We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. ~May Sarton

from my bookshelf

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Have I mentioned lately how much I love www.LibraryThing.com?

S introduced me to it, and it has slowly become my newest guilty pleasure. I can spend hours just wandering around the website with no true goal in mind; just looking at my (or other people's) books. It has given me a chance to connect with other people who have similar taste in books, and has really opened my own eyes to the books that I own and have read, and the number of books that I still own that have yet to read.

It has made me acutely aware to certain trends in my library (not that I wasn't aware of these trends, but when you actually sit down and go through your entire library in a weekend to catalog it, you can see how some book purchases affected the future purchasing of other books) and where I feel I need to focus my attention in future reading and purchasing. I haven't had a true goal in mind when I read any one particular book over another (and really, there shouldn't be any kind of goal unless you are reading for another reason other than pleasure), but I have found that I have focused much of my reading over the last couple of years on what I view as mostly escapist reading (fantasy, sci-fi, YA).

I think that I've needed that for awhile now; to get away from anything that remotely resembles the real world. However, I have found myself thumbing through what I call my "Uncle T Challenge" books. Every year, he sends me a book for Christmas that he things I should read, and for the most part, I cannot get into them. I don't know what it is; it's as if my brain puts up a shield and says, "I'm sorry, this smacks too much of something that could really happen, so you won't be able to process this at all. Go read something about a fairy!" Not all of the books that he sends are even remotely involved in the real world, but I find it so difficult to get through them. The most notorious of these novels is Giles Goatboy by John Barth. Apparently Uncle T thinks this is one of the greatest pieces of literature, and I can't believe what a jumbled, incoherent mess it is. Some of the other books that he has sent that I have never been able to get through: The Horses Mouth by Joyce Cary, As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, Ulysses by James Joyce, East of Eden by John Steinbeck, The Day of the Locust by Nathaniel West and Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe. Each of these I have tried unsuccessfully to read. For a change, I think that next year as part of my 52 Book Challenge, I need to try to focus on getting these books read, as they must have some literary value, otherwise Uncle T wouldn't be sending them to me.

The 52 Book Challenge is another aspect of LT that I have come to really enjoy. I had started this on my own at the beginning of the year as a challenge to myself to read at least a book a week for the entire year. I know in years past, there has been occasion where I have gone months without reading a single novel, and decided that I needed to make sure that that didn't happen again this year. I started keeping track of what I was reading, and then after joining LT, discovered there was a discussion group that was devoted to just this idea, so keeping track of what books I've read this year has been fun. I've been able to keep ahead of the year as well. I am currently reading my 51st book (The Circus Fire by Stewart O'Nan) and we are only in the 45th week of the year.

Basically, LT has helped me to fall in love with books all over again. It has allowed me a better idea of what my library contains and could yet contain, and what I should read and given me a chance to connect with others who share my same interests. If you enjoy books, and aren't yet a member, I'd highly recommend joining.

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