Amy and I love to read. For a number of years, I’ve recorded everything I read on Goodreads. When I write a blog post reviewing a book, I usually (but not consistently …) repost it on Goodreads and occasionally remember to post it on Amazon. Regardless, the definitive log of what I’ve read is on my Goodreads Bookshelf.
Last year Goodreads started doing a fun compilation of all that a user read in the past year with their Year in Books summary.
My goal for this year was to read 100 books. I’m at 73. The year isn’t over yet and I typically read a dozen or so books in the last two weeks of the year so we’ll see where I actually end up.
I’ve always been a high rater of books. Instead of 1 to 5, I almost always rate in the 3 to 5 range. I do this because if I don’t like a book while I’m reading it, I stop, and don’t log it.
Not surprisingly my three top genre’s are non-fiction, fiction, and biography. In the fiction category is a lot of science fiction. I’m not sure where the categories came from but in 2018 I’ll do a better job of shelving my books by actual category.
22,201 pages is a lot of pages to read. For perspective, that’s about 60 pages a day of reading. My reading between Kindle and physical book is probably 75% Kindle / 25% physical. When I reflect on Amazon’s impact on my reading (which includes Goodreads), it’s pretty remarkable.
My goal in 2018 will again be 100 books.
Amazon is setting up Kindle bookshelves for some people, including me. If you want to see some of my favorite books from 2016 that I read on my Kindle, take a look at my Feld Thoughts 2016 Books.
I log all the books I read (Kindle or physical) on my Goodreads page. Interestingly, Goodreads is also owned by Amazon. It’ll be fun to see if / how they ultimately integrate all this stuff.
I just spent around an hour shrinking my Facebook friends list from 1,500+ to 535. I ignored another 2,000 friend requests. I made my entire Facebook feed from the beginning of time private, which eliminated 33,000+ followers (dear Facebook followers – you really meant to follow me on Twitter, that’s where all the public fun is.) I turned off all my email notifications.
Hint – if you want to do stuff like this, use the iOS app instead of the web app – it’s so, so, so much faster. Last night I tried to do this on the Facebook web app in front of the TV. It was a total fail – every few unfriends caused the page to refresh and I had to start scrolling all over again. This morning I was pleasantly surprised with how much better / cleaner / faster it was with the iOS app.
I cleared out all my outstanding LinkedIn friend requests. I’m much more promiscuous there and will accept anyone who either I recognize, writes me a personal note, or seems interesting. I turned off all my email notifications and re-inserted LinkedIn in my Daily browser folder.
I spent some time fixing up all the friend requests in Goodreads. I don’t care who follows me, but I got rid of the folks I follow who I don’t know and focused that list a lot better to see if the feed would be useful going forward.
I just deleted everything off my iPhone that I never use and put the infrequently used stuff in various folders. That took things from eight screens to two. Charm King – how the fuck did you end up on my iPhone?
It will continue. Feedly – clean up feeds and add ones from companies in our portfolio that I haven’t been following. Consolidate all photos and music in one place and make sure they are accessible from all computers. And whatever else I run into.
There’s something very satisfying about the winter cleaning that I seem to do every year.
As we gear up to release Uncommon Stock, our first FG Press book, we just had an internal discussion about book blurbs. The concept of a blurb was apparently invented in 1907. The origin story of the blurb is amusing – according to Wikipedia:
“The word blurb originated in 1907. American humorist Gelett Burgess’s short 1906 book Are You a Bromide? was presented in a limited edition to an annual trade association dinner. The custom at such events was to have a dust jacket promoting the work and with, as Burgess’ publisher B. W. Huebsch described it, “the picture of a damsel — languishing, heroic, or coquettish — anyhow, a damsel on the jacket of every novel” In this case the jacket proclaimed “YES, this is a ‘BLURB’!” and the picture was of a (fictitious) young woman “Miss Belinda Blurb” shown calling out, described as “in the act of blurbing.”
While the history lesson is cute, the blurb has long since ceased to be useful. As a reader, I’m incredibly suspicious of them because as a writer, I know how they are manufactured. More on that in a bit, but for now, take a few minutes and check out some #HonestBlurbs.
Our internal back and forth on whether to include blurbs on our FG Press books resulted in the following rant from me.
I think endorsements like this are bullshit. I’m literally getting asked daily (5 times / week – sometimes more) to endorse books. I used to do it, now I say no unless it’s a friend, and even then they usually write the endorsement.
It’s an artifact of the publishing business that existed before “earned media” – blog posts, reviews, etc.
I’d love to just BLOW UP blurbs.
I think we should be focusing on real earned media, real reviews, real substantive support, rather than marketing nonsense the industry has been pushing since the early 1900s.
We had a little more back and forth but the more I thought about it, the more I have no interest in blurbs. I’ve been saying no to a lot of the requests I get recently, after having my name on probably 50 blurbs for other books in the last few years. At first, I always read the book before writing the blurb. Then, I started skimming the book before writing the blurb. Recently, I’ve been either asking the writer to send me a draft of the blurb they’d like, or I’ve just said something generically positive but non-substantive.
I’ve watched the other direction work the same way. It’s similar to press release quotes – it ends up being manufactured PR stuff, rather the authentic commentary. The idea that a static, short, manufactured blurb from a well known person as an endorsement of a book is so much less authentic than Amazon reviews, GoodReads, and blog posts from people who actually read the book.
When people send me a note that they liked my book, I ask them to put up a review on Amazon if they are game. When someone writes with constructive feedback on a book I’ve written, I ask them to put up a review on Amazon, with the constructive feedback, if they are game. I appreciate all the serious feedback – both good and bad. Sure – I get trolled by some people who say things like “Feld is a moron, this book is another stupid thing he’s done.” I ignore that kind of thing, and feel that most rational humans can separate the signal from the noise.
So, at least for now, we aren’t going to do blurbs on FG Press books. Instead, we’ll ask people to put up reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, their blog, and other sites that make sense. And, when someone requests a blurb from me, I’m going to start passing and defaulting to writing a review on this site and putting up the review on Amazon on GoodReads, like I have for many of the books I’ve read.