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An Interview with the Most Popular Reviewer on Goodreads
Posted by Marie on December 11, 2017

Since joining Goodreads seven years ago, Emily May has amassed more than 80,000 Goodreads followers and has written 1,300 book reviews and counting—making her the most-popular reviewer on the site. She loves reading across all genres and completes an average of 200 books per year. Originally from Yorkshire, England, she currently lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a freelance editor and beta-reader, giving publishers feedback on soon-to-be-released novels.

Goodreads chatted with May to get her advice on writing book reviews, upcoming trends she's seeing in the book industry, and her top 10 favorite books of 2017.

Goodreads: Why is reading important to you? What books got you hooked on reading?

Emily May: I don't remember ever not reading. Like most bookworms, I was a deeply shy and quiet child who preferred to keep to myself and live in books instead of the real world. Reading was, and still is, all kinds of things to me—an escape, an adventure, and entertainment.

The earliest books I remember reading were everything by Roald Dahl, [R.L.] Stine's Goosebumps series, and C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I still get a sense of that early excitement and wonder I felt every time I think of Lucy stepping through a plain old wardrobe in a house and discovering a whole magical world—that has always seemed like a metaphor for reading itself. Later I found that metaphor again in the Harry Potter series as well as others. Both Harry Potter and Lucy Pevensie cast off the mundane life they've always known and step into a world of magic where anything is possible—isn't that what happens every time we get lost in a good book?

GR: What inspired you to become a book reviewer? How did you get started?

EM: When I started writing reviews, I didn't consider myself a book reviewer at all. I was still a teenager, feeling—as a lot of teenagers do—constantly out of place and awkward in myself. I stumbled across Goodreads one day, and it offered exactly what I didn't know I'd been looking for—somewhere I could go where people genuinely loved reading and talking about books. There was no uncool on Goodreads. I could make hyperbolic statements like "I am dying for the next book" or "if this character 'chuckles darkly' one more time, I'm going to throw this book in the fireplace" (yes, I'm dramatic), and other Goodreads members would get it and share encouraging GIFs.

I made friends all across the globe, we gave each other "likes" and comments, and I stuck around. It was that simple, really. I'm still not sure I consider myself a book reviewer. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still that same weird girl talking about books with other book lovers.

GR: What's your process for writing book reviews? How much time do you spend on them? How do you define your star rating?

EM: With most books, I make notes and highlights (on Kindle) while I'm reading. Time permitting, I like to start writing a review immediately after finishing the book while everything is still fresh in my mind. It takes me approximately 30 minutes to an hour to write a review, usually depending on how passionate I felt about it. The hardest are the 3-star books because I have to somehow communicate "I liked it, but I didn't like it that much."

I typically try to follow the Goodreads star ratings—"did not like it" (1 star), "it was OK" (2 stars), "liked it" (3 stars), "really liked it" (4 stars), and "it was amazing" (5 stars). I especially like this rating system because the use of "liked" and "did not like" emphasizes that the rating is a personal opinion, not so much a statement about the quality of the book. I am one of those readers who believes all reading experiences, all experiences with art, in fact, are about perspective and interpretation. I don't believe I am in a position to make a universal statement about how good a book is; I can only say what I liked or didn't like about it, and why, and maybe some people will relate to that and find it useful.

GR: What do you hope your followers will gain from your reviews?

EM: I've actually had to school myself not to be too obsessed with what my followers, or anyone on the internet, wants from me and my reviews. Constantly worrying about how others will see me, especially when those others number in the thousands or tens of thousands, is the fastest way to bring on the anxiety. But, put simply, I hope people find books they love. I don't care if that's because they read a book I reviewed positively or if they saw something they personally enjoy in a negative review I wrote. It is not too much to say that books can inspire us, change us, even save us at times, and I hope everyone finds the book that they need.

GR: What advice would you give to a book lover who might be a little shy about writing a review?

EM: I would tell them to first and foremost write for themselves. Approach every review from the standpoint of "how did this book make me feel?" and try not to worry too much about what other readers will think. When you start to review yourself, and scrutinize every word you put down, it becomes impossible. There will always be someone with a different opinion from you. It's a cliché, but true: You really cannot please everybody. So stop trying (maybe one day I will take this advice, too). And if you feel like you're the only person in the world who liked or didn't like a particular book—I guarantee, you are not. There's a whole bunch of people out there, like you, who have or haven't connected with a book for whatever reason, and your review could be exactly what they need to hear to feel like they're not alone.

GR: What books do you find yourself recommending the most?

