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In Which the Blog Celebrates 4th Anniversary

It all began here, at my corner seat at Cafe Flore. Four years ago, inspired by a few blogs that I have followed scrupulously, I found an outlet of my grief in creating this book blog. The best way to cope with sadness (other than debauchery) is verbalizing one’s thoughts. Actually it was no more than a conglomeration of random thoughts, rants, whims and book reviews. Bubbles of conversation in my brain. As time goes by, through brainstorming, modeling, and emulating, the blog assumes a more rigid structure, limiting and emphasizing on book reviews and book-related topics. I wouldn’t go as far to brand this blog, but readers at least would know what they expect because the content speaks for itself: high-brow literature and honest reviews. Shall we look at some of the statistics? These statistics, of course, are made possible by all of you who have contributed to the cause:

Top Posts of All Time by Hit

White Tiger, Booker Prize? (12369)
[173] The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – John Boyne (2313)
[92] A Separate Peace – John Knowles (2292)
SF GLBT Film Festival: Solos (1945)
Mama Mia!: The Film (1801)
[185] Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston (1426)
[70] The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (1407)
[95] The Stranger – Albert Camus (1328)
[183] Beloved – Toni Morrison (1274)
Beijing 3: Forbidden City (1119)

My Favorite Posts of All Time

Facebook’s Predominance over Blogs? (12/4/09)
Posterity: What Makes a Classic? (11/28/09)
Reading Beyond the Words: On Symbolism (4/23/09)
[243] Howards End – E.M. Forster (11/13/09)
[226] Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier (9/7/09)
[195] The Hours – Michael Cunningham (3/30/09)
[184] The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald (2/10/09)
[113] The Gentleman in the Palour – W. Somerset Maugham (12/11/07)
[105] The Go-Between – L.P. Hartley (10/25/07)
[12] The Master and Margarita – Mikhail Bulgakov (2/3/06)

While fulfilling my lust on books and literature, the best thing that happens to me is meeting all of you readers and book bloggers, who contribute to a very thought-provoking and inspiring discussion. I enjoy reading all your comments although I might not be able to get on top of responding promptly. In establishing a voice here, I have found myself–to express myself fully. Recently I feel challenged to be able to post daily, although readers probably won’t mind if I skip a day or two, as long as the content delivers. As to the audience, I have never thought the blog would have attracted so many people from all over the world. Strange is that my friends and family, to whom I target at the beginning of this establishment, hardly read my blog.

So, dear readers; may I venture to ask:
(1) What do you like/dislike about this blog?
(2) What would you like to see different in this blog?
(3) How long have you been reading this blog?

75 Responses

  1. First off, Happy Anniversary. Four years is a long time in the blogosphere when you are steady and consistent, which just happens to be what I like about A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook (nice title too). I’ve been reading for about a year and there is not much I would change, except to see you deal (once in a while) with a book outside your favorite genre (“high brow literature”). I think you would have a lot to offer on other selections.

    You’ve done a great job on the look and feel of this blog. I visit often. Keep the posts coming! Your friends in Hong Kong love it.


    • Thanks Mark. It means a lot to me when I find out there are readers from my hometown. I’m trying to read a variety of genres this year, including mystery. 🙂

  2. happy 4th anniversary and many many more to come.

    (1) What do you like/dislike about this blog?

    i like visiting this blog in search of inspirations and ideas of which books i should read next. i also like reading reviews of books i have read in the past, comparing thoughts, sentiments and memories. there is nothing i dislike about this blog, aside from the fact that from time to time i feel “gosh, there are so many great books to read and i haven’t quite begun!” haha!!

    (2) What would you like to see different in this blog?

    i like it the way it is.
    (honestly, ok i want pics of beautiful people who are scantily scad to go with each literary masterpiece, but i know this is not that kind of blog). ;o)

    (3) How long have you been reading this blog?

    more than a year now. tho not leaving comments very often, yet enjoying the blog immensely.

    once again, congrats!

    • Thanks Vince! I remember your sharing about drawing ideas from this blog. That is one of the reasons I started this blog, guess it serves its purpose. Reading is a work under progress. I’ve got so much more to read. Let’s read together, okay? 🙂

  3. Happy anniversary! I’ve been reading your blog for about a year, and I really enjoy the detailed reviews.

  4. Congratulations, Matt! Four years of blogging is quite an achievement! I had no idea your blog began as an outlet for sadness and grief… as it now provides much inspiration, happiness, and food for thought to your readers.

    I began reading about a year ago, shortly after starting my own blog. This quickly became one of my favorites (you know our taste in books is pretty similar). Your corner seat at the cafe looks like the perfect reading spot. Here’s to many more years of A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook!

