Posts tagged with "book cataloging" - Faerye Net 2008-11-13T22:50:01+00:00 Felicity Shoulders What is historical fiction? 2008-11-13T22:50:01+00:00 2008-11-13T22:50:09+00:00 <p>I have this problem: I like confusing genre boundaries, but I like putting books in boxes. Online, <a href="" target="links">they</a> call them shelves. It&#8217;s easier with tags, but shelves have to justify their existence: it&#8217;s silly to create a shelf for just one item. So, I was celebrating the inauguration of my somewhat snottily-named <a href="">&#8220;literary-is-a-genre&#8221;</a> shelf just now by adding previously &#8220;genreless&#8221; pieces of fiction to it, and I immediately ran into trouble. <a href="" target="powells"><em>I Sailed with Magellan</em></a> by Stuart Dybek begins in 1950&#8217;s Chicago, and continues into the 1960&#8217;s or so. It&#8217;s definitely literary fiction, but isn&#8217;t it historical as well? Why didn&#8217;t I have it shelved that way? I wouldn&#8217;t shelve <a href="" target="powells"><em>The Blind Assassin</em></a> that way, though it goes way farther back, because it proceeds to the era of its writing. Dybek&#8217;s shnovel does not. Does that make it historical fiction?</p> <p>Is it a requirement that historical fiction be set in a sufficiently remote era? The 1950&#8217;s are next-door to World War II, which boasts any amount of historical fiction. Are novels set in the 1960&#8217;s historical fiction? The 1980&#8217;s? Does the era have to inform the story (how can it not?) or is the requirement that the author inform the reader about the era? Is <a href="" target="powells"><em>The Things They Carried</em></a> historical fiction, because it was about the Vietnam War but published in 1990? Is it not historical fiction because it depicts a period and place the author did live through? Does the magnitude of events depicted (their historicity) affect whether something is historical fiction? Does the age of the narrator? (I&#8217;ve been considering the idea that my internal genre-o-meter reads <em>I Sailed with Magellan</em> as non-historical because the 1950s protagonist is a child, thus implying an older narrator in a later time-period. If he were a child protagonist in the 1850&#8217;s, thus rendering his imagined adult self &#8216;historical&#8217; as well, would it twitch the genre-o-meter in a different way?)</p> <p>I have thoroughly confused myself, and should go to sleep. How about you? Got clarity?</p> Book organizing 2008-10-21T21:55:54+00:00 2008-10-21T22:04:21+00:00 <p>&#42;dusts off website&#42; &#42;evicts family of pigeons roosting in blog software&#42;</p> <p>Greetings from Portland, where two industrious humans and one cat (slightly less lazy than usual) are unpacking and reassembling their home. Also trying to keep at least part of it from disappearing under the resultant layers of empty cardboard and crumpled newsprint, but that&#8217;s another story. The big story here is that for the first time in recorded history, Ryan has more books on shelves than I do. Yes, the man who was storing his books largely in artistically arranged stacks (don&#8217;t knock it, I&#8217;ve seen it done very beautifully by the French) has an entire bookcase full of the beggars. Whereas the woman who used <a href="" target="links">LibraryThing</a> to tag her books with the number of the box they were packed in&#8230;has 14 in a tiny Target bookshelf. Ooh, and the Millennium Edition of <em>Lord of the Rings</em> sitting flat on another shelf.</p> <p>So book-arranging has been under discussion. Ryan, in the course of getting other people to go to <a href="" target="links">Ikea</a> to buy this now-full bookcase, made it clear that my books should stay away from his books (like beets from mashed potatoes) because our systems are different. I like mine alphabetized by author, and he recoils in horror from this idea (like the average human from beets). His mom (in the &#8216;other people&#8217; going to Ikea) says she does hers by topic, then by size within topic. Ryan said this sounded about like what he does, though he conceded my point that having books by the same author together made sense. However, so far, looking at his bookcase, I don&#8217;t see that author-grouping occurring much. Here are the <a href="" target="powells">Complete Aubrey-Maturin Novels</a> next to a glossary for the Aubrey-Maturin novels&#8230;good call. On the next shelf, two non-Aubrey-Maturin books by Patrick O&#8217;Brian together, next to two Jonathan Lethem books, next to a Brust novel which isn&#8217;t next to any other Brust novels. Well, it&#8217;s a stand-alone, isn&#8217;t it? But still in the Dragaeraverse&#8230;then there are the random sprinklings of Heinlein. I don&#8217;t really get it. You&#8217;ll have to ask him. But it appears that taller books are on the sides, which I guess is pleasing to the eye.