Tag Archives: LibraryThing

Happy Belated Thingaversary to Me!

I knew my anniversary of joining LibraryThing was coming up, but I thought it was later this week. Turns is, my Thingaversary was last Friday. I joined the site on October 13, 2005! Eighteen years of recording my books and connecting with other book lovers and readers. One of my retirement goals was to be more connected: I check in more often and post on other people’s threads, and I write at least short reviews of every book I read, something I didn’t always take time to do before.

LT was an early vision of what the Web could be in terms of both utility and community. I am pleased to have been part of it almost since its inception in August 2005. It is old school and has stayed much the same, adding features and updates but not messing with its original design and purpose.

Cheers to LT and here’s to another 18 years!

Happy Birthday, LT!

LibraryThing appeared on the World Wide Web on August 29, 2005. They are celebrating their 18th birthday with a fun scavenger hunt that encourages you to explore the site. If you are a reader and book lover, it’s worth creating an account to play!

My own 18th anniversary is coming soon. I joined the site on October 13, 2005. According to LT practice, I am permitted to buy one book for each year and one to grow on. I better get started on my wishlist. LT came around at just the right moment when I was considering how to catalog my rapidly growing book collection. I had been tinkering with an Access database but it meant entering the books manually. LT solved that with a web-based search along with the offer of community of readers. I have written about my involvement in LT in the past including my participation in their 75 Books a Year group.

In 2005, I only entered one book: Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden. I even wrote a short review. The next year I entered a few more and then began keeping my completed reading regularly in 2007. I have not yet catalogued my unread books but may devote some time this winter to working on it. LT sells a handy dandy scanner called the CueCat. They also offer a library management software program called TinyCat. It has a free version for individual users and low cost versions for small institutions.

I am grateful to creator Tim Spalding and the whole LT team for developing this readers’ retreat, demonstrating how to harness the Web for good.

Happy Birthday, LibraryThing!

Old School Tech

I use LibraryThing to track my reading and connect with a community of readers. I joined soon after it began in late 2005. The site has grown and changed with the times–including recently adding AI search–but at its base, it uses a wiki, built on MediaWiki software (think Wikipedia), for community collaboration. Groups use it to track members as well as communal reading. And, I was reminded recently by a friend, individual users are welcome to create pages.

Turns out I had done so in 2010…and, as with many of those experiments, I wrote some text as proof of concept and then never returned. I didn’t have a purpose in mind.

Today, however, I went back and considered ways I might incorporate those wiki pages into my reading life. I started by creating a page where I could track the various series I read. Like many avid readers, I have started a variety of series, mostly mysteries, but then lost track of them, perhaps losing interest in the character or just forgetting about them as time goes on. There are a few that I do keep up with, something that is a bit easier to do by following authors and getting alerts when new books are coming. I have an analog day book where I have listed the various series but, in an effort to downsize generally, I’m moving the list to the wiki. I track my books on LT, and they have pages for the series that show which ones you have read. I was able to copy and paste those lists into the wiki page for easy editing. It also helps that I know html and wiki syntax.

I have an affinity for wikis, I think, because I was there when they started and have grown up with them, hosting a few on my own server, playing with early ones like pbwiki and wikispaces, watching Wikipedia become an international collaborative community. They can seem clunky with their old school code, but I think the stripped down format helps us focus on the important part: creating and collaborating largely through text. Again, that may seem old-fashioned in a world of multimedia, but at its heart, multimedia is text-based. Someone writes those words that are spoken, and wikis allow us to grapple with how best to put them together to express our communal knowledge and ideas.

My Goal for 2023

In conversation with a LibraryThing friend, I said my goal for 2023 was “less social media and more good books.” She said she needed to turn it into a poster, print it out and post it over her laptop.

I went ahead and created a quick graphic in Canva.

