goodbye goodreads

Only three stars?!?!
Only three stars?!?!

I deleted my Goodreads account this week, and it’s all the Rolling Stones fault. I had joined I don’t know how long ago {and now that my account is gone, I guess I’ll never know}. Not like I care. I rarely used the thing. Once in a while I would check in on what other readers were saying about some books I had read or was in the process of reading, though it usually wasn’t that interesting. In general, I found other reviewers’ reviews useless because reading is such a personal experience. Some books that I love are dismissed as crap by other readers. Books that some other readers celebrate as genius bore me. It’s kind of like discussing your favorite Rolling Stones records. Does Between the Buttons warrant four stars {or five or three}? And would you give Between the Buttons a star over Let It Bleed? Or vice versa?

Truth be told, I feel terrible about what I’ve done on Goodreads. To think that I had given Halldor Laxness’ The Fish Can Sing three stars, while Corrado Alvaro’s Revolt in Aspromonte received four. Poor Halldor! I mean, he died in 1998, and got a Nobel Prize in the 1950s, but still! To have one of his finest novels passed off as a three-star affair, just because I was too lazy to read the middle section. Tsk tsk. Shame on me. How do you say “I’m sorry” in Icelandic?

Oh well, I might as well have given Exile on Main Street three stars and Sticky Fingers four. What? Three stars for Exile on Main Street? Treason! We all know that Exile is a classic, five-star album. Classic. Who says so? Rolling Stone magazine and, that’s who. Yet, classic as it may be, I just don’t listen to Exile that often. I still listen to Sticky all the time. It doesn’t mean that Sticky is superior to Exile … no, no, no it just means that, for whatever reason, Sticky appeals to me more. Maybe it’s that rollicking riff on “Bitch” … all the “Turd on the Run”s could never take its place.

Conclusion — I like some things because I like them, and I dislike some things because I dislike them. There is no reason or calculated aesthetic to these gut feelings. They are instinctual, circumstantial. Maybe I was sick when I read The Subterraneans. Now, whenever I see the book, I feel like puking. Yet I felt great when I read Satori in Paris. I found it on a discount shelf in Copenhagen, read it in the Scandinavian summer sun. It’s one of my favorite Kerouac books, yet most critics would dismiss it as the ramblings of a middle-aged Masshole drunk. And it is! And I still love it!

Goodreads claims its mission is to make reading social. With 10 million users, obviously a lot of people believe in that idea. I have nothing against them. Socialize away! But I have decided that, for me at least, reading is not social. It’s very, very personal. Consider that my own personal satori.