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Book Addicts Get Help at LibraryThing

Updated on March 12, 2012

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 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 (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 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:


Me: "Hello"

Otherwise-Intelligent Son: "Mom, we lost the bookcases".

Me: "What do you mean 'we lost the bookcases'?".

OIS: "I 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 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.


Submit a Comment
  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    6 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Hello again, Peggy W! I don't have allergies - well, none attributable to dust - so it never occured to me to look at my beloved books as a cause of them.

    As for culling one's library, I've been doing that, too, but with a slightly different purpose: "Know me by my books". Basically for the benefit of my grandchildren who live many states away and won't have learned as much about Grandma as they would if they were living in the same town (or nearby) and seeing me on a regular basis. One's choice of reading material says much about a person, so I've eliminated all the books that don't reflect "me" - cheap romance paperbacks, for instance - and am only keeping the thick biographies and histories that are my real passion.

    Thanks for reading and commenting! ;D

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    So sorry about your bookcases being smashed to pieces. Hopefully like mulch they will nourish the earth so that it is not a total loss. We used to have books stashed closets, under our beds, in cabinets. and of course bookcases.

    Years ago I decided that my collection was getting out of hand and I started rereading some of them and then giving them away to friends, libraries, charity gift shops, etc. I had books from family members several generations old. I have kept some obviously but along with other items have started culling things.

    I have also developed allergies late in life and figure that less items to collect dust is probably a good thing.

    Up votes and sharing.

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    10 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    vocalcoach, I'm always glad to give a book lover ways to feed his/her addiction! lol! And contrary to what many techno nerds would have us believe, e-books will never replace print books. There's something infinitely satisfying about curling up on the sofa on a rainy afternoon with a paper and ink page-turner that no variation of Kindle can possibly emulate or duplicate. ;D

  • vocalcoach profile image

    Audrey Hunt 

    10 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

    Loved this hub! You have given me an excellent idea for acquiring more books. Your opening lines are wonderful. It not only gave me a chuckle, but "connected me" to your article right away. Fantastic writing and I can hardly wait to read more by you. Thanks, JamaGenee.

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    11 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Yes, I was quite thrilled to find it in the lib's used bookshop for $1!

  • MindField profile image


    11 years ago from Portland, Oregon

    I'd *never* give up my bio of Samuel Johnson. (;-)

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    11 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Never thought of it like that, but yes, it is a way to avoid dupe gifts. btw, I haven't added the bio of Samuel Johnson that I got the other day. ;D

  • MindField profile image


    11 years ago from Portland, Oregon

    Let me tell you one great thing about LibraryThing. When you want to send a gift to someone, if they've listed there you won't send duplicates. Neat, huh?

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    11 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, Theophanes, for the tip about bookmooch. I'll definitely check it out! I tried Shelfari, but didn't like it as much as LibraryThing. Not that it isn't a good site, just less to my liking than LT.

  • Theophanes profile image

    Theophanes Avery 

    11 years ago from New England

    Oooo I had't heard of LibraryThing! Now I must look into it,! I'm already part of Shelfari and bookmooch. You should deffinately check out if you have books you just don't want anymore. You list them there and when someone wants them you send them out to them and in return you get a point with which to get a book you do want from someone else. It's awesome... Anyway thanks for the interesting hub!

  • profile image

    C. C. Riter 

    12 years ago

    JG, I love books too. A few months back I was horrified to find my treasured tattered hundred plus year old 'The Works of Edgar Allan Poe' almost obliterated by one of my pups. I thought I would die. I had been reading it and left it on an end table, down low. The pup found it and it was all over the floor! I saved what is left, but it has the really good stuff missing. I will keep looking for a replacement.

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    2patricias, besides LibraryThing, be sure to check out Shelfari, which Shalini mentions above. It looks equally interesting! As far as the books piled up on the bedroom floor, don't know what to tell you. I can attest that having "enough" bookcases is some sort of trigger to bring home more...which, naturally, end up piled on the floor until you get *another* book case. lol! LibraryThing and Shelfari are simply a convenient way to catalog them (think your own online card file), and to connect with others who have the same interests and tastes in reading material.

  • 2patricias profile image


    12 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

    This is probably the first Hub that has made me look for pen and paper! I am hoping to put aside time next week to research LibraryThing. It sounds really useful and also entertaining. Maybe I'll find you there!. Thanks for the info.

    (I suspect that even when I find it I will have books piled up on my bedroom floor.)

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Hi, MM! I can appreciate what a Big Day it was, putting all your books on shelves! Hurray for you! I'm still working on getting mine in one place. Would probably help if I didn't keep bringing more home! lol!

