Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Book Blogger Appreciation Week!

Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) always seems to arrive before I expect it, and disappear before I've managed to hop on board - at least since I joined in back in 2009, or thereabouts.  Well, this year I'm not going to manage to join in every post, but it came at a time when I've been feeling especially appreciative about the book blogosphere, so I'm going to do my BBAW contribution all in one post.  There will be a lot of links to other bloggers... but I love them all.  And it's only the tip of the iceberg, so please don't think that not being mentioned means I don't adore your blog.  Get ready for an appreciative ramble!


I was struck by what an amazing job bloggers do.  Nobody gets paid, most have families and/or jobs and dozens of other commitments - but they all manage to write intelligent, compelling, funny, charming, touching book reviews and literary posts.  It takes up a huge amount of time (I seem to spend less time than many, and it still takes up loads of mine!) and yet we all do it willingly, happily, joyously!  And you know why?  Because all the other book bloggers are so darn brilliant!  What started for each of us, I suppose, as a love of books and reading, has grown into more than that.  We still love books, and have picked up so many recommendations from each other (thank you blogosphere for introducing me to Shirley Jackson, Muriel Spark, Joyce Dennys... so many) but it's become about so much more than that.

I was going to try to list every book blogger I've met, but I realised that it's probably 40-50 people.  Which is amazing!  But it might be a little exhausting - for me and for you - if I type them all out, and I'd be bound to forget someone lovely.  So, instead, I shall write about bloggers I've had the pleasure of meeting who live in distant lands... two from Canada, three from the U.S., and one from Australia:

Claire/Captive Reader - from her very earliest days, Claire leapt to the top of my favourite blogs.  Her taste is impeccable, her style engaging, her reviews incredibly perceptive.  I had the fun of book shopping through London with Claire, and buying vastly more than she did...

Darlene/Roses Over A Cottage Door - oh, what a ray of sunshine Darlene is!  Both her blog and, even more so, in person - I wanted to drag her across the ocean and make her visit tea shops with me at least once a week.

Thomas/My Porch - such a funny, incisive blog, and such a charming, engaging man!  Our two hours over tea and scones this year, each talking nineteen to the dozen, ranks amongst my favourite blogging-related occasions.

Teresa/Shelf Love - gosh, this meeting was an age ago, when I'd only 'known' her for a bit.  Now I want to meet again, Teresa!  I'm so impressed by the discipline Teresa and Jenny show in maintaining the very high standard of their wide-ranging blog (not to mention the humility involved in co-authoring a blog) - they just don't seem to have off-days.

Diana/Light, Bright, and Sparkling - another infectiously enthusiastic lady, who has forgotten more about Jane Austen than I will ever know.

Karyn/A Penguin A Week - many of us have a fairly good idea of our own blog's identity, but nobody has as ingenious and precise a premise as Karyn - picking one Penguin Book a week from her enviable collection, and writing wonderfully engaging reviews on them.  A truly unique blog.  And we had a lovely afternoon, bookshopping through Oxford.

And who would I must like to meet, outside of the UK?  So many!  But I'm going to say Eva/A Striped Armchair.  One day, Eva!

I always remember the author I met who said "Oh, you're a blogger - you must be lonely."  I'm sure it was kindly meant (er, I'm far from sure) but it isn't true.  Even without all the face-to-face meetings, blogging is all about community - we're all typing away in our garrets, but the best bloggers and the best blogging experiences are those which value community.  Nothing puts me off a blogger more than if they don't have a 'blog roll'.  But that's just the start - over the years I've loved participating in various readalongs and publisher- or author-specific weeks.  Just thinking about author-reads, there have been Stu/Winston's Dad and Henry Green, Thomas/My Porch and Anita Brookner, Annabel/Gaskella and Beryl Bainbridge, Florence/Miss Darcy's Library and Rosamond Lehmann, Simon/Savidge Reads and Daphne du Maurier.

I was so thrilled by the enthusiasm for Muriel Spark Reading Week, which the encouraging, perceptive and incredibly well-read Harriet co-organised with me.  Not only did lots of my favourite bloggers join in, but I got to meet many more.  And it couldn't have come at a better time - I didn't mention it then, but during the week I underwent an examination for cancer, the culmination of the scariest and most horrible weeks of my life.  I was lucky - it ended up being a false alarm.  But you'll never know how much it meant to me to have all the enthusiasm and support for Muriel Spark Reading Week distracting me.  Thank you, all of you.  (And thank you especially to Harriet, who did know what I was going through, and couldn't have been kinder or more understanding.)

