Let’s Talk About Books

I’ve been thinking lately about how much time I and other writer-types spend yakking away about our writing and about our industry. Of course, we spend a huge amount of time working on our books and trying to bring them to market, so it makes sense that we would want to talk shop now and then. The problem, though, is that it sometimes seems that writers and readers exist as different species: one creates the work with a great deal of fanfare and bloggery, and then the nameless, faceless other devours it in some dark corner of the universe. But when we writers are doing our jobs properly, we’re also readers. Big readers. I’m a firm believer that a writer who doesn’t spend at least as much time reading as scribbling isn’t serious about the work. If you want to make good books, you have to experience books.

In 2012, then, I’m planning to talk more about what I’m reading–to look at the publishing world from the other side of the fence. That’s not to say I’m going to quit documenting the thrilling–okay, maybe only thrilling to me–world of managing a literary magazine, or giving some helpful writing world hints (according to my search statistics on this blog, a lot of you have questions about Submishmash! I’m planning some future blog pieces to help you out). But I think it’d be nice to strike a balance between looking at the world as a producer and as a receiver of books.

If you’d like to join me in the endeavor of talking about and engaging others in the books you read, here are some great resources for getting started with cataloguing and reviewing your reads:

Library Thing (www.librarything.com)–this is a simple, easy to use tool that helps readers catalogue their books online, find other readers with common interests, and receive recommendations based on readerly interests.

Goodreads (www.goodreads.com)–a social media website for book lovers, Goodreads allows users to rate and review books, to track their reading progress, and event to interact with their favorite authors (a recent live streaming interview with Jennifer Egan really sold me on the Goodreads experience!).

Shelfari (www.shelfari.com)–this site describes itself as a community-powered encyclopedia for book lovers. While readers can create virtual bookshelves here as they would on Library Thing or Goodreads, Shelfari also allows users to create “book extras,” from character descriptions to lists of book factoids. (Fair warning: Shelfari is an Amazon.com creation, so those who prefer less corporate options for virtual bookshelves will likely be better served by Goodreads or Library Thing.)

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