Sunday, January 14, 2018

7ToF: book lovers' edition, not on Friday

two sheilves crammed with books
1. Somehow, I have no idea how this happens, in spite of regularly taking boxes of books to the thrift shop or our church bazaar or the Friends of the Library book sale, new books keep showing up at our house. So the carefully arranged bookshelves--arranging books is one of my most reliable calming activities-- are suddenly bulging again, with books perched sideways on top of other books, tucked into corners, or stacked up in places where books really aren't supposed to be.

Hmmmm. Is there anywhere books aren't supposed to be?

2. I've told you before that I love my kindle. But, as has recently been made clear, I'm also frugal/thrifty/cheap and if a book is cheaper in print than as an ebook, I buy the actual book.* And some books--cookbooks, for example--will always imo be better in physical book form. Also, a longstanding family Christmas tradition is the annual stack of books from mom (i.e., me). It's my favorite part of shopping for Christmas-- everybody gets four books. But it means that every Christmas, a whole bunch more books show up at our house.

* /soapbox on/ I may be cheap when it comes to buying books, and I've snapped up dozens of kindle books when they go on sale, but I am completely opposed to pirating them. I didn't even know this was a thing until this past week. Don't do it. That's flat-out stealing. We want our authors happy, healthy, well-paid, and writing more books. /soapbox off/

3. So finally we're getting around to the point of this post, which is figuring out how to cull my books. The "clearing your clutter" folks are not much help with this because to them books are not friends, they are clutter. They just want you to get rid of them. (Insert here the story of the interior decorator I worked with last year who wanted me to keep only a few books that look good on the shelf, i.e., just go ahead and JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER. *shudder*)

4. So to help me figure out what I could get rid of, I made a list of the reasons I will keep a book.
- I loved it so much that just seeing it on the shelf makes me happy.
- It's one I will re-read. I don't re-read a lot, but I do have favorites I come back to.
- It's one I want to read. A supply of books I'm looking forward to reading is like having a supply of made-ahead meals stashed in the freezer. *happy*
- And the one that was a surprise to me: it represents the kind of person I'd like to be. I'd like to be the kind of person who would read a book on the history of mathematics or the origin of the galaxy. And sometimes I do read that kind of thing. But mainly I just like having them on the shelf. (this one occurred to me because of something I read, I think on Book Riot, so it wasn't my idea. But it's so true.)

Bye-bye to these books :-(
5. So what books can I get rid of? In the most recent round of downsizing, I got rid of some books I once wanted to read but that no longer sound all that appealing; some short story anthologies that I picked up when I was teaching the short story class; and a bunch from that last category above. I like having those books on the shelf, but I don't need 30 of them.

6. I discovered Book Riot last fall. It's a great site for book lovers. Even though the conversations skew toward millenial readers, I just like reading stuff written by people who are as reading addicted as I am. My favorite posts of theirs so far are their book recommendations based on your Hogwarts house. I thought the lists for Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw (me), and Slytherin were inspired and spot on, but the list for Gryffindor was disappointing. Not sure why. (Fair warning: Book Riot is one of the reasons I needed an internet break. They often publish several posts a day and it's a lot of keep up with if you have obsessive tendencies.)

7. Another reading site that you probably already know about is Modern Mrs. Darcy. It's a lot of fun, and I find Anne Bogel to be very appealing. But she doesn't always post about reading, so although I read there occasionally, not all of her posts are about things I'm interested in. But what I recently discovered that I love is her podcast What Shall I Read Next. If you've never tried it before, start with episode 62, the first anniversary of the podcast, where the usual format is reversed and readers recommend books to her instead of the other way around. Even though it isn't a typical episode, it will give you a good idea of Anne's personality and the kinds of things she looks for when recommending a book. Warning: it will make your TBR pile explode.

This is sort of #8 but I'll just tack it on here and hope you don't notice. If you haven't figured out how to use your library's ebook website, you should, because it is so fun. (You don't have to have an e-reader to read ebooks, although admittedly it isn't much fun to read on your laptop or your phone.) The downside is that usually the books I want to download from the library have waitlists. This can be annoying, but I've become sort of attached to the waitlist process. It's a method for managing my TBR (to-be-read) pile--the book I'll read next is the one that's available next. The only problem is that it is surprising how often I'll have 6-8 books stacked up in my waitlist, only to have 3, or even 4, become available within a few days of each other. And since you only get them for two weeks, that's a problem. Somehow, I manage.

For the record, I am posting this one the old-fashioned way, because I couldn't figure out how to add pictures in an email. Sorry this got so long, but at least for those of you who aren't readers, I got all my books news out in one place! I kept editing it to try to make it shorter, and instead of cutting it down, it just got longer and longer.

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