Monday, March 14, 2011

Personal Life and Sharing: How Much? How Little?

I have a debate with myself all the time about how much to share or not share about my personal life on the blog. Most days, my blog is strictly business: I review books, participate in memes and write the occasional opinion post. Then on Sunday it's time for Sunday Salon, a weekly meme that's supposed to be primarily about what I'm reading that week but always turns into a little bit of an update about my personal life too. Now, I do keep a separate, private blog on a closed service like a heavily edited diary; my online friends there are all people I know well and things get pretty personal there, although there too there are things I don't talk about. But I'm always wondering how much to share here on Boston Bibliophile.

It even comes up when I write reviews. Sometimes there's a little story connected to how or where I came across a book. Maybe I found it on vacation, or serendipitously, or maybe it was tucked into a swagbag or was offered as a prize. Now, I'm not talking about whether or not to disclose when a book came free for review; that's something I always do, because the law says I must. I mean, like, for example, if a book has a sentimental value or a particular memory attached, and sometimes I'd like to talk about that in a review but I'm not sure it's appropriate. It may not have anything to do with how I felt about the story, or the writing, or anything else. It's just a little aside that enriches the reading experience for me, but would it mean anything to you?

And in Sunday Salon, or in other memes or opinion pieces like these, I'm always debating what to tell you and what not to. For a long time I never discussed the subject of my own religion, for example, and personal religious persuasion is a huge topic of discussion on book blogs. There are whole memes devoted to "faith in fiction" and questions of personal religious belief, and bloggers who write extensively about this subject. I'm not exactly sure where that's relevant to book blogging but some people obviously think it is. What do you think? Does your religion affect how you read a book? My own religious background and beliefs take a back seat most of the time, except on rare occasions when I'm reading about my own religion and have an opinion this way or that about how it's being portrayed. Do you need to know what my religious persuasion is? Does it bother you that I'm a little cagey about telling you, and that it may not be what you think it is?

What about other personal topics, like marriage and children and family and work life? What do you need to know about someone to feel comfortable with their book reviews or their blog? Is there such a thing as too much personal disclosure? How about too little? What's your personal policy when it comes to sharing personal stories or information?