    • Thanks JoAnn. I began serious book blogging about two years ago. The new page format was adopted last year, aiming to show readers the easy access to book reviews. I’m always excited to hear readers finding reviews helpful. Likewise, I have been drawing reading ideas from your blog. 🙂

  5. Happy Anniversary on your blog! Its great to see how you’ve turned something that came out of sadness into something so positive and great. Cheers to you!!

    • Thanks Nadia. At first I just kept typing into the computer and hit “publish”, without caring who might even read my ramblings. Then slowly comments began to appear, and now it’s a full book blog. Thank you to readers like you who have made this happen.

  6. Congratulations on reaching your fourth anniversary! I have to admit I always enjoy seeing a book on your blog that you borrowed from my bookshelf or we had discussed as you were reading.

    Here are the answers to the questions you asked;

    1) What do I like/dislike about this blog? Overall, I do enjoy the range of books you cover. If I could make a request, I would love for you to have slightly more GLBT books included, but I know so many of them do not meet your requirements (aka they are too ‘trashy’).

    2) What would I like to see differently in this blog? Overall I wouldn’t change a thing. From a selfish perspective, I would love to see a picture of you reading the book you are reviewing. A picture of you reading while you are at your corner table at Cafe Flore or one one of your trips. 🙂

    3) I have been reading your blog since May 2009. I do not comment often because I am not always conversant about the book you review and I don’t want to make a fool of myself. 🙂 I always enjoy your reviews and feel I learn something from them. Plus I feel like a slacker because I don’t read as often as I should.


    • Thanks David. I am very grateful and happy that you have been sharing the reading life with me. If you look at the books on the right column of the page, the recent reviews, count the number of books which are your recommendation. It’s just amazing how books have been incorporated into our relationship. It’s all that I have ever wanted!

      I am trying to include more GLBT literature titles, but limiting only to those that demonstrate literary flair. I want the blog to be known for GLBT literature, as well as literary fiction, i.e. Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, etc. So many blogs out there blog about gay issues and men candies, but less than a few even give two straw about books, I think I owe readers honest reviews of GLBT literature.

      I’ll work on pictures of me reading. hahahaha…Don’t worry if you don’t comment too frequently, I know you’re reading it everyday and that alone makes me very happy. XOXOXOXOXO

  7. Woo-hoo! Congrats, Matt! You’ve done a fantastic job here and you can tell it’s a true labour of love.

    (1) What do you like/dislike about this blog?
    I love that through you, new and interesting books find a place in my tiny matchbox-sized home (although my wallet and flat aren’t always too happy but reading’s good for the soul) or onto my wishlist. I’m grateful that you take the time to respond to us readers individually, which I know takes both lots of time and thought as to make it personal too.

    (2) What would you like to see different in this blog?
    More personal stuff but then again, I’m fascinated by people. However, as the main purpose for your blog is to discuss books, just continue as you are. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    (3) How long have you been reading this blog?
    I really can’t remember. I came here via Wordy, so however long he’s been blogging for is the answer.

    • Thanks R. I have been mulling over the whole commenting issue. I feel the need to address individual reader/commentator, after all, this is a personal website that specializes on books and literature. I think the good thing coming out of responding comments is the discussion that happens around this blog. I absolutely enjoy reading comments at the end of the day when I come home. It’s a treat!

  8. Four years in the blogging world seems so long to me – only because I just found it about 15 months ago. Congratulations on such a milestone celebration.

    What do I like? I like the high-brow literary reviews. I wish that I could read as deeply and with such insight as you do, but since I can’t on my own, I try to learn from your posts. Yesterday you wrote on my blog the classes you will be teaching this semester…that segues into…

    What would I like to see? Some of your classroom lectures summarized on the blog. I am a life long learner and I truly crave the ability to read between the lines of a book. Currenlty I consider myself lucky if I can read all the lines of high brow literature.

    How long have I been reading your blog? I truthfully don’t remember when I found it, perhaps 9 months ago? But I knew from the first post that I would be a loyal follower.

    Your blog is absolutely one of the tops, in my humble opinion.

    • Thanks Molly. I’m excited that you have enjoyed my sharing of classroom lectures and snippets. I have included some of those posts under the new tab called “editorials.” I wasn’t sure at first how readers would respond to posts about teaching materials, but your comment makes me think twice. I enjoy sharing class discussion because I think it’s interesting to see how readers/book bloggers respond to the same question I ask in class. 🙂

  9. Happy Blogiversary, Matt! I’m not sure how long I’ve been reading you blog, but I love it just the way it is. 🙂


  10. Happy happy 4th Matt! I found your blog through Tuesday, and have been reading it since a year ago. What I love about it is that I love love love your taste in books, therefore your posts are always interesting to me. I can’t think of anyway for you to change it. Your personality comes out through your posts and this is the way I’ve come to appreciate you. I’d have to quote Billy Joel and say I love it just the way it is.

