As the popular saying goes, we all feel alone in a crowd, and this is no doubt reflected in our book choices. There’s something intensely satisfying in looking for books in the pursuit of building up one’s bookshelf. In fact, the experience is analogous to dating. At least, that’s how a certain website is advertising it..
Imagine. The initial flirtation in the magaizine section near the Starbucks. The subsequent deliberation: “Should I go for it, or should I not…?”
The leap of faith. The fluttering of the heart. Oscillating cycles of love and hate. And then periodic sentimental rememberances, fading away like the receding moonlit tides.
But this is no mere love affair – it’s reading, and sociable, highly opiniated reading at that. That’s the concept behind goodreads, a sort of social-media hotspot for bibliophiles of all stripes –a community for admirers of Russian literature, steampunk, and crass romance novels alike. Where the site succeeds, however, is the fact that it not just duplicates the book club experience -seeing as there are, well, actual book clubs for that- but that it exceeds it in many respects. Want highly personalized reviews from other readers with similar reading interests? It’s there. How ’bout that quote that’s been itching at the periphery of your conscience since yesteryear… turns out it’s there too!
Goodreads takes our collective knowledge of half-rememered, spur of the moment insights and pools them into one. But that’s not to say that individual readers’ voices are lost. On the contrary, the community encourages intimate reviews. The act of reading itself becomes an experience to be treasured and relived. The uncanny significance of that particular passage in that paperback you perused, while pondering posterity, emboldens others to share their equally random, though surprisingly touching, stories. The result is more a mere collection of stories about the stories we read, but a kaleidoscopic meta-narrative that makes literature all the more visceral.
If you’re already a member, I’d love to hear your experiences about the site, and of course your recommendations! Because as much as a website can enhance the experience, it’s still the book themselves that remain central to reading.