EM: To be honest, I actually think I'm pretty good at recommending books specific to the individual asking. There have been many books I haven't enjoyed but have passed along to my mum, dad, or a friend because I know it's more their thing.

Just in general, though, I take great pleasure in recommending authors I perceive to be underappreciated; for example, Marcus Sedgwick, Abigail Haas, Jodi Lynn Anderson, Kathleen Duey, and Melina Marchetta. Some other authors I recommend a lot are Tana French (for mystery and thriller fans), Neil Gaiman and N.K. Jemisin (for fantasy fans), Courtney Summers (for YA contemporary fans), Roxane Gay (for fans of short stories), and Margaret Atwood (for literary fiction fans).

GR: Are there any interesting book trends you've noticed in 2017? Do you have any predictions about trends in 2018?

EM: Absolutely, but I don't think I have anything particularly enlightening to reveal. YA has moved away from all the fairy tale retellings and is now becoming all about superheroes. It's been slowly building for a while with [Brandon] Sanderson's The Reckoners series and [G. Willow Wilson's] Ms. Marvel graphic novels, but now, this year, we've already seen [Leigh] Bardugo's Wonder Woman: Warbringer and [Marissa] Meyer's Renegades. Also of note is the lesser known Dreadnought by April Daniels that has a transgender superheroine. Next year the buzz will undoubtedly surround [Marie] Lu's Batman: Nightwalker and [Sarah J.] Maas' Catwoman: Soul Stealer, too. With such major authors all writing in the superhero genre, I would be surprised if many others didn't follow suit shortly after.

There's also been a huge increase in diverse books published by major companies since the start of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. 2017 has been the year where I've really seen the difference the movement has made. It's so wonderful to finally be able to go to the new YA releases and find characters of all skin colors, sexualities, and gender identities, plus characters with physical disabilities or mental illnesses. I had very few diverse books growing up; I am thankful my kids will have more.

GR: What were your top 10 reads of 2017 and why? What impressions did they leave on you?

EM: This is such a tough question, but I somehow whittled it down to these (in no particular order):


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I love, love, love historical epics that just tell a really great story. Boyne's latest is a sad and funny tale about the life of a gay man, from his conception in small-town Ireland to 1980s Amsterdam and later New York City in the middle of the AIDs crisis. It's a very bittersweet story.




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This deserves 100 percent of the hype it has been getting. It is a dark, beautifully written ghost story set in modern-day Mississippi. Ward is really great at evoking emotions through her dreamy descriptions of each scene, and all of the complex characters are the kind who stay with you.




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The Hate U Give is so important. And so good. And important. I don't know which to sell to you first. It's a much-needed story for our times about a very real and relevant issue, but it's also a great look inside the mind of a scared teenage girl.




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I'm obsessed with this series, and I can't wait for the third book. It instills in me that sense that I am tiny and the universe is so much bigger and more dangerous than I could have imagined. It reminds me of all the things we do not, cannot, know. Reading books like this is an overwhelming and breathtaking experience.




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I am a huge Laini Taylor fan, and her latest book is no exception. She creates such complex and interesting fantasy worlds, and she's one of the few writers who, in my opinion, can get away with writing purple prose. I don't know; it just seems to work for her.




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Gay is one of my favorite writers writing today. She knows how to use words to perfectly set a scene, create an emotion, and leave a lasting impression. In her memoir, she discusses her relationship with food and her body, and how the world sees her. Without self-pity or manipulation, she shows how society sees a woman—and a fat woman in particular—as someone taking up too much space.




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Returning to a fantasy world after six years wouldn't work for many authors, but Turner is just so good at what she does. And what she does is write slow-building, complex fantasy full of political machinations and character dynamics. It's clever and full of twists and turns.




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Look, I had to include a fast-paced, guilty-pleasure book on this list. And, you know, I don't even really feel guilty about it. White has reimagined Vlad the Impaler as a woman, and this sequel to And I Darken tells of the fall of Constantinople and the reclamation of Wallachia. It's all very dark and dramatic—of course I loved it.




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I always say that the books that hit me the hardest are the ones that are subtly sad. The ones that, on the surface, might be funny and entertaining, that don't feel like they're trying really hard to make the reader cry. That's this book. It's the kind of book you don't realize is sad until you're tearing up. And Eleanor is such an unforgettable character.




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I almost didn't read this because, if I'm being honest, the cover and title didn't grab me, but it turned out to be a really fantastic family saga set in Korea and Japan. I really love these multigenerational family tales, especially when set in regions or during time periods that don't often appear in mainstream fiction. Really fascinating.




