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Manny Rayner's book reviews

I love reviewing books - have been doing it at Goodreads, but considering moving here.

Currently reading

The Greatest Show On Earth: The Evidence For Evolution
Richard Dawkins
R in Action
Robert Kabacoff
Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies
Douglas R. Hofstadter
McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and Culture
Harold McGee
Epistemic Dimensions of Personhood
Simon Evnine
Pattern Recognition and Machine Learning (Information Science and Statistics)
Christopher M. Bishop
Relativity, Thermodynamics and Cosmology
Richard C. Tolman
The Cambridge Handbook of Second Language Acquisition
Julia Herschensohn, Martha Young-Scholten

If Research Were Romance and Other Implausible Conjectures

If Research Were Romance and Other Implausible Conjectures - Manny Rayner The events of the last few days have been upsetting - but, realistically, the most surprising thing is that it took us so long to get to this point. Here's the foreword to If Research Were Romance, written shortly after the announcement of the Amazon takeover.

Last year, I published a collection of my Goodreads reviews entitled What Pooh Might Have Said to Dante. I hadn't really been planning to do another, but two events conspired to push me in that direction; they are reflected in the structure of the present compilation, which includes two categories the previous one lacked. Taking them in reverse order, Cathy and I are right now trying to write a serious book about science and religion, and finding it even more difficult than we had expected. The last section contains reviews of some of the more interesting things we've read as part of the background research; I'm hoping this will help move us forward.

The second item is less positive. Like many long-term members of the site, I was unhappy to discover last month that Goodreads is being sold to Amazon. I have worked in Silicon Valley, and I know how startups operate. This is what you're supposed to do; if I'd founded Goodreads, it's what I'd have aimed for myself. But it's still sad. I find it hard to believe that the Goodreads I know will survive the transition. Indeed, several of the people whose company I've most enjoyed have already told me they're leaving.

The first section of the book is consequently devoted to celebrating the unique culture of this site, where for the last four years I have spent innumerable hours talking about everything imaginable with fellow book-lovers and indulging in the many bizarre activities that made Goodreads so memorable: obsessing about Twilight and Fifty Shades, wasting time on the Everlasting Quiz, bitching about the absurd numbers of votes some completely worthless reviews can get, operating unlikely sock-puppets and in some cases even writing books for them or reviewing non-existent books they are claimed to have written, and, as you can see here, posting reviews ostensibly about books but really about the world of online reviewing.

I'd like to dedicate this collection to all the wonderful people I have met here: BirdBrian, Ian, Mariel, Paul, MJ, s.penkevich, Choupette, Andrew, Robert, Riku, Moira, Brad, Kalliope, Tatiana, Geoff, K.D, M, [P], Whitaker, Ceridwen, the several Davids, Jonathans, Ellens, Tims, Sarahs, Marys, Barbaras, Johns, Abigails, Chrisses, Jennifers, Simons, Allans, Matts, Jessicas, Marks, Erics and Mikes, Aerin, Scribble, Cecily, howlofminerva, Joseph, Oriana, Ted, mp, Alfonso, BunWat, Tom, Stina, Erika, Rowena, Monsoon, Emir, Garima, Ryan, Sandybanks, Hayes, Bettie, Tuck, Drew, Plch, Kat, Hazel, Julia, Pavel, Hadrian, Donna, Isaiah, midnightfaerie, La Pointe, Karen, Kris, Kristin, Kristen, Praj, Trevor, Pavel, Madeline, Joshua, Vinaya, Buck, Nataliya, Joyce, Kinga, Esteban, shovelmonkey2, Luka, Nick, Noran, Matthieu, Bram, Marvin, Des, Cassandra, Traveller, Terry, Jocelyn, SubterraneanCatalyst, aussiescribbler, Vivi, Bri, Josh, Peycho and many others. It's really been fun.