I especially love bloggers like lovely Kim who dedicate an ongoing series to interviewing bloggers and finding out their literary preferences.  Blogs should have porous boundaries, flowing into one another, as we would at a book group.  So it feels like a good time to announce that I'll be hosting a third series of My Life in Books in October - it previously appeared in March 2011 and March 2012, but the feedback was so positive that I couldn't wait til next March.  I shan't reveal names yet, but I asked 14 people and everyone said yes!  They'll join the thirty (thirty!) bloggers and blog-readers who've already shared their lives in books.

But something I realised, while writing out my list of bloggers to ask (which was at least thirty names long - plenty of people to ask next time!) is that I'm not doing very well at keeping up with the blogosphere.  Victoria (who has such intellectual sensitivity, but also - wonderfully - once shared my phase for Sweet Valley High) covered a similar topic here.  Book Blogger Appreciation Week is also demonstrating to me how widely spread the blogging world now is - when I started, I felt I had a fairly good grasp on who was blogging, and we all seemed to more or less know one another.  A huge number of those dearly familiar faces are still around - delightful, warmhearted Karen/Cornflower, infectiously enthusiastic Danielle/A Work in Progress, dear Elaine/Random Jottings, whom I've met so many times and has shaped my reading life so much over the years, and Margaret/Books Please who started at almost the same time as me, to name but four.  I love the way we've all grown together as bloggers, and the archives we've each built, stretching back for years and years... and, ladies, you're not looking a day older.

But there must be so many young bloggers out there (young in blogging terms, I mean - lots of literate six-month-olds) to whom I must be introduced.  True, it would easily take up all my time just to keep track of the long-standing book bloggers - but imagine what would have happened if I'd stopped seeking out new blogs three or four years ago?  What I would have missed!  So I mustn't rest on my laurels; I must keep my eyes open.  When I tried to think of book blogs I love which are less than a year old, the only two I could think of immediately were Helen/A Gallimaufry - an impressively thoughtful, thorough, inviting blog - and Karen/Kaggy's Bookish Ramblings, with her great range of twentieth-century fiction reviews akin to my own bookish loves.  Which makes me wonder... how many other gems I am missing?  (Sorry if you're less than a year old and I already know you, it's probably just because I can't imagine the blogosphere existed without you!)

There are perils involved with having been a book blogger pretty consistently for five and a half years.  There are so many joys too - I still get excited when I get a comment or a lovely email - but I mustn't get complacent or too settled.  And so... I'd love you to comment with a recommendation of a new blog.  And by 'new', I mean less than a year old.  Spread the love!  And, whilst you're at it, why not comment and tell me what you love about any blog or any blogger - just keep the appreciation overflowing this week!

Finally - I want to reiterate how much I appreciate everyone who comes to visit Stuck-in-a-Book, whether this is your first time, or you've been here every week since the beginning (hi Mum!)  I wouldn't have the patience to continue if it weren't for your interest, or if there weren't so many fascinating blogs around to keep the community going strong.  I never could have imagined all the joys and adventures blogging and blog-reading would bring - please, bloggers and blog-readers, feel 100% appreciated!  The internet would be rubbish without you.


59 comments:

  1. Aw, Simon, I'd love to meet you again, too! I will get back to England one day, and I expect a trip to Jane's Teas :) Of course, if you ever manage to cross the pond and come DC, you could see Thomas and me both at once.

    A new blog that I've become quite taken with (and mentioned in my post yesterday) is A Musical Feast http://amusicalfeast.blogspot.com. Samantha has just started graduate classes so her blogging has slowed down, but her posts are always great.

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    1. A trip to Jane's Teas would be wonderful! One day I will get to DC, one day, but at the moment I can barely afford the bus into town, let alone a flight across the Atlantic...(!)

      Thanks for the reminder about A Musical Feast - I discover these great blogs, and then forget all about them!

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  2. So lovely to read a wholly positive, non-saccharine post in the blogosphere these days... lots of new blogs to check out! And color me sad to have missed Muriel Sparks week...