    • Thanks Claire. I believe I found yours through Tuesday as well! What a great match-maker she is! After I clicked on your blog, I knew also that I would be visiting on a regular basis. I was amazed how similar our reading taste is, especially Saramago. I used to doubt whether the reviews are way too long and analytical, but I’m very glad that the voice coming out of the reviews have found their ears. 🙂

  11. Happy 4th year, Matt! I feel like such a blogging baby compared to you! 😉

    One of my favorite things about your blog is your “rating” system (read/skim/toss). I also really appreciate your eclectic tastes and the fact that you’re not afraid to read literature that reflects who you are as a person and will share that happily with us!

    • Thanks Steph. I think I found your blog about the same time I started to read Claire’s. It was at a time when suddenly I’ve gained a group of faithful readers who would leave me comments on a regular basis. You were one of them. I have enjoyed reading your reviews because I know if you like a book, I would most likely enjoy it. You have become a pointer for me. I love literature and eclectic literature is even better! 🙂 I want to address books that are not as widely read out there.

  12. Happy blogiversary! My 3rd was yesterday. I’m glad I was able to follow your lead. 🙂 Have a great day and keep up the great blogging!

  13. This a great accomplishment! I’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of months but I love your posts. They are so different from other blogs on the Internet (not that they don’t have their places too).

    • Thanks Ash. Thanks for returning to visit. The thought just occurred to me last night: “really? I’ve been rambling for 4 years now and people aren’t tired of my voice?” It is truly a blessing, especially it was out of an attempt to cope with the sadness that descended me four years ago. 🙂

  14. Congratulations! 4 years is a massive achievement! I have been reading your blog for about a year and I love it.

    If there is one thing I’d change it would be to add another level to your rating system. Almost all the books you read seem to fall into the ‘read’ category, so it is hard to know which ones you really love. I’d like to see a higher category – ‘buy now’? or some other way of knowing that the book is very special.
    That is just a minor issue, otherwise everything is great!

    I hope you have a fantastic 5th year of blogging and look forward to sharing many more bookish thoughts with you in the future.

    • Thanks Jackie. I’ve also been following yours (although I don’t always leave comments) and drawing reading ideas from your reviews. I appreciate your honest feedback regarding the rating system, because actually I have been thinking about the same. I have trouble rating something that I don’t hate, but I don’t feel compelled to give it an applause. So would that still be a “Read” or a “Skim”? i think the system has adequacy to be addressed. Thanks for the input. 🙂

  15. Happy anniversary! I don’t know how long I have been reading your blog. I don’t comment much but I always keep tabs on what you are reading and enjoy it very much. May you have many more fruitful blogging years ahead!

    • Thanks Stefanie. Although you don’t always leave comment, but it makes me excited that you can draw reading ideas from my blog. So blog serves its purpose I have intended. Thank you again. 🙂

  16. Congrads! Yes four years is a long time.
    I love that you review many books others aren’t doing, for example classics that I have always meant to read and have not yet. You give me hope on that…lol

    • Thanks Caite. I guess my eclectic taste and whims dictate the many books reviewed here that others aren’t doing. I also like to dig the books that are usually not widely read. I feel that classics (some of them but not all) should be re-read because they never seem to finish what they mean to say. i make a point to return to the classics and re-read because I might be able to breathe new meaning out of them at a different station in life.

  17. Happy Blogiversary Matt! I’ve been reading your blog for almost 2 years now. You were one of the first book review blogs that I found. I lurked for quite awhile before I felt comfortable enough to start commenting but I have been enjoying your insightful reviews and thoughtful commentary all along. I think the think I like best about your blog is that I can always count on reading about a book that I might not have heard of or a classic that I haven’t thought about or read in awhile. Your reviews are always thoughtful and thought provoking. I’m glad you have stuck around the blogosphere all this time and look forward to reading your blog for years to come!

    • Thanks Kathleen. I’m very glad you have started leaving me comment. Like in anything we do, I believe bloggers blog to be read and they want to hear feedback. For a long time, before the this blog has really taken off, I have doubt whether people read and/or resonate with what I say in those reviews. I have stuck with my favorite genres: historical fiction, GLBT literature, and classics because these books need a wider readership. Thank you for giving me the affirmation that readers do read and care for classics. 🙂

  18. Congrats! I’ve been reading for about six months. I always love your book choices. This is one of my favorite book blogs!