  • Mighty Mom profile image

    Susan Reid 

    12 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

    Very cool. I can't quite wrap my head around combining "real" books with internet, but that's just a sign of my age. As it is, it was a big day in my life when we finally moved the wall sized pile of books onto shelves. As stated above, books do deserve respect!

  • Shalini Kagal profile image

    Shalini Kagal 

    12 years ago from India

    Thanks for this - I'm going to check this out. I used to be pretty active on Shelfari - till hubpages came along :)

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Thanks, C. C.  I vote for the guest room becoming the Library (with a capital L)!  Who needs a room for guests anyway.  They should know there's a reason Motel 6 leaves the light on for 'em. :)

    Hi, Steph!  Glad you liked hub.  You might also be glad to know that, in "Edit" for a particular book, there's a place to click "Intend to read".  Haven't tried it for any of mine yet, but assume there's a way to pull up the "Intend" list.  As for reading vs logging off the computer, I take a book to work and read during lunch - only because no computers are available to log onto, or I *would*.  :)

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Marshall 

    12 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    I love this idea! I am going to check it out. Great hub on the librarything.... I too have many books and not enough time to read them. Gee, maybe I should log off the computer a bit more often. Cheers, Steph

  • profile image

    C. C. Riter 

    12 years ago

    Too much work for me. I have well over 200 books in my library with seceret compartments and all. I must put in a few more shelves though, or make guest room into another library. Hmmm, not a bad idea. No more overnight guests. Good info though and good hub.

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Aya Katz, I checked LT's Help pages and could only find International LibraryThing is available to non-English-speaking members. Meaning your page would come up in whatever language you speak, which is not the solution to your dilemma.  However, there are translators available, but I couldn't quite determine how this works.  I suggest you go to LT's main page at, scroll to the bottom and click on "CONTACT US". Of the several email addresses shown, Anna (at the top of the list) and Tim Spalding (at the bottom) would be the ones who can answer your questions. Sorry I couldn't be more help.  Good luck!

  • Aya Katz profile image

    Aya Katz 

    12 years ago from The Ozarks

    JamaGenee, thanks for this very informative hub. Does it work for books in languages with non-latin scripts?

    I have a lot of books in Hebrew and some in Chinese. From my grandfather's library, I also inherited books that I can't read: in Persian and Greek. Can LibraryThing help to identify some of those books?

  • JamaGenee profile imageAUTHOR

    Joanna McKenna 

    12 years ago from Central Oklahoma

    Tony, thanks for the kudo! Can't imagine how I missed such a wonderful site until now. I'll be checking out your library, but if you look at mine, please remember it's only books with a Brit connection. I haven't added the non-Brit biographies, mysteries and such.

  • tonymac04 profile image

    Tony McGregor 

    12 years ago from South Africa

    I have been a member of LibraryThing for more than a year and also love it! Maybe we should connect there? My moniker there is the same as on HubPages.

    Thanks for the great Hub.

    Love and peace,


  • Cris A profile image

    Cris A 

    12 years ago from Manila, Philippines

    I'll give it a look for i am starting to feel that I;m being disrespectful to my books! I used to love to hunt for them in BookSale - a chain of stores that sell pre-owned books and i cant even begin to describe the wonder of finding finds! Thanks for sharing - i'll check it out the first chance i get :D

  • Jerilee Wei profile image

    Jerilee Wei 

    12 years ago from United States

    Great hub! How interesting, I checked it out and will have to think seriously about it.

  • SweetiePie profile image


    12 years ago from Southern California, USA

    Anything that motivates organization sounds good to me. I will have to check this site out.

  • robie2 profile image

    Roberta Kyle 

    12 years ago from Central New Jersey

    Hi Jama-- I don't know if Library Thing will ever be my thing, but I love the way you describe it. I love books too, but they seem to float in and out of my life--people give them to me--I give mine to other people and they seem to flow in and out like a river. I have one friend with whom I exchange mysteries and another who lends me self help books and of course I belong to a book club and even my gym has a great lending library. What passes for my library is always in flux--don't think I could catalog it even if I wanted to. I admire your perserverance and organizational ability:-)

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    12 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    Having come from the world of Dewey, I am still working in decimal. I had to read your Hub three times to figure out how your method might work for me. This is not a fault of your writing, it's a fault of my comprehension.

    So far, no one has gifted me with an empty bookcase (woe is me), so things are going to remain piled up here for a long time.

    I never thought of organizing my books in a database in my computer. Maybe I need to get with the times. (Except that I would exceed the 200 limit in about 30 seconds.) And then, what do you do about the books you've loaned to your friends? Anyway...

    ...going now to check out librarything.

    Love your writing and your outlook!


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