This is the report of my year on GoodReads.com, where I repost short versions of my reviews. Goodreads still has the “star” system of ratings which I’m not crazy about, simply because it lacks subtlety. You can “not like” a book while having found it excellent. It might have been masterfully written but left a bad aftertaste – or recurring nightmares. Or you can say you “really liked it” but have to confess that you don’t know why, or that you didn’t understand it, or that it is forgettable. It’s a flawed system, but nou ja, as we say with a shrug in Afrikaans, it is what it is. I note with interest that Science Fiction, as a genre, is simply not as popular as any other, and that Paul Auster, though brilliant, is still an acquired taste, especially his latest novel. It reminds me that I gave Sjón a rare five-star-rating – Icelandic authors was a delightful discovery in 2016. Unsurprisingly, the very-hot-right-now Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien has been highly rated on GoodReads. Most people I’ve spoken to say it was hard to read, and even harder to make sense of, but they nevertheless were moved and thought it was worthwhile. Funny that – it’s almost on the edge of being unreadable. But there is a thin line between genius and madness, and a thin line between daringly brilliant and plain old confused, isn’t there. And this one teeters on the tightrope.
Besides these features, I did not only read 15 books – I just posted 15 reviews. I read about 3 per week, simultaneously, but many are not worth reviewing and quite a few are old publications that I’m indulging in again – and I do tend to raid the second-hand shops for books that have been reviewed to death. I have sworn off writing reviews for TripAdvisor, simply because of the number of fake reviews and pure nonsense on the site. I am also dubious about Amazon reviews, considering how they are manipulated, and have my doubts about review aggregator sites, even LitHub.com and idreambooks.com – mainly because of how they source reviews. And in the case of LitHub, their RSS doesn’t work. In both instances, I am reserving judgment. For now, GoodReads it is. At least I can write what I want, at the length I want it, with the emphases that I want. And occasionally they send me invitations to discussions with authors whom I like. Though I have yet to get a question in edgeways.