You can find more of Emily May on her blog, "The Book Geek." Be sure to also follow her on Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


In Defense of Love Triangles
Posted by Hayley on December 09, 2017

Beware the Wild author Natalie C. Parker knows you probably have thoughts about love triangles…but she's here to smash your previously held conceptions. In the upcoming young adult anthology Three Sides of a Heart, top YA authors—including Veronica Roth, Garth Nix, Renée Ahdieh, and more—put their own suprising spins on the much-debated trope. Goodreads asked Parker, who edits the collection and writes one of the 16 stories, to share her thoughts on the past, present, and future of the love triangle.



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Two years ago, I didn't think I cared much about love triangles.

I don't even recall the first one I encountered. Was it Luke-Han-Leia in Star Wars? (I was a child of the '80s and managed to experience the triangle free of spoilers.) Was it Phantom-Christine-Raoul in The Phantom of the Opera? (I was a child of the '80s, and I loved all things Andrew Lloyd Weber.) Or was it Olivia-Viola-Orsino in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night? (This has nothing to do with being a child of the '80s.) It could have been one of those or one of dozens of others. Whichever was the first, I grew up with stories that wielded love triangles marvelously.

But even though I was a consumer of the love triangle, I didn't think I had an opinion—good or bad—about it as a trope. At least not until I noticed the criticism directed toward manifestations of the love triangle in young adult literature. I doubt you could find a topic as polarizing as YA love triangles. Critics use the trope to trivialize YA fiction as a whole, and readers include love triangle warnings in their reviews of individual novels.

When I encountered this debate, I basically "Hulked out" with a rage I didn't fully understand—and spent a good 15 minutes shouting at my friends about tropes and feminism and romance.

So, it turned out, I did have a few feelings about the love triangle. And when I descended from my private rage planet, I realized the best way to engage with the conversation about love triangles and YA literature was to build an anthology. Now, as the anthology is about to be released, I'm just as excited to be joining the debate as I was when I pitched the project.

The love triangle has suffered from a stagnant definition in recent years. In fact, the minute someone mentions "love triangles" and "young adult" in the same sentence, we can't help but think of Edward-Bella-Jacob and Peeta-Katniss-Gale. They have come to fix our notion of the YA love triangle as one girl (usually white, cisgender, and heteronormative) choosing between two boys, each representing the version of herself she wants to be.

These manifestations of the love triangle are like the sun. They fill up the sky so completely, we sometimes forget that there are millions of stars out there offering a different quality of light.

Yes, there was an explosion of love triangles in the wake of both Twilight and The Hunger Games, but be wary of discounting the love triangles of the future.

This is a trope with so much more to offer.

I invited my anthology contributors to twist, expand, or explode the love triangle in a short story genre of their choice, and they delivered in full force. This collection demonstrates the multifaceted potential of the love triangle. I won't claim that it's a comprehensive compendium of all possible love triangles because 1) it's not and 2) I sincerely hope the possibilities of this trope are endless. What I will claim is that these love triangles take the trope through its paces. These stories are romantic and angry, they are political and introspective, and they are adventurous and heartbreaking.

In the process of editing this anthology, I discovered something I suspected all along: that as young adult literature strives toward stories that are inclusive and that challenge the status quo, the tropes we're so familiar with will change before our eyes.

The love triangle is a narrative tool. It's part of the emotional fabric of the story, and as YA expands in a thousand new ways, I suspect the love triangle will, too.


Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles hits bookshelves on December 19. Add it to your Want to Read shelf here.


Goodreaders' Favorite 2017 Under-the-Radar Books
Posted by Cybil on December 06, 2017

As you might imagine, Goodreads employees love both reading and recommending books. So before 2017 comes to an end, we asked our colleagues to tell us which gem of a book they want more readers to discover.

You'll see from their picks that our co-workers' reading habits are as varied as those of Goodreads members (although it should be noted that four of our co-workers recommended the book Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship).

Let us know which 2017 book you want more people to read. Tell us in the comments!


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"Brian McClellan's Powder Mage series is still one of the best-kept secrets in modern fantasy, and this new book, whether you call it the start of a new series or a continuation of that one, is just really darned good," says Alex Lewis, program manager.




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"I hadn't heard of Beth Ann Fennelly before I stumbled upon this book, but after reading this little ditty, I'll be seeking out more. Heating & Cooling is a mere wisp of a book at 112 pages, but each of its 52 'micro-memoirs' packs a punch. It's a cliché to say you'll laugh and cry, but it's likely you'll do both. Bonus that you can read the whole thing in an afternoon," says Danny Feekes, managing editor.




