My blog is 10 years old!

Ten years ago today I published my first blog post.

I never set out to write a blog. I had been looking at a blogspot blog and noticed a prompt at the top of the screen that asked “Do you want to start a blog?” I was bored, I needed a creative outlet, so I followed the link and the rest, as they say, is history.

Longtime readers of Hogglestock will know that my blog was called My Porch for about 9 years before I made the switch. The original title was taken from the opening of James Agee’s A Death in the Family–a book I have yet to read ten years later. I knew this bit of Agee’s work from the musical setting of it by the American composer Samuel Barber in Knoxville, Summer of 1915. To me it evokes a lazy summer evening just sitting on a front porch and chatting.

It has become that time of evening when people sit on their porches, rocking gently and talking gently and watching the street and the standing up into their sphere of possession of the trees, of birds’ hung havens, hangars. People go by; things go by…

Although the early days of my blog found me taking on all sorts of topics (and sounding rather portentous in the process) I did write about books and reading with some frequency. In fact, my second post  was a paean to librarian Nancy Pearl and her fantastic Book Lust which led to many wonderful books and authors including Barbara Pym and Ward Just. Just to show you how much things have changed in ten years and how much they have stayed the same, I give you the following photo:

The left side is the dark, poorly focused photo I posted in June 2006. The right side has been brightened up a bit so you can get a better sense of what was on my shelf back then.
The left side is the dark, poorly focused photo I posted in June 2006. The right side has been brightened up a bit so you can get a better sense of what was on my shelf back then.

 

It is kind of interesting to dissect this now historical photo. If you have been following my Shelf by shelf feature on Hogglestock you will recognize the Drabble and Findley and others, but other things may surprise you. There have been some notable deletions. I decided I did not need four copies of Oryx and Crake and got rid of all but one of them. After finishing the USA Trilogy by John dos Passos, I decided I never need to read him again and got rid of them. After not finishing any of Oprah’s Faulkner set I got rid of them and hope to never read him again. I also got rid of all my D.H. Lawrence. In my mid-30s I thought I had time for stuff like that. Not so. Another difference is that I’ve jettisoned my paperback Anita Brookners for the hardcover U.S. first editions that I have found cheap here and there. Looking at this I also realize that my Drabble collection has expanded greatly yet one of them in the photo remains unread a decade later. That’s kind of crazy.

The Evolution of MyPorch/Hogglestock
I ambled along for about three years writing about books now and then. I had a very small following. Mostly people who knew me. The more I started to write about books the more I began to bore my core audience. Around that time I also stumbled across the world of book bloggers. I don’t remember which Simon I found first but one led to the other. I remember Simon Thomas at Stuck in a Book blogging about Persephone Books and the Bloomsbury reissues of Miss Hargreaves and Henrietta’s War. And I remember Simon Savidge at Savidge Reads blogging about sensation novels and Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White specifically. I had come across one or two book blogs prior to that, but discovering the two Simons was a real eye opener. These were kindred spirits and they opened up a whole world of UK book bloggers to me. I found myself swept up in all kinds of book blogging challenges, reading weeks, memes, and all kinds of other reading mayhem, not to mention lots of Transatlantic book orders.

I also ended up finding bloggers in North America. There was BookishNYC who used to blog about books she saw on her commute and the people reading them. JoAnn at Lakeside Musing was always good for reading inspiration. I followed, and eventually became friends in real life with, local bloggers Teresa (Shelf Love) and Frances (Nonsuch Book).

And there was Darlene in Ontario and her fantastic border collie Deacon. She used to blog at Roses Over a Cottage Door and has a blog roll there that reads like a who’s who of my early blog reading life. Nan at Letters from a Hill Farm. And raise your hand if you remember Verity’s Virago Venture? And so many, many, more too numerous to list. One of the sad things about moving to Hogglestock was no longer having a blog roll.

