Wednesday, September 4, 2013


I spend so much of my time working through technical chess books, sifting through the vast quantity of data, analysing ideas, and storing both technical and anecdotal material for work and personal use. I've reviewed chess books for magazines, and recommended certain books for players of certain strengths. It is no surprise that in my spare time, I like to lose myself in a novel. I can hardly bring myself to read non fiction (I still look at some historical articles, and I have a year's subscription to National Geographic Magazine thanks to my wonderful sister-in-law) but much prefer entering the fantasy world created by the imagination of a creative mind. I must admit I read a fair amount of novels, probably 4-6 a month depending on how much spare time I have, and how big the novels are.

I enjoy almost all genre of fiction, though I don't really go for horror. I read a lot of fantasy novels at one time, but became a little bored of them, especially the series of books that seem to have no end. Earlier this year, though, I felt I needed to explore different types of books, and I wasn't sure where to start. So I joined the online book community, Goodreads. It took me a little while to get to grips with how to use the site in the best way for me. I wanted to find ideas of things to read, but I don't really enjoying reading reviews of books before I read a book, as I feel it clouds my judgement of what I felt about the novel. So when I read a book, I usually have few expectations of hat the book will offer, other than the blurb that is written on the back of the book.

Pointing pinky, but there's still black coffee in that cup of mine. Look at my eyes!
The thing that really expanded my horizons was joining a group on Goodreads. There are literally thousands of groups and I joined a fairly general book club group, Coffee and Books It is a lively little club, with monthly reads that can generate some interesting discussion. There are over 1000 members so there are lots of ideas coming in of what to read, and challenges issued so as to get members to try things perhaps out of their comfort zone. In fact, much of my reading over the past 3 months has been because of this group, and I have read books that I have loved, and some that I really didn't like at all. But I haven't regretted reading any of the books as they are novels that I would never have thought of before joining Coffee and Books, and I understand that I am broadening my reading tastes.

Coffee and Books, what could be better?

Basically, my experience on Goodreads has been totally positive, and I've reviewed a number of books irrespective of whether I've liked them or not. But like all good things, it can be misused by some people. One of my favourite authors is Joanne Harris, who I follow on Twitter (her twitter feed is always entertaining!) and earlier today she posted about an article from an author about bullying on Goodreads. This article tackles a disturbing trend among some people to trash authors. It's a fairly disturbing thing if some idiots on the internet can create trouble for aspiring authors, and are doing so on purpose merely for the fun of it. Cyber bullying is to be deplored in all forms, and that it could affect the livelihood of individuals is disgusting. The article by Nathan Bransford came in for sharp comments (please read the comments which may not be as insightful as the article, but are more entertaining), and has even caused Joanne Harris to post on her blog.

So will this stop me using Goodreads? Certainly not! But I will be careful about what I consider on the site, and I will probably not become involved in mud throwing threads about novels. I'll keep on with honestly writing what I think about the books I read, and I'll continue in the Coffee and Books group which I've found friendly, inclusive and helpful. This is what a community should be about.

No comments:

Post a Comment