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    1. Aw, shame about missing Muriel Spark week - but maybe it'll come back one day! Thanks for your comment :)

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  3. An interesting post and very heartfelt. I enjoy your blog, Simon and it is a good read because for me these are books I would probably never even consider. Blogging is far from lonely.

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    1. Thanks Jo! It certainly isn't lonely, is it? So many new friends!

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  4. Wonderful post Simon! Thank goodness all is well! What a horrid scare and how brave you've been about it. I enjoy so many of the blogs you've mentioned and am just so grateful you all have the time and energy to keep going and delight your readers so often. More of the same please!

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    1. Thanks Donna for your lovely comment :) I took one week away from blogging once, as I was getting a bit of ennui, and by the end of the week I was desperate to get back!

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  5. What a lovely post Simon, and I'm so glad your scare was just that!
    I'd like to recommend my favourite new blog of Col - The Only Way Is Reading

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    1. Thanks Annabel :)
      And yes, I must revisit Col, whom I'm discovered through Muriel Spark week - I must go and check out all the blogs I discovered then.

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  6. Thanks, Simon. It was lovely to be able to meet you in Oxford that afternoon. For me, that whole holiday was a measure of just how wonderful the book blogging community is, as I was given so much help from other bloggers nominating bookshops I should head for in my search for old Penguins.

    I thought I'd recommend another blog which is just under a year old, also has a narrow focus, and is inspired by a book published as a Pelican: Literary Taste. Colin is reading through the books recommended by Arnold Bennett in Literary Taste: How To Form It. His posts are not book reviews as much as discussions on related topics, and they are interesting, informative, and well written.

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    1. What a fantastic idea! I do love a themed blog, and I'll be sure to investigate Colin's.

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  7. Simon, I'm so glad your health thing was only a scare - thank goodness all is ok now.

    And that you for the kind mention. I've only been blogging for a little while and I've found such kindness and friendliness amongst book bloggers. I've found this is a wonderful way to exchange enthusiasms about books (and saves me boring my family to death about the latest author or volume!) Also lovely blogs such as yours have pointed me in the direction of new authors and nudged me into reading more off the large tbr. Your blog is never dull so keep up the great work!

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    1. Thanks Karen :)
      What would we have done before the internet? With whom did we discuss books?? It's so lovely to find kindred spirits - even if it breaks the bank...

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  8. I am so happy that we have finally managed to meet one another this year, and one day I will come to Oxford and see you and Harriet. Thank you also for lending me the Shirley Jackson, which I loved. And if you ever feel in need of a Sweet Valley High, I can probably dig one out still! This is a lovely post, full of such genuine enthusiasm. You are such a unique and necessary part of the blogworld.

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    1. Thank you so much, Victoria! And I'm so pleased we finally met, I'd love you to come to Oxford - but I'm afraid Harriet lives in France now!

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  9. many thanks for the mention simon ,I feel you bring such a love of classic lit to the blogging world ,all the best stu

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    1. Thanks Stu! And thanks for all you do to raise awareness of literature in translation.

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  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your scare but am really glad that everything is ok. I've been so busy this year that I haven't been able to read as many blogs as I want to although I'm sure I've found some new ones. Sorry I couldn't join in the readalongs but I hope to participate more next year!

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    1. Thanks Sakura :)
      And I know what you mean - sometimes readalongs completely pass me by because of busyness, but I've seemed to have more reading time this than usual, luckily!

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  11. A great list and many I haven't heard of before which is at once bad, because I probably should, and good because of the potential to meet more awesome people. I'd recommend the blogger I highlighted in my own post, Alice of ofbooks.org who has been blogging since January is writes some wonderful reviews.

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    1. Thanks Charlie - I've not heard of Alice's blog before, so I will definitely go and visit. There are so, so many blogs now - the days of feeling like I knew more or less all the lit blogs I'd be interested in are long over!

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  12. Love the sketch for this post! And everything was very well said. I'm one of those blog-less readers who appreciates all of you for allowing me to read and participate in the conversations. So glad to hear that your scare was brief. Happy BBAW to you and all who are reading!

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    1. Thanks, Susan! The idea of floating with balloons appealed...
      And thank you for your continual support and interest in various blogs :)

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  13. I meant to say, that the newest blog I am enjoying is http://reading19001950.wordpress.com/ which is covering lots of lovely lost 20th century literature!

