Monday, 23 September 2013

Goodreads Censors Reviews and Personal Shelves During Banned Books Week


Dear Readers,

It’s time we got into the gritty subject of censorship. This is an open letter to all readers (authors, Goodreads staff, and members are obviously included). I say all readers, because do even mean those of you unfamiliar with Goodreads and its drama, for lack of a better term.

Readers, I don’t mean to teach you some of the facts of life, but I just want to briefly (this didn’t end up being as brief as initially planned) mention a) censorship, b) freedom of speech and its limitations, c) Banned Books Week and d) hypocrisy.

a) Censor — v. [with object] examine (a book, film, etc.) officially and suppress unacceptable parts of it. (Oxford Dictionary)

Filter — v. [with object] a fancy web-based term for partial censorship. (Me)

Quality Control — n. the activity of checking goods as they are produced to make sure that the final products are good. (Merriam Webster)

The essential point to take away from these terms is that while censoring is synonymous with filtering, quality control is neither of those, unless we view Goodreads as a product, rather than just a social media platform.

Okay, so let’s say Goodreads is this free “product.” What is the target market? It’s for reviewers and literary lovers to discuss books (and authors), so I’d wager all readers. However, “quality control” via the review guidelines suggests a specific group within those readers. SOME authors, the compliant (they may not know what’s happening at all), and offended fans of authors.

b) Freedom of speech is an international human right. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “e]veryone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference” and “everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

However, in any country, the freedom of speech has its limitations and restrictions, especially in regards to "respect of the rights or reputation of others" or "[f]or the protection of national security or of public order (order public), or of public health or morals." (UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171, available at:

All of that being said, my personal opinion is that I should not judge a book by its author. I don’t like to get personal about authors within my reviews, but I will use some blatant shelving labels as I see fit. This is my opinion regarding MY OWN REVIEWS AND NO ONE ELSE’S. It is none of my business what another reviewers methods are, just as it is none of my business what their sexual orientation is. Maybe I think it’s blatant and I can identify it right off the bat, but that doesn’t mean I should criticize them for it. The only difference is that reviews are OPINION pieces, while sexuality is something you are born with (though I’m sure I could argue nature versus nurture here, but that’s completely off topic).

Another issue is that Goodreads staff really want us to stay on the topic of the book, rather than the author. I have written a number of reviews that sort of go off on a tangent. Will GR make its way around to removing these reviews? The greatest part about this is that GR’s Customer (Don’t) Care director has made it appear a lot worse than I initially thought (other than the deleting without notifying bit):

We recognize that not everyone is going to agree with our approach. People have different - and often quite strongly held - viewpoints about what should and should not be allowed in a review. We’ve had suggestions that no GIFs should be allowed, reviews should be limited to 300 words only, reviews should only be allowed if you have read the book to the very last page, etc.”

You know what this says to me? Goodreads has actually considered these suggestions. 

c) Banned Books Week was founded in in 1982 by Judith Krug and is most notably sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA). Many people recognize Judith as an advocate for uncensored literature, free speech, and confidentiality of personal library records. You, reader, may not know that while she also fought for our right to read whatever we may choose, she also fought against the Children’s Internet Protection Act, as web filters often blocked educational material on healthcare, sexual education and social matters (Krug, Judith F. (2000). “Internet and Filtering in Libraries: The American Experience”. IFLA journal (München : Verlag Dokumentation; British Library Serials) 26 (4): 284.).

Judith Krug was a fucking star.

Goodreads has incredibly poor timing to deliver their amended guidelines to patrons of the site in time for Banned Books Week. This is especially a travesty in the face of Judith Krug’s lifelong fight. And for that alone, Goodreads has lost so much credibility as actually being for BOOK PEOPLE. It’s almost as if it’s being run by staff that have no idea what matters to people passionate about reading. They are slowly becoming just another social media site I can live without.

d) Hypocrisy — n. the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense. (Oxford Dictionary)

Double standard— n. a rule or principle which is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups. (Oxford Dictionary)

Goodreads has deleted reviews that detail the author or the author’s behaviour, unless within a review for a memoir or biography (or, I suppose, book that features an author). They did not follow through on reviews with positive remarks about an author’s behaviour or complimentary shelves about authors. I also mentioned above that part of GR’s argument for deleting author-centric reviews is that it’s not on the topic of the actual book being reviewed, yet they will not delete off-topic reviews that mention very little about the book or writing at all. This is GR’s double standard.

