Monday, July 19, 2010

Assignment 10 Books

Ten books. Only ten. No, this is good. I'm overwhelmed with books and getting down to ten would be good. Maybe if I get down to only ten lists of ten things, I would be in good shape. One of them could be ten ways to find books. There are four to start in the assignment, and a bunch of others on top of that. I wonder if Nancy Pearl has ever appeared on Letterman?

10. Google Books
9. WorldCat
8. LibraryThing or Goodreads
7. Amazon or Barnes&Noble
6. Blogs devoted to genres and book reviews
5. Professional Committees and their work (such as ALSC's annual notable books for kids)
4. Databases like Novelist or About:Books. (You'll need a library card number for these)
3. Books or magazines or journals about books
2. Recommendations from friends
1. Books I've been meaning to read anyhow

Trying out the social sites, I found browsing to be a little cornering because I could only alter or narrow the search one subject term at a time. For instance, Goodreads' Explore->Books let me select "children" but then listed all the results within that. Entering "children's fantasy" and selecting genre had me scrolling past all the Harry Potter, being surprised by the inclusion of Slaughter House Five, and basically ending up with a long list that didn't seem very browseable.

The Zeitgeist tab in LibraryThing showed an array of tag assortments: authors, genres: miscellaneous tags, reviewers, people with the most books, and so on. Starting with these unusual categories gave me chance to happen upon something by sheer popularity, accessing collections or books that have most been selected by others. Without a particular subject in mind this proved to be an interesting approach.

Google Books and Amazon are both places where searching seems yield closer results to what I am intending to find that then either Goodreads or LibraryThing were able to produce, but that is their strength. Goodreads and LT seem to have arranged their site according to users and what they are doing and promoting, rather than the actual books themselves, which seems to be Google Books and Amazon's interest.

The interconnectedness of the sites, being able to find a book on Amazon from Librar Thing, or finding a book in a library on the Google Books page, makes me think that there will be less and less undiscovered information, a visible component of the One Machine.

With all this technology abounding and so nimbly guiding me through the digital world, I feel very capable and able to access a lot of information. But as useful as these systems are, I still feel like they are very contrived, designed to meet my anticipated needs. Where is the whimsy and nonsense? Where is the inexplicable? Where is the coincidence? I decided to make my list concerning those who embrace the wild and unseen quality of things. That's right, I'm talking about wizards:

10. Wizard: the life and times of Nikola Tesla : biography of a genius
by Marc J. Seifer

9. Wizards: Magical Tales From The Masters of Modern Fantasy edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozios

8. Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)
by Jim Butcher

7. The Lost Years of Merlin (Lost Years of Merlin Series #1)
by T.A. Barron

6. Powerless
by Matthew Cody

5. The Tapestry Book 1: The Hound of Rowan
by Henry Neff, narrated by Jeff Woodman

4. The Wizard Test
by Hillari Bell

3. The Widows of Eastwick
by John Updike

2. The Once and Future King
by T.H. White, recommended by Carole Wallencheck

1. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula LeGuin


  1. I think it'll be a good thing if WorldCat seeks to incorporate as much of this as possible. If they could basically mine a bunch of site data off an API from Goodreads or Library Thing, then I can easily see WorldCat being my one stop shop.