    • Thanks Amy. I hope you will stay with me and find more exciting book choices. I used to doubt whether people would find my book choices interesting–they are usually not bestsellers or books that are all over bloggers’ radar. Now I’m just happy that the blog has found its audience.

  19. Congrats–Happy 4th Anniversary–time flies, doesn’t it! I can’t remember when I first started reading your blog–quite a while ago I think! I like your blog just the way it is personally. Of course my favorite part is the very literate intelligent discussion of really good books! Here’s to four more years!

    • Thanks Danielle. First and foremost, I have to thank you for giving me the inspiration to begin this blog. I had been reading yours for almost a year before this blog came to being. I’m happy to see that book reviews and discussion have gained weight among media book critics. It saddens me at times when I hear book bloggers’ being criticized as amateur reviewers. Amateur as we are, but honest opinions from real readers are what matter. I strive to take the book review a step higher to include analysis.

  20. Congratulations on four years of blogging Matt!

    I’ve been reading your blog for the past year, and enjoy your thoughtful reviews of a wide range of books I like the read/skim/toss recommendation at the bottom of each.

  21. Hi Matt, I love your thoughtful and insightful reviews, your willingness to share a bit about yourself and the way you think so deeply about what you read!

    I do find your font a bit on the small side, though. I’ve been reading your blog for about 3-4 months I would guess and you’ve made me want to read more of the classics. Keep up the great work!

    • Thanks Marieke. I have refrained sharing about myself two years ago when I began serious book blogging. 🙂 But every once in a while I would put in a personal touch just so readers know they’re not reading some computer feeds. I need to work on getting the font a big larger, but there is a technical difficulty I have to overcome.

  22. Congratulations. I’ve been reading for quite a while. Three years? Maybe more. Your choice of material is what I’ve always liked, so I’d be hard put to make any suggestions. Just keep following your own instincts. It’s been lovely to follow that positive movement through your personal and professional growth which you’ve so generously shared with us. My very best wishes, and I hope you keep this going.

    • Thanks Greg S. You’ve been one of my most loyal readers. In return, I enjoy reading your thoughtful comments which, often time give me new perspective to the books in discussion. I suppose I’ll be following my whims and interests, blogging about books, especially GLBT and literary fiction, that readers often overlook and that bookstores don’t push. I want to review the hidden jewels. 🙂

  23. Happy four years. That’s quite a long time, Matt. You know, I’ve been reading your blog for two years. I lurked around and had a general blog before I decided to start fresh and focus on book blogging – but that entire time, I always came back to your blog.

    I truly enjoy all of the content that you put out – of course the book reviews but also the stuff that helps your readers get to know you as a person. It really gives life to your blog.

    • Thanks Iena. I am happy that my blog has inspired others to start their book blogs. That’s exactly how I started! It’s been quite a labor to establish that voice in book reviews. I have always wonder if readers connect that voice in my book reviews to the real me. 🙂

  24. Congratulations and Happy Blogiversary, Matt! Four years of blogging is a long time to me, and I want to tell you I enjoy reading your blog and that you introduce some great literatures that I wouldn’t have picked up in the first place without your wonderful reviews. Keep those posts coming! 🙂

    • Thanks Melody. No sooner had I found this blog did I feel I have the mission to introduce readers to books they might have overlooked. Books can be very subjective, but sometimes it just takes a friend’s push for you to check out. 🙂

  25. Congratulations!!! Four years is a tremendous accomplishment!!

    I love your posts. You are so thoughtful, deliberate and very, very professional. Your posts always make me think deep thoughts. More importantly, I strive to improve my own writing to be of your caliber.

    I honestly would not change a thing. I believe you have done a tremendous job of focusing your blog to reflect you.

    I have been reading for approximately four or five months now (since BBAW), and yours in one the of blogs I hit first when checking in every day.

    Here’s to another four years!!

    • Thanks Michelle. I couldn’t believe that I’ve been feeding all my ramblings to the computer for four years. It’s been a labor of love I do admit, because I have given so much thoughts to what I posted, especially the book reviews. Thank you for finding those reviews helpful, and yes, I have struggle with establishing the voice in reviews. Friends have told me to refrain from blogging too much about personal life because the blog might lose its focus. So every once in a while I try to blog a bit of a personal life, usually in the form of a meme, to give a personal touch to the blog.

  26. Happy 4th Blog Birthday!! I love your blog. Don’t change a thing. I can hear your voice in your posts and that is the most important thing. What you write rings true and even though sometimes it goes right over my head 😀 I love visiting!!!

