January 7, 2013
I often wonder about the state of literary criticism and if anyone other than academics or literati read the critic’s discourse anymore. In these times of Amazon, Goodreads and blogs where we all shed our opinions and praise or denounce texts or their writers, of what value is the critic?
In an interview with literary critic Daniel Mendelsohn conducted by Bookforum, Mendelsohn says:
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January 1, 2013
In the beginning of this year, my fellow Cecile’s Writers recommended Goodreads to me and I recall looking at them thinking Good-what? After a thorough explanation I could completely understand why it would be right up my alley. So I signed up, familiarized myself with the platform and before I knew it, I was checking every morning to see the latest updates of friends that would often inspire me to read more or to discover new literature. More importantly, I finally had a place to track my own reading and rate all the books I’ve read… fantastic! If you’re a bookworm or neurotic organizer like I am, Goodreads is basically heaven.
All that aside, I have managed to make many friends on Goodreads – both readers and writers – who have enriched my literary life. Every time I have a new friend I race to check their books and what we’ve read in common so I can measure up where I stand in comparison and how similar our reading tastes are. This in turn helps me to decide whether their recommendations or reviews will be of particular interest to me. Fortunately, I have many such friends (you know who you are) and all I can say at this point is that I’ve never had such a long reading list in my life… to think I use to grumble about not being able to read enough when the list was just a quarter of the length!
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December 30, 2012
Well as we round off 2012 and look forward to another year of literary delight (and occasional disappointment), I’d like to share my favorite reads this year. The titles are not necessarily of books published in 2012 but just titles I happened to read. In no particular order here are the books that awed me in one way or another:
1. In the Time of Love by Nagib Mahfouz
This is the first novel I read by Nobel Laureate Naguib Mahfouz and it certainly won’t be the last. The story is set in Cairo where the author is from and the flavor of the city is felt throughout the text. The story begins with Sitt Ain (mother of the protagonist: Ezzat) who is the engine of the story and the link to all the events. Considered a great woman in her neighborhood due to her charitable role, she is immediately drawn as a person with superior morals and manners.
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August 10, 2012
Reviews are fun to read and fun to write. I’ve actually written a couple of reviews for this blog. But there is an inherent problem with reviews. Perhaps this only happens to me (though I’m almost sure it happens to more people).
Sometimes, when I’ve run out of books that appeal to me, or the books I have on my ‘to read’ pile have little to do with what I feel like reading, I go to Amazon.com or Goodreads.com and I type ‘list’ and the genre I’m in the mood for. There’s always a list with a book that looks interesting. Reviews and other people’s likes and dislikes help me find something to read. Great.
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July 8, 2012
Although I have to wait till the end of summer, I can’t wait to go on holiday. One of the highlights of my summer holidays is getting the chance to read more. No obligations and out in the sun, preferably next to a pool.
Three books on my list this summer are:
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April 4, 2012
Since summer, I’ve received a daily quote from Goodreads, the community website for writers, readers and publishers.
I’ve been saving the quotes that I really like in my inbox. Here’re my top-thirteen (in the order I have received them):
We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.
- Maya Angelou
Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.
- Lemony Snicket
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September 1, 2011
Despite the busy time of the year, I still find the time to read once in a while. To keep track of my own reading activities, I used to use an Excel file. In it I indicated which books I had read, which ones I still had to read and which ones I wished to purchase. I had two sheets: read and to-read. Besides the columns of Title and Author, I added the date I started reading a book and the date when I had completed it. I even added the book’s genre. It worked just fine until the computer crashed and I had forgotten to make a back-up file somewhere. Ever since, I’ve just trusted my memory on what books I had read and which not; until a few weeks ago, when I was introduced to the the website goodreads
All the things I had once included in my Excel file are offered by this website and more. Basically, it keeps track of the books you’ve read, the ones you’re currently reading and which ones you still want to read. You can invite friends and follow their choice of books and compare which books you have in common.
Organising the books is quite simple. You can create shelves and categorize your books on genre; indicate when you started and finished reading and share your opinions on the books with other readers.
Following your friends’ reading habits and books still to read (you can even indicate whether you have your own copy or not) can help you find a suitable birthday present, for example. And it is a lot easier than keeping track of the information on Excel files.