The highest result of education is tolerance. -Helen Keller
Books help the world become a better place, I believe.
On a week when the world seems to be falling apart, it’s a necessary statement. I also believe what Helen Keller said is true, that when we read, we become more educated, our hearts become more informed and understanding and open, and we, as readers, are equipped to help make the world a better place. We need books.
Have you read a book recently? Did you think about it while you read, and after you finished?
There are 3 big ways you can help encourage reading for others and spread the word about books you’ve read, whether you liked them or not.
1) Join Goodreads or visit solid book sites for book recommendations. Of course, I love GreatNewBooks (I’m one of the founders), and also have friends who run SheReads and others. Set up a profile and start tracking the books you’ve read, or start joining in the discussions at your favorite book site.
2) Make note of books you want to read by checking Want To Read beside a book on your stack or wish list, or chat with others about books they’ve enjoyed and recommend, either in-person (always the best way to engage about books, right?) or on an organic book recommendation site like Great New Books. Most readers love to hear about books that move other people. Don’t be afraid to share your favorites.
3) Share what you think about the book in a sentence or two, and rate it when you’re finished reading.
What did you think? It’s as easy as, for example: “I really enjoyed this book because of the characters and the page-turning story. I recommend it to readers who enjoyed Rosamunde Pilcher’s THE SHELL SEEKERS.”
Or if you didn’t connect with the story, don’t be afraid to share that either, for example: “I read about halfway through the story and felt turned off by the main character and the stiff dialogue.”
Bonus: If you happen to have an extra 30 seconds, find the book at an online retailer like Amazon and share your thoughts about the book, and rate it, there, too.
Above all, as with all else in life, be kind. A book is difficult to write, even if you don’t think it’s good. Most novels range from 75,000 to 120,000 words and take a year or more of work. For the large majority of writers, their income from writing needs to be supplemented by another job.
Why go to all this trouble?
Because in a world walking ankle-deep through a flood of lackluster books, we need and want to hear about the books that really stand out. Great books help make the world a better place.
So, the next time you finish a book, take a few extra seconds to share at least a rating of what you thought, and even write a sentence or two about it. Because, from what I’ve heard from my author / writer friends, the more ratings they get on their books, good or bad, the more the search engine genies are able to help point others to their books as a match of a book that might interest them.
What do you do when you read a great book? What book sites do you frequent, and how do you hear about the books you love the most? I’d love to hear your thoughts here. I’ll look forward to seeing you around at Goodreads and GreatNewBooks (my profiles linked at each). Thank you!
I slipped the book into my bag one day thinking I could simply read a few pages and put it down. But The Language of Flowers turned out to be a book of the best and most addicting kind: one with a world so vivid, a protagonist so interesting and real, and a style of writing so transparent that I forgot I was even reading at all. The Language of Flowers is the type of book I love to recommend and pass on.
The title speaks of a theme in the book, the historic Victorian manner of communicating meanings through flowers. For me, a flower-lover, the title drew me to the book, as some titles do for some readers. But the story in The Language of Flowers is much more than for flower-lovers.
My heart tugged and stretched while reading the story of Victoria Jones, an eighteen-year-old girl who ages out of the foster care system. The book begins as she leaves her last group home with her social worker, and chronicles her struggle to overcome the bruises of her past as she fights to make it in the real world. In fluid chapters, the story alternates between events in Victoria’s past and her life as it unfolds in the present.
Victoria progresses and regresses, often sabotaging others’ attempts at loving her, but her gift, working with flowers, provides a way of communicating her feelings. Hang on through the ups and downs. The ending is beautiful, powerful, and redemptive.
To me, a sign of a great book is how it opens a new window to the world and gives the reader a new perspective. At Great New Books, we believe words have the power to change us, and open doors to a better world. The Language of Flowers does just that.
The author, Vanessa Diffenbaugh, is involved with The Camellia Network (camellianetwork.org), a support net(work) for youth aging out of the foster care system. Through an engaging website, The Camellia Network provides simple avenues for reaching out and helping youths like Victoria.
This story whispers that even with the most broken of pasts, with the most unforgivable of actions, “anyone can grow into someone beautiful”.
I’m closing comments here on my blog, as this post will be published today, Wednesday, January 16, at Great New Books, the book recommendation website I’m involved with (and love). I hope you’ll stop by Great New Books and join us in conversation there!
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice. – T.S. Eliot
I have exciting news this New Year’s Day: the Great New Books team is launching our new redesigned website tomorrow, on January 2, 2013!
Great New Books began in July as a form of a book club website, and has evolved into a more meaningful and long-term sustainable form as a book recommendations site. Our motto? Sharing our favorite books one week at a time.
I’d love it if you’d venture on over to our new website at GreatNewBooks.org and stay tuned for the big things to come. Each week, one of the five GNB team members will feature one of our favorite books we’ve recently read, in a short and fun post. Every few weeks, we’ll have an author we admire to guest post about one of their favorite recent books they’ve loved. And, to keep things really great, we’ll often have book giveaways, as well.Read More»
My test of a good novel is dreading to begin the last chapter. -Thomas Helm
I remember way back to the first week of 2012 and being so absorbed in a great book that I read it in two days. In my opinion, there is nothing greater than being lost in a great book.
Since this time of year is a wonderful time to buy books for friends and family, I’m continuing my tradition of writing about my favorite books (2010 and 2011 here) for the year. From my shelf of favorite books over at Goodreads (link here), I have five favorites from 2012, and a few other recommendations — one for every type of reader.
1. The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh:
This is the book I read first in 2012 and it became my favorite for the year. It is about an 18-year-old girl who ages out of the US foster care system, broken and struggling to make it on her own. As she finds her place, she communicates best in the old Victorian language of flowers, giving flowers to communicate what she feels. This is such a powerful book written by a woman with an enormous heart. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Book club fiction / Women’s fiction.Read More»
“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” – Oscar Wilde
Way back in January, I set a few goals for 2o12. One of them was for exercise (800 miles in 2012), one of them was for writing (still working on accomplishing it), and one of them was for reading. 50 books in 2012, to be exact.
Friend and fellow writer / Great New Books team member Nina Badzin inspired me to take up the challenge, as she has been doing a 50 Books Challenge for a couple of years. I love to read, and since I’m a novelist, reading helps me with writing, but I wasn’t sure how I’d do with such an aggressive goal.
After all, I have a house full of active boys, and live in a foreign country where life is everything but easy. But I love to set a goal and try, so that’s what I’ve been doing. Trying. Logging my books read at Goodreads, posting them on twitter at #FridayReads, and now reading along with running Great New Books. Only now, 9 months into the year, have I stepped back to see if I’m on track.
I’m so glad I’ve taken up the challenge. Below, a visual list of the books I’ve read so far in 2012:
Looks like I have 48!
When do I read? (How do I have the time?)Read More»
Along with 5 other writer friends, I’ve started Great New Books, an online book club. Join us to discover and discuss one Great New Book per month. A casual and fun way to connect through books. Everyone is welcome!
This month, August 2012, we’re reading Kimberly Brock’s stunning debut novel of healing and redemption in the South, The River Witch. Come join us for discussion and a giveaway at http://greatnewbooks.org. Enter the giveaway for a Polish Pottery coffee mug by leaving a comment by Tuesday, August 21 at midnight Eastern time!
“It is said that a good book has no ending. And if a Good book has no ending, then a Great book begs to live on, to be shared and discussed.
In the belief in and support of authors old and new and their newest books, the Great New Books book group reads and talks about one great recently-published book each month. New selections are chosen on the second Wednesday of each month. Join us in discovering the best new emerging books and writers.” -Great New Books book group
Not long ago, a friend rushed up to me at a party and took hold of my arm. She smiled, and said, “Have you heard of THE FAULT IN OUR STARS?”
This friend is a book-lover, a reading fanatic like me, so I knew she was talking about a book. I shook my head, no. “Oh, you have to read it. Have to. I can’t stop thinking about it, it’s that good.”
The first thing I did when I got home was to google THE FAULT IN OUR STARS. And now, as I finish the book, I turn the last page and nod. Yes. It was that good. Maybe even better.
Good books are meant to live on. Great books change lives, and are meant to be shared. Books offer unique insights into life that bring so many things to the reader who dares to venture between its pages … a new place and experience, a new lens to see through, new shoes to walk in. Books offer intimacy, and yet books long to be discussed. Literature is a lifeline to an enriched inner world. A book group is the perfect place to link up with other book-lovers and chat about a great new read.
After many months of thinking about it, I’ve decided to take Hazel Grace’s advice (from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS), “There is no try … there is only do.” I’m introducing a new book group, the GREAT NEW BOOKS group at Goodreads.com.
The defining factors:
- When: We’ll discuss one Great Book per month, selected on the 2nd Wednesday of each month.
- Where: Each new book will be announced here on my blog and at the Great New Books site at Goodreads.com.
- What: One Great Book = one that has been published within the last year that I’ve bought, read, and loved; a book that is powerful and thought-provoking and deserves a highest recommendation.
- Why New books?: To discover the best recently-published books. To support authors who are working hard to launch their words, thoughts, stories, and dreams out into the world.
- Why: To share books and great discussion
- Other: Books that won’t be recommended for the GREAT NEW BOOKS book group: children in danger, porn or erotica, sugary-sweet or formula of any genre, dark or grim books without light in the story (life is hard enough as it is).
For you: To participate, what do you need to do?
- Click here to access the GREAT NEW BOOKS Book Group page at Goodreads. Click the link on the page to join.
- Get your hands on the monthly book, from your library or by borrowing or buying it. (Books are a worthwhile investment, an investment in yourself.)
- Read and discuss as you will.
So without further ado, introducing the first month’s read for GREAT NEW BOOKS:
John Green’s THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
It’s a fabulous book, one that I’ve just finished, and one that I loved so much I had to read it with a pen-in-hand. LOTS to discuss in it, including the humor and the tragedy. It is oh-so-rich.
So, click through to the link to GREAT NEW BOOKS at Goodreads and let’s get started. Oh– and to help us get started, a big thank you in advance for tweeting, linking, facebooking, and recommending Great New Books to your friends. It’s bound to be fun. I look forward to seeing you there!
If you have comments or questions, please leave a comment below or email me at contact (at) jenniferlynking (dot) com.
Thanks for joining me on one of the most extraordinary adventures in life: through reading, through the pages of a book.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” – Dr. Suess
Last week, my middle son graduated from the 5th grade. Sometimes, moving up from 5th to 6th grade isn’t a big deal, but at my sons’ school it is. They celebrate the jump from Elementary to Middle Schools as if it’s the huge accomplishment it is. They’re no longer kids– they’re young adults.
At their school, at every Gathering (school assembly), a student reads a book in front of the whole crowd. Usually, the chosen book is a short picture book, with the illustrations projected for the audience to see, too. But at the 5th grade graduation gathering, the principals read Dr. Suess’s famed book, OH, THE PLACES YOU’LL GO! And when I heard it read in front of a diverse crowd of budding children and important people in the audience, I remembered just how important books really are.
Books inspire us, move us, expand our ourlooks, take us on journeys, and show us a world of possibility outside our front doors.
I love to read. It’s true. And as a writer, it’s even more important that I read — to learn, grow, and become as a writer.
This year, I challenged myself to read 50 books in 2012. A tough goal, but I’m really enjoying it. It’s fun for a reader. (Who needs tv? Okay, except Downton Abbey …) I’m well on my way to meeting the goal. Now, at almost halfway through the year, I’ve logged 30 books so far (and a few extras). I keep track over at Goodreads.
My family and I have collected a few wonderful piles of books to read this summer (photo, above). For my soon-to-be 10-year-old, many Avi books. My 11-year-old has found his niche reading about basketball, in non-fiction or fiction. And my 13-year-old reads the most, on ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and other Percy Jackson-like stories. For me, I’m excited to read books I’ve heard so much about but haven’t read yet, like THE LIFE OF PI and Ann Patchett’s STATE OF WONDER. For my husband, we’ve collected a few Le Carre novels and Madeleine Albright’s new PRAGUE WINTER.
Other must reads for this summer:
- THE UNFINISHED WORK OF ELIZABETH D by Nichole Bernier
- upcoming in September, HEMINGWAY’S GIRL by Erika Robuck
A few great readers’ resources and links:
- Shelf Awareness: A great site and bi-weekly newsletter with news on the latest reads.
- Goodreads: the Social Media Facebook-like site for readers
- The Book Reporter: recent reviews and recommendations for readers
What books are you most looking forward to reading this summer?
- Originally published on January 11, 2012; republished after cleaning website
“Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth.” ~Madeleine L’Engle
I have always loved to read, and yet some books I’ve read linger in my memory long after I’ve turned the last page. Why? I’m not exactly sure, but that the language tucks under my tongue and the story and protagonist move in ways that long intrigue me. Since it’s January and the dead of winter here in Prague, and since I choose to spend much of my free time reading by the fire (it’s really dark in Europe right now!), I’m posting quotes from 10 favorite classic works.
“A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-day were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woods, which twelve hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry Norway.”
- Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
– Mark Twain
To me, there is nothing like the thrill of growth, being stretched just a little further, reaching out toward the wind lashing my face as I race toward the goal, toward becoming my very best self. The feeling is a lot like the feeling of being aboard a sailboat, seaspray fanning out in rainbows with each slap of the bow against the waves, the boat tilting with the heave of the sails as the wind empowers the boat faster, further, out across the water. I love that feeling.
While we all have our everyday lives, the weighty routine of laundry and grocery shopping and waiting in lines, we also have potential to grow and learn and continue becoming, no matter what our daily routines, no matter what our age may be. And while I unquestionably aspire to goals and hopes and dreams with my family, as a wife and a mom and a friend, and to giving back to others as much as I can, I also aspire to becoming my best self. To become the best me that I can be, with the various gifts and passions and energy and time I’ve been given. It’s a step by step process … becoming. A process that happens one year, one week, one day, one moment, one breath at a time.
That is why, every year about this time, I take time to think back over the year behind me, and count up all the things for which I am thankful, proud to have done, and happy I invested the time in doing. Always, there are so many things to smile about in remembering the previous year. And looking ahead at personal goals, Mark Twain’s quote always comes to me as a thread running between the year behind and the year ahead. I always have to ask: What is it that I most want to do in this coming year? What are my goals? My hopes? My dreams?Read More»