Today’s Armchair BEA topic asks us to talk about the kinds of bookish networking we do outside of blogging and the internet–blogger meet-ups, book signings, local bookstore or library events, etc. To be honest, I’m not sure I have a whole lot to say on this subject. I live in a relatively small suburb of a relatively small city in Pennsylvania, and we don’t get much excitement. Our local Barnes & Noble is only four miles away, but this area isn’t booming enough for big-name author signings or anything like that. I’ve looked into what kinds of groups meet there, and my choices are a gaming club (not my thing and not about books) and a Nook group (I own a Kindle). There don’t seem to be any other book clubs that meet there. There is a small used-paperback store on the bottom floor of a house around the corner from where I live, but I haven’t even checked it out yet. I keep forgetting it’s there and it’s pretty tiny; it’s not the kind of place that would host author signings or book clubs.
There are two libraries within six miles of my house and the larger of the two has what seem to be some interesting book discussions periodically. Unfortunately, the discussion times aren’t convenient for me–they start just before Eric gets home from work, when the kids are just finishing up their dinners, and when I’m starting to make the second dinner of the evening for the grown-ups. Most of the other activities that go on at that library are for children, which is great for my kids, but not so great for an adult looking for non-kid, adult activities. The smaller of the two libraries is within walking distance from my house, but it is very tiny and I don’t go there very often. Not much happens there and the book selection isn’t big enough for me.
State College (Penn State University) is only an hour from here, and although some pretty exciting things go on there (Tayari Jones was there for a reading/signing not too long ago), it’s usually impossible for me to make the trip. We have two kids and my husband works a lot, so I’m usually the one [wo]manning the house. As far as bigger cities like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia go, I’m about two and a half hours from one and a little over three hours from the other. Making either of those trips for bookish opportunities just isn’t going to happen for me.
Blogger meet-ups? I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in Hollidaysburg or Altoona that blogs about books. I could be wrong, but I haven’t come across any others. If you’re a book blogger who lives in either of these two places, and if you’re reading this, let me know! (I’m not holding my breath.)
Needless to say, I don’t do any networking in what has been dubbed as “real life.”
I’m looking forward to reading today’s post(s) on the Armchair BEA website about partnering with local libraries and bookstores. Maybe it will give me some ideas that I can present to the library here.
In the meantime, the networking I do on a daily basis through my blog, Twitter, and other social spaces is “real life” to me. And it is real life. I know it sounds like I’m being kind of nitpicky about the wording of today’s topic–and I’m sure Armchair BEA didn’t mean it the way I’m interpreting it in this paragraph–but it’s gotten to the point where I get really annoyed with people trying to distinguish between online interactions and “real life” interactions. The people I’m chatting with are real. The book clubs I’m a part of are real. None of this is fake. It’s true that I haven’t physically met 99% of the people whom I chat with online on a daily basis, but I have made a lot of real friendships that I otherwise wouldn’t have made without this blog and platforms like Twitter. The good friends I’ve made offline over the last fifteen years or so are spread out all over the country now, so most of our interactions take place online, too.
I guess I just wanted to let people know that it’s okay if most of your networking is done online like mine is. There’s nothing wrong with that, and sometimes it’s the only thing available. With that said, I would love to meet other book lovers in my area with reading tastes similar to mine, so I welcome the advice we’ll get today from the folks at Armchair BEA.
I hope everyone is having a good week!