Monday, October 20, 2014

When something you love doesn't feel safe anymore

There have been many well written responses to THIS (safe link original website won't get hits).  For more background or other perspectives you can read one, two, three, or four

Here are my not so well written personal thoughts.
I joined a book club five years ago and discovered how much I love discussing books with other people who love books.  It’s fun to find someone who gets excited about the same books I do.  But my favorite months’ of book club were when the book in question was loved by some and hated by others.  It’s an opportunity to understand how other people think, find out what moves them, what offends them; most of all it’s an opportunity to challenge my own thinking.

I’m having trouble putting into words how much finding the book blogging community online meant to me.  In the past three years I’ve probably read and loved dozens of books I never would have heard of without book bloggers.  While my blog has been largely inactive over the last year, my Goodreads and Twitter accounts have afforded me the outlet to discuss, argue, and engage in my favorite pastime with bloggers/friends who love books just as much as I do.

Since the incident last year where Goodread’s deleted several users reviews and shelves without notice and without saving the content for those reviewers I’ve ceased posting full reviews to Goodreads, but have still posted thoughts as I read books and engaged in discussions with other users about those books.  Another thing I appreciate about this community is the minimum of trolls.  I’m not saying they don’t exist (it is the internet), but I haven’t run into them.  Most people genuinely want to discuss books.

I have read books based on well written one star reviews – if the books sound interesting and the reviewers triggers aren’t my triggers I’ll absolutely still read it.  My go to reviews for any book or product are the three stars.  I barely trust five star reviews anymore unless it’s from a reviewer I’m already familiar with J

There are so many ways that the essay smear job in the Guardian disturbed me.  I’m actually getting teary writing this.  I’m not going to get into the stalking.  It shouldn’t be necessary for me to tell people that stalking is bad.  For me personally I’m upset about the underlying issue – what has been a safe place to discuss books no longer feels safe.  It also doesn’t feel like it’s there for the readers anymore – it’s just one more promotional tool.  After reading the hack job mentioned above I did check the original one star “review” that triggered the author’s craziness.  First of all I doubt “Blythe” the reviewer even counted what she wrote as a review.  She read 28% of the book, intermittently commenting while reading about the things she was finding disturbing.  When she gave up at on the book she gave it a one star rating (same as I do with a book I DNF) and wrote “Fuck This” in frustration in the review section.  To me she wasn’t reviewing – she was finishing her comment log of her reading experience.  When other people responded to her reading log, “Blythe” politely gave well reasoned explanations to why she felt the way she did.  The people responding to her did the same.  It was a civil intelligent discussion – EXACTLY what I’m looking for from Goodreads. 

So now I’m uncomfortable with discussing books on Goodreads unless I absolutely love them (not even three star reviews are safe from the likes of Kathleen Hale).  I’m thinking that the safest option is to post under a pseudonym…oh wait.  Nevermind.