Commuting, Books and Goodreads.com

There was a time in my life when I commuted to work. For three years, I lived in Mission, BC and worked as a  teacher in the Burnaby School District. As the crow flies the distance is probably 60 km. As the cars drive, the distance is about 75 km. According to Mapquest, the time to drive from A to B should be just over an hour. I was thrilled if the round trip could be completed in 31/2 hours … because I drove in rush hour.

I shan’t delve too much into the joy  involved in leaving my house each work day at 6:25, speeding along the country-roads part of my journey in the dark, half the time in the rain, before zipping onto the highway, speeding with the other vehicles or suffering with being tailgated, slowing to a crawl as we got closer to the bridges, shifting into first gear, second gear, stopping, first gear, second gear, first gear, second gear … merging onto the bridge with 100,000 other vehicles then weaving through urban neighbourhoods behind sleepy, slowpoke, oblivious-to-my-obvious-haste drivers to reach my destination. Suffice it to say my dentist asked me after I had been doing this for just over a year, “What are you doing to your teeth? You’re grinding them down to pulp.”

Due to subtracting 3-4 hours of quality time each working day for three years, I felt obliged to use the rest of my time wisely. So there was no dilly dallying around. Time was like gold. One thing I love to do is read. And so I frequented the public library to get books. But who has time to browse?

My method in selecting books was to stand in one aisle and randomly pull books off the shelf until I had selected between 8 and 10. This usually took less than three minutes. My theory was that there was likely to be at least one or two really good ones in the batch. Maybe more. But I always had something to read. The trouble with this method, I often picked books I had already read. Many times I would read to the middle of a book and realize I had already read it.

And one glorious day I got a job teaching in Mission. My commute time went from 3-4 hours a day to 12 minutes. Each day when I got into the car I said a prayer of thanks, almost weeping in gratitude.

I also started buying books. Because I had time, sweet sweet time. And more money with not filling the gas tank three times a week. And, I figured with the stiff library fines I was paying each month, I might as well be buying the books. But several times I bought the same book twice. Which was good and bad; good because I could give the new one as a gift, bad because the reason I bought the book a second time was the first time it left no impression or I read it halfway or not past page one. Therefore probably not what I considered a ‘must read’. I bought Mercy Among the Children three times.

I often thought how nice it would be to have a list of books I have read. A friend of mine has one. She has a notebook with each title, author and a rating for each book. So when people asked her for a recommendation, she pulls out her little book and recommends away. When someone asked me for a suggestion, I usually stared while my eyes glazed over. Not because I haven’t read any good books. I have read many. One or two may have come to mind. But I knew there are  many more lurking in the deep recesses of my brain so I might get flustered, becoming less likely to make an intelligent suggestion.

So I got a notebook I began the practice of recording, but after writing three or four titles, it would get misplaced. I tried again and again, using different size notebooks, but the practice didn’t stick. Someone suggested a spreadsheet. Great idea, I thought, then forgot about it.

Very recently a wise friend (whose blog link  is to the right), introduced me to the Goodreads website. THIS has become my answer to the ‘what have I read problem’. The site is like a virtual library; call up an author, and their books come up pronto. Or a title. So I went through lists of books, and gave them a quick rating,  which added them to ‘My books’, creating a list of books I have read. And I have only started this process. Now if my mind goes blank, I can consult the list.  I listed them according to my ratings so my favorite books come up in the list first. Very wonderful! It also gives review and ratings from other readers. AND it makes suggestions based on what your ratings, AND you can join book clubs on line, save some driving. Just kidding …  I like the talking with  real people approach to discussing books. And the wine.

So I am here to recommend joining Goodreads. It is free and they don’t sell anything. If you love to read, it is a fabulous place to go for ideas.

Now I have a favour to ask. IF you join and IF you have read Mennonite Girl, I would love for you to rate the book and write a quick review. By ‘review’ I mean a few words, like, ‘I really enjoyed this book’, or whatever comes to mind. If you give a review or rating before May 13th, I will put your name into a draw for a free book. Yippeee.

And it is easy to do, the review thing. Go to http://www.goodreads.com and sign up. They won’t bug you. They just need a name and email. Put my title in the search box at the top and my page will come up. It is pretty easy to do, just click on the number of stars and a comment box will come up. If you need further instructions, go to the bottom of the page and see ‘About Us’ and click there, and on that page there is a ‘help’ button which will help you through.

Blessings to you this week, and if you are commuting any great distance, my tip of the week, besides joining Goodreads, is to look for another job.

Oh yes, and I will announce the winner of the book on May 13. Thanks for the review!!!!!

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One Comment on “Commuting, Books and Goodreads.com”

  1. Hey Mary, Great post.
    Yes, I love GoodReads, though it seems I haven’t done much with it. I love the concept, now I just have to actually add some books to my list. I’m like you in that regard. I know I’ve read tons of books, but can I actually bring up a list? Not so much…


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