October Newsletter: Rock the Vote With Goodreads!

Posted by Elizabeth on October 14, 2008
October Newsletter

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that these are important times. The rocky nature of the economy, the situation in Iraq, health care at home, all of these issues affect each and every one of us. It’s scary. We could be at the edge of a great abyss, or at the beginning of a meteoric ascension. It’s up to us.

I think we all know that this election is deeply important. At Goodreads we wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of the current climate with a newsletter that would help our members become as informed as possible by November 4th. That’s a tall order.

Right now there are major issues in the information world that make it hard for the average voter. First of all, whom can you trust? I think that with the decline in newspapers (and as a former member of the Los Angeles Times, I can tell you that newspapers have become quite a stressful place to work), consumers are becoming more and more wary of the information they receive. On the news production side, reporters know that their jobs are in jeopardy—why should they write something that will rock the boat? There are also fewer and fewer layers of editors to look over a story and eliminate any bias. Fact checking and librarian teams at media organizations are being cut or eliminated. Then you have blogs, which for the most part have no form of repercussion for inaccuracy and defamation. We have so much information available to us, but no idea what is really the truth.

When people watch the debates they feel the same sense of helplessness. Everyone has become such a good campaigner. But what will they do when elected into office?

Knowing what is right and what is important to you has become even more of a personal journey. We are now truly responsible for our own education. There is no Walter Cronkite to tell us what to believe. We have to actively seek out information and be ruthless when discarding falsities—just the thought of it makes me tired.

Luckily we have places like Goodreads. This site is about real people helping each other. The best place to start your re-education is to get on the site and start looking at political books from across the spectrum. If you look at enough reviews, you’ll begin to discern books that can help you learn about the issues that you care about. And we really encourage you to try and branch out and read something contrary to your values. Only by challenging your beliefs will you grow.

In our newsletter, we interviewed two political writers, one conservative, Dick Morris, and one liberal, Thomas Frank. We also let our readers decide which red, blue and purple books were the most important to read. In addition, we’ve provided a link to a user-generated list called Best Books to Become an Informed Voter.

It’s important to know the issues. And this is the year to do it. Check it out!


Good night and good luck,

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

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message 1: by Norabee (new)

Norabee Thank you Elizabeth for taking time to spotlight the importance of the press and the importance in voting and that we need one in order to do the other well!

message 2: by Patrick (new)

Patrick I could not agree more. It is a sad fact that the press works to erect veils of misperception that an already apathetic populace must pierce. Screw it, I'll just turn on The View and base my vote on their meaningful and educated discourses -- life is easier that way. (The preceding sentence was merely to emphasize the direness of the current situation)

message 3: by TurtleneckGirl (new)

TurtleneckGirl These days, I keep my car radio off and a good (non-political)title in the CD player. My bedtime reading is quality fiction and soothing nonfiction. Thanks but no thanks to your political interviews and Informed Voter booklist. The last thing I wanted to see on this site was one more admonition to "know the issues."

message 4: by Roger (new)

Roger Cottrell Hi Elisabeth (and friends)
As an ex-journalist myself I know what you mean about the declining standards of journalism and sweatshop conditions under which an every declining core of titles are produced. I only worked on a local rag in the English West Midlands as a crime reporter (I know Denise Hamilton who was one of your colleagues in LA) but it's the same story of drip fed official leakage combined with tabloid celebrity fluff to keep the masses from thinking. The main problem is that too few reactionary moguls like Rupert Murdoch own too many titles, often in flagrant defiance of monopoly legislation. As such, they have been able to erase such key historical events as the conditions of open class warfare (and destablisation of Harold Wilson's government in Britain) in the 1970s, October Surprise and Iran Contra, that delivered the lousy regimes we live under and the catastrophic defeat of the miners in 1985. This consolidated both the free market social nightmare and erosion of democracy under the coercive state that a generation has grown to accept as normal. But what to do? A lot of people I know are relying more and more on radical internet sites like Guerrilla News Network and Indymedia but there are some crazy conspiracy theories out there that just aren't helpful when it comes to building a counter consensus. What I'm trying to do is revisit the historical events that shaped the present nightmare world in which we now live through crime fiction in the tradition of James Ellroy (in the US) and Jake Arnott and Dave Peace in the UK. I'm fairly sure that Peace was a contemporary of mine at Manchester Polytechnic but no matter. Earlier this year I self published HOLLYWOOD BOWL about McCarthyism (in the US) and the plots against Harold Wilson in Britain. It's available on http://www.lulu.com/content/2720961 and the ISBN is ISBN 978-1-4092-0565-4 Next April, ENEMY WITHIN (set during the miners strike and part one of my Jaded Jerusalem series) is published by Picnic Publishing and you can check out my blog on www.picnic-publishing,co.uk
On the US election I've always liked a lot of what Ralph Nader has to say but realistically, it has to Obama to stop a third term of Republcan reaction, obscenity and mismanagement both of the economy and international relations.

message 5: by Robert (new)

Robert Some of us aren't US citizens and are not voting on November 4th. Perhaps Elizabeth could "grow" by acknowledging the existence of her wider readership. Her re-education might best begin with something not immediately political too: Rocketry is engineering, not science. The fundamental physics required for rocketry has been understood since Newton published his Principia and is widely taught to school children. A better understanding of what science is and how it operates might help her understand serious politcal issues, such as climate change.

message 6: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Hey, just wanted to say sorry to any non-U.S. users. We felt that this election was important enough to include in our newsletter—-seventy five percent of our users are from the U.S. We promise to keep the newsletter international in the future.

message 7: by Sheila (new)

Sheila Elizabeth, I see no reason to apologize for your offer of resources to those who wish to use them.