</p> <p>Which is (at last! Your patience is rewarded!) the point of this blog post. I had never thought of using book size as the organizing precept within each shelf of my library. When Ruth first said the words, I had to blink to reorder my universe, as if she&#8217;d said she organized her books by color (which I hear used to be pretty common). It made me wonder if my system seems as odd to others. Here is how I organize my books:<br /> <ul><li>One shelf of &#8216;fawncy&#8217; books (collector&#8217;s editions, rare-ish editions, leather-bound, otherwise pretty). I&#8217;ve kicked a few borderline books off this shelf when it got too crowded. Points for being beloved as well as beautiful, or for sentimental value. This shelf&#8217;s arranged to look nice, with a preponderance of slipcovered editions on one end.</li><br /> <li>The rest of my fiction books, regardless of target audience age, alphabetically by author, then by title except within series.</li><br /> <li>Fiction anthologies, themed then general, alphabetical by title.</li><br /> <li>Poetry books, alphabetical by author.</li><br /> <li>Poetry anthologies. I don&#8217;t really have enough to have a rubric. Don&#8217;t hurt me, poets!</li><br /> <li>Nonfiction. Ah, this is the question. Right now, it&#8217;s alphabetical by author. But doesn&#8217;t topic make more sense? I used topic originally, so there must have been some good reason why I changed. When in doubt, consider libraries. <em>They</em> use topic for non-fiction. But then I end up trying to decide whether to put pterosaurs before or after dinosaurs in the paleo section, and which possible segue book to use. Maybe I should get a labelmaker and use the Library of Congress system.</li><br /> <li>Exceptions: oversize/art books, bottom shelf. When I had franchised novels, I put them all together alphabetically by franchise (under &#8216;S&#8217;. Yes. I mean those. Those, too.)</li></ul></p> <p>Obviously, I&#8217;m open to changing how I shelve nonfiction. I am also still struggling with the question of drama, which in my case is 90% Shakespeare (the Shakespeare:drama ratio is even higher than the paleontology:nonfiction ratio. I have at least two complete works and massive piles of individual plays.) I have been shelving it as fiction, but perhaps it needs its own section, cuddling up to poetry, since it is, after all, largely Shakespeare.</p> <p>This entire system was implemented in high school. Before that, I used a system of vague feelings. I read constantly, and reread constantly, and relied on my long searching browsings of the shelves (to decide what to reread next) to refresh my impressions of the current state of the shelves. So, if I had a sudden desire for a specific book &#8212; say <a href="" target="links"><em>The Midnight Folk</em></a> &#8211; I would stand in some fairly clear patch of my bedroom floor &#8211; possibly balancing awkwardly, if the clear patches were far apart &#8211; and summon the physical memory of the book, the picture on the front, the color of the spine, until I remembered where I&#8217;d last seen it. This was possibly good for the mental muscles and may count as meditation, but it was an odd book-organization system.</p> <p>How about you? How do you organize your books? And if you are Ruth or Ryan and I have grossly misstated your system, feel free to abuse and disabuse.</p> The Blind Assassin 2008-09-26T22:10:10+00:00 2008-09-26T22:43:37+00:00 <p>I haven&#8217;t made a habit of reposting my book reviews from <a href="" target="links">book cataloging websites</a> here (I now review everything I read for the first time.) However, I just finished reading <a href="" target="links"><em>The Blind Assassin</em></a> by Margaret Atwood. Now, I have read another book this good recently: I perused <em>Mrs. Dalloway</em> this Spring. However, I had been prepared for <em>Mrs. Dalloway</em> &mdash; everyone told me how fabulous that was. Everyone told me <em>The Blind Assassin</em> was good, but it blew me away.</p> <p>So, here is my review, also posted on <a href="" target="links">LibraryThing</a> and <a href="" target="links">Goodreads</a>.</p> <blockquote>I&#8217;ve already been an Atwood admirer for a few years, but <em>The Blind Assassin</em> is too gorgeous to merely <em>admire</em>. I love it. Where it isn&#8217;t exquisite, it&#8217;s precise. It moves expertly between the dry, the brutally truthful, and the passionate, and brings the keenness of the author&#8217;s eye to them all. Atwood describes both the elusive and the everyday with a transforming grace.<br /> <br /> All that is merely on the level of prose, of paragraph. Her narrator is human, complex, and honest. The other characters are interesting, Laura chiefly so, of course, and I appreciate the way Iris acknowledges and interrogates her own inability to do others&#8217; characters justice. I particularly appreciated the way that Atwood drew us into the book with the mystery of Laura, and then gradually made us (well, me, at any rate) fonder and fonder of Iris. A beautiful literary bait and switch.<br /> <br /> All this and a compelling plot. Really, if I try to think of something wrong with this book, the first thing that swims to mind is that it&#8217;s more than a little intimidating to a young author. My consolation is that she was 61 when it was published. I still have some years to practice.