Do you remember that minute group of authors, offended fans and the compliant I mentioned at the beginning? This is to appease them.

You may be wondering, reader, what the point of this extremely tl;dr rant was.

It should offend you to learn that you have the right to read what you want, but you do not have the right to express what you want; to write what you want. 

What has Goodreads done for its patrons other than exist for us to manipulate?

1. Bring the reading community together to discuss all things literary or AUTHORS. This is something you can do on any other site or blog. And we do.

2. A source of ARCs! But let’s not be melodramatic about this. I get the majority of my ARCs directly from those amazing authors and publishers we very much love when they’re not trying to convince us our opinions are incorrect. Quite a few blogs now host a slew of giveaways.  

3. E-book exchanges and sources. There are literally thousands of sites for this. I understand some authors cannot shift from Goodreads as easily, but neither should GR be the sole source for these things.

4. Organizing everything you’ve read or want to read. Hundreds of sites free and with a cost exist for this very purpose.

Unfortunately for GR, amazing book-related projects such as Oyster (Netflix for books) and BookLikes are picking up the slack in, what feels like, a intermediary format period for books (digital publications and alternatives).

Finally, dear reader, taking a stand against Goodreads and their poor choices is not about “sticking it to the man,” it’s about making sure your basic human rights are not slighted. It’s about fighting compliance and taking the moral stance, even when you cannot see yourself physically being affected. Your community is affected. If you can actively practice Banned Books Week, you can certainly take a closer look at websites like Goodreads. I’m not saying give up on Goodreads, I’m just asking "what have they really done for readers?”

Hidden Reviews?

#goodreads    #gr    #stgrb    #bullies    #harassment    #drama    #tos    #terms    #guidelines    #rules    #reviews    #books    #ya    #fiction    #literature    #literacy    #readers    #read    #shelves    #censor    #hypocrisy    #double standard    #oyster    #netflix    #judith krug    #ala    #american library association    #cipa    #library    #freedom of speech    

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

I have this little pink hanger on the left…and below my Kobo somewhere. It’s a link for things I shop for or will probably shop for. It’s mostly a collection of nerdy book things/nerdy nerd things. But people should check it out. Especially after my last “discovery”. Come onnnnn. You know you wanna. I do not get paid for this though.

#nerd    #shopping    #books    #reading    #reader    #reviews    #shops    #etsy    #local    #covers    #clothing    #tea    #infuser    #star wars    #kobo    #cool    #accessories    #fun    #bookmark    #totes    #stationary    #journal    #cards    #coasters    #home    #urban    

Friday, 20 January 2012

My response:

The problem is that blogging and the wide worlds of the internet have changed the world of reviewing as well. I understand that there are “actual reviews” without bias or any of the snark, but the internet has literally changed the face of what reviews are to readers (or the audience). I do not write a snarky blog post (book review entry) for myself or to be a jerk. I’ll be honest, I’m writing it for others and to give them something to snort about (and so readers can know my experience with a certain book). Snark is in, but it does not dictate a blog-reviewer’s posts. We have something substantial to say as well.

It’s the same for movies, you know; take Rotten Tomatoes or IMDB. The fact of the matter is, bloggers and online commentary, in the mainstream (including snarky blog posts) are a lot more successful and recognized than “reviews”. I realize that reviews are for the readers, but they’re not exactly useful when barely anyone has access to them or is reading them. 

I respect this short blurb on the reviewer/blogger-author relationship, but it isn’t so black and white. That isn’t to say some bloggers/reviewers are not rude about it, but you cannot mom everyone and you certainly cannot say that they deserve what they get “because they were asking for it”. That’s like saying “oh, that girl is wearing a teeny-tiny top. Maybe she wants me to force her into sex. She’s asking for it.” 

Bloggers need to take responsibility as well, but authors need to understand that they cannot tell people what and how to think either.

So I agree with Maggie, but I also disagree that the definition of review is so resolute in the world of today.

#maggie    #stiefvater    #goodreads    #good    #reads    #gr    #draqma    #drama    #reviews    #bloggers    #reviewers    #definition    #my    #response    #books    #book    

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Guardian: Summing up GR and Author-Reviewer Issues

Apparently the drama has made The Guardian. Just when I thought shit was no longer stirring. Not that it is, but it is fun knowing that apparently everyone has a hand in the GR cookie jar.

