I Don't Want to Go

The other day I turned off Facebook and I heard something truly remarkable: my favorite social network, Goodreads, gave a sigh.

There's been an alarming commotion going on because of the new enforcement of the Terms of Service, which I understand, but is never-the-less a form of censorship. Unfortunately I'd been unable to give much energy to thinking in depth about the direction this may be headed. I don't pretend to know, but I made a comment amid the maelstrom that Goodreads was the only readers' social network I had, and if many more people left, I would be losing a lot.

Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. UH Digital Library.
Goodreads has always been a somewhat anything-goes kinda place. Between hilarious attempts at reviewing the same old classics and really insightful comments on obscure and academic texts, I've learned a lot and my tbr pile has expanded in leaps and bounds. I've been reading with purpose for over a decade (that's long if you consider I'm almost 22) and I've been connecting with readers online since 2004, and a member of Goodreads since 2007. With the advent of the Goodreads challenge, I thought it would behoove me to read critically. A reviewer I found thereupon is Manny from whom I take the Hydra principle. Manny's reviews have been somewhat inspirational to me of late, and I may have stumbled upon something in these last few days of facebook-less-ness.

Goodreads, unlike the New York Times Book Review, was not built to support the old critical reviews which I have been recently trying to emulate - at least, not just. In fact, before I started blogging, my reviews would vary from one run-on sentence to several rambling paragraphs. My first reviews on aurora lector followed this pattern but in a more mature 'edit before you post' fashion, but I followed suit of formal reviews soon. But let's get back to Manny.

Manny isn't unlike many of the other reviewers on Goodreads, but sometimes his posts are unusual, instead of reviewing the work, exactly, the form of the review is filled with an off-center redirect and illumination, functioning as a way to initiate laughter and, often, discussion. Following a flurry of deletions of author-centric reviews, Manny's reviews of Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, An Uncommon Whore, That's Not What I Meant!The Art of War and Moving for Dummies have all been in this vein, and have been deliberately not about the book, riffing on the title or on a topic discussed therein. Note: as of 10/13/2013 21:45 GMT only three of these reviews have been removed by staff and reposted by Manny. But Manny has not rated them, and this is where I think the greatest disservice by staff to the Goodreads community lies. What ultimately what makes the community and it's content valuable to us, and to the owners, is the value we place in each other and in the reviews we post. I don't find reviews about the author, reviews wherein Alice talks about being inside a review, or reviews which take a topic of the books focus and draw their own conclusions, based on the book or other things, to be unhelpful, in the same way I don't find unyielding enthusiasm, rhubarbarism and .gif-laden reviews unhelpful.

The Goodreads experience, what is it? This is the title of a shelf which Manny has created rather than using due-to-author or a more sardonic variation there-of, as many users did before the crackdown, and some brave ones continue to do. I don't want to stop reading serious and fleeting and joking reviews. Because despite the fact that all the reviews on the front page of The Hydra are all variations of Manny's, there is still discussion and posting going on! While this rages on I'll be forced to unusual activities, but I will continue to socialize and won't delete reviews of my own accord, and will fervently hope that Goodreads will come to it's senses posthaste. I don't want to miss out on .gif reviews, rhubarb reviews, traditional reviews, or - whatever category you fall into, dear fellow reader. I will fight for the right to write off-topic reviews because I want to stay.

My pre-read review of I Don't Want to Go by Niki Burton.