Goodreads Blog
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November Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on November 16, 2009

November Newsletter!

Ever since we started Goodreads, Otis and I have hoped that the website would become a way to not only provide good reading recommendations, but also promote literacy and give back to the community—particularly to people with limited access to books or who have not yet learned to read.

Hence, this month we launched the newsletter feature, Do Good with Goodreads, a way to highlight a charity that promotes reading in some way. Room to Read is a groundbreaking organization, founded by John Wood, the author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur’s Odyssey to Educate the World’s Children. They establish libraries, create local-language children’s literature, construct schools and provide education to girls. Please check the organization out. Mindful of the fact that our site is a global community, we hope to promote a variety of charities over time.

Our second new feature, "Author Snapshot," is also designed as a way to give back—this time to our members. We have so many official Goodreads authors, nearly 10,000, and many independent publishers and booksellers on our site that we felt that they deserved a spotlight as well. Each month, we’ll present an indie or debut author that is generating heat on the site. Gail Carriger, author of Soulless, a "stake-and-crumpets Victorian steampunk series” (to borrow the words of Althea), is our choice for the premiere issue.

The remainder of the newsletter presents some stalwart books and authors. Icons Barbara Kingsolver and John Irving both agreed to speak with Goodreads about their writing process. The answers, as always, are inspiring and unusual. I was particularly excited about “In Bed” with Jonathan Lethem, because we asked him for his favorite books about a subject that clearly drives his work, New York City.

For "Lit for Lat," we traveled to Israel this month, and our Movers & Shakers cover a swath of material, from vegetarianism with Jonathan Safran Foer, to alcoholism, garage bands, Thomas Cromwell and feminism post 1960. Hopefully there is something for everyone.

Finally, the winning poem this month is probably one of my favorites since we started producing the newsletter. Grassland by Goodreads Author S. Jane Sloat, was selected in the iPoetry! Group.

We hope you enjoy the November Newsletter!


new shelf chooser
Posted by Ken-ichi on November 05, 2009

We recently launched a small update to the way we shelve books on Goodreads. Now when you click on "choose shelves," you should see a widget that will let you quickly search through all your shelves, scroll and select with either your mouse or arrow keys, and add new shelves. Hopefully this will make it a bit easier to add books to shelves.

Welcome to Louise Yang!
Posted by Otis Chandler on October 22, 2009

We have a new team member! Louise Yang joins us as a Software Engineer and rockstar bug fixer. Louise will be helping out on various engineering projects, and even though she's new to Ruby on Rails, she's already made a few contributions: new group rules, new group settings, new search tabs, and new inbox compose page.

Here is a bit more about Louise:

Louise went to Berkeley to study Linguistics.
She also studied CS and picked up some tricks.
When she's not coding, she cooks.
Her shelves are overflowing with books.
If you find a bug, it might be something she'll fix.

Please give her a big welcome!
October Newsletter!
Posted by Elizabeth on October 06, 2009

This month we interviewed authors Audrey Niffenegger and Nick Hornby for our newsletter.

Audrey Niffenegger not only wrote the bestselling novel, The Time Travelers Wife, but also has a distinguished background in the visual arts. It’s unusual and exciting to talk to an author who is talented in disparate areas. Her new novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, sounds deliciously creepy.

Our second author, Nick Hornby, has a broad appeal as well. After all, his debut memoir, Fever Pitch, is steeped in his own soccer obsession. According to FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association), more than 265 million people in the world play soccer and as many of you know, their fans take the sport seriously. I remember going to my one and only European soccer game in Bologna, Italy. Since I was rooting for ACF Fiorentina, I sat in a chain-link cage while Bolognian spectators threw glass bottles at us. It was terrifying and well…a little bit exciting. Hornby’s later novels, High Fidelity and About a Boy, also garnered high marks. His new one, Juliet, Naked, explores rockstar fandom.

We also got "In Bed" this month with two very different authors, Eoin Colfer, of the Artemis Fowl series, and Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker's great grand-nephew. We asked them to name their favorite Science Fiction books and books about vampires, respectively. The vampire thing may be ubiquitous, but we figured if there were any month to touch on this trend, October would be the right one!

Please check out Movers & Shakers for some twisted fairytales, inspirational memoirs, and lush Edwardian sagas. And our Lit for Lat discovery this month is Supermarket by Satoshi Azuchi, an intriguing Japanese business novel set in the 1970s. Don’t forget to read our winning poem Lynette’s War, from the iPoetry! Poetry Contest .

