Maud Newton’s friend Robert Daseler wrote in with a ponderous dispatch on the book-blog phenomenon from the West Coast:
I suppose most book bloggers are bookish people. They wouldn’t blog about books if they didn’t love books, would they? But it would not be hard to imagine a book blogger who hadn’t actually picked up a book in months. One could maintain a blog on books and draw entirely from online sources, spending one’s spare time playing pool or watching baseball. I find, when I take the time to visit four or five book blogs of a morning, that I feel rather as if I were eavesdropping on gossip about people I don’t know: what Nick Hornby said about Neal Pollack, or what Dave Eggers thinks about Stanley Crouch. And I find myself wondering: Who are these people, and why should I care about them?
Well, gossip does work in a quasi-oral medium like the internet (are examples necessary?). But he has a point. Back when I had time to do a bloggy literary-event listings site, I raced to become adept at phrase-long summaries of brand new books I hadn’t read. The truth is, thanks to the internet, it’s not hard to be a book blogger and never pick up the books you blog about. Whether this is a good or bad thing is yet to be determined.