Welcome to the third edition of Agog About a Blog, a new monthly feature in which I shine the spotlight on one of the bookish blogs I love to visit. This week I invited blogger Isabel Costello to tell us about her blog The Literary Sofa:
What is unique or distinctive about your blog?
The Literary Sofa isn’t just a book blog. I’m a novelist myself, so there are occasional posts about writing and also my frequent travels. The three strands are equally popular.
How long have you been blogging and what attracted you to it?
I started the blog nearly three years ago without any clear aim because it seemed that every emerging writer had one (note: this is not a good reason!) It was natural to start reviewing books because I’m a keen reader, and it was a combination of the reviews and my first ever Hot Picks selection that made it take off.
Approximately how many books do you read in an average month?
I’d say 8-10, depending on the length. I’m not crazy about huge books – it’s hard for any novel to hold my interest if it takes more than a week to read.
What are some of the regular features on your blog?
There’s a regular Guest Author slot where I invite the writer to focus on a single topic relevant to their latest release. Recently I introduced a Writers on Location slot which has already seen some fascinating and diverse posts on Cuba, Arctic Norway, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Siberia. Twice a year I publish my own selection of forthcoming titles: Hot Picks for the new year and most recently Summer Reads 2014.
What is your most popular post ever?
The book selections attract huge interest and are always the two biggest posts of the year. Otherwise, the most popular post ever is my review of The Light Between Oceans by M L Stedman with 4,000 views.
Have you ever had any surprising or unusual responses to a blog post?
Not exactly. Something which doesn’t surprise me is that if a blogpost title mentions sex or rejection it is a guaranteed hit! When I talk about my journey as a writer there are rewards for being honest – people’s responses are very generous and supportive.
What is one of your all-time favourite literary novels?
It’s an unoriginal choice, but Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is one of the few novels I’ve re-read, and has meant different things to me at different stages of my life. If I can sneak in a second written in English it would be The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst.
What is one of your all-time favourite science-fiction novels?
A genre that is growing on me lately is dystopian fiction. Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven is the best book I’ve read this year. It’s not out in the UK until September and I’m thrilled she’s going to be appearing on the Literary Sofa then.
Can you tell me another book blog you read and what you like about it?
That’s hard, because there are so many great ones out there. I’m going to say Naomi Frisby’s The Writes of Woman because our taste overlaps enough for me to trust her judgement. She always has interesting things to say. Also, anyone who stands up for fiction by women and its right to be taken seriously is doing something important.
What’s the best thing about being a book blogger?
It’s the sense of dialogue with others who share my love of books and writing. To me, blogging isn’t about talking at people – it’s a conversation and an opportunity to connect.
Isabel Costello is a British novelist and short story writer who lives in London with her husband and two sons. Her first novel We Can’t Be Strangers is set in present day London and 1970s Brooklyn and is on submission to publishers. She is currently writing a second book set in Paris. She is represented by Diana Beaumont of the Rupert Heath Literary Agency.