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    1. Ah, of course! And I had the pleasure of seeing Erica Brown this week, and hearing a presentation on the 1900-1950 project. It's such a good idea!

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  14. I think you've covered - so charmingly, too - all my favourite bloggers in there too. It is a great community to be a part of. I LOVED Muriel Spark Week in particular this year (and thank goodness your scare was just that).

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    1. See, you are a blogger I should have mentioned in the post! There are so many I love which didn't get mentioned. I especially loved your participation during MSRW, thanks :)

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  15. What a positive post, Simon! I love it whenever you muse on the joys of blogging; I always spend the entire time nodding my head and come away feeling so happy that I too am part of this community. I was troubled to hear of your health scare but thank goodness it came to nothing. I hope we'll have another chance to go book shopping together but next time I'll make sure I have more room in my suitcase!

    As for new blogs, have you come across Leaves & Pages yet? Barb is a a fellow British Columbian and she reviews a great mix of books, leaning towards middlebrow authors like Elizabeth von Arnim, O Douglas, Daphne du Maurier and other favourites in our little corner of the blogging world.

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    1. Thanks, Claire :) So many of us feel the same, don't we!
      How have I not come across Leaves & Pages before? This is exactly what I mean - it's definitely up my street (as well as yours) and yet I haven't seen it. I think it must be much harder to become an 'established' blogger now than it was when I started.

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  16. It's always good to get more blog recommendations! Definitely bookmarking some of these.

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  17. What a lovely post Simon! This week always takes me by surprise, too, and seems to be over before I've had a chance to think about posting, but I've thoroughly been enjoying everone else's posts! I love being part of this bookish community as well and it has really broadened my reading horizons in ways I would never have imagined before starting to blog. I recognize most of the bloggers you mention, but I see some new ones to me--I really must get out and about more and so will be investigating all those wonderful mentions! And I am sorry to hear about your health scare and am glad all is well--yes, the book blogosphere is a wonderful distraction at those moments and the people in the communit are really very supportive--I've met (virtually anyway) so many great people--and I hope to get back to the UK someday soon and meet you, too! :)

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    1. Of course you were my other person I really want to meet, Danielle! Actually, I put you in first, and then when I added you to the people who've been around FOREVER, I thought I'd add in another wonderful blogger - just to cover as many as possible!

      The blogosphere is so wonderful during difficult times, even when they don't know that anything is wrong, I think.

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  18. Thanks so much for mentioning Miss Darcy's Library, Simon! Yay - I got a mention on Siab (*dances a jig*)!

    What a relief that your health is ok - now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy life again!

    It's funny, I'm nearing the end of my second year in the book blogging world and I still feel a complete novice, filled with curiosity and wonder at this widespread yet tight-knit community. A big thank you for your own role in that community: I enjoy your thought-provoking analyses and your humour so much!

    Florence.

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    1. Heehee! Thank you for your jig :D and for your lovely words.

      I felt so old and wise at the end of two years blogging, and now that I'm over five years in, I realise how much there is to read - blogs and books - and how un-wise I actually am!

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  19. I note your comment "Nothing puts me off a blogger more than if they don't have a 'blog roll'". At the moment I don't though that's primarily because I haven't had the time to look into how to produce one on Tumblr. Clearly I wouldn't call it a "blog roll" ;-) but I have for some time thought of putting up a post about weblogs that I enjoy (your weblog will certainly be included). I hope to meet you again in real life too - I'm in Oxford this Friday ...

    Best wishes, and also to all those you have explicitly mentioned above too.

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    1. Even I don't call it a 'blog roll'! Not because of the word 'blog', but because of the insanitary pun...

      Sorry that I wasn't in Oxford on Friday - at least not until late in the evening. Another time!

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  20. How reassuring Dark Puss - I hadn't wanted to admit that I haven't a clue how to make a 'blog roll' - in fact, I wasn't sure whether it was something to put on a blog or a new section for the 'Great British Bake-Off'!

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    1. I am now imagining Mary Berry's blog-roll, perfectly risen with no soggy bottom.

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    2. Mary Berry would do anything perfectly :)

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  21. Oh joy, Simon. MORE blogs to test read.

    I do appreciate you.

