Since I – ever so sadly – cannot attend Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention in New York City this week, I’ve decided to join in on a new event … Armchair BEA! Those of us who are participating in Armchair BEA are essentially putting together our own book blogger convention from the comfort of our own homes (or workplaces or wherever else we’ll be). You can read more about Armchair BEA here.
There’s just something about being a blogger that seems to connote a certain amount of social awareness. I’m not really sure what it is that makes me believe that – maybe it’s because we’re the kind of people with connections to friends and acquaintances all over the world? Perhaps it’s because we book bloggers in particular tend to learn about different cultures and realities through books? There are even tons of challenges (such as the Colorful Reading Challenge and the World Religion Challenge) that get us to read outside of our familiarity and about other people and ways of life. We seem to be a rather open-minded bunch!
Social awareness is just that, though – awareness. It doesn’t necessarily mean that we do anything with this awareness. Here’s where social responsibility comes in, and again, I feel like the book blogging community as a whole tends to be on the Side of Good (TM) when it comes to this. Examples of how our community exercises its socially responsible side (either by organizing or participating) include Do the Write Thing for Nashville and Books for Soldiers. I’ve seen other things around the blogosphere including giving books for children’s charities, such as during the 24 Hour Read-A-Thon back in April.
One way that I – and many other bloggers – try to practice social responsibility while blogging is in the types of materials we choose to talk about. I like to read books about social problems, both fiction and non-fiction, and I love to recommend these books to my students and also to other people on my blog when they are a good read and/or about an important issue that I think people should educate themselves on. I really and truly believe that we as bloggers can make a difference in the types of books that people read and the types of issues that are absorbed into our collective community, which in turn affects the knowledge and experiences that we bring to the table when we are faced with someone who has faced (or is facing) hardship or could otherwise benefit from our expanded worldview.
Here are a few examples of books that I have read and reviewed lately that could fall into this umbrella:
- Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper (about child abuse, addiction, sexual abuse, etc.)
- Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water by Peter Gleick (about the ills associated with the commodification of safe and clean drinking water)
- Almost Dead by Assaf Gavron (about suicide bombing and the occupation in Israel/Palestine)
- Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens – How Canadians are Changing the Way We Eat by Sarah Elton (about sustainable and healthy food production)
- Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (about the Islamic Revolution in Iran)
There are many other books like this, and I know I’m not the only one reading and discussing them!
Finally, there are mechanical ways that we bloggers can go about practicing social responsibility. For example, I’ve seen the Carbon Neutral Blogging program around a lot on book blogs lately. As of today, my blog is carbon neutral as well! Basically what this program entails is that a tree is planted to offset the carbon dioxide emissions produced by your blog. Click on the image beside this paragraph to learn more, or to make your blog carbon neutral as well!
Along the same lines as this, I have chosen to run my blog on a domain purchased from HostPapa, a company that exclusively uses “green energy”. You can read more about this on their website, but a quick overview is this:
“We take pride in being able to say that HostPapa was one of the first web hosting companies to make a public commitment to going green. We promote the development and use of wind and solar energy resources by purchasing green energy certificates to offset all the power we use in our data centres and offices. By putting equivalent clean energy back into the grid, we effectively reduce our carbon footprint and support renewable energy initiatives.”
So … what do you think?
In your experience, do people – especially bookish types – blog with social responsibility?