Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bibliophilia

I like books. My mom used to take me to used bookstores, where we would trade in a whole laundry basket of dad's used sci-fi & fantasy books and I could spend the credit. When I was having a rough year at BYU and things weren't going well, one of the places I took solace was a used bookstore there. The smell of old books, the stacks of volumes not as neatly arrayed as Barnes & Noble or Borders, the joy of discovering a secret backroom and some great old book about Freemasons or something - these are what I love about used bookstores. I like new bookstores, too. I like that you can (in the right section, anyway) pull a random volume off the shelf, sit down and start learning about something new. I've always felt you could learn a lot about people by looking at their bookshelves, and have occasionally been guilty of 'bookshelf cultivation'.

There's a couple of ways to catalog/cultivate your book collections online. For a while, I tried reader2, but the interface is weird & nonintuitive, and it wasn't doing it for me. It's been around for years, but I finally got around to trying LibraryThing last night and so far I like it much better. I added a little widget over on the right that'll show a few random book covers from my library. Obviously, I've only cataloged/tagged a small portion of my books (mostly those I can see on my work bookshelf), but its the kind of information organization that appeals to me, so there'll probably be some more additions, at least until I hit the 100-book free limit. Its the kind of thing I might even dish out the $25 lifetime fee for, in part to support small-business web development and in part because its useful to me.

I'd like to hear from some of you about your bookshelves, favorite bookstore experiences, and other bibliophilic errata.

edit: Also, I know there's tons more of these 'put your books on the web' things, like Shelfari and others. Anyone have any experience with those? like them? think I should use them instead of LibraryThing?

6 comments:

dävid said...

this might defeat the purpose, but i think it would be really funny to create a faux-book profile with a bunch of business-motivational books. one or two is fine, but a whole library full to me is the epitome of irony, and desperation.

if you didn't waste so much time buying, reading, and "living" those books maybe you would be rich.

Disco Mom said...

david,
It's sadly funny that you just described Ed's library. A couple church books, some fishing guides and THE WORLD of business-motivational books, only a few of which he's actually read, and even fewer of which he'll have time to read in the future. And NONE of which I'm interested in having on our shelves. I could create that faux profile from his real-life collection. Poor Ed.

Moving on, this was a good post, dave, because I recently reconnected with an old mission companion and we've been swapping book recommendations. It made me give my personal library some thought. I've been trying to keep it minimal because we move so much. I've pared it down to the true loves, and most of my new reads I borrow from the public library, and keep a running list in the back of my journal. When Maren hooks me up with my photoshopped disco ball rating system I'll start blogging short reviews of the books I read. I would really love to have a room like your serengeti room, with floor-to-ceiling library-quality dark wood bookshelves just begging to be stacked with interesting tomes. I don't even dream of something like Tona's library.

Right now we have two bookshelves only, and the collections are divided by genre - parenting, cookbooks, NYC, church, learning/stress/health, and we each have our own shelf - Ed's is as mentioned above and mine has mostly the couple of novels I own (see my profile for a sample.)

Anyway, I took the LibraryThing tour and it looks cool. Really makes me want to start accumulating books, which goes against my committment to purge, purge, purge over the next year. But I could list the books I've read on there instead of my journal - I'd like to have a record like that. Right now I get my recommendations by browsing and reading Amazon reviews, and I subscribe to a couple of book newsletters from the Brooklyn library. LibraryThing claims to be good at making recommendations so I'm all for that. Good post!

dave said...

Kari, if you do make a Librarything I want to see it.

Disco Mom said...

Of course.

Duh.

dävid said...

aww. i didn't mean to pick on ed. i love that guy.

and what is he reading that stuff for, he doesn't need it. he should be writing it. ed is the kind of guy that could get any job, off of any interview. seriously.

Geary said...

Only recently I have begun keeping track of the books I read on an Excel spreadsheet: author, title, number in a series (if one of a series), rating from 1 to 9; and date finished. I haven't included comments on the book because, to my wife's astonishment, I have no trouble remembering what they are about. I started keeping this list sometime last fall, and now have 60 or 70, all of which I have read since then. I almost NEVER re-read a book. (I could make an exception for Owen Whistler's "The Virginian", though -- I think it is the very best of its genre. And I need to re-read "Timeline" by Michael Crighton because the book, the movie, and the audio version all seem to have differences in the plot line.) Anyway, so once read, they can be returned. Also, since I don't care if I keep them forever, I hardly ever buy hardcover books, except when I can't stand to wait for the paperback to see what happens next in the story line. If I don't have a book to read I get really restless and moody.