Reading update and a question

I think I’m past my reading slump, and I think I owe this largely to Rosy Thornton’s Hearts and Minds (kindly sent to me by the author), which I read happily all weekend and of which I am now about 50 pages from the end.  I needed a book that is smart and well-written but also plot-driven and entertaining, and this one fits the bill nicely.  I’m a sucker for academic novels, too, and this one is set in Cambridge and is all about faculty intrigue and student protests and classes and exams and meetings and all the stuff one would think I get enough of at my day job.  Why I like academic novels is beyond me, actually, but I do.

I will be picking up Eric Wilson’s Against Happiness next for a book group meeting in a week and a half; I’m looking forward to digging into some nonfiction, as I’ve lately been reading a string of novels.  Nothing wrong with that, of course, except that I like a little more variety.  After that I think I’d like to pick up something either older or more challenging than what I’ve been reading lately, or both.  I’ve haven’t had the energy lately for much but contemporary fiction, but now I’m feeling ready to venture into more difficult material.  I’m also planning to read more in my Wallace Stevens collection and to get back to the George Saunders book of essays, the first one of which I read and enjoyed, but which I haven’t picked up in a while.

But now for my question: have you noticed what WordPress has been doing with the “Possibly related posts (automatically generated)” links they have been appending to each post?  Some of these are links back to my own blog but others link to other WordPress blogs, most of which I haven’t heard of before.  I can’t decide if I want to keep this feature, and I’m wondering what you think of it, those of you who use WordPress and those of you who don’t.  I don’t like it because I don’t like the idea of there being links to blogs I have never read and don’t endorse on my posts.  Also, I’m not entirely sure everyone who reads me will know that I didn’t put those links there myself.  On the other hand, WordPress claims that these links will ultimately bring me more traffic, which is hard to resist, even though I suspect these hits won’t be coming from people who will return.  So what do you think?  A cool, new idea, or just annoying?

22 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Books

22 responses to “Reading update and a question

  1. Eva

    WordPress is doing that to me to, and I don’t like it at all. Do you know how to turn it off?

    And yay for the end of a reading slump! I’m comveting Hearts and Minds after hearing only good things about it on several blogs!

  2. Eva — to turn it off, go to “Design” on the dashboard and then “extras” and there you’ll see a box you can check to turn the feature off. Hearts and Minds is definitely recommended! I’ll be reviewing it soon.

  3. Edd

    Dorothy I am old and old fashion so I’ll give you my opinion and it’s only mine but I am not in favor of the automated links. It is in some way taking away your control of “your” site.

  4. Cam

    I hate the links. I’ve been following a few of them and I wonder how they determine what to choose. I followed a link (not from your blog) to something that was so different from the original post that it didn’t make sense — different in topic, different in subject, different in tone and quality. Ewww!

    On the other hand, I followed a link from the Ecojustice Challenge blog that was related, but it was several months old and the blog had not been updated in 6 months. So, in the end, it wasn’t anything that was useful to me in terms of finding a new blog that I might return to.

  5. Cam

    Ok, here is an example of how awful this feature is: I just went to the wonderfully witty Ella’s blog (Box of Books) and the link was to something that looks like one of those phoney blogs that people set up to spam from. Argghhh.

    Anyone reading this comment: don’t let this keep you from reading Ella’s blog — her blog is great; the autolink feature stinks.

  6. I’ve disabled the links too. I don’t want arbitrary links to arbitrary posts that may or may not have unappetising content.

    Glad to hear your reading’s back on track!

  7. Rob

    I’m with everybody else on these automatic links. Where’s the authorial control? Having people run rampant in comments is bad enough :-)

  8. I wouldn’t mind the links if only they had anything to do with the posts I’d written. I thought I’d leave it in for a while to see how it went, but it’s definitely getting the thumbs down from me so far.

  9. verbivore

    I looked around a bit for a way to turn off the automatic links but couldn’t find it. I dislike them immensely because if you don’t understand wordpress, or you’re not looking carefully, you might think I’ve put them there…grrr.

    Very happy your reading slump is over!