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"This slow burn mystery will impress you with its complex characterization and beautiful prose," says Emily Fortner, community manager.





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"Boozy meals, surly cheesemongers, French swear words, and a lot of fascinating heritage—this book has everything!" says Sarah Chang, experts manager.




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"Why should readers discover this gem? Because it's like being transported back into a 1980s fantasy movie—think The Labyrinth, The Neverending Story, and The Dark Crystal. It's a book that Jim Henson would have loved to adapt!" says Marie Pabelonio, associate editor.





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"There are so many aspects of the life of a musician—and particularly one of the hip-hop/rap genre—that go unmentioned by the media, and this autobiography is packed with must-read trials and tribulations that we might not consider when reflecting on the ludicrous life of a superstar," says Tristan Leigh, software engineer.




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"The distinctive voice of Zevin's multiple narrators brings humor to sensitive hot-topic issues of women, sexuality, and feminism," says Jessica Johnson, senior product manager.





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"I loved this book because it is dark and twisted in the best possible way. I didn't want to put it down. If I owned my own copy, I would have been re-reading it all year!" says Tamsyn Van Vuuren, Goodreads expert.





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"The key strength of Reading with Patrick is how it weaves together information about our education system, the judicial system, and the history of slavery and civil rights with poetry and (my favorite childhood book), The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," says Suzanne Skyvara, communications manager.




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"Beautifully written blend of literary fiction and mystery set in Ireland that's made for fans of Tana French," says Emily Finley, director of operations.





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"The writing was candid and human and down-to-earth, while the subject matter was—literally—about outer space. Massimino did a great job of reigniting the childlike wonder and awe of looking up at the stars," says Brandi Luedeman, lead user researcher.





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"It's a fun, feel-good book that you don't have to take too seriously to enjoy the adventure," says Vernice Brown, Goodreads expert.





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"There's nothing funny about a psychotic break, yet Zack, a 26-year-old public defender in Brooklyn, writes about his experience with such humor, empathy, and disdain for himself that you laugh and cry with him—and for him," says Lisa Jablonsky, sales director.





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"This book transports you back to old Hollywood and everything that came with it: the glamour, the secrets, the affairs. The story isn't really about the husbands; it's about Evelyn and the one true love of her life, and at the end of reading this book, you'll wish her kind of celebrity were still around today," says Cynthia Shannon, author marketing specialist.





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"A book about relationships, puberty, fame, fortune, Chris Pratt, college…I could go on and on, but this is a gem that needs to be shared!" says Rozeltte Crooks, Goodreads expert.





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"A fun, humorous, fast-paced, and fascinating take on what happens when an AI awakens," says Otis Chandler, Goodreads founder & CEO.





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"I can't promise this will turn your baby into a quantum physicist, but it's never too early to start, and even better, it's never too late for adults (like me!) to grasp these big ideas," says Mimi Chan, senior marketing manager.





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"Excuse me while I pack my bags and move to Denmark," says Margo Throckmorton, senior account manager.





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"If you thought you were socially awkward, lonely, stuck in a rut, or even just unhappy—meet Eleanor Oliphant!" says Leslynn Jongebloed, Goodreads expert.





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"It's a hilarious firsthand account of the 2016 election that makes you want to cheer with joy and break down into uncontrollable sobbing at the same time," says Katie Luttrell, site merchandiser.





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"It imagines the fallout of climate change, told from an innocent but wise perspective with ribbons of magical realism throughout. It's also mercifully short for people trying to hit their 2017 reading challenge goal," says Amy Bickerton, senior user experience designer.





Which 2017 book would you recommend to your fellow readers? Share it with us in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
12 Audiobooks for Star Wars Fans
Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards
Excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards
Posted by Cybil on December 04, 2017

More than 3.8 million votes have been cast and counted in the 9th annual Goodreads Choice Awards honoring the year's best books decided by you, the readers!

Now it's time to celebrate some fantastic reading across 20 categories, representing 400 books between the winners and the finalists. And, of course, it's time for some very talented authors to celebrate their wins!

We asked the winners of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards to share photos of themselves reacting to their victories. For Science Fiction winner Andy Weir, who is on a book tour, that meant making due with a bathroom-mirror selfie and a handwritten note. Colleen Hoover (who is celebrating her third consecutive win in the Romance category) received the good news while she was home sick, but—always a trooper—she rallied for the readers. And, well, some of these just made us laugh!

Be sure to explore all of the winning and nominated books!