That just made me incredibly hungry.

#good    #reads    #goodreads    #gr    #cookie    #jar    #the    #guardian    #update    #reading    #reader    #read    #books    #book    #bookphilia    #kira    #review    #negative    #reviews    #julie    #cross    #amazon    #ratings    #rating    #dan    #krokos    #bullshit    #ya    #young    #adult    

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Book on Trial #15: The Fault in Our Stars

Title: The Fault in Our Stars

Author: John Green

Genre: Teen, realistic, cancer, death, grief, humour, dark humour, moving on, leaving a mark, God, afterlife, family.

Recommended For: Everyone.


Sentence: I sentence John Green to write a non-teen fiction book. Seriously, I think he should give it a try and (likely) excel. :)

Review: There are so many things I don’t know how to say about this story (so I won’t). However, let me just admit my one criticism: kids, in real life, aren’t this great, mature and hilarious. As much as I think cancer forces a teen to grow up early, there were just some ideas (including leaving “your mark” on the world; and little infinities) that I felt, normally, could not be understood and appreciated by a Hazel-aged person. That being said, I really wish I knew people like Hazel and Augustus.

This story is beautifully narrated and not just a “Cancer Book”; cancer is just a side effect of life (in this story). It contemplates things that I did not even realize I thought about, such as attempting to leave your mark on the world, but also acknowledging that the larger the mark the bigger the scar. And should we, selfishly, be trying to strive for that?

I fell in love with Hazel, Gus, Hazel’s parents, Isaac, and even Sisyphus the hamster (for his brief two years post-Anna).

Spoiler Alert: You will not be without some grief and tears. 

#the    #fault    #in    #our    #stars    #the fault in our stars    #john    #green    #hank    #brothers    #vlog    #nerdfighter    #nerdfighters    #plums    #plum    #gus    #augustus    #shakespeare    #books    #book    #on    #trial    #review    #reviews    #literature    #teen    #young    #adult    #looking    #for    

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A Response

My opinion about Wither was not affected by the drama in the past week and a half, I would like to clarify. And, you know what, I will probably end up reading the second book in The Chemical Garden trilogy anyway, because I’m too curious by nature and tend to hope for better.

However, I did take a look at your response on Goodreads, and I still stand by what I said in my initial blog post. While I agree that the 4chan comment was taken “out of context”, it does still apply to the entire GR issue/author-etiquette. You may not hate the reviewers or the people on GR, but you have stated that you’d prefer scrolling through 4chan over GR any day. The people of 4chan make 4chan what it is, just as the people of GR make it what it is (good, bad, ugly and everything in between); thus being repelled by GR (dark corners and all) just reinforces the offense that was felt.

Your comment may have been part of someone else’s sorrow about a bad review, but it also applies to the bigger picture. It’s already hard to get people to network through GR, who do not already. It makes things ten times easier at my job (searching, listopia, reviews and ratings = bookseller heaven) and keeps people (consumers/readers) happy. In fact, I’d love for our chain of bookstores to start incorporating it as a more efficient search engine and source of information (because ours really sucks).

And I’m not trying to say that you’re not entitled to your opinion, because goddamn it, you are, but I believe there should be some sort of author-reviewer-public/online etiquette. Especially when it scares people from GR. I mean, if a twelve year old girl came into my store and asked me about where she could network and chat about things, I would definitely choose GR over 4chan. If an author came into the store and asked me where she or he could network and chat about things, again, despite negative reviews, I would suggest GR. It just reinforces an earlier point I made; we are united by our love of literature and stories. Should a few really harsh reviews change your entire respect for a website that unites the best and the worst of us? Even the freaking trolls can’t keep me away. The internet is crawling with trolls, and better the troll you know than don’t, right?

Now I know that sounds really, really hypocritical, because people usually believe that negative reviewers scare other readers from reading books that they have discussed. But that is not entirely the case, no. It gives readers something to think about, if anything. And if it scares them away, then they probably weren’t all that interested to begin with and are just looking for reasons to shorten their reading list (while the rest of us are looking for “reasons” to increase it).

I felt like I owed that explanation about my initial rant (before I had calmed down).

But Lauren, seriously, do not let this sort of drama get you bogged down. I know some authors are freaking out about accidentally getting involved (by association). It’s not worth it; just let it go and move on.