  10. Verbivore — did you see my explanation of how to turn them off above? It’s “design” from the dashboard, and then “extras” and then you’ll see it.

  11. Eva

    Thanks for the explanation! And the author of Hearts and Minds saw my comment here and is sending me a copy. Yay! :D

  12. toujoursjacques

    Dorothy—Thanks so much for the explanation of how to turn off these links. I think you are spot on in wanting to have a say in what is and is not on your blogsite. Like Cam, I’ve followed a few and been mostly upset by what I’ve found. I’m turning them off right this minute.
    So glad you are out of your reading funk. Enjoy your time with Wallace Stevens! TJ

  13. Glad to hear you’re out of your reading slump! I need to read Rosy Thornton’s book, too. I’ve heard very good things about it. As for those links–I thought they were linked to your old posts, but I would find it annoying if they led to other places. Typepad has a similar feature where you can have ‘recently updated blogs’ on your sidebar with links–but I don’t use it. I think I would be disabling it, too, if it was just added without your knowledge.

  14. The links are annoying. I don’t care that much about traffic, since my blog is mainly to help me keep my reading (and my thoughts about reading) in order.

    We can disable it? Goody! I’m going to do that very soon.

  15. Yay – so glad the reading slump is over. Isn’t Hearts & Minds great? I still need to do a review of it. I liked that it just felt “real” to me.

  16. If Saunders can’t get your engine revved up then no one can. Btw, tag!

    http://minusspine.wordpress.com/2008/05/06/253/

  17. musingsfromthesofa

    Glad you are over the slump. Didn’t know about the wordpress links but shall promptly disable them. I’m sure they’re about as accurate as Amazon recommendations.

  18. It’s always nice to get over a reading slump! The book that did it for you sounds like a good one, even if it is about academia. I know that feeling, I like to read books about libraries in my off time. Hope you enjoy some Wallace Stevens!

  19. Isn’t Hearts and Minds fun? Maybe I’ll try to get to Against Happiness next week. It’s short so I can probably squeeze it in. Now where did I put it…

    I’ve been debating about the links too. Like Litlove I thought I’d leave them in for a bit and see how they go but I haven’t been impressed and will likely be turning them off soon.

  20. Edd — you are so right, and I’ve decided to turn the links off. If they linked only to people on my blogroll, that would be another matter, but they don’t.

    Cam — thanks for those examples. It’s kind of annoying that we have to figure out how to turn them off instead of turning them on if we want them. I’d prefer an opt-in system, not an opt-out one.

    Charlotte — I’ve made the same decision — interesting that nobody who commented likes the links!

    Rob — I strongly believe in authorial control, and I’ve got mine back!

    Litlove — yeah, thumbs down here too. I’m just not interested in following those links to random blogs — I have better ways of finding new blogs when I want to.

    Eva — I’m so glad you’re getting a copy! I finished the novel tonight and loved it.

    Thanks TJ, and thanks for adding the link to your blog — I’ll be sure to stop by soon!

    Danielle — not only do those links send you off to other blogs (although they do also include links to my own posts), they send you off to blogs I’ve never read or heard of! No good.

    Chartroose — I like traffic, but I’d prefer it to come from people who are genuinely interested in the blog, not who are following random links.

    Iliana — yeah, I really enjoyed the story — the plot really pulled me in.

    Thanks for the tag Snackywombat — I’ll have to do some thinking about the meme …

    Musings — that comparison sounds about right — no thanks, WordPress!

    Melanie — I have enjoying Stevens a lot in the last few days — I’m hoping to post on him soon.

    Stefanie — oh, it would be interesting to read Against Happiness around the same time!

  21. Pingback: Thursday Soapbox. Rosy Thornton: Books Should be Books! « Vulpes Libris

  22. So THAT’s what those were. I was very confused although I did like that, at least with me logged in, there was a message that described the links as automated not chosen by me. I’m leaving it in for a while to see how it goes, like Litlove.

    It will make checking referrals (which I sometimes like to do) very annoying since the chances of the site having nothing to do with my blog have now shot up.

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