metro mama

Thursday, February 12, 2009

On Book Communities

My book club met last night. This month’s book was the wonderful Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Guernsey is an elegant, epistolary novel set in 1946 at the end of World War II. It’s composed of a series of letters between London writer Juliet, and the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie society, born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island. It’s charming and captivating, and it was a big hit with the club.

As much as we loved the book, our conversation wasn’t exactly scholarly or focused, which is fine by me. We were sidetracked by other important topics of conversation, including blogging, breasts, online vs real-life friendship, and “wank banks” (you can thank k-girl for coining the term). I love online book communities, but they’re no replacement for the real thing.

Speaking of which, I’m trying to contribute more to GoodReads these days (I’ve abandoned Library Thing in favour of GoodReads). I finally got around to installing the widget here--if you’re looking for book recommendations, take a look. I’m really trying harder to keep all of my communities up to date, but it’s a challenge. I also do Facebook’s weRead, and Indigo Community.

While I’m very negligent in reviewing books here, I do try to rate every book I put on my e-shelves. Sometimes I agonize over this a little, especially because I’ve befriended a lot of authors in these communities. Despite this visibility, I’m a little stingy with my stars. I reserve 5 stars for only my very, very favourites of all time, like Pride and Prejudice, and Blood Meridian. There are fewer than ten books on my shelf with 5 stars. I’m even miserly with 4 stars, reserving them for perhaps my top 10 of the year. 3 stars means I like the book (I probably quite liked it) but it’s flawed in some way, and it wouldn’t be fair to the 4-star books to rate it the same. I’m a big fan of the 3.5 star, which is possible in Facebook but not in GoodReads. So, I’m always in a quandary when I’m faced with a 3.5-star title on GoodReads or Indigo. If I don’t like a book, I don’t put it on my shelf at all (and I rarely finish books I don’t like anymore). What I really need is a tool that will update all of these sites at once.

Do you belong to a book club? An online community? Which one(s)? Do you rate the books? Are you liberal or grudging with your stars?



Blogger Mary-LUE said...

It's been so long since I've updated Shelfari or Library Thing or Good Reads (I've been leaning toward Good Reads, too.) that I don't exactly remember. I think I am more like you, though. Three stars is a pretty decent rating. I might be a little too generous with four stars, but I don't think I give out too many fives. I'll have to go check!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Brandie Weikle said...

Hi there - I'm not currently in a book club but think I should be. When I'm not obsessively reading the SEO and social media articles that come to me through twitter, I'm trying to be a normal person that logs off and reads a book every once in a while. I'm currently fairly engaged with The Private Lies of Pippa Lee by Rebecca Miller.

I must remember to check out The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. (Love the title.)

10:32 AM  
Blogger daysgoby said...

LOVED GL&PPPS. I'm thinking I should read all your book recommendations!

I belong to Goodreads and love it. It's a little tarnished for me, though, because according to their rating system, a 1 means didn't like it. I keep a 'shelf' in Goodreads called bahhumbug where I put the ones that don't deserve ANY stars.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Mamalooper said...

Sorry to have missed last night!

I am in two book clubs right now - yours and another one I have been in for a few years. When I lived in Vancouver I started one that ran for 6 years.

WRT book recommendations, I have a few friends whose taste/judgement I respect enough to pick up a recommended book even if it is in a new-to-me genre.

I am leery of ratings unless I know the person behind the ratings.

And I think I am getting stingier with the stars over time - but will provide caveats to lower ratings ("not the best but a good beach read").

2:21 PM  
Blogger Ms Blue said...

There is nothing like a nice glass of your favourite beverage, in the company of amazing people, having a most interesting conversation on books and everything else that strikes your fancy! x

8:21 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

I loved the book and wanted to call into the book club last night, I figured it would make me even more upset that I wasn't there though.
sounds like a good time. As is always with you gals.

The librarian at my school lent a copy to one of the friends in my other book club so at least I got to talk about it with them tonight!

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Naomi said...

I've been looking for a (real life) book club for a long time - I recently joined on, as a guest of a friend, so that's a start.

I do have this book on my list, however, at the recommendation of a teacher at my son's school. I hope to read it soon, as it sounds great!

12:42 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

I second what Ms blue said....x

12:58 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I quite frankly don't have th time and extra brain and finger power to do it online! I love the interaction in a real-life gathering, that we skip to and from the book and other topics. Plus, you know, wine and goodies!

But for my reviews on Kittenpie Reads, I'm with you - I note the problems with books where I see them, though I don't do a stars or other numbering system, preferring just a tag for loved it, good stuff, or enh. And like you also, I won't post a review if I didn't like something. I just don't want to trash someone's book online. Of course lately, I just haven't had it together enough to post reviews at all - and I have quite a few I should sit down and write about!

4:20 AM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

Sounds like I missed a very intriguing meeting. (Must remember to bop Mr Earth on the head for a rather ill-timed callback...). Loved the book, as I've mentioned, and very excited to be a part of a book club finally that is picking books that I can't wait to read. What a change from the last (snore) club I was in.

12:00 AM  
Blogger No Mother Earth said...

Sounds like I missed a very intriguing meeting. (Must remember to bop Mr Earth on the head for a rather ill-timed callback...). Loved the book, as I've mentioned, and very excited to be a part of a book club finally that is picking books that I can't wait to read. What a change from the last (snore) club I was in.

12:00 AM  
Blogger Barrie said...

I've heard nothing but good about Guernsey!

12:25 AM  
Blogger Denguy said...

"I rarely finish books I don’t like anymore"
I'm with you on that one.

I'm in a book club, but I've never gone to any meetings yet.

10:29 AM  
Blogger kgirl said...

Where the eff have I been? Totally missed this whole convo. Too busy making deposits to the bank (heh heh).

My GL&PPPS review going up as soon as I can rub two thoughts coherent together.

8:34 AM  

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