Ten Years of Sonderbooks!

I missed it! I was in the hospital dealing with the minor problem of a stroke, and I let my TEN year anniversary of starting Sonderbooks slide right by!

Sonderbooks was originally an e-mail newsletter. I preferred to call it an e-zine, which posted 107 “issues.” I began in August 2001, with Sonderbooks #1. I’m not sure on which day, but at the start of the month, because I posted four issues that month. At the time, I planned to make it a weekly e-zine, and planned to simply post all the books I’d read that week. Publication slowed down at times. Eventually, I tried to read a book from each category and include one Picture Book Pick and one Old Favorite in each issue.

It wasn’t long before I pursued my dream and converted it to a website. I had so much fun discussing the books I’d reviewed with library customers! I was working at Sembach Base Library in Germany, which is a small community, so I became friends with many of our customers, and posting the reviews got us talking to each other more. I loved doing it, and reviewed every book I read. I continued to post it in issues, updating the website at the same time as I sent out an e-zine with that week or month’s reviews. Here are links to all 107 issues of the e-zine.

At the end of the summer of 2006, my life was in major upheaval. My husband left me and moved to Japan. I had to leave Germany and move back to the States. My oldest son went off to college in Florida. I lost my job (because my husband’s term in Germany was up). I began graduate school in Library Science, deciding that if I had to support myself and work full-time, I’d like to do it as a librarian.

With all that going on, I got way behind in posting reviews. But then I got to take a class in Web Site Development. I decided it would be simpler to post reviews one at a time on a blog — and simply post them on the website one at a time instead of in issues. I revamped my site with a logo that my friend Deborah Gregory made for me, and started out with a new look. Here are the 1,250 reviews before the 2006 change.

Even though the blog format is perfect for reviews, I haven’t been willing to give up the main site. There you’ll see the covers of the two most recent reviews I’ve posted in each category. You’ll find links to authors’ websites and to related reviews. I also have links between all the books in each category. Each category also has a main page where I list all the books reviewed since the site revision. I may start having to separate out some categories (like Teen Fantasy), but for now I just keep adding them on.

Of course, as long as I was adding a blog, I also added a blog for Sonderquotes, quotations from books I was reading; Sonderblessings, a simple list to remind me to be thankful; and Sonderjourneys, my personal journeys and musings about life. In case you were wondering? “Sonder” is a German prefix that means “special.” (“Sander” doesn’t mean anything.) Also in case you’re wondering, as a kid I was very very tired of having my name confused with Sandra, so I was thrilled to find German words beginning with Sonder and claimed this German-English title as my own.

My biggest frustration with Sonderbooks? When I began, I was only working 20 hours per week, and I still struggled a bit to keep up with writing reviews for all the books I was reading. Now I’m working full-time, and I’m currently way behind. I know, I know — I should decide not to review some of the books I read. Honestly, if I don’t have much that’s good to say about it, I won’t review a book. However, right now I have quite a stack of books I really loved. Can I get them reviewed soon? Well, while I was out on sick leave, I did catch up and got all the library books I’ve read reviewed. So now I just need to catch up on the books I own. (Why library books first? They have a due date of course!) I’m going to try to blaze through them this weekend, but it’s probably too big a stack to actually finish. If the year ends up, and I still haven’t caught up, I will have to admit defeat.

Because at the end of each year, I love compiling a list of my favorites. There are now ten lists of Sonderbooks Stand-outs posted. Be sure to browse these favorites.

So — ten years from an e-mail newsletter to family and friends to a website and blog that gets as many as 10,000 hits per month! And I’m having so much fun doing it!

In the future, I’d like to get another list of all the reviews going, and I’d like to keep post lots more lists of Sondy’s Selections. But meanwhile, I’ll be happy if I can catch up on writing reviews! And I’m wildly looking forward to Kidlitcon11 in Seattle next weekend, where I hope to meet other like-minded bloggers. Back in ’01, I didn’t know anyone else like me, an enthusiast wanting to go on and on about books, particularly children’s books. Now the internet has acquainted me with a whole blogiverse of people like me!

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