BETWEEN THE LINES

Still wondering about Goodreads

July 17, 2013

Tags: World Fellowship, Stonecoast MFA, Goodreads

Iím appalled at how long itís been since Iíve written a blog. Oh, Iíve got lots of excuses: June was totally taken up with the Rosenberg Fund for Children event at Town Hall and then a week in Brooklyn hanging out with my beloved Josie.

July has been busy too ĖIím now almost through a trip to New Hampshire and Maine. Two days at World Fellowship Center, in the shadow of the glorious Mt. Chocorua and as a guest at the Stonecoast MFA residency in Brunswick. These activities have given me a chance to talk with lots of writers about a topic so close to my heart Ė writing and social justice. And reminded me how much I enjoy doing readings, leading discussions and workshops, and listening to other writersí thoughts on these subjects.

But the subject I want to tackle in this blog is a different one. Since Amazonís purchase of Goodreads was announced in early April, Iíve been trying to figure out how to respond. On the one hand, I was (and still am) upset that the Amazon empire has overthrown another small literary country, one I particularly like to visit. On the other hand, if I left Goodreads, I would miss tracking my books Ė those Iíve read and want to read. (I can usually remember what Iím reading at the moment.) I would miss reading reviews written by my literate and book-loving friends. I would miss raving about a just-finished book I loved. I didnít like knowing that Amazon could use my Goodreads ratings and reviews however they choose.

Actually, I donít miss rating books. I find it very difficult to put a number on a work of literature. Partly because I know and admire so many writers and I know how much time and energy and heart and muscle most writers put into our work. Iím still chewing on this, but in the meantime, Iíve read all these books and had no way to share my thoughts with the online world. So, below are the books Iíve read in the past three months that I really enjoyed reading, that Iíve liked a lot, or loved.

And, I have two questions for my passionate reader/writer friends: Have you read any of these? What did you think? And, are you still rating/reviewing books on Goodreads? Any thoughts about this?

At Night We Walk in Circles, Daniel Alarcůn
The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
Quiet Dell, Jayne Anne Phillips
In the Body of the World, Eve Ensler
A Marker to Measure Drift, Alexander Maksik
The Realm of Last Chances, Steve Yarbrough
Claire of the Sea Light, Edwidge Danticat
You Are One of Them, Elliot Holt
Archangel, Andrea Barrett
The Son, Philipp Meyer
Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Snow Hunters, Paul Yoon
The Illusion of Separateness, Simon Van Booy