  27. Thanks Staci. You can hear my voice in the posts? Woohoo, I think I have done not a bad job breathing my personality into what I write. I hope you continue to find the reviews helpful. It’s okay sometime to feel fuzzy and over your head. 🙂

  28. Happy Anniversary, I enjoy your blog and think you are doing a great job as it is.

  29. Belated Happy Blogoversary, 4 years is a milestone indeed.

    So onto your questions;
    (1) What do you like/dislike about this blog?
    I love the read, skim, toss idea and so need to do something like that on my site. I also like that you inject snapshots of your life into the blog.
    (2) What would you like to see different in this blog?
    Hmmmm I dunno really. I like the fact you read a mixture of new and old and this and that. I would say keep it as it is.
    (3) How long have you been reading this blog?
    About seven months maybe more?

    • Thanks Simon.To a certain extent I think our blogs are very much alike, not to mention we have the same template layout. I have been drawing ideas out of your posts, especially British authors, whom I particularly enjoy.

  30. congratulations matt!!! 🙂 I don’t know how long I’ve been reading your blog but I know it’s one of my favorites. Keep up the good work- I think it’s great just the way it is.

  31. Congratulations Matt! I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, since before I started my own book blog and began commenting. I enjoy your thoughtful approach to everything you read, and honestly I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • Thanks Priscilla. What a surprise! I always thought you started reading my blog when we read Gone with the Wind together, and that was when you first left me comments. Sometimes you just never know who’s out there reading all the ramblings I posted! 🙂

  32. Congratulations, Matt! It seems like a lot of people must start blogs in January….a lot of blogiversaries going around this month (including my second, which was last week)!

    I know I started reading your blog sometime in 2009, although I’m not sure exactly when. I do know that yours was one of the first book-related blogs I discovered. I joined you with the Gone With the Wind read-along, when was that?

    I keep reading your blog because you provide intelligent thoughts on the books you’ve read, and because of the variety of books you read — they often are not the same ones that “everyone” else (I mean people in general, not the blogging world) seems to be reading also.

    • Thanks Valerie. I don’t remember if it was some seize-the-moment resolution that I began this blog. I was definitely down and needed an outlet to deal with my grief. So i began feeding words into the computer and started posting them, without knowing what might have happened. Gone with the Wind read-along was March 2009, so yes, I think you first commented around that time. 🙂

      You don’t know how flattered I am when you mention I read stuffs that people usually don’t read in general. I am somewhat eclectic and that I like to find great literature that has been overlooked. It gives me joy to introduce tor eaders such books that deserve a wider readership.

  33. larger type, gentler (not bright white) background would be good also. Have been following blog about 6 mos. I like your reviews, and for what it’s worth I think two-three posts a week is fine-I never expect daily from anyone.

  34. Thanks Mike. Very honest and upfront. 🙂 I’ll investigate on the color and format of the blog, consider that it’s a template provided by WordPress. Daily post has become a challenge lately so it’s good to know readers don’t expect daily posting!

  35. Happy Blog-o-versary Matt!!

    (1) What do you like/dislike about this blog? I can’t think of anything I dislike. You are a good writer and your reviews or commentary are very comprehensive.

    (2) What would you like to see different in this blog? – I like everything you already do but I’m sure if you add in other things they’ll work as well. I have no suggestions because I think your blog is so well-rounded.

    (3) How long have you been reading this blog? – I was thinking about that the other day actually. I think I’ve been blogging for about 3 or so years and I’m fairly certain your blog was one of the first bookish blogs I found.

    • Thanks Heather. Everyone is too kind to even mention a single thing he/she dislikes. I’m very grateful that reviews are received so well, with solicitude. 🙂

  36. Whenever I visit your blog, Matt, it’s like sitting down for coffee with a good friend. Thanks for the wonderful atmosphere you’ve created here. I’m wishing you continued success and send congratulations on the 4th anniversary.

    • Thanks Rob. I’m so, so, so very happy that you think of me being a friend to chat about books. I struggle with establishing an appropriate voice for this blog. I don’t want to sound too bossy and critical, but at the same time I’d like to push literature that I enjoy.

  37. Oh Matt, happy bloggiversary! I’m sorry I’m a bit late to the party but wishing you many more years of bloggy goodness. I’ve been reading your blog for years and looking forward to many more.

  38. Congratulations! I A Separate Peace probably got so many hits because of all the school children who study it. I know the book reviews I have of books studied in school get visits from kids.

  39. I’ve been following your blog for the past year or so; I always like coming here because you talk about classics and books that no one else is reading.

    • Thanks Jeanne. One of my goals when beginning the blog was to talk about books most people don’t read. I am very glad I have found the audience! 🙂

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