Sometime in 2009 my bookish comments on other blogs started to drive traffic to my own and I began to wonder if they were my real audience rather than the faithful 12 friends and family who occasionally came by to have a look. Eventually I decided to take the leap and focus more on books and haven’t regretted it for a moment. I continue to meet so many interesting bookish people thanks to Hogglestock.

I’ve done a lot of other fun things on, and because of, the blog over the years. I’ve met probably 30 different book bloggers in the US, UK, Netherlands, and Thailand. It has been wonderful and a great way to chat about books. I think most of us realize how great social media has been in bringing together bookish people–especially for those of us who don’t have many bookish friends in real life.

A HUGE thanks to all of you who read Hogglestock and especially those who comment. I love hearing other people’s perspective and getting a discussion going. It is by far the best part of blogging.

P.S. Earlier Notoriety
In the early days of my blog I wrote about a women’s folk music group from the 1960s that I had fallen in love with in college. After a almost 20-year, largely fruitless search for information, I finally managed to track down three of the surviving four members of Womenfolk. This led to this post, I met Babs Cooper in NYC, the reunion of the women after almost 40 years, and this article about my quest in the Washington CityPaper.

8a752-powerofwomenfolk

toonces

 

23 thoughts on “My blog is 10 years old!

  1. Julie's Book Cave June 14, 2016 / 8:40 am

    Thank you, Thomas. Your story inspires me to continue my blogging. It’s been kind of hit and miss over the past year and at one point I wasn’t sure I was enjoying it but I’m sure now. It’s lovely discussing books with like-minded people.

    Like

  2. Simon T June 14, 2016 / 10:07 am

    Happy 10th birthday! I’m delighted to have played any part in your connection to the bookish side of the blogosphere 🙂

    And I’m sure you know, but Darlene is alive and well over at Cosy Books!

    Like

  3. quinn June 14, 2016 / 11:07 am

    Congratulations from grateful fan who has adopted so many authors from your recommendations. I read this post w/ bated breath waiting for that shoe to drop…that you were leaving the blog!! whew!!!! Continued big fun and success and enjoyment…as you have given us.
    quinn

    Like

  4. Anna van Gelderen June 14, 2016 / 12:11 pm

    Congratulations, or van harte gefeliciteerd as we say in the Netherlands! And keep up the good work. Your blog is one of the most enjoyable blogs I know.

    Like

  5. Muscato June 14, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    Congratulations! As one who came online writing a couple of years after you, I know what a venerable thing a ten-year-old (still active) blog is. That yours is in addition so erudite, genial, and just plain interesting is a yet more remarkable achievement.

    Like

  6. biggardenblog June 14, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    [J] Best wishes for the next ten years, Thomas. I’m a newcomer to your blogs, but already have come to value it, and look forward to the next post. Your posts are original, authentic and well considered. By the way, do you still have two copies of Onyx and Crake ; and if so, why? In fact, why did you ever have two copies of Onyx and Crake?!

    Like

  7. lakesidemusing June 14, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    Congratulations on ten years, Thomas! What a wonderful post… bloggers have come and gone over the years (of course I remember Verity’s Virago Venture!) but I’m glad so many of my favorites have persevered. As Simon mentioned above, Darlene is still blogging at Cosy Books, and I keep up with Verity and Claire (Paperback Reader) on Facebook and instagram.

    My Faulkner set finally went to the library sale, too, although I did make it through As I Lay Dying. Also wanted to thank you for mentioning Prunella Scales audio narration on twitter last week. I finished Cranford this morning and can see why you are a fan. I’ll listen to Wives and Daughters soon.

    Like

  8. lailaarch June 14, 2016 / 5:19 pm

    Congratulations on ten years! I’ve just started blogging about 18 months ago, and found your blog maybe about 7 or 8 months ago. I am a fellow Anita Brookner/Barbara Pym fan and, while I may not comment often, I just wanted you to know that I appreciate your thoughtful writing and analysis.

    Like

  9. Claire (The Captive Reader) June 15, 2016 / 12:21 am

    Happy 10th anniversary, Thomas! I’m so impressed that you’ve managed to connect with so many other bloggers in person. The book blogging community is so friendly and, after years of online friendships, how wonderful for you to have been able to connect in real life as well as online.