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    1. Aww, thank you, Susan! (and sorry for taking more hours out of your day with all these other blogs... ;) )

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  22. Oh Simon, if I lived on the other side of the pond I would be popping up on your doorstep all the time, like an old bottle of milk, for trips out to tea. And goodness knows how often I bring you along in spirit while I'm out browsing lovely second-hand bookshops!

    Thank YOU for bringing so many people together in a way that makes everyone feel included and so welcome. By the way, don't scare us like that again, please! You poor thing.

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    1. What fun that would be, Darlene! I imagine us in a 1930s car, with shawls and driving gloves etc., careering along Devonshire roads to cream teas (and maybe solving crimes whilst we're at it?)

      Thanks for your lovely words :D

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  23. Oh, what a lovely post, Simon. You're clearly much more social than me — I think I might have met a dozen bloggers, most from the UK — as you seem to have met so many bloggers from across the pond (or further afield).

    I find it increasingly difficult to keep my own blog up-to-date, as well as visiting other blogs and leaving comments, so, like you, I'd love to learn about new blogs and will look at your comments with great interest.

    Can I recommend two to you?

    Whispering Gums — not sure if you know Sue, but I'm sure you'd love her take on literature. She's based in Oz: http://whisperinggums.wordpress.com/

    And you must visit ANZLitLovers — I count Lisa as a good friend, we have met a couple of times, on both sides of the world. http://anzlitlovers.com/

    PS > thanks so much to linking to my Triple Choice Tuesday!

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    1. Thanks for those recommendations, Kim, I didn't know either of them - I will go off hunting!

      And I am lucky that I can meet so many bloggers - often because they'll be around on a Wednesday afternoon, or something, when everyone else is at work, but I'm able to just jaunt along!

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  24. So glad it was only a scare, Simon. But still horrible when it's happening to you.
    I must be falling behind, because I can't think of a single new blog that I've taken up recently - they might be new to me, but they're all well-established.
    And I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't have a blog-roll either. Perhaps because I'm guilty of serial blog-onogamy. Of course, I am faithful to my favourites!

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    1. Thanks Mary - gosh, it was a horrible ten weeks, but it did make me elated afterwards - one of those real appreciate-life-afresh moments which, of course, was fairly momentary.

      Glad to know you are faithful to some, Mary ;) but blog-onogamy must mean you get to discover lots of new-to-you bloggers.

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  25. Simon, you have just expanded my blog reading by dozens... When I get to one blog you recommend there's always one that tempts me from their own blog roll. And so on... And so on... But, ah, what delights.

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    1. How lovely to see you here, Lisa! The endless line of blogger leading to blogger leading to blogger... it could never end, and what fun!

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  26. Dear Simon, I had no idea it was Book Bloggers Appreciation Week! I hope I can manage to post something too before the week is out. Reading people's book blogs has been such an enriching experience for me. (And I should add that although I am crap at commenting I do love visiting here.)

    I'm so sorry to learn of your cancer nightmare, but delighted that it was not more serious.

    Thank you so much for your kind mention of my blog! Of course it's always lovely to feel appreciated, which is why I hope to spread the love too, but it came after a horrible day and you cannot begin to imagine how much it cheered me up.

    Have a lovely time at your conference, and a great weekend.

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    1. Oh, I'm so pleased that it came at a good time, Helen! Thanks for writing a wonderful blog - and for visiting here :)

      The conference was really great! I wasn't speaking (and sort of wish I had now) but there was so many fascinating papers and lovely people. I will probably write about it soon...

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  27. Teresa said exactly what I was going to say. When you come to DC you will be able to see two of us in the same place. I have been neglecting My Porch lately, so I feel especially honored to feature in a BBAW post.

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    1. I love that you write 'when' rather than 'if'! It's certainly my American Destination Of Choice now, so in the dim and distant future when I can afford an air fare, you'll both see me ;)

      And neglect - I should say, sir! I think I only notice it because I still check your blog about three times every day...

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  28. Found you mentioned on Laura's Musings....Great BLOG. NEW FOLLOWER.

    I found so many great blogs and more wonderful books. This was my first time participating.

    It is has been a fabulous week. I loved it all.

    Stop by my blog if you like to see my Day 3, 4, and 5 responses if you like.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    http://silversolara.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Ellen! I'm glad I joined in with the week, albeit in a slightly unorthodox way. I'll make sure to check out your blog :)

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