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?