanie said:

                                                Excellent post! Thanks for defending all of us book bloggers (much more eloquently that I would have)!

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                                                • At 2011.06.22 21:09, Wendy said:

                                                  AWESOME response!!! *stands and gives a hoot of delight*

                                                  I had no idea how I fit into her box as I’m in my *gasp* fifties and have never read a vampire or paranormal book in my life (oh, wait, I did read The Vampire, Lestat which I loved!).

                                                  The Reading Ape has a nice response to this too.

                                                  I think (having read the comments on her article) that the book blogging community has now given her some pause for thought.

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                                                  • At 2011.06.22 21:10, Anna said:

                                                    Thank you so much for this post! You said it better than I ever could! And I love to imagine a heaven full of books!

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                                                    • At 2011.06.22 22:35, softdrink said:

                                                      Beautifully said.

                                                      • At 2011.06.22 22:42, Sarah (The Brazen Bookworm) said:

                                                        So eloquent! You defended yourself and the blogging community without being antagonistic, and that’s what is needed. I was sad to read that piece, but I think you’ve vindicated yourself and many other bloggers. And, by the way, women in their 20s should rightfully be called women (not girls) and just because they like genre fiction, their opinions on the written word are no less valuable than anyone else’s. The Twitter graphic that accompanied the article, however, still makes me mad.

                                                        • At 2011.06.23 00:41, Pam said:

                                                          :D and that is all.

                                                          • At 2011.06.23 01:06, Bob said:

                                                            I always love people who feel their view points are more valid because they read “serious” literature. I find it interesting that if you google her you discover that she is a “translator.” Hmmmm…. vested interest.

                                                            And I am happy with my 91 followers.

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                                                            • At 2011.06.23 10:36, Karen White said:

                                                              You are a genius my dear. Daniela obviously had no idea who she was dealing with.

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                                                              • At 2011.06.23 10:44, rhapsodyinbooks said:

                                                                I was not going to respond since everyone else already said it, but why not let you know your depth and breadth? :–) Great post!

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                                                                • At 2011.06.23 11:19, Jennifer said:

                                                                  Thanks again to everyone for your comments and tweets. Thanks to Bob for his investigative Google skills. Very interesting that a “journalist” who bemoans the fact that Americans don’t read translations is, in fact, a translator herself.

                                                                  • At 2011.06.23 12:24, Ellison Weist said:

                                                                    Jennifer, I just sent you an immense hug through the Net. That was after I screamed and cursed after reading Daniela’s ridiculous article. And left a comment. The idea that book bloggers “transferred their interests” to reading on a whim had me using expletives in combinations fit for the King’s navy. Okay, breathe, Ellison, breathe. Again – kudos on a magnificent rebuttal. I and your fellow bloggers thank you!

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                                                                    • At 2011.06.23 14:23, Melissa (Avid Reader) said:

                                                                      Wonderful post! I completely agree that one of the best things about bloggers is their diversity. Just because we blog, does not mean we only love one genre or all sit at home all day.
                                                                      I love your cooment on the original article too. I’m 27 and I work full-time and have no kids, but I love book blogging. We are a diverse group!

                                                                      • At 2011.06.24 14:28, Cassandra said:

                                                                        I really like your response! I don’t fit into her mold, either. I really do not understand why people see blogging as the death of anything. If anything book bloggers should be credited with giving new birth to books.

                                                                        • At 2011.06.25 10:42, Dawn - She Is Too Fond of Books said:

                                                                          You know how I feel – thanks for writing this! There’s power in #the100s!

                                                                          • [...] responses from Laura at I’m Booking It, Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog, and Jennifer at The Literate Housewife Review. There are also a lot of great responses from familiar names in the comments section of the [...]

                                                                            • At 2011.06.27 01:27, Sheila (Bookjourney) said:

                                                                              Oh this was beautifully put!!! “If we all lived in the same neighborhood, we’d have one hell of an awesome book club.” Oh can you imagine? LOL

                                                                              AND you also gave me an audio title that I apparently need to track down… so oops… came to read your awesome post and now am purchasing an audio… :)

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                                                                              • At 2011.06.27 20:37, Care said:

                                                                                This is WONDERFUL. I especially like ==> “I like books in whatever format and, honestly, in whatever color.” Me, too.

                                                                                Applause!

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                                                                                  I?m Not a Housewife, But I Play One on My Blog

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