    Like

  10. Joan Kyler June 15, 2016 / 8:03 am

    Congratulations on this milestone, Thomas. I enjoy your book reviews, but I miss stories of John and Lucy!

    Like

  11. BookerTalk June 15, 2016 / 9:34 am

    Thats quite an achievement. A lot of the bloggers I ‘met’ in my early days have abandoned their sites sadly. Hope you have lots more anniversaries ahead

    Like

  12. Annabel (gaskella) June 15, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    Congratulations Thomas – Long may Hogglestock flourish! (BTW: You can use a text widget in your sidebar to create a blogroll – that’s what I did)

    Like

  13. Sarah Faragher June 15, 2016 / 4:39 pm

    I continue to enjoy reading your blog – thanks for continuing to write it! I was trying to remember how I first came across it and I think it was from seeing your comments on Steerforth…? Many years ago! Best wishes going forward, into the next ten years.

    Like

  14. Lalah Simcoe June 16, 2016 / 9:18 am

    Congratulations Tom — and so happy to be part of Hogglestock’s early history!

    — Lalah Simcoe/The Womenfolk

    Like

  15. ASD June 16, 2016 / 4:30 pm

    Dear Thomas,

    Congratulations and happy 10th anniversary. I enjoy reading your blog over the years. Your enthusiasm, personal, emotional and intelligent responses to the books and the authors you love is both inspiring and infectious. Thank you for sharing your treasures from your library. I shall look forward to reading your blog for many years to come. Keep up with the good work. With kind regards, ASD

    Like

  16. Richard June 16, 2016 / 6:08 pm

    Congratulations on your first decade of blogging, Thomas! If I hadn’t discovered your blog (and The Readers), I probably wouldn’t have read Barbara Pym or The Professor’s House. As I’ve said before, the latter is now one of my all time favourite novels, so you’ve had a very good influence.
    Best wishes for a happy blogging future!
    Richard

    Like

  17. Liz Dexter June 17, 2016 / 3:13 am

    Congratulations! You can still have a blogroll of sorts – I have a list of recommended blogs on my sidebar with links to them all.

    I missed my tenth anniversary (I started on LiveJournal in August 2005) – next year will be my 20th anniversary of keeping a paper book journal though, so I’d better remember to celebrate that in some way.

    Like

  18. The Womenfolk June 17, 2016 / 8:49 am

    Dear Tom:
    Thanks for making us a part of your wonderful journey.
    Barbara Cooper,
    The Womenfolk

    Like

  19. Karen (bookishnyc) June 18, 2016 / 5:29 pm

    Hi — Thanks for the shoutout. I’m still in NYC, still reading, and still taking the subway, although as more and more people are reading on their tablets and Kindles and even their phones has made it more difficult to spy on what they’re reading. I check our your blog regularly for recommendations, and have particularly enjoyed the “shelf by shelf” series. Congratulations on your 10th anniversary!

    Like

    • Karen (bookishnyc) June 18, 2016 / 5:39 pm

      Aaagghhh! Typos!

      Like

  20. mf4strings June 19, 2016 / 10:02 am

    Congrats on a achieving a major milestone. I’ve been a reader of Hogglestock for just about a year now and enjoyed reading about its history. Your writings have introduced me to several authors I might not otherwise have tried such as Ann Leary, Alan Bennett, John Wyndham, Penelope Fitzgerald and some of Willa Cather’s more obscure works (really enjoyed “The Professor’s House”).

    Like

  21. Nan November 19, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    I’m only five months late reading this. Congratulations on ten years. Your writing is always interesting and heartfelt, and I come by to visit as often as I can. My ten year anniversary is coming up in a few days, and I’ve been pondering how very much has changed in the decade. You are so sweet to have noted my blog. I haven’t been writing about books very much since the grandchildren came along, but I expect I will get back to it as they get older. I’m so happy you are here in the blogging world!

    Like

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