Best Fiction: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng




Best Horror: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King




Best Young Adult Fiction and Best Debut Goodreads Author: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas




Best Science Fiction: Artemis by Andy Weir




Best Science & Technology: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson




Best Historical Fiction: Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate




Best Romance: Without Merit by Colleen Hoover




Best Mystery & Thriller: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins




Best Graphic Novel & Comic: Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen




Best Poetry: The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur




Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas




Best History & Biography: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore




Best Humor: Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between) by Lauren Graham




Best Memoir & Autobiography: What Happened by Hillary Clinton




Best Food & Cookbook: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It! by Ree Drummond


Best Nonfiction: How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh


Best Middle Grade & Children's: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

Excerpt: Lilly Singh's How to Be a Bawse
Posted by Cybil on December 04, 2017



Lilly Singh is the author of How to Be a Bawse, which won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Nonfiction. Singh, a Canadian YouTube personality, celebrates being a Goodreads Choice Award winner by sharing the following excerpt from that book with us below:


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Chapter 1: Play Nintendo

I'm sweating in my blue overalls as I look at all the obstacles ahead of me. I have three options: (1) pound my head on this brick block and hope for a star, (2) run and jump over the enemy, or (3) step on this turtle's head and force him to retract into his shell. No matter which option I go with, the fact remains that the Koopa Troopa up ahead is going to stay there. I can't control it or convince it that it's actually a Ninja Turtle and thus is in the wrong game. That's fine. No Ninja Turtles means more pizza for me, and I'm Italian, so this is all working out. I know the Koopa Troopa isn't going to listen to me, and therefore I need to control the only thing I can—and that's me, Mario.

Video games are a great analogy for life. You go through levels, get thrown off by obstacles, and face several enemies. The game will become harder and harder, but it's okay because you become smarter, faster, and more skilled. When playing a video game, you control a character by making it jump, run, duck, and attack. I mean, that was back in my day when my Super Nintendo controller had two buttons. Today video game controllers have as many buttons as a keyboard, so who knows what you can do. You can probably press A + Y + Z while twirling your left joystick and your character will sing the national anthem. Either way, the fact remains that your character is the only thing you can control in the game. The enemies will keep coming, the walls will keep shrinking, and the time will keep ticking away. It's your job to navigate your character through a situation you cannot control.

That's exactly how you should view life. A Bawse understands that there are many things in life you have no control over and it is inefficient to become frustrated by that reality. Not being able to control people and situations doesn't make you powerless; it just means you have to exercise your power in a different way. If you can't control people, then control your reaction to them. If you can't control a situation, then prepare for it.

Before I started my career in the entertainment industry, I was the leader of a small dance company (if you could even call it that) in Toronto. We started off small, with only a few dancers, specializing in only Indian dance styles, but over time, in true Lilly fashion, I wanted to keep growing and expanding our horizons. Since I was little, I've had larger-than-life ideas. I never wanted to settle for something simple or mediocre, and as a result, when I did things, I wanted them to be the biggest and best things. There were so many other dance teams and companies around and I didn't want to just be another addition to an already long list. I committed my days to transforming the company in the hopes of creating a dance empire that would take over the world. I really thought that was possible. We would be dancing Power Rangers who saved the world, one extended leg and pointed toe at a time. I decided to convert my basement into a full-blown office. We held auditions for dancers who were skilled in all forms of dance so that we could perform hip-hop, classical, and fusion in addition to what we were already doing. I organized photo shoots and video shoots and other creative marketing techniques. I had so much drive and determination that no injury, financial strain, or competition could steer me off my path. What I couldn't see, however, was the one obstacle that was in front of me the entire time, and which caused everything to fall apart: the team itself.

I had such big dreams for the company and I was always willing to work for them. Without hesitation, I would pull all-nighters to put together marketing materials, spend money out of my own pocket to invest in what we needed, and drive myself crazy thinking of innovative ways to set ourselves apart. But then I would arrive at practice and deal with three dancers showing up late, one not showing up at all, and two of them leaving early. Getting people to put in work on events to help our brand was like pulling teeth. We often performed at weddings and thus needed to adhere to a professional dress code, yet some dancers would occasionally show up wearing shorts and flip-flops. I would get so frustrated with them because I was putting in so much work for this dream, but the reality of the situation was that the dream was mine, not theirs. I tried for years to control them and make them work for something they didn't care about as much as I did, and it just didn't work.

My dance company dreams faded away gradually, but the process was hastened by my discovery of YouTube. I remember feeling a new sensation the first time I uploaded a video. I wrote the script, shot it, edited it, and released it. No one else was involved or required, and the independence was exhilarating. Soon I developed an even greater drive and passion for my career as Superwoman than I'd had previously with my dance team. This time, however, I wasn't trying to control a group of twenty people every time I needed something to get done. The only person I needed to control was the only person I could control, and that was me.

