Australian LitBlog Snapshot #11 - Kim Forrester

Kim Forrester is our Australian in London. As she explains below, she runs two
weblogs: kimbofo for her everyday stuff - cooking, photos, films etc; and Reading Matters which is her literature related venture. There is always a lot of good stuff in both.

1. How would you describe your weblog to someone who wasn't at all sure what this blogging business is about?

My weblog is basically a whole bunch of book reviews (334 at last count) available to view online, with a smattering of posts that concentrate on bookish subjects. Readers are free to comment on anything I write, and, as a result, quite a lot of stimulating conversations occur about particular books between people from across the world. (None of my friends or colleagues read, so having an avenue in which to discuss books is the bit I enjoy most.)

2. Have there been any major changes in your weblog's direction, theme or subject since you started?

I have had an online presence since the year 2000. I built my own (very basic) website called "kimbofo" using HTML where I kept a diary, published photographs and posted the odd book review or two. Everything was hand-coded and I had to upload new posts via FTP software. It was pretty damn time-consuming and fiddly, I have to say, but I
found it a good way to let friends and family back home in Australia know what I was getting up to on this side of the world.

I didn't discover blogs until 2003 and then decided to "upgrade" my website to a Typepad account in early 2004 because I really wanted a facility that would enable people to comment on my posts. I began with two blogs -- "kimbofo" for normal every-day posts, and "Reading Matters" for book reviews. Initially "Reading Matters" was nothing more than a place to keep track of the books I had read, because I used to hate drawing a blank whenever anyone asked me "read any good books lately?" Some of the "reviews", if you could call them such, were pretty pitiful and not particularly well thought out. I cringe when I go back and look at some of the earlier ones written in 2001-2004. But over time, as my audience grew and I got more and more comments, my reviews became more polished and more professional because I understood I was writing for an audience. It helped that I occasionally reviewed (non-fiction) books in my day job, so I kind of knew what I was doing.

In 2005 I decided to up the ante a bit and wrote bookish posts as well as reviews. I even started my own online reading group (discussions are available to view which boasted about 40 members at one stage. By 2006 I was in over-drive posting reviews and commentary pretty much each and every day.

But in May 2007 I took on the editorship of a specialist weekly newspaper so I no longer had as much time and energy to devote to my blog as I once enjoyed. I limped along, but ended up cancelling the book group in December, and this year I've scaled things right back to the bare minimum. These days I pretty much stick to book reviews -- roughly one a week -- and try not to fret too much about site stats and the number of comments that have (or haven't) been left.

3. Do you have more books in your house than you can possibly read? If so, why?

I live in a very tiny one-bedroom apartment with my Other Half. Both of us work in magazine publishing and love to read (me fiction, him non-fiction), so the place is always cluttered with printed matter of all types: books, magazines, newspapers, brochures and the like. A few years ago we put all our books in storage to free up some room, but all that really did was create more space for more printed matter to accumulate.

Bearing in mind that I do not hold onto books once I have read them -- they go to charity, I post them to my sister or I list them on bookmooch ( -- I always seem to have more books in my house that I haven't read than I have read. The current count is roughly 100, but there's another 150 or so in storage...

I will be the first to admit that having so many (unread) books is an addiction. I have been known to throw away clothes in order to create more space for books! They are piled on my bedside table, on the dresser and on the top self of my wardrobe. I keep an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of them all. Truly. But I hasten to add that I haven't spent a fortune on this collection: half the fun of acquiring books is scoring cheap ones from charity shops or "free" ones from online swap sites. I'm also in the rather fortunate position of being on quite a few publishers' distribution lists, so I regularly get sent copies for review purposes. There's nothing I love more than coming home to find the postman's delivered me a whole stack of new books to add to the ever-growing collection!

4. If there were three things you'd like to include in your weblog if you had more time/money, what would they be?

1. A better search facility; 2. My own domain name; and 3. A comprehensive guide to literary sites -- including bookshops -- around London.

5. How would you eat an elephant?

I wouldn't: I don't eat red meat!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 16, 2008 10:43 AM.

Interview with Mem Fox and Helen Oxenbury was the previous entry in this blog.

Tim Winton Watch #7 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en