It's ridiculous that anyone here should try to take you to task for trying to get citizens of the States involved in our election process. Give me a break. Really.

Thanks for your efforts.

message 8: by Kristen (new)

Kristen Is the September newsletter posted on this blog? There was the loveliest poem about used books and I can't find it anywhere.

message 9: by Hollie (new)

Hollie Robb I agree that we need to vote. We need to make our voices heard. But I must say I'm tired of politics.

message 10: by Hollie (new)

Hollie Robb I agree that we need to vote. We need to make our voices heard. But I must say I'm tired of politics.

message 11: by rivka, Goodreads employee (new)

rivka I am saddened that GoodReads is no longer one of the only places I hang out online that is apolitical. There are SO many sites already out there that are about politics or the presidential race, and I greatly enjoyed this not being one of them.

It makes me want to hang out here less. :(

message 12: by Ben (new)

Ben The Liberal I'm glad the web is all aflutter with election news and politics. Life is political. This election cycle has worn in my last nerve though. Once it's over and nothings changed, we can all get back to forgetting about our rights and responsibilities as citizens...

Honestly, this political stuff never ends and if you don't participate, it will just get worse for you. Do your part and vote. Then keep tabs on the people elected. Don't let our country or planet down just because you have more important things to do like watch television or go shopping...

message 13: by Rosie (new)

Rosie I'm not a US citizen but we get daily updates in the US election on our TVs in the UK and I don't have a problem with Goodreads mentioning the importance of voting. It's not half as bad as all the heavy "Oh-my-God-the-world's-in-trouble-be-afraid" type politics everyone usually gets, just a general "this is what's going on and here's where you can find out more if you want to."

It doesn't matter whether you live in the US or not, the decision on the next President is inevitably going to affect us all. Everyone at this time is probably tired of politics but it's hardly like Goodreads was bombarding us!

message 14: by Deana (new)

Deana I don't blame you for wanting to tune it all out! The news and the "issues" can be overwhelmingly depressing; however, we have an American DUTY to vote responsibly. Maybe you feel you have already responsibly made your choices and are ready to move on. That is ok, but there are just too many out there who are TUNING IT OUT irresponsibly. PLEASE! PLEASE! LET US ALL BE EDUCATED VOTERS! Our family's futures as well as the world's future depend on it.

message 15: by Jamie (last edited Oct 16, 2008 01:51PM) (new)

Jamie Collins I'm with rivka: disappointed to see politics on goodreads. And if the newsletter title "Rock the Vote With Goodreads" wasn't plastered in a large font at the top of my home page it would be easier to ignore it, as Suzann suggests.

message 16: by Gunjari (new)

Gunjari i appreciate elisabeth taking the time to inform us, but i don think it was a tad unnecessary. sorry liz. :(

message 17: by Mom (new)

Mom Hi!

message 18: by Carole (new)

Carole Draper Shane, yes the President's approval rating is the lowest in history, but what is even more interesting is the current CONGRESS has an even LOWER approval rating then Bush.

message 19: by Kate (new)

Kate Just to clarify - I did not vote for McCain on this poll. His policies are potentially so dangerous that even seeing his name within an inch of mine is aggravating to one's already depressed state of mind re this election. Go Obama, and fix that poll-taker thingy! All vented now - thanks.

message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex Oh seriously guys, how does a banner encouraging you to get involved and actually care about the country that is crumbling around us put you out so much? Honestly, people like you all who bury your heads in the sand and don't want to be bothered with the democratic process infuriate me. If you don't want to vote, then don't vote. But please, don't belittle the rest of us who are passionate about seeing our country through this mess.

Elizabeth, thank you for the message.

message 21: by rivka, Goodreads employee (last edited Oct 17, 2008 02:57PM) (new)

rivka Honestly, people like you all who bury your heads in the sand and don't want to be bothered with the democratic process infuriate me. If you don't want to vote, then don't vote. But please, don't belittle the rest of us who are passionate about seeing our country through this mess.

Look! A straw man!

As it happens, I believe strongly in voting, and have every intention of doing so -- as I have in every presidential election and almost every local election since I turned 18. I participate in political discussions elsewhere and educate myself on political issues and candidates all over the Web.

Is it really so much to ask that politics not be shoved down my throat on the one place I expected to remain apolitical?

And while I am a big fan of Rock the Vote and other sites and organizations that encourage people to register and to vote, I seriously doubt there are many potential GR voters who will vote now but would not have already. This is a community made up of intelligent and passionate people; my guess is those who are not voting have their reasons, and while this month's newsletter and the poll may have increased GR traffic, I seriously doubt it had any effect on the election.

And it may not have increased traffic either. In both the Librarians forum and the Feedback forum, people have expressed dislike for the new political focus. Including one new member, who I really hope sticks around in spite of it.

message 22: by M (last edited Oct 18, 2008 03:03AM) (new)

M Thanks Elisabeth for the editorial quality of the October Newsletter and the multiple resources that you propose to the Goodreads readers.
It's relevant to read different sources to develop our own objective and critical point of view.
The future Presidential Election is important for your country, for the World, too.
I'm European, French reading The French, European and American press. In France, each day the Press, Radio, TV offers editorials, reports, articles about the future American Presidential Election and I particularly appreciate to find, to read different resources here.

Thanks for keeping the newsletter international in the future.


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