Category Archives: Commentary

Goodreads Good Reads — or Not

Goodreads has published its 2012 Choice Awards Winners and the news is not good.

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I read the winners with mild astonishment, only because I thought Goodreads was a community of semi-voracious, sophisticated readers and the choices on this list that I am familiar with are…banal, at best. Since most of my reads during booklolly’s year-long challenge were from the library, I didn’t get to all the most current fiction but I did read a fair few of the books that made the list. Oy.

Airport paperback time. Forget language that opens your mind and lifts your spirit. Forget original plots. Forget real heroes and a pronounced aversion to wallowing in the detritus of unimaginative lives. Forget actual adventure with inherent, not manufactured, challenge. Forget books that don’t read like a PR person edited them to create artificial cliffhangers and clumsily spun conclusions. Hell-oh, trendy over literate.

I was delighted with one choice–Mary Oliver’s latest poetry collection, A Thousand Mornings. Haven’t reviewed it and I know the snobbiest, most erudite poets consider Oliver too accessible but she does numinous very very well.  So good for her.

Here’s the Goodreads list with links to the ones I read and blogged:

Winners of the Goodreads Choice Awards

Best Fiction: The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling — reading this at present. Forcing myself to finish. Unappealing in every possible way. JKR is a brand now and I guess she can write whatever she likes but I probably won’t slog through any more of her stuff.  IMHO, the first few HP books were delightful fantasy that turned preachy and far less convincing as the series progressed.

Best Mystery & Thriller: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl — waaay too predictable, pop psychology, and sour, unsatisfactory ending.

Best Historical Fiction: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Best Fantasy: The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King, Jae Lee illustrator

Best Paranormal FantasyShadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness — A Discovery of Witches was such a missed opportunity that I decided not to bother with sequels in this “Twilit” series.

Best Science Fiction: The Long Earth by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

Best Romance: Fifty Shades Freed by E.L. James

Fifty Shades of Grey — 50 Shades of Tired Twilight Fan Fiction. Didn’t earn its page length and the sex wasn’t too hot, either. Not a fan of glorifying abusive relationships. Christian Grey = day laborer and you ain’t got no story.

Best Horror: The Twelve  by Justin Cronin

Best Memoir & Autobiography: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found…should have stayed lost. Might have been more interesting. Nothing happens but the editors re-engineered to be repetitive, non-delivering cliff hangers. Pretty insulted and astonished that people think this is some kind of epic, life-changing adventure. Not.

Best History & Biography: Elizabeth the Queen: the Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell Smith

Best Nonfiction: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Best Food & Cookbooks: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food from My Forntier by Ree Drummond

Best Humor: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir  by Jenny Lawson

Best Graphic Novel & Comics: The Walking Dead, Vol 16: A Larger World by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, illustrator

Best Poetry: A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver  Mary Oliver is just great. Really.

A few of these Goodreads winners are already in TV or film production. I feel like we live in Bradbury’s F. 451 world. What a grumpy curmudgeon!

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Here’s hoping the ones I haven’t read are knock-outs.

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