Today, of course, I have a team that surrounds me and helps me to build my business. But Lilly is still at the root of Superwoman. The success of Superwoman and the failure of my dance team helped me learn a very important lesson: work with what's in your control. This lesson can be applied to so many situations in our lives. You get frustrated when your parents nag you, so every time they do, you storm out of the room. You can't control your parents, so stop trying. Instead, use that energy to control your reaction the next time they nag you. You might not be able to smash a brick block and find a star that makes you invincible, but you can practice patience and build up a resistance to nagging. If none of that works, you can find the closest green tube and transport yourself out of the conversation.

Have you ever played a video game then lost because you realized you were looking at the wrong part of the screen the whole time? You were so confused as to why your controller wasn't working, but really you were just trying to control the wrong character. That's what trying to control people is like in real life. We're so often fixated on getting people to behave in accordance with what we want that we forget to focus on ourselves.

The best way to stop people from pushing your buttons is to start pushing your own.

A + Y + Z. Left joystick.

"O Canada."

Explore the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards, including:
Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards
Excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
A Recipe from Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!


Excerpted from How to Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh. Copyright 2017 by Lilly Singh. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Excerpt: A Recipe from Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!
Posted by Cybil on December 04, 2017



Congrats to Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) on winning the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Cookbook! To celebrate, Drummond is sharing one of her delicious recipes that won readers over in The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!


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I'm beginning to think my waffle iron can do anything. It can make waffles, of course. It can make omelets (try it! Just whip up omelet ingredients and pour them in). It can make panini (whoa—game changer). And it can make quesadillas to beat the band.

(Oh, it can also sing "Jingle Bells" like no one's business. That's another story for another time.)

But did you know your waffle iron can turn frozen hash browns into the crispiest, butteriest taters you ever did see/hear/taste? It's true. And considering how long both frozen hash browns and waffle irons have been around, I'm amazed it took humankind this long to figure it out. (I'm so glad it did!)

Waffle Iron Hash Browns
Makes Six 4-inch Waffles

Ingredients:
One 30-ounce bag frozen shredded hash browns
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped shaved ham
1 cup freshly grated Cheddar cheese
Ketchup, for serving

Instructions:
1. Thaw the hash browns at room temperature for about 3 hours, turning the package over occasionally. (Or you may place the frozen hash browns in the fridge overnight.) When they are thawed, preheat the waffle iron to medium-low heat.

2. Place half the hash browns in the middle of a stack of three or four paper towels. Bunch up the potatoes and squeeze them to force out as much liquid as possible. Place the hash browns in a large bowl, then repeat with the rest of the hash browns.

3. Drizzle in the butter then add the pepper and toss everything together.

4. Coat the surface of the waffle iron with cooking spray, then add 1/2 cup of the potato mixture to each well. (You should hear them start to sizzle!)

5. Sprinkle the chopped ham evenly over the potatoes then add the cheese. Sprinkle about 1/4 cup of the potatoes over the top of each waffle.

6. Close the lid and let 'em cook! How long the waffles take to cook depends on the heat of your waffle maker and the moisture of the potatoes. Lift the lid and check on the waffles from time to time to make sure they aren't burning. The edges and the cheese will start to crisp up and get golden, but you'll want to keep it going until everything is deep golden.

7. Use a dull knife or spatula to remove the waffles. Serve them with ketchup and dig right in! These are absolutely addictive. Crispy and wonderful!

Change Things Up!

For a simpler hash brown, omit the cheese and ham and just put 3/4 cup potatoes in each well.

Add diced onion and green bell pepper along with the ham and cheese.


Excerpt: Neil deGrasse Tyson's Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Posted by Cybil on December 04, 2017



Neil deGrasse Tyson is the author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry, which won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award in Science and Technology. To celebrate, Tyson is sharing the following excerpt from that book with Goodreads:


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"Of all the sciences cultivated by mankind, Astronomy is acknowledged to be, and undoubtedly is, the most sublime, the most interesting, and the most useful. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the Earth is discovered…; but our very faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above [their] low contracted prejudices."
—James Ferguson 1757.

Long before anyone knew that the universe had a beginning, before we knew that the nearest large galaxy lies two and a half million light-years from Earth, before we knew how stars work or whether atoms exist, James Ferguson's enthusiastic introduction to his favorite science rang true. Yet his words, apart from their eighteenth-century flourish, could have been written yesterday.