Besides, one of the first rules of interwebz arguments is that you heal faster than you’re hurt, because there’s always ten times as many people willing to defend you when attacked/ridiculed publicly (publicly being more than twenty people are following the conversation, haha), unless you are a troll :’D. 

#lauren    #destefano    #wither    #chemical    #garden    #trilogy    #twitter    #response    #natsha    #s    #colourblind    #crayon    #books    #book    #reviews    #review    #negative    #reply    #too    #long    #on    #trial    #gr    #good    #reads    #reader    #reading    #goodreads    #drama    #update    

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

UPDATE: Goodreads Reviewers Attacked by Authors

I’m kind of proud of what’s happening now.

Veronica Roth’s Two Cents 

And also Phoebe North, I do not know you, or your writing, but I really like you. I feel like we could get along. Those guidelines are extremely fair and should be incorporated, for reals, in the idealistic world of authors and bloggers.

Many people were really offended by Julie Halpern's blog-rant about a “negative” review, which actually wasn't so bad. But to be fair, she said she wasn't bitter about losing the baby a few weeks into her pregnancy; I'd say she didn't know she was bitter and pissed at the unfairness of it. She probably took it out on the first “negative” review she saw. No, seriously, hormones people. And her uterus is/was tired. I would be pissed too. Not that I'm trying to give her excuses, but when my grandfather died (though I had him in my life for 12 years) I was pissed at the world too. Also when I bake intensely (like Cake Pops), I get irrational. E.g. me yelling at my sister to “STOP STOMPING AROUND”, when she's actually just sitting down. Stress sucks.

But the fact that authors are responding to the reviewers’ distress tells me a lot. It tells me just as much as it should tell them, when we review their work (even if the review is negative). It tells us (and them) that they care enough to stand up for reviewers (against inappropriate behavior), just as we care enough to assess their work, out of our sheer love of literature.

I mean, that’s the point, isn’t it? The common denominator is that we love literature. Reading, writing, reviewing, arguing, whatever! At least, I hope that’s the point.

Post-update: I, for one, would like to admit that when I write a negative review, I recognize the possibility of the author actually reading it and being hurt by it. I also would like to admit that that has never stopped me before, nor will it stop me in the future. Mostly because if I were an author (which I would love to be), I would not just look forward to those great reviews, but also those very creative negative reviews that actually kinda cut. It’s not the worst that could happen to me, right? And maybe I can use this to improve my writing somehow. Or maybe it will even provide some sort of inspiration. 

#books    #book    #review    #reviews    #reviewer    #phoebe    #north    #veronica    #roth    #divergent    #cool    #authors    #author    #goodreads    #good    #read    #reads    #reader    #drama    #GR    #julie    #dan    #krokos    #agents    #pr    #public    #relations    #guidelines    #pledge    

Friday, 6 January 2012

Book on Trial #9: Legend…wait for it— (REVISED)

Firstly, just like Divergent, I had to revise this review as I had preemptively decided it’s fate. But this was, of course, post-Shusterman so I was dissatisfied with the world. This is my review after I had mulled the book over and re-read some parts.

Title: Legend

Author: Marie Lu

Genre: Teen, dystopian, plague, Les Miserables, caste, class system, military, war, biological warfare, romance, rebellion, media.

Recommended For: Everyone.


Sentence: I sentence Marie Lu to an Avatar: The Last Airbender marathon with me. x’D

Review: So basically my previous review said NOTHING useful. I suspect I was in lala land and didn’t really think about what I had to say. But this book deserves so much better, because, hey, it was fucking good.

June, the heroine is bad ass and clever, but a little spoiled (with the ability to see things from other perspectives) and Day is just…well, Day. 

This story has so much potential because a) things DO happen. I know I said they talk about “things” happening, but they actually follow through. Not only does June (wo)man up; she also manages to break Day out of his executioning.

And b) like I said before, the author does not hide the gory reality from the reader. People die-young, old, cripple, girls and guys. She introduces us to another form of mass genocide, through genetic and disease testing (see Eugenics and improving the human race).

So much of Legend parallels the realities of yesterday, today and tomorrow (but with more extremes in poverty within the region and such, as well as military) that I feel transported into Marie Lu’s world.

But here are my points of issue:

1. Everyone around June and Day seem to be dying. I’m not sure if this is a convenience thing for the story and plot or if it’s actually a hindrance to them.

