Book Addicts Get Help at LibraryThing
My name is JamaGenie and I'm a book addict. There. I've said it out loud. I'm on the way to recovery, right? Wrong. Unlike alcohol and drugs, recovery by abstention is not the goal for a book addict. The goal is to find a way to organize the "drugs" that feed the addiction. A site called LibraryThing helped me attain that goal.
I'd quit Book-of-the-Month years ago and successfully avoided joining similar book-by-mail clubs that send books I didn't order (or didn't know I wanted until they arrived).
But I have other, less expensive ways to feed my addiction to books.
For simply something new to read, I'd visit the local Goodwill. Paperbacks, 50 cents; hardbacks, $1. Then the public library's gift shop began selling used hardbacks (mostly former best-sellers) for a song.
Four hardbound books - former best-sellers to boot! - for a dollar!
Be still my heart!
For specific titles, I go to Amazon.com for used copies. The seller's price may be only a few pennies, but shipping adds almost $4.00. Meaning I only go this route for books I have to own right now...allowing for shipping time, of course. Other books I'd like to own, but not right now, go on my Wish List.
No surprise then that one way or another, books find their way into my little abode.
And pile up.
Berlin's sculpture of a stack of books by German authors.
That used to mean "piled on any flat surface". On the nightstand...on chairs...even on the floor. Anywhere but in the one and only bookcase I possessed because it was too small to hold them all.
Never mind I'd been gifted with a second (smaller) bookcase, which for no good reason other than laziness - is laziness ever a good reason? - sat upside down and empty in the foyer where it landed after I'd hauled it up three flights from the car.
Then I came across LibraryThing, which allows a person to catalogue - free - up to 200 books (more for a fee) in his/her personal library, and also to connect with others who own the same titles.
After registering, you go to "Add Book", type in a title (in quotes) or author (in quotes), or the ISBN number (usually found above the bar code on the back of the book). LT then searches the Library of Congress or Amazon.com (your choice, but naturally Amazon works best for me). In seconds, the title and a thumbnail of the cover appears, then you simply click on the title to add it to "My Library". It couldn't be easier!
You can add a personal comment (different from a review) for each book, such as how you came by it, what you think of it, or if you found it to be less that the title promised, whatever might deter others from spending hard-earned cash or precious reading time on it. But you can also write formal reviews on your books, or on books listed by others. There's also an option to review books not yet released.
I'd been wanting to compile a list of the tomes I call my "British Library", so those were the ones I entered. (Click here to peruse JamaGenie's British Library.)
After adding each stack of books to LT, I put them in the new bookcase...in the living room where it belongs! For the first time ever, my British library is in one place. What a concept! If not for having to gather them up to enter in LibraryThing, they'd still be stacked, willy-nilly, all over the place. LT was the kick-in-the-pants I needed to take control of my books.
In the name of fairness, I should mention LibraryThing is only one of several sites for cataloging one's personal library. Safari is another.
I'm no longer in that 3rd-floor flat, but in an even tinier abode in another state. And I'm back to one (medium-size) bookcase. Two 6-ft-tall bookcases I bought after I first wrote this hub were lost in the moving.
And how does one "lose" two taller-than-I-am bookcases, you ask?
Well, it's not rocket science that it won't take long for 6-ft-tall bookcases to disintegrate if they're unsecured and standing upright on an open, flatbed trailer going down the interstate at 70 mph. Mine were pretty much matchsticks before my otherwise-intelligent son and his helper had even gone 20 miles.
The cell call from my son advising me of that event went like this:
Otherwise-Intelligent Son: "Mom, we lost the bookcases".
Me: "What do you mean 'we lost the bookcases'?".
OIS: "I mean...they...disintegrated...in the wind. The pieces just flew out of the trailer".
(See Mom hit "End call" button...)
Ring, ring... Ring... Ring... Ring...
I pick up but say nothing.
OIS: "Did you just hang up on me?".
ME: "I did. You lost the bookcases." Click.
I can think of any number of items, that because of their size or weight, had a far likelier chance of sailing out of that trailer. But 6-ft-tall bookcases? NO.
It takes a special talent...or a total lack of common sense...to load them in such a way that they could fly apart on the open road! I'm only thankful the pieces didn't hit another vehicle. Son wasn't kidding when he said they disintegrated... I never saw a single piece of bookcase along the side of the road when I went the same route an hour later.
But enough whining already.
Although my new abode has a tiny alcove where The Bookcases would've fit "like a glove", Necessity, the Mother of Thinking Outside The Box, introduced an alternative to stacking books on the floor. The large wicker baskets I've been collecting for years will hold a couple dozen paperback books or a dozen hardbacks! Two baskets hide under the end tables next to the sofa, and three look quite attractive in an out-of-the-way corner.
That's what I call "thinking outside the box"...uh, the bookcase.
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