Our Reading Lives

On Books That Started as Blogs

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I’ve thought about starting a blog off and on for a while now. One of the biggest turn-offs has been money. It seems like freelancing anything I might post there at established magazines makes more sense because I could get some amount of money. Recently, though, I’ve realized that I’m not making a lot of money from freelancing anyway, so I might as well do exactly what I want on my own site. I already have material for topics like fashiondating, books, and art. I finally decided to turn that into a blog, and see what happens.

Something that helped change my mind was randomly re-watching some early Sex and the City episodes. It’s crazy to watch it now, so many years later, knowing that the whole brand started out as a piece of personal journalism. I decided to reread my copy of Candice Bushnell’s book Sex and The City. The whole column/book/show has been integral to my own personal writing, especially in terms of writing about men. Even in 2018, with all of the book’s outdated references, each chapter mixes perspectives to complicate, not simplify, issues within relationships.

After finishing Bushnell’s book recently, I happened to go through other books that didn’t start out as books. They ended up solidifying my idea to blog by simply existing. People have started at this exact same spot with a blog or a column in front of them waiting to begin. Together, Melissa Broder’s So Sad Today, How to be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky, and Stella Grey’s Mid-Life Ex-Wife play around with what it means to write about your life.

It was my second time reading So Sad Today, but I felt like I had forgotten what it was really about. Her attitude towards bad dates are perfect and dry. But she also writes a lot about the ongoing one she has with her own body. Her exploration of sexuality is so appealing because she isn’t afraid to admit her obsessions. She bares all, no matter how uncomfortable it gets, which is what any good book, or blog, does.

When I started How to be a Person in the World next, I didn’t know it was an Ask Polly book. I saw the cover online somewhere and requested it from the library based on the title. But I was really into it. She was already an established writer by the time she got this column, but her tone makes for easy reading. I finished it within twenty-four hours. The questions and answers are precisely developed. She brings in her personal life just enough. It was good as hell.

I’ve actually read Mid-Life Ex-Wife once before. I spotted her book on a random trip upstairs to the new adult books section with my son a while ago. I liked the title so I grabbed it. This book details Grey’s experience (she uses a pseudonym) dating online as a divorced woman in England. She goes through a normal number of weirdos and bullshitters that one goes through when starting out dating again. Her attitude is funny through it all.

I made the mistake of looking her up midway through the book and ruining the ending for myself. When her Guardian column wasn’t enough, I looked on her Twitter and the ending was right there within like three tweets. Still loved the book. I really don’t mind knowing the ending. I mean, I read it again just the other day. This time around, I was so interested in her spirit. She has faith in these guys and really gives them chances. I like that.

Writing on my own site still feels a lot like the back alley of the internet, but finding myself in these books helped make it feel like this is a bigger genre than it seems. Reading about other people’s projects makes it all seem real.