Best Sites for Book Lovers Part 1

Continuing with my book month theme; today, and continuing next week I will review the two best social sites for book lovers.  Amazon.com is the king of internet books sales and reviews, but it just doesn’t offer a satisfying social experience. LibraryThing.com and Good Reads on the other hand offer great tools for tracking your home library, reading lists and social experiences.

Library Thing

Library Thing calls itself a “home for your books,” and it is truly the best online tool for cataloging your home library. A free account allows you to enter up to 200 books, but a lifetime membership with unlimited entries is only $25. By far it has been the best $25 we’ve spent on the internet.

You enter books by ISBN or Library of Congress catalog number, or by a title search, or you can manually enter your books. You can add tags, ratings, reviews, and common knowledge such as characters and places to the entries. Ratings and reviews can easily be shared via Facebook, Twitter or an RSS feed.

As you enter your books they go into a personalized, searchable catalog like the one below. You can also add pictures of your collection and show off your library.

LibraryThing also has an early reviewers program where you can win free books. They ask that you review them in return, but it is not a requirement. I’ve been very pleased with their program, so far I’ve won 6 books. Including two very nice NOLO Legal Guides which retail for $20-30 each. Books ship from the publisher, and usually arrive in 2-3 weeks.

There are very cool Zeigeist’s on LibraryThing that list stats about your library and the entire site. It shows you how many books, tags and reviews you have, how many of those books are part of a series, lists characters and places that your books have in common and more. The site one lists things like the 25 most reviewed books, and largest librarys, most tags, etc.

LibraryThing has tons of fun statics and memes on your books. My favorite is Pages, dimensions and weight. Where you can find out, for instance that my library would fill 1.9 bathtubs, and is 0.0965% the circumference of earth if all the pages in all the books were laid end-to-end… and take a look at the chart they made of how high my books would be if put into a stack.

There are so many more features on LibraryThing; discussions, groups that host “do nothing but read days”, efforts to catalog legacy libraries, authors, lists of local book events and stores, widgets, clouds, backup features, you can even download all your book covers and turn them into a photomosaic, and they keep adding features. It is defiantly my favorite place on the web for books.

Coming next time my review of Good Reads.

I will read anything by these 5 authors

The idea for this blog post comes from the blog of another freelance social media/web designer and fellow book lover Kim Woodbridge of Anti-Social Development. She did a blog by this name and I was inspired to write my own list.

My goal is to read 50 books a year, that’s about 1 book a week. I read a little bit of everything, but most of it is fiction of some sort or another. I make a point of reading at least 1 classic, 1 book of poetry, 1 Greek tragedy,  at least 1 non-fiction title and to re-read a book that been on the shelf for a while. At the end of every year I give each book a score and write a review. You can see from 2006-2010 under book reviews on my page.

There are a few authors that I keep coming back to and that I enjoy immensely.

1. Stephen R. Lawhead– When I turned 14 my dad took me to the Christian book store and basically let me pick anything I wanted. I left with a cassette tape by Steve Greene and The Sword and the Flame by Lawhead. During my teen years I devoured his books, reading and re-reading some of them.

Most of his books are fantasy. Lawhead is well known for the Pendragon Cycle an Arthurian re-telling and the Song of Albion book. One of his newer series is a retelling of the Robin Hood myth called the King Raven trilogy and I highly recommend them. Despite being best known for fantasy he does have a few sci-fi books, including my favorite sci-fi book of all time Dream Thief.

I am eagerly awaiting the next book in his new Bright Empires series, The Bone House (which while checking Amazon I see is out now. I had heard that it wasn’t coming out until Oct.) My mom bought my the first book The Skin Map for Christmas. It’s a very interesting sci-fi-fantasy-time-traveling-alternate dimensions mix.

2. Frank Peretti– Is the predominate name in Christian thrillers. Most of his books focus on spiritual warfare spilling over into the physical realm. His first two books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness are considered modern classics of Christian literature. All of Peretti’s book are fast-paced, action packed and many deal with deep issues of modern life such as abortion, abuse, belonging, bullying, small town values, etc. He is a little like the Christian literary equivalent of James Cameