A few years ago I started keeping a log of books that I’ve read in Excel, with a 5 point rating system, a few words about how much I enjoyed the book, who recommended it to me (if anyone) and when I’d read it. That must sound silly to anyone who is not much of a reader but I really like being able to look back and see what authors I’ve read or see trends of the types of books I was reading at a certain time. It seems that someone who thinks like me came up with GoodReads.
Did you know GoodReads started in 2006? I had no idea it has been around that long. I didn’t notice the site until sometime this year. I didn’t jump on it right away because it seemed like too much work to transfer everything in my spreadsheet to GoodReads but I have to admit it does look prettier than my spreadsheet. Now that I’ve spent 2-3 hours logging all my reads from the past 4-5 years, I don’t really know what to make of GoodReads. It seems like just another website/social media platform that I have to register for, spend time checking and updating, and generally sucking time out of my day. However, since I was already spending time logging my reads in my own list, I guess this is just another way to go about it and I’m giving it a try. A nice feature that my own personal spreadsheet did not offer, and partly why I went ahead and made the switch, is that GoodReads gives me a list of recommendations based on my reading history and ratings and that actually leads me to the book I just finished.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is the first in a fantasy novel trilogy. I enjoyed it immensely. It’s huge like many epic fantasy novels – 672 pages – and I ate it up in a week. Rothfuss has a knack for ending chapters and section breaks with cliffhangers and bits of foretelling that make it near impossible to not keep reading. It makes it quick and easy to read despite the length of the book. All the elements of a great fantasy are present: magic (with a slightly different twist), good, evil, triumph, peril, Gods, and demons. There’s so much more as fans of fantasy would know. Simply put, The Name of the Wind was an outstanding read and I would heartily recommend it to anyone. I can’t wait to read the next installment.
If you haven’t given fantasy a try because it seems too strange, or too difficult to navigate all the strange names of people and places, let me just say, if you can get past that, it’s not so different from our world and our problems. Lev Grossman says it well in this article when trying to describe in a nutshell what makes a great fantasy, “Great fantasy is not pure escapism, where characters can wish their problems away. It’s a way of re-encountering the same problems we face in the real world, but in a stranger, more vivid form. One thing I look for in a great fantasy novel is a moment where the hero realises that for all the spells she can cast, and all the foes she can slay with the glowing blade of the elf-wraith or whatever, she still has to deal with the basic problems of human existence – love, sex, death, boredom, sadness, and so on.” This is exactly one of the things that I love about fantasy and The Name of the Wind is a prime example.
Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.
~ Lloyd Alexander