2. Clearly Metias was killed by his buddy, insane sociopath that’s into younger girls. He shows no remorse for killing and following orders blindly (if it means he gets to hurt someone). For being clever, June catches on a little late and isn’t careful of him when it matters the most. Also, it’s just weird that he’s into her when he’s her brother’s age. Seriously. As for her…is it not just a little crush? Oh god, now that goddamn Jennifer Paige song is stuck in my head. 

3. Where the hell are they going again? To some rebel alliance thing (yay, Star Wars)? Oh wait, the colonies, right? I got caught up in Day’s brother being fucking killed, what!? Sorry.

You know that’s (seeking allegiance) not going to work out the way they plan. They’ll probably be split up. And then I’ll be worrying the entire second book whether they’ll be reunited. Jesus, I’m still pissed about Crossed by Ally Condie, haha.

4. I need me some more history. Please. The Republic and the Colonies. It probably makes for a great fucking story. Tell it.

But I love the alternate POVs and hope to see more of that later (but maybe with other characters as well). Also, I’m glad it didn’t end in the most ridiculous sort of cliffhanger ever. For that, Marie, you have my utter, heartfelt adoration. I hate when books use cliffhangers to keep people hooked to the series. They can keep us hooked by writing well.

BUT SRSLY, AVATAR NAO? And then we can eventually watch Korra (the new Avatar spin-off) later. 

I highly recommend this book. ‘Nuff said. I’ve also sold a shit-ton of copies (or tried to). LOL.

#legend    #how    #i    #met    #your    #mother    #barney    #stinson    #wait    #for    #it    #marie    #lu    #books    #book    #review    #reviews    #goodreads    #lol    #wtf    #avatar    #the    #last    #airbender    #crossed    #ally    #condie    #hunger    #games    #if    

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

More on the GR Drama (Not a rant, just an update)

So, a lovely author named Hannah basically summed up how things on GR go and the drama involved.

Hannah’s Blog: Dear Readers/GR Reviewers.

But apparently this differentiation between appropriate author behavior and inappropriate behavior is non-existent for some (to the point of asking fans to up the good reviews to make them look better, srsly). Here is what one author, Leigh Fallon, had to say about a reviewer on GR:

There is the stupid cow from Goodreads who has been real nasty and keeps doing up really bad reviews of Carrier, then gets her friends to go in and ‘like’ her bad reviews so that that review will be pushed up to the top of all the lists. Now she’s put it up on Amazon! She is a disgruntled old cow who doesn’t like me and how I got published. There’s no point in saying anything about her or responding (she loves that) but what we can do is push her review back down the list by bringing all the good reviews back to the top. How do we do this? Well at the end of each review there is a little button where you can say whether you found the review helpful. Click YES on the good reviews. The more reviews you click YES you click on the good reviews the further down the list that bitch will go. If you leave a comment on the good reviews, that helps too. She’s already got over 20 of her buds to YES her review so we will need to find more people than that to YES the good reviews. There are about 8 pages of reviews (that’s about 7 reviews or something like that) so we can bury this horrible toe rag down the very bottom if you help me out.

As far as I’m aware, you don’t have to have bought anything on Amazon to get your vote to count. You just need to be a registered user. It only takes about 5 mins to go through all the reviews and YES the good ones. I’m not asking to dickie with the system or anything, it’s just moving a horrible review from the top spot. It’s so long, you have to scroll for ages until you get to the good ones. I’d really appreciated it help on his. I’d also love if you could maybe gets some friends or family to do the same.

Thanks a million, guys. You’re the best. 


You know what I have noticed though? The pattern is YOUNG ADULT/TEEN authors. I’m sure they’re exactly like Charlize Theron in the movie Young Adult, since apparently asshole is now a personality trait of some teen authors. And it’s too bad it’s giving other YA authors a bad rep., because there are so many brilliant YA authors out there.

#goodreads    #good    #reads    #read    #books    #book    #reviews    #review    #drama    #lol.    #wtf    #what    #is    #life    #authors    #author    #writer    #behaviour    #behavior    #readers    #reader    #literacy    #bad    #gr    #leigh    #fallon    #dan    #krokos    #awful    #young    

Monday, 2 January 2012

A very heart-felt thanks to Megan for putting my brain images (er, my idea?) onto the screen. :D It looks fantastic!

You can find her at Themes By Megan

I believe this occasion calls for some book reviewing.

#themes    #by    #megan    #tbm    #tumblr    #bookphilia    #reviews    #kobo    #awesome    #ereader