Library Thing: the good. the bad. the compulsion.

Okay, to be clear: obsessivecompulsive is my middle name. Now that we have that established, let’s get on to LibraryThing.

LT has compelled me to seek out books from the oddest places. The couch cushions (the Girl’s copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary), the trunk of the car (also hers: Naked), boxes in various closets (so there’s my copy of The Grand Sophy! so that’s where the critical edition of Anne Frank went!), under beds, on top of bookcases, behind credenzas, in seldom used suitcases, briefcases, overnight bags: all fruitful. We are a bookish family, and the evidence is everywhere.

And I haven’t even forced the Girl to go through her closet yet.

The good: I won’t have to replace books that aren’t really lost. The bad: I will have to replace books I can’t find and can’t do without.

So tell me: who has got my early hardcover edition of Lonesome Dove? A reading copy, but still. We read it out loud as a family when Elisabeth was about seven and we all cried when you-know-who died. If you don’t know who, go read the novel. It really is a masterpiece, and now I want to reread it but of course, I can’t. Well okay, I can, because I just bought a new copy.

Thus it has gone: books found, books missing, books bought. Where is my Norton Critical Edition of Emma? Zinn’s History? I, Claudius? The list of the missing is about twenty books long at this point. LibraryThing is turning out to be a little more expensive than I thought.

But let me tell you how nice it is to have all the books organized. Or, almost organized. The upstairs bookshelves look like Marian the Librarian has been having her way with them. All fiction, and books on writing and linguistics, and referencee. Downstairs? Okay, a ways to go yet, but it’s coming along. Non-fiction, research, sport, math. Yes, I’ve banished all the Mathematicians books to the lower level bookshelves. His office (which is twice the size of mine, I must point out) is also down there. I stand by my command decision on this point.

And it’s just plain fun to have the damn things in a searchable, browsable format online. It’s also useful. Now I have a sheild to protect me when the Girl claims we don’t have a copy of Stephen King’s IT. In fact we have three copies. She looked a little sheepish when I showed them to her, and I admit it: I looked smug. Now we only have to resolve the family dispute on what to do with extra copies. The Mathematician and the Girl would save toenail clippings if I let them. The Mathematician has stopped me from getting rid of a five-inch wide polyester tie with a tomato soup stain on it that he last wore in highschool. Why? Somebody gave me that tie. Who? I don’t know. Somebody.

Well now somebody is going to throw it away.

The Mathematician and the Girl are terrible squirrlers away of odd bits and pieces, but I will prevail in the end. Two copies of IT is quite enough.

8 Replies to “Library Thing: the good. the bad. the compulsion.”

  1. I entered all the bookshelf books, and now I get this little tingle of excitement whenever I stumble across a random book that pops up in some cupboard or closet or forgotten book bag and I know I get to enter it in.

    And, yes, the first thing I do with my new purchases from B&N, Amazon, the UBS or anyplace else is to run home, fire up the laptop, and enter them into the library. It’s become like this fix I can’t do without. Must buy books to add to library!

  2. More crack for you, my pretty, from our friends at boingboing.net …

    “In conjunction with a six-part series showing on the BBC at the moment, the Oxford English Dictionary is allowing free access to the full dictionary with all the fascinating citations and etymologies. While this is deeply cool, there are two genuinely sucky caveats: one, this will vanish when the show finishes its first season and two, the OED is using whacky IP-address filtering to try to limit this to Britain. Update: Non-British (or British with weird IP) readers can use http://www.daveproxy.co.uk/ to access the site.”

  3. oh but, I already indulge. Every day, many times for years. Call me a word slut, I couldn’t deny it.

  4. Okay, I admit it… It does cheer me to learn that your house has more copies of stuff by Stephen King than ours does [vbeg]

  5. There’s a lot to like about King. His short story “The Reach” — I love that story. I always included it in the reading list when I taught creative writing. Pet Semetary has always struck me as an incredibly strong story, really a classic Greek tragedy. I like the Stand, even in its (way too long) second incarnation, because I like the characters and the conflict. I am looking forward to his new one.

    There are times when he really overindulges, of course. I could go into detail about his obsession with nasal discharge and pimples (I would almost say he’s got a zit fetish) — but I won’t.

    He has always been an excellent (if longwinded) storyteller, but over the course of his career his writing at the sentence level has greatly grown and improved.

    Personally I think they’ll be studying and analyzing his stuff a hundred years from now, and other people who criticize him so soundly will have been completely forgotten. Not to name names, but I’m thinking of somebody in particular and his last initial is Bloom.

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