Title: Off Topic: The Story of an Internet Revolt
Author: G.R. Reader
This book chronicles the recent changes to the goodreads website and also addresses issues of censorship and the importance of the relationship between reader and author.
I will admit, I was really impressed with this book. Not only was it well written, but it was well documented, well cited, and well informed. Any information you may be interested in about this issue can be found within this book. And usually books like this tend to get bogged down with infodumping but that was certainly not the case with this. I found it very enjoyable to read.
This was a very intriguing and enlightening book. I have been going back and forth with myself about how I feel about this goodreads issue ever since I learned the specifics of it from a friend.
See, I made a promise to myself years ago that I would not allow my attitude or personal opinion about an author affect how much or how little I enjoy a book. Let me explain. This completely a person choice for myself, I’m not saying its right or wrong, its just the way I do things when it comes to books because it works for me. For example, I can’t stand the author Terry Goodkind. He’s never attacked or done anything to me personally, but he really comes off as a condescending prick, which grates on my nerves to no end. However his Sword of Truth series is one of the best written series I have ever read and it is one of my absolute favorites. I love many works by Orson Scott Card, yet vehemently disagree with his homophobic views and political stance. For me, it is important to divorce myself from the author when it comes to their works. I never want to miss out on a fantastic book or series because I have a personal issue with the author. Maybe that makes me a bad person? Does this make me a weak person? Perhaps. But it means a lot more to me to read and experience as many books as I can. For me, that’s the most important thing. On the flip side of that, when I meet and author I that I absolutely love, I enjoy that and love being able to thank them for the impact that book had on me, but I still hold the book itself to be in the highest regard, not the author. The sum of the author, being the product of the book that they created, is the main thing I focus on. Does this make sense? So when I see a book that I want to try out and I check the rating on goodreads and if its a low rating that may influence my decision on purchasing the book. But it does seem to me slightly unfair for a book to be rated on the author himself/herself rather than on the books merit.
On the other hand, there is almost nothing I abhor more than censorship. In whatever form or guise it assumes it is nothing more than an organization attempting to silence something that do not like or understand. I am outraged and appalled that goodreads would delete a reviewers words, reviews, and group threads and harass them in this way. I will not mince words about this; this is definitely a form of inappropriate censoring of material. We live in an age where differences of opinion should be celebrated. Sadly, this world is not that kind of place. Everything has to be politically correct, everything is subject to people being offended. But I do not believe any group or person (such as goodreads) has the right to decide what we should or should not read. It is up to the individual to decide that, and no one should be able to take that away from us. I am appalled that goodreads would delete reviews, among other things, because of content that they believe is not relevant.
In addition, why on earth does goodreads want to delete reviews based on author conduct but still allow reviews that come out before the book is even published! I find this to be much more annoying when trying to decide if a book is worth reading. It seems like the goodreads team is focusing on the wrong thing in these instances.
I have been a member of the goodreads community since 2011, and it is still the website I have frequent the most. I use it countless times every day, and still use it more than any other website. I have found amazing books due to this site, and I have made so many amazing friends because of this site. So despite the changes that have occurred that I do not agree with, I will continue to use this site. Despite all the problems that are occurring, I do still love goodreads and being a part of this community. I just hope that they realize the damage they are doing to book lovers and people who love this website.