Happy Friday! LibraryThing members have been hosting an unofficial social distancing weekend readathon since April 2020. We informally sign on and then report our reading results including number of pages and hours along with other details such as non-reading activities and snacks. I participated last weekend and have signed on for this one as well. With the start of the new year and various new challenges, I have been pulling books from my shelf, checking them out from the library and buying them from Better World Books. Here are the stacks of books I want to read in the next few months:

I’ll end with a weird coincidence: Doomsday Book, in the right hand pile, is used and came from Better World Books. But, it is signed with the inscription: “To Karen, Gode health & long life! Connie Willis” I think I can hear the Twilight Zone music playing.

Happy reading!

What Are You Reading?

Painting by Gary Melchers of  a woman sitting in a chair reading by an open window that looks out to a flower garden where another person is standingI am fortunate to have lots of bookish friends who share their reading on social media. One is an honest to goodness bookstagrammer. While I don’t have that kind of energy, I am committed to writing more about my reading. Currently, I share my reading with a small group via the LibraryThing 75 Books a Year group. I have belonged for 8 years and gotten increasingly involved over time, which mostly means writing, reading and responding to other people’s posts. The groups use an old-fashioned discussion forum that predates Good Reads by some years and the larger website is wiki-based. I have developed friendships with several people and met three of them face to face when we did a meetup in Colorado. The others, including a retired British coal miner who I also follow on Twitter, are virtual friends only. We use the platform to share our reading and through those conversations, we share our lives as well. It has become my community of choice as I spend less and less time on other social media platforms, especially Facebook.

So, what am I reading? Short answer: anything I want.

The longer answer is that I make an effort to read a wide variety of writing. One way I do that is by participating in LibraryThing challenges, especially the annual Bingo card. At the beginning of the year, a group of volunteers with input from the community come up with a list of 25 reading topics that are then programmed onto a Bingo card. You can see a screenshot of mine below:

a bingo card with topics for reading

Here are a couple Bingo card books that I enjoyed and might not have discovered if it weren’t for the challenge:

When You Get the Chance by Tom Ryan and Robin Stevenson tells the story of cousins who take the road trip of their lives to the Toronto Pride celebration. Mark and Talia, cousins who haven’t seen each other for a long time due to a rift between their sibling parents, reunite at the family cabin for the summer. They are mostly there to clean it out to sell it. They are both in same-sex relationships with Talia’s partner identifying as non-binary, using “they” as a pronoun. Both of them want to get to Toronto for the Pride festival even as they try to figure out the mystery of why their parents don’t get along. The book was written with an eye to educating the reader but the story was fun and upbeat as well. I particularly liked the depictions of older gay couples who tell their stories and also offer support for the next generation.

Zahrah the Windseeker is the first book by Nigerian American writer Nnedi Okorafor. Wikipedia classifies it as young adult book, but I think it would be fine for an older elementary audience as well. Okorafor tells the story of Zahrah, who lives with her family in the Ooni Kingdom on the edge of the Forbidden Forest where no one who ventures returns. Thirteen-year-old Zahrah was born dada,  meaning she has vines growing out her hair, an unusual phenomenon and one the community regards with suspicion, believing such people to possess magic. Their suspicions are correct because as the novel opens, Zahrah is just discovering her powers. She and her best friend decide to explore the forest and quickly encounter almost deadly danger. In order to save her friend, Zahrah must return to the forest. I loved the book: the forest is filled with fantastical creatures that set the imagination alive. But, the characters are very real human beings living in this world and we get to know them and love them even as Zahrah learns to love herself.
And just to show you the range of reading I do, the last Bingo card book is April Lady by Georgette Heyer. I generally don’t read romances but have heard Heyer mentioned by readers I respect. She did not disappoint as she crafted her tale of the Cardross’s: Gile with the fortune who married for love despite his family’s disapproval, and Helen, who also married for love, but seems to be more interested in the money as she amasses a pile of bills. The book is a romp through the Regency world as Helen tries to hide her spending from her husband through silly and ultimately unsuccessful schemes. Fun and frivolous with a little history to give it some redeeming value, I suppose.