Pros: Clever, creative, useful, entertaining
Cons: Not a one
Rating: 5 out of 5
Margaret Mason’s No One Cares What You Had for Lunch promises us 100 Ideas for Your Blog. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I heard of this book, but I remember thinking that it sounded both useful and entertaining, so I decided to add it to my wishlist and, thanks to a gift from my delightful husband, I finally got to give it a read.
If I hadn’t read a review of the book that intrigued me I almost certainly wouldn’t have picked it up. This is the sort of trendy topic that tends to inspire writers to try to make a quick buck by whipping through and capitalizing on a subject’s popularity without having to put in a lot of hard work. In this case, however, Ms. Mason has done a fantastic job of addressing the topic of blogging in a manner that will be of great benefit to her readers and is fun to read.
The book is broken up into five chapters: Fifteen Minutes to Fame; Thirty Minutes Away from the TV; An Hour at the Screen; Take Your Time; and Think Like a Writer. As you might guess from the titles, the suggestions in each chapter are divided primarily by the amount of time they’re likely to take. Some suggestions involve individual posts. Some tackle your overall approach to your blog. Others deal with ongoing projects within your blogging, or your relationship to other blogs and bloggers. The entries are short and pithy, much like blog entries themselves, serving as great examples as well as instructions. Many of them further include real-world examples from various blogs (the author’s and those belonging to other bloggers) that entertain and amuse while perfectly demonstrating Ms. Mason’s points. For instance, when discussing ‘exploiting the youth’ (or using kids’ wacky antics as blog fodder), she shares the following delightful conversation with a three-year-old:
Me: What do pigs say?
Trevor: …ahh… Oink! Oink!
Me: What do dogs say?
Trevor: Bark! Bark!
Me: What do elephants say?
Trevor: …aaah… Prrrrrbt!
Me: What do Trevors say?
Ms. Mason has a great handle on the kind of posts that intrigue and interest people. Better than any particular individual suggestion, what I took away from this book is a general feel for the kinds of personal posts and details that readers find fascinating and why. Already I feel that I’ve benefited from her advice. Yesterday I made a post to Errant Epiphanies (the blog where I often post writing exercises and ideas) that far eclipsed the quality of previous posts, and boy did the traffic to that post (The Disappearing Gold) reflect it!
There are actually 122 entries in No One Cares What You Had for Lunch, so you aren’t going to run out of ideas and suggestions any time soon. But the best thing Ms. Mason did for her readers was to use the whole of her book to convey so beautifully the feel of the posts that most attract and satisfy readers. If you ever have the feeling that your blog isn’t quite what you’d like it to be, then I highly recommend picking up Ms. Mason’s book.