Habitual Mood

Now page and quitting Goodreads

A few days ago I set up a now page to give visitors to my site a snapshot of what I'm currently interested in. It's pretty barren at the moment, but I'm sure I'll start being more interesting any day now.

What I'm not interested in is Goodreads, in fact I think I'm going to stop using it. Or rather I am going to go back to lurking. For the last few years I have been fairly active, logging (and rating) my reading on there and doing the yearly reading challenge. I'm always tempted to put in a silly number, like 1001, for my reading "goal", because there is nothing more ridiculous than reading with an eye on quantity. I've seen people fretting that reading manga or short books is "cheating"; or, conversely, avoiding longer books because a long book still only counts as one book. Really we all should be reading whatever we're drawn to. Reading is a pastime, a hobby, a calling, not a sport - you can't "cheat" at reading!

Then there's the ratings. I never write reviews, because I'm not going to provide content for Jeff Bezos, but I usually rate the books I log, which I suppose is doing something for Jeff Bezos, although judging by the emails I get from Amazon Jeff Bezos thinks I'm a lot more interested in the works of Eckhart Tolle than I actually am. Rating books is utterly tedious, especially using Goodreads' rigid five star system. No half stars! Wouldn't want to introduce a smidgen of subtlety to proceedings. Taking as read (ha) that assigning star ratings is a foolish activity in any case, it is nevertheless true that some books - many books - are not two star books, nor are they three star books; they are, indubitably, two-and-a-half star books. In fact I'd say the vast majority of written works produced since the dawn of time are worth no more nor less than two-and-a-half stars. Once you begin thinking about it, the star ratings become more and more absurd and you end up wanting to hit the back of your head with a ruler for a few minutes as a grounding exercise.

There's a very good substack about Goodreads that's been doing the rounds; I recommend it for a more detailed and considered appreciation of the site's shortcomings than I can muster. For me, it comes down to utility. I already keep lists of the books I read, and have done for almost twenty years. I don't need Goodreads, it does nothing for me other than giving me more things to be annoyed by online. And nobody needs that.

#books #internet #social media