Goodreads

I’m a latecomer to Goodreads. In fact I joined just two days ago, and here we are with the announcement that the site has been acquired by Amazon. I have no idea what that means for either site, but I have to say I’m undergoing something of a revelation in using the site.

One of the first things you do when you register is to rate books that you’ve read. The site, as many others do, uses a background algorithm to use that information to suggest other things that you might like to read.

I don’t know if I’m like everyone else that uses the site, but my first instinct was to rate everything I’ve read that I really enjoyed. All the authors and books that I searched for and rated were getting four and five stars. That’s reasonable enough, I suppose. Rating what I’ve enjoyed before is what is likely to point me at other writers I might want to take a look at, and the easiest books to think of are the ones I’ve really enjoyed.

I started wondering, though, if I should go in and rate books that I thought were truly dreadful. I’ve done one or two, but I’m wondering how many I could actually come up with if I tried. If I pick up a book and it’s boring me after the first few pages, I’ll put it down and not pick it up again. Recent examples are A Game Of Thrones and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, neither of which spoke to me, and both of which I put down after a couple of chapters.

As I gave it some thought, I realized that I couldn’t name more than a handful of titles to which I would give a negative review. It’s not that there aren’t poorly written or dull books out there, it’s just that they don’t get any attention or effort, and it’s so easy these days to avoid anything awful by looking at reader comments on websites and by talking to your friends.

In going through Goodreads and rating the books I liked, I was quickly reminded of my interests and influences – Michael Moorcock, Iain M Banks, Philip K Dick, Alfred Bester, Stanislaw Lem, and many others. Joining Goodreads and rating what you’ve read is a great way to reconnect with the writers who you’ve enjoyed in the past, and I found myself browsing titles on my bookshelf that I hadn’t looked at in a good long time.

Now I’m looking forward to seeing what Goodreads, using the information it has on my preferences, suggests that I ought to read. I’m hoping for some hidden gems and missed treasures. I’m not quite sure what I’ll think if it comes up with A Game Of Thrones or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo…

The thing that really matters

Although not much has changed in terms of what’s visible on the site since my first post, I’ve been putting in quite a bit of time over the last five days in behind-the-scenes prep and organization. As the many who’ve already gone down this path will no doubt tell you, this is not a trivial thing to do.

I didn’t expect it to be a breeze, but it’s nonetheless sobering to look at the variety of things you have to be at least reasonably competent at in order to make a blog site work. You can just go live with the out-of-the-box package that you get with WordPress, but there are so many things to consider that if you’re a tinkerer like me you’ll soon get sucked into learning what you can tweak.

Layout, plugins, design. How do I do an RSS feed? Hell, what *is* an RSS feed? How do I stop spam? Should I be even worrying about spam when no-one’s even seen my site yet? What about Twitter, Facebook, email? Should I be on other social media?

Well, I worried about it a fair bit over the last week, and today I took a small step back to put it all in to perspective. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. The space you work in is important, but It’s the writing that’s vital. If you don’t write, all the window dressing in the world won’t make a difference. In business they call it not sweating the small stuff.

I’ll make some tweaks and changes, nonetheless. There are some things I have to add to make this a halfway-decent place to visit, but that’s it. The writing is the important thing, and it’s already later than I think.

A Journey of a Thousand Li Starts Beneath One’s Feet or: You Have To Start Somewhere

Ever since I left Facebook, for a variety of reasons that I’m sure I’ll get into soon enough, I’ve felt a growing itch.

It’s as if the energy that used to go into reading other peoples’ posts and writing my own has built up like an electrical charge under my skin and if it doesn’t find an outlet somewhere I’ll end up like Louis Del Grande in the ConSec press conference scene in Scanners.

On top of that I’ve been working recently with more interest and enthusiasm on many long-stalled writing projects that I’d like to finish and publish.  Part of the intent of this website is to have an outlet for those projects and see if they connect with a wider audience.

The main reason, though, is to have fun. Your kind of fun and my kind of fun might be quite different, but hopefully there’s enough overlap in the Venn diagrams of our many interests for you to want to pull up a seat at the table and join in the conversation.

What sorts of things are going to be talked about here? There isn’t much go to on at the moment, is there? But there will be, and soon enough. Literature, art, writing and films will take a front seat but the whole universe is fair game.

With luck that journey of a thousand li will turn out to be a journey of a thousand light years.