Goodreads is a social cataloging application website that allows readers to search its database of books, annotations, quotes, and reviews.

  • 78,363 ratings
  • 6267 reviews (until 27th July 2023)
  • 4.12 average rating

An analysis of over 6000 book reviews (as of February 16, 2023) revealed that the majority (4120) were in English, likely due to Goodreads' American origin. Reviews in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, and Arabic were also significant.

I identified five key themes from the English reviews:

  • Genre-Related
  • Recommendation-Related
  • Personal Reflections
  • Structure-Related
  • Quotes

The focus will primarily be on the first three categories. We will conduct further thematic modeling on each of these, allowing us to delve deeper into and summarize the thoughts of the readers.

What Imagination has to do with cities

Although the five Topics were artificially summarized, two of the most frequently mentioned themes, and also two of the most significant features of the book, were found by clustering again within each cluster, Imagination & Metaphor, and Poetic Compelling.

This unique combination stems from his understanding of literary ethics and social potential:

"   continue to believe in the appeal to hunger, in the classes that are hungry. If I were a specialist in food production . . . , I would devote myself to issues concerning how to feed millions of people, which implies changes to the most stubborn of cultural habits. . . . But, instead, I am a specialist in imaginative and verbal material, and I dedicate myself to the hunger for written words, for stories told, for mythological fi gures: all stuff that is no less essential than food, as we all know.  "        

-Italo Calvino

While Poetic Compelling is undoubtedly a tribute to Calvino's linguistic ability, imagination and metaphor are not very friendly to every reader, especially when combined

in a way that is often confusing. This imagination was undoubtedly his most powerful weapon as a writer, to awaken the then sleeping reader. So to understand this wild imagination and the meaning behind it, we have to go back to the time before the book was published.

In the 1950s, Italy achieved impressive economic growth through the Marshall Plan. In the two decades between '50 and '70, Italy's per capita income grew faster than that of any other European country. This could not have been achieved without the agrarian and fiscal reforms initiated in the 1950s, during which a massive population shift took place, with industrialization and modernization in the north attracting large numbers of people and exacerbating social contrasts. Modernization and industrialization accelerated the expansion of urban homogeneity.

Some scholars of urban studies have argued that the idea of the city as a fundamental factor in human development has led to the cities of this era being seen as the physical manifestation of the ill effects on human society of profit, waste, expansion for the sake of expansion, and mechanization that obscures the true meaning of life. Lewis Mumford, in 'Cities in history ' states grimly: "The ultimate damage may be irreplaceable." She bemoans the failure of capitalism to create a spiritually and socially stimulating environment, instead striving for a homogenized nothingness that "creates more and more featureless landscapes inhabited by more and more featureless people"

In addition to Poetic Compelling and Imagination, there are some interesting finding from this sub-cluster. Among them, Jorge Luis Borges is the most mentioned author, who innovated fiction language by creating innovative literary symbols through imagination. Especially 'El Aleph' is a collection of short stories exploring themes such as dreams, mazes, chance, infinity, archives, mirrors, fictional authors, and myths.

Another thing worth noting is book of 'Einstein's Dreams'written by Alan Lightman. The novel follows Albert Einstein as a young scientist who is haunted by dreams in 1905 while researching the theory of relativity. Each of the 30 chapters in the book explores a dream about time that Einstein had during this period.

As a clue, the Named-entity recognition tool was used to identify these sentences and find out which writers were mentioned in the comments, and then Wikipedia was used to build a network between these writers. Then, we use Wikipedia to build a network between these writers, and from the following social network, it is easy to find that many of the mentioned writers are famous for their imagination , and have a strong sense of postmodernism and magic realism , and can even be linked to humanism.

Social Network Mentioned In Reviews

hover each photo will get the author's name, and click it to see the Wikipedia link.

As we mentioned before, the cities of the 1960s were undergoing a series of intensely homogenized expansions. In Italy, urbanization accelerated, triggering real estate speculation and hasty construction.

The author was undoubtedly greatly influenced by the academic debate in the 1960s, and his work for a publishing house brought him into contact with a large number of books on cities, architecture and utopias that continue to influence generations of architects and urban planners today:

Through topic modeling techniques, we summarized two very relevant topics, 'Urban Society' and 'Slice of Life', these two topics both do reflect the reader's thinking about contemporary life, especially urban life.

"  But all these pages together do not yet form a book: a book (I believe) is something that has a beginning and an end (even if it's not a novel in the strict sense), a space that the reader has to enter, to walk around in, and perhaps get lost in, but at some point to find an exit, perhaps multiple exits, to find a kind of opening to a way out of it possibility. One of you will say to me that this definition can apply to a novel with a plot but does not apply to a book like this one, which one should read as one would read a poem, an essay, or at most a short story. I would like to say, then, that even a book like this, because to be a book it should have a structure, that is to say one must find in it a plot, a journey, a conclusion.  "

-Italo Calvino

As you can see from the analysis of the review, to some extent Calvino fulfills the purpose of the book; it allows the reader to explore through the book over and over again. He is like a trial and like a prose, with a myriad of possibilities, and he is a unique journey no matter where one starts reading. At the same time, it is precisely because of its rich imagery and unique writing style that evokes an experience that the reader relates to, that it can be called private and difficult to review.

*It's crucial to emphasize that the numbers associated with each theme and topic in the graph do not directly correspond to specific reviews. Since the analysis is conducted on a sentence-by-sentence basis rather than per review, these figures are derived by calculating the proportion of relevant sentences and then multiplying by the total number of reviews.