Internet resources for book lovers
- For several years I've kept in touch with people who share similar literary
interests by means of Usenet newsgroups and mailing lists. Now many ISPs are
withdrawing their news service (it does require rather a lot of server space)
and so traffic in the newsgroups has dropped off a lot, and I've lost contact
with a lot of the people with whom I used to have interesting conversations
I've found an alternative way of keeping in contact, through Good Reads,
you can find me at http://www.goodreads.com/hayesstw. But more on that later
You can also read a slightly more detailed version of this post on my blog
where there are more clickable links.
For those who have suffered the fate of losing access to newsgroups, there is
a free news server at http://news.eternal-september.org where you can
subscribe to the various newsgroups.
My favourite newsgroups for books and reading are:
The Tolkien group still thrives, but the others have almost emptied of
participants since some of the major ISPs stopped their nntp service.
There are also other newsgroups that are (or were) useful for those who like
books and reading:
Most of the better-informed participants in rec.arts.books took themselves
to a Facebook group called The Prancing Half-Wits, but the Facebook interface
is clunky, and does not lend itself to interactive discussions the way
newsgroups do. alt.usage.english continues to thrive, perhaps because many of
the participants are a bit more computer-savvy than most, and know how to
connect to alternative news sources.
For those interested in the Inklings (C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, J.R.R.
Tolkien & Co) I've started a mailing list called Neo-Inklings, which you can
find at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eldil/. To subscribe to it, send e-mail
to email@example.com, but it is worth also visiting the web
site, as there are facilities for uploading files and photos, creating polls
and databases and more. I've invited some of the former members of the
alt.books.cs-lewis newsgroup to join us there. For those interested mainly in
the works of Charles Williams rather than the other Inklings, there is a
Charles Williams list called Coinherence-L.
There are also several web sites for book lovers to keep track of their books
and make contact with others with similar interests. Three of the best-known
are Bibliophil, LibraryThing and Good Reads. For various reasons I prefer
GoodReads is a combination of a book catalogue and a social networking site
for books, and I think it works better than the others.
Like most social networking sites, you can add people as "friends", but in
many social networks this is rendered useless by people wanting to add you as
a "friend" when they don't know you, don't want to know you, share no common
interests with you and you've never heard of them. It's a bit like regarding
everyone in the phone book as a "friend" -- if everyone is your friend, then
no one is.
But Good Reads provides a good way of seeing whether someone is likely to be
First you need to join, and enter some of the books that you have in your
library or have read, starting with your favourites, but you can also add a
few books that you really hate. Like other such sites, you are asked to rate
and review them. When you've entered those books and rated them (with 1-5
stars), then you can look for friends. Find someone who owns some of your
favourite books, look at their profile and click "compare books".
There you can see if they've read your favourite books, and what they think
them. It's expressed as a percentage. For example, with one of my friends
sometimes reads my blog), it produced this result:
You and booklady have 21 books (or 7.27% of your library and 2.07% of her
library) in common. Your tastes for those 21 ratings are 78% similar.
If it's over 70%, go to the next step, which is the "book compatibility
This compares your ratings of some popular books in various genres, or if
you've even read them. In this case my result was "Your compatibility with
booklady is 63%."
If you have read some of those popular books, but haven't entered them and
rated them, then do so, because it will make future comparisons easier.
So Good Reads is a good way to find and keep in touch with those with similar