We hope you enjoy our newsletter!

P.S. We will be interviewing Barbara Kingsolver next month. If you have any questions for the author of The The Poisonwood Bible and the Bean Trees, post them here!

Goodreads is much faster!
Posted by Otis Chandler on October 01, 2009

Goodreads has grown quite a lot in the last year, and to support our 2.5 million users and over 30 million monthly pageviews, we had to upgrade "what's under the hood" - and get a whole new set of servers!

Our new servers are lean, mean, and really freakin' fast. Oh - and did we mention SSD's? The change should help us continue to grow and handle more traffic - and it should also finally let us focus on new features instead of scaling problems!

Our old servers were rented from Media Temple, which we highly recommend for any small and growing site.

Here are some beautifully done shots of the new colo, taken by Michaels iphone, in between some intense sessions of installing software:

We like to imagine that Goodreads is now powered by something like this:

ps. This post in no way promises that we will still be fast in coming months if you all keep browsing more and more pages. But we like to think it will!
Scheduled maintenance tonight
Posted by Otis Chandler on September 30, 2009

Hi all,

We are moving to a new datacenter tonight, and Goodreads will be down from approximately 8:00pm pst to 11:00pm pst. Our poor old servers have served us well, but their time is past and we have some young, hungry, and very *fast* servers waiting to go.

We know Goodreads hasn't been the fastest of websites lately, and this should really improve things if it all goes well.

Wish us luck!

September Newsletter
Posted by Elizabeth on September 09, 2009

Finding the right balance of authors and books for our newsletter is always challenging. With 2.5 million members, we have every kind of reader imaginable.

Our goal then is for any reader to be able to find something recognizable in our newsletter, and we are constantly juggling genres to find the perfect mean of fiction and nonfiction.

This month we interviewed authors James Ellroy and Anita Diamant. The former is a crime writer with a naughty reputation, the latter, a journalist and author whose historical fiction showcases women in a new light.

We also got "In Bed" with the co-authors of Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story, Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor, asking them for their favorite books about mothers and daughters.

Please check out Movers & Shakers for a provocative YA recommendation, and some very fine fiction and nonfiction new releases. And our winning poem, BODIES: THE EXHIBITION, sparked yet another heated discussion (scroll down) about the merit of rhyming poetry.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter!

P.S. We will be interviewing Audrey Niffenegger next month. If you have any questions for the author of The Time Traveler's Wife, post them here!
Sign into Goodreads with your Facebook or Google login
Posted by Otis Chandler on September 01, 2009

We've just fully launched a new feature we've been beta-testing for a while: the ability to login or register for Goodreads with your Facebook or Google login credentials!

This will be very useful for many members as it means less hassle of having to remember your password in order to use Goodreads.

Want us to add other OpenID providers? Mention them in the comments!
Final Encore for Reading Rainbow
Posted by Jessica Donaghy on August 31, 2009

When we were little, my brother and I were not allowed to watch much television. Our viewing choices included Sesame Street, Square One, the Muppets, and, of course, Reading Rainbow. Sadly, after 26 years, Reading Rainbow is now off the air due to insufficient funding for PBS.

I remember gleefully singing along with the theme song. So, for one final encore, let's all sing along with Reading Rainbow!

Hundreds turn out for Goodreads/Book Soup book swap
Posted by Otis Chandler on August 18, 2009

What could beat free books and yummy Kogi tacos on a beautiful Saturday? The answer for the (estimated) over 200 people who came to Book Soup bookstore in West Hollywood this weekend: nothing.

This was our third co-hosted bookswap, all of which have been in Southern California, and each one of which has been a special and fun event. Our first one was co-hosted by Equator Books in Venice Beach, and the second was with Young Literati Foundation of the LA Public Libraries at the Mar Vista Library.

The goal the swap's is simple: encourage people to get rid of the apparently boxes of books they have accumulating in their houses, pick up some new books, socialize a bit and enjoy a beautiful day. In each case the excess books have been donated to the local library.

We think the swaps have been so successful that we'd love to branch out beyond Southern California (where we're based). So if you're an indie bookstore or library and would like to host one, please contact us. We've found that a good swap has the following elements: lots of tables for people to lay out books, having a famous author signing or two combined with it, and of course having free or cheap food and drinks. If you can get the Kogi Taco truck even better!

Pictures are worth a thousand words, so here are some photos of the event. Much thanks to Carolyn Kellogg and the LA Times for covering the event!

* Most photos by Carolyn Kellogg