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Monday, September 29, 2008

Books In, Books Out, Part II

I have been fiddling around with LibraryThing again. I feel myself to be obsessed with data-mining my own reading patterns. It's so much easier to talk about reading ideas if you have already sorted out the way they make sense. I enjoy looking at other people's libraries and tags too, but then I am often searching for new ways to sort my own. (Like adding the tag "epistolary". Fun. Or updating my tag "to read" to the tag "unread" which LT mentioned as a meme attracting attention. It's more meaningful to tag with the crowd.)

I found out that there is a way to figure out how many books came in over the transom in a certain period by checking the entry date on LT. Thus, when September felt like a huge intake month, I could check.

I guess it is because a number of friends handed over books after summer holidays, plus I was back in the school library surfing the action, plus I was catching up on some summer book thoughts that I could not pursue at the time. So, 28 books in! A minimum of dollars out! I think I have read all or part of, maybe, a third of them.

Looking back through the record, it seems like I usually take in about 10 or 12 per month, still far too many to read. One trip to the bookstore sale tables is good for half a dozen; plus my lovely spouse probably shows up with one or two presents each month; the school library is a source of one or two books each weekend; and I often get a book or two loaned or passed on from one friend or another; not to mention the odd LibraryThing Early Reviewer copy!

It's a good life.

The marigold wonders nervously:
If I read somewhere between 6 and 10 books a month, when will I actually drown in the to-read pile?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

LibraryThing Early Review

Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain
by Kristen Menger-Anderson

Finally! An Early Reviewer book that conforms to my credo: I'd rather be offended than bored.

This debut book is quirky, providing a kind of personal history of New York, seen through episodes in the lives of one family, starting from the time when New York was a Dutch colony. It reminds me of Muybridge's moving pictures - light flashing through slits - anything but continual, yet elegantly fascinating. The points of view shift, the focus is on the smallest details of everyday life: smells, moments of experience. Interesting enough as that is, when you add in the obsession of the main family characters with the brain, and the changing paradigms that prevail over history, the book moves into the truly engrossing. I have read a couple of pages straight away of each ER book I have received, and this was the first that I had to continue reading immediately. In other words a great score for me and a great read.

Actually, it was not offensive, really, it was just not at all boring.

The marigold asks nervously:

I had a feeling that these books would be a fabulous source of new reading. So far, apart from Doctor Olaf Van Schuler's Brain, I seem to find that they fall into the acceptable but boring category, rather than the offensive but interesting category, which I prefer. The books vary from perfectly all right to pathetically awful. Not good enough! Where are the truly interesting books? Where?