Jen’s Book Thoughts: If You Don’t Know Her, It’s a Crime
Posted by: Keir Graff
Mystery Month continues at Booklist and we’re spreading the love, inviting respected magazines, blogs, and websites to make a case as to why you should read them. Today we’re heading from Jen Forbus, whose sole-proprietor blog, Jen’s Book Thoughts, won Best Thriller, Suspense, Crime, Mystery Book Blog during Book Blogger Appreciation Week in 2010. A Bouchercon regular, Forbus is a writer and fan who has fans among writers. Read on to learn why they all want to stay on her good side.
Jen’s Book Thoughts is a blog I started in January of 2008 that focuses almost exclusively on crime fiction. I started the blog as a way to talk about books after I left the classroom—I taught high-school English in an urban school district—and wasn’t talking to my students every day about books anymore. I missed the stimulation book talk creates! Even today, my work on my blog is extremely selfish. I get so much energy and excitement from working on a project.
I’ve covered most of the range of subgenres on the blog, but my favorites tend to be more in the realm of the hard-boiled and thriller novels. You usually won’t see too much paranormal, romantic suspense, or very cozy mystery coverage. I do, however, constantly challenge myself to try new authors, so the blog doesn’t have a tendency to be overly repetitive. Robert Crais and Linda Fairstein actually sparked my love of crime fiction. They remain favorites of mine to this day. I also never miss a book by Alafair Burke, Michael Koryta, Craig Johnson, or Gregg Hurwitz.
My blogging philosophy is pretty simple. I want to encourage people to read, especially crime fiction. I want them to be as excited about books as I am. I find a lot to value and enjoy in the crime fiction genre; therefore, I chose to point people to books and authors I think are worthwhile, rather than point people away from those I think aren’t. If I can’t be predominantly positive about a book, I won’t post a review about it. I’ll always be honest, and my content is sincere, but I choose not to spend time and blog space on books that weren’t stand-outs to me. Jen’s Book Thoughts is a hobby and I want to continue to enjoy it; spending my time focused on the good books is one way I make sure that happens.
Another way I continue to enjoy my blogging is by searching for creative ways to approach books. Some of the features I’ve done on the blog include “Crime Writers Caught Reading Crime,” “You’ve the Right to Six Words: Memoirs from Crime Fiction’s Greatest Writers,” “Detectives Around the World Theme Week.” I look for ways to engage people in the genre: authors, other bloggers, readers, etc. I also enjoy interviewing authors for the blog, attending events and covering those with blog posts, as well as sharing general news about what is going on in the crime fiction community. April has traditionally been when I host a theme week focused on some element of crime fiction. This year’s theme week was “Heroes and Villains.” To wrap that project up, I wrote a post about character theme songs. I recruited readers and authors to contribute and the outcome was quite fun. If I can find a way to piggyback on pop culture, I’ll pursue that as well. With this year’s People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue, I created two blog posts: Crime Fiction’s Sexiest Male Authors and Crime Fiction’s Sexiest Female Authors. A few people who didn’t read the posts overreacted to the concept, but those who read them got the gist and they were quite popular.
Since I started the blog in 2008, a lot of changes I never imagined have come about. I am now writing for Shelf Awareness for Readers and Crimespree Magazine. I also help with social media for the Criminal Element website. So there’s no telling what the future holds for me or for Jen’s Book Thoughts, but I’m certainly enjoying every minute of it.
Jen’s Book Thoughts Data
Contact email: jensbookthoughts AT gmail.com
Frequency of publication: varies, average 3 or 4 posts per week
Cost to subscribe: free