Tag Archives: Berlin

Goodreads for Short Stories?

55 Short Stories from the New Yorker
55 Short Stories from the New Yorker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a fan of Goodreads – even before the website came out I was toying with a similar idea – not so much for the social networking aspect of it – but more as a way to record the books I’d read. Previously I’d done such things by the use of spreadsheets, but obviously a website and app that you can access everywhere and has a database of published books makes that take a lot easier.

Why record what you’ve read?

For me it’s because I’d forget what I’ve read otherwise and be doomed to start reading or even buy something that I’d already read before. I tend to read quite a few books from the library, so a quick glance at a bookshelf doesn’t always solve the problem.

Also I think its good to be able to rate titles – for instance if you’ve read a book by one author and did or didn’t like it then the next time you’re tempted by another book of their’s you can see what you thought of their previous stuff.

I tend not to write long reviews though – usually just a simple rating suffices for me. I’m more likely to leave a brief note for myself on Goodreads if I really hated a book and why so I can remember to steer clear in the future.

Short Stories?

Which brings me onto short stories. If you read a short story collection or anthology, or even an issue of a short story magazine, there’s no way on Goodreads or similar sites of recording what you think about individual short stories. You can only rate the whole book. You could then write a detailed review of each story, but that’s quite laborious and also wouldn’t enable you to search your reading history by author or story title to see if you’ve read a story before and what you thought of it. Given that short stories can pop up in different anthologies I think it would be very useful to do so.

What’s to be done?

I think for short stories there needs to be some way to have short story level meta-data so you could actually tag a short story once you’ve read it and provide a simple rating or a review if you want to. Ideally this should be linked to your ereader software if you read ebooks – then you can just rate a story as you read a collection and update your database that way. I’m sure Amazon must be thinking of linking Goodreads in that way at a book level – how about at the short story level?

What do others think? Do you come across this problem as well?

Iain Banks’ Transition on iTunes

I blogged previously about the news that Iain BanksTransition was going to be released as a podcast through iTunes. I recently downloaded and started listening to this. It comes in 7 episodes so far, each of about 15-20 minutes long. Although according to the press release there will be 23 episodes in total.

What the press release doesn’t say is that actually this isn’t the full book, but an abridged version. This of course makes perfect sense, why would the publisher give the whole audio book away. However, I think I’m going to keep listening. The story is well narrated and very intriguing. Banks uses a number of different narrators to tell his story, which after listening to two and half episodes is still rather enigmatic, but very intriguing. What I like about it so far is the fact that he doesn’t feel the need to insult the reader’s (listener’s) intelligence by explaining everything. We find out more about the characters and the setting as the story progresses. In particular there are two characters who are operating in a world that is not our own, but we have to piece together ourselves what is going on rather than being given an information dump to explain it to us.

The book also seems to be dealing with some interesting themes. It starts by comparing two incidents, 9/11 and the fall of the Berlin wall. It’s very much, I think, going to be a book about the world we live in now, despite the speculative elements. This is the kind of fiction that is both challenging and important. I can’t understand why Iain doesn’t get further in prizes like the Booker. Surely his kind of fiction which examines our society is more relevant than the books that seem to fill this short-list, which apparently with only one exception are all basically historical novels.

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