</blockquote> <p>Here are some quotes from the book:<br /> <blockquote>She stubs out her cigarette in the brown glass ashtray, then settles herself against him, ear to his chest. She likes to hear his voice this way, as if it begins not in his throat but in his body, like a hum or a growl, or like a voice speaking from deep underground. Like the blood moving through her own heart: a word, a word, a word.</blockquote></p> <blockquote>Was this a betrayal, or was it an act of courage? Perhaps both. Neither one involves forethought: such things take place in an instant, in an eyeblink. This can only be because they have been rehearsed by us already, over and over, in silence and darkness; in such silence, such darkness, that we are ignorant of them ourselves. Blind but sure-footed, we step forward as if into a remembered dance.</blockquote> <blockquote>You want the truth, of course. You want me to put two and two together. But two and two doesn&#8217;t necessarily get you the truth. Two and two equals a voice outside the window. Two and two equals the wind. The living bird is not its labelled bones.</blockquote> I have only one book in common with Tupac Shakur 2008-01-21T14:43:07+00:00 2008-05-25T20:12:40+00:00 <p>It is <em>Moby-Dick</em>. Since I&#8217;ve marked <em>Don Quixote</em> as &#8220;to-read&#8221;, I also have one in common with Thomas Jefferson.</p> <p><a href="">This is hilarious and beautiful.</a></p> Against "Friendship" 2007-12-14T16:40:51+00:00 2008-05-25T20:18:54+00:00 <p>I blame Myspace.</p> <p>Probably there are 200 different rants on different topics that begin that way, but this one is mine. And it&#8217;s about contacts, the way links are forged between nodes (people) in social networks. </p> <p>The first social networking site, in any way, that I used was <a href="" target="links">Flickr</a>. Flickr allows you to designate people as &#8216;contacts&#8217; and watch their photos. This is explicitly one-way, and you don&#8217;t have to reciprocate or approve&#8212;nor do people who have &#8216;contacted&#8217; you appear on your profile as part of your Flickr personality. While &#8216;contacts&#8217; may be slightly overstating the degree of acquaintance, it is fairly serviceable. You can further designate contacts as &#8220;Friends&#8221; and/or &#8220;Family&#8221;, thus allowing them to see photos at different privacy levels. While some might benefit from a customizable privacy-level scheme, this keeps the system agile and is quite practical.</p> <p><a href="" target="links">Jyte</a>, the next social network I entered, also uses the &#8216;contact&#8217; terminology, and allows you to tag your contacts to describe the relationship, which is appeallingly open-ended and a good way of differentiating people whose Jyte claims and comments you like and people with whom you exchange Festivus gifts.</p> <p>So far, so good. But someone on Jyte got me into these book cataloging websites, namely <a href="" target="links">goodreads</a>. From there, I also got into <a href="" target="links">LibraryThing</a>, which sadly seems to be superior but is not getting the new membership gestalt goodreads is. LibraryThing started out with &#8216;watchlists&#8217;, public and private&#8212;people whose libraries you wanted to ogle. They slowly accepted the inevitable and added &#8216;Friends&#8217;, but kept the watchlists as well, and thus are immune to my rant.</p> <p>It&#8217;s goodreads that gets to me. Every few weeks I get &#8216;friend requests&#8217; from complete strangers. Sometimes they are strangers who do not seem, from their profiles, to read English, and thus can have only a desultory interest in most of my reading material. These strangers usually have upwards of 200 &#8216;friends&#8217;. Are they trying to &#8216;friend&#8217; everyone on the site? Are they, as I peruse the existing friends of some of these gregarious hounds, trying to friend every visibly young female member of the site? Or are there some other commonalities, some legitimate reason they want the input of all these strangers on reading materials&#8212;we all put 5 stars for <em>Pride and Prejudice</em>, or admitted an interest in science fiction, or something? I don&#8217;t know, but these people from the planet Gregarion are not my &#8216;friends&#8217;. The poor word is abused enough by being beaten into the shape of a verb, and now we are trying to stretch it over the concept &#8220;a person on another continent I have collected&#8221;?</p> <p>It&#8217;s a weird and slightly creepy feeling, trying to guess from someone&#8217;s profile whether they are a friend of a friend, someone I&#8217;ve met under an online moniker, or who shares my interest, or whether they&#8217;re trying to jam me in the ether jar in order to pin me on their profile. It&#8217;s not only uncomfortable, it&#8217;s a waste of my time. That&#8217;s time I could be spending hovering over the &#8216;send friend request&#8217; button on <a href="">Facebook</a>, wondering if I can really, after years of separation, despite how I cherished the person, still ask them to call me by this word I still value, &#8220;Friend&#8221;.