Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Bookshelf

Fashion people don't read books, right? We don't spend hours cooing and squealing over pretty pictures and someone's new economic analysis of the hemp trade in 15th century Uzbekistan. We certainly don't go running to each other every time Amazon informs us of a new upcoming title and buzz amongst ourselves about how amazing we're sure it's going to be... certainly not.

Oh.... wait.

I, like all other costumers, have a serious problem. I'm addicted to books. From the Hands-On History series for children to the heavily (literally) scholarly work of Aileen Ribeiro, Naomi Tarrant, Janet Arnold and Maria Hayward. It got so bad that I would find a book at The Strand, and be sure I'd never seen it before, and it was the only copy in the entire world, and I just HAD TO HAVE IT and I would buy it, and I would get home, and I would go to put it onto the bookshelf.... and find its twin already there.

Especially in the process of writing my thesis, when I was hauling my books everywhere and they were getting beat up and written in and marked with sticky notes and covered in sand, I accumulated a lot of books very fast. I would rather abuse my own books than someone else's. And the collection got way out of hand.

One day, I was sitting at my desk, writing away frantically as my end-of-semester deadlines loomed... and my bookshelf collapsed. My carefully-organized titles leaped from their shelves, committing literary suicide upon the floor in all sorts of undignified positions, and I was left with a pile of splintered wood and a bigger pile of books.

Enter LibraryThing.

I'd been meaning to catalog my library, if for no other reason than so my mother would stop calling me every time she entered a book store, asking me if I had such-and-such latest book and could she borrow it if I did? This disaster posed the perfect opportunity.

I bought a new bookshelf, and a CueCat, and a lifetime membership to LibraryThing, and as each carefully-hoarded acquisition was re-homed on the shelves, it was entered into my virtual bookshelf as well. LibraryThing allows you to not only keep a private inventory of what you have, it also allows you to make this list public, search it, read reviews, find recommended books that you DON'T have but others with similar tastes do, and connect with those other users who own many of the same books. In my case, I was gratified to find that many of my "similar users" were in fact other members of the online costuming community whose names I knew, and several were even LiveJournal friends of mine already.

Now, when I'm out and about and find that book I simply MUST have, it's a simple matter to pull out my phone, check my LibraryThing inventory, and sternly remind myself to go home and re-read the copy I already have, because obviously its contents didn't stick the first time.

For the curious: 

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