But who gets to think that way? Who gets to celebrate this cosmic view of life? Not the migrant farmworker. Not the sweatshop worker. Certainly not the homeless person rummaging through the trash for food. You need the luxury of time not spent on mere survival. You need to live in a nation whose government values the search to understand humanity's place in the universe. You need a society in which intellectual pursuit can take you to the frontiers of discovery, and in which news of your discoveries can be routinely disseminated. By those measures, most citizens of industrialized nations do quite well.

Yet the cosmic view comes with a hidden cost. When I travel thousands of miles to spend a few moments in the fast-moving shadow of the Moon during a total solar eclipse, sometimes I lose sight of Earth.

When I pause and reflect on our expanding universe, with its galaxies hurtling away from one another, embedded within the ever-stretching, four-dimensional fabric of space and time, sometimes I forget that uncounted people walk this Earth without food or shelter, and that children are disproportionately represented among them.

When I pore over the data that establish the mysterious presence of dark matter and dark energy throughout the universe, sometimes I forget that every day—every twenty-four-hour rotation of Earth—people kill and get killed in the name of someone else's conception of God, and that some people who do not kill in the name of God, kill in the name of political dogma their nation's needs or wants.

When I track the orbits of asteroids, comets, and planets, each one a pirouetting dancer in a cosmic ballet choreographed by the forces of gravity, sometimes I forget that too many people act in wanton disregard for the delicate interplay of Earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land, with consequences that our children and our children's children will witness and pay for with their health and well-being.

And sometimes I forget that powerful people rarely do all they can to help those who cannot help themselves.

I occasionally forget those things because, however big the world is—in our hearts, our minds, and our outsized digital maps—the universe is even bigger. A depressing thought to some, but a liberating thought to me.

Consider an adult who tends to the traumas of a child: a broken toy, a scraped knee, a schoolyard bully. As adults we know that kids have no clue of what constitutes a genuine problem, because inexperience greatly limits their childhood perspective. Children do not yet know that the world doesn't revolve around them.

As grown-ups, dare we admit to ourselves that we, too, have a collective immaturity of view? Dare we admit that our thoughts and behaviors spring from a belief that the world revolves around us? Apparently not. Yet evidence abounds. Part the curtains of society's racial, ethnic, religious, national, and cultural conflicts, and you find the human ego turning the knobs and pulling the levers.

Now imagine a world in which everyone, but especially people with power and influence, holds an expanded view of our place in the cosmos. With that perspective, our problems would shrink—or never arise at all—and we could celebrate our earthly differences while shunning the behavior of our predecessors who slaughtered each other because of them.

I remember the day I learned in biology class that more bacteria live and work in one centimeter of my colon than the number of people who have ever existed in the world. That kind of information makes you think twice about who—or what—is actually in charge.

From that day on, I began to think of people not as the masters of space and time but as participants in a great cosmic chain of being, with a direct genetic link across species both living and extinct, extending back nearly four billion years to the earliest single-celled organisms on Earth.

The cosmic perspective flows from fundamental knowledge. But it's more than about what you know. It's also about having the wisdom and insight to apply that knowledge to assessing our place in the universe. And its attributes are clear:

The cosmic perspective comes from the frontiers of science, yet it is not solely the provenance of the scientist. It belongs to everyone.

The cosmic perspective is humble.

The cosmic perspective is spiritual—even redemptive—but not religious.

The cosmic perspective enables us to grasp, in the same thought, the large and the small.

The cosmic perspective opens our minds to extraordinary ideas but does not leave them so open that our brains spill out, making us susceptible to believing anything we're told.

The cosmic perspective opens our eyes to the universe, not as a benevolent cradle designed to nurture life but as a cold, lonely, hazardous place, forcing us to re-assess the value of all humans to one another.

The cosmic perspective shows Earth to be a mote. But it's a precious mote and, for the moment, it's the only home we have.

The cosmic perspective finds beauty in the images of planets, moons, stars, and nebulae but also celebrates the laws of physics that shape them.

The cosmic perspective enables us to see beyond our circumstances, allowing us to transcend the primal search for food, shelter, and sex.

The cosmic perspective reminds us that in space, where there is no air, a flag will not wave—an indication that perhaps flag waving and space exploration do not mix.

The cosmic perspective not only embraces our genetic kinship with all life on Earth but also values our chemical kinship with any yet-to-be discovered life in the universe, as well as our atomic kinship with the universe itself.

During our brief stay on planet Earth, we owe ourselves and our descendants the opportunity to explore—in part because it's fun to do. But there's a far nobler reason. The day our knowledge of the cosmos ceases to expand, we risk regressing to the childish view that the universe figuratively and literally revolves around us. In that bleak world, arms-bearing, resource—hungry people and nations would be prone to act on their "low contracted prejudices." And that would be the last gasp of human enlightenment—until the rise of a visionary new culture that could once again embrace, rather than fear, the cosmic perspective.

Also, read our exclusive interview with Tyson, where he discusses his favorite books and explains his cosmic view of life.

Explore the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards, including:
Announcing the Winners of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards
Excerpt: A Recipe from Ree Drummond's The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Come and Get It!
Excerpt: Lilly Singh's How to Be a Bawse


Excerpted from Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. 2017 by Neil deGrasse Tyson. Used with permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

32 Short Books to Help You Win Your Reading Challenge
Posted by Marie on December 04, 2017



The end of the year is fast approaching, which means there are only a few weeks left to reach your 2017 Reading Challenge Goal! But don't worry if you're a couple of books (or more) behind schedule. We're serving up a huge variety of short books by authors from around the globe—from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's We Should All Be Feminists to Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane. The best part? They're all fewer than 250 pages and ordered from shortest to longest—you'll get back on track in no time.

So don't fret, fellow bookworms! We're cheering for you from the sidelines. Your assured victory is within sight and within reach.

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Have a quick read that you'd like to recommend? Share it with us in the comments below!

Check out more recent blogs:
The Best Young Adult Books in November
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December's Poetry Contest Winner: A Sweetness Absent from the Ocean Air
Posted by Cybil on December 02, 2017





Every month, Goodreads and the ¡POETRY! group host a poetry contest. It's a great way to discover and support the work of emerging poets. Join the ¡POETRY! group where you can vote to select the winning poem each month from among the finalists. Aspiring poets can also submit a poem for consideration.

Congratulations to John, who is our December winner with this poem:

A Sweetness Absent from the Ocean Air

by John Beaton

The Weeping Window bleeds ceramic poppies
that blush St. Magnus’s cathedral wall
and each seems miniscule among them all—
the throng comprises nigh a million copies:
one bloom per British serviceman who died
in World War One, a massive flower bed
entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red
displayed in London where it dignified
that War’s centenary. Now part has travelled
to Orkney, here to mark one century
since dreadnought fleets waged battle on the sea
near Jutland. Lifelines tangled and unravelled—
in two short days eight thousand men and more
succumbed as riven battleships went down.
With Princess Anne, the envoy of the Crown,
their relatives are welcomed at the door
of this, the Viking edifice erected
in memory of Magnus, who eschewed
bad blood in favour of the holy rood,
a man of peace, nine hundred years respected.


Some families take pause and stare, as if
they hope the flower avatar of their
lost sailor lad will wave. As they repair
into the church, the poppies stand up, stiff
like soldiers at attention on parade;
their stems are wire, their heads are crimson clay
and, grouped, they seem ethereal, a fey
honor guard shipshapedly displayed.
The British and the German brass bands march
along the harbor front then through the streets;
this day there are no triumphs or defeats—
they gain the church grounds through a common arch—
and then the pipe band, clad in kilts, assemble.
No instrument of war can so foment
bravado then bestow such dark lament:
Great Highland Bagpipes set the air atremble,
the Weeping Window work of art revives,
more vehemently, the ones who drowned and bled,
and now we see, in child-tall blooms of red,
a sad cascade of young, foreshortened lives.





7 Great Books Hitting Shelves Today
Posted by Hayley on November 28, 2017

Need another excuse to go to the bookstore this week? We've got you covered. In addition to a steamy, highly anticipated sequel from Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L. James, check out these brand-new standalone titles Goodreads members are loving.


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You should read this book if you like: Historical fiction, discreet murder investigations, Abraham Lincoln, the shadow of war, Washington, D.C.




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You should read this book if you like: YA fantasy, aggressively unusual neighbors, kid detectives, ignoring the laws of physics, magical adventures




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You should read this book if you like: Poetry, personal and political revelations, internet phenoms, reflections on our shared humanity




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You should read this book if you like: Nonfiction, fashion and film, 1950s Rome, celebrity drama, paparazzi, artists and exiles




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You should read this book if you like: Mystery, Olympic has-beens, runaways and frauds, the dark underbelly of competitive swimming




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You should read this book if you like: Fiction, small-town secrets, missing-persons cases, bourbon country, muddy rivers, loss and atonement




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You should read this book if you like: Regency romance, slightly inebriated ladies, scandalous weddings, devilish dukes





What catches your eye? Let's talk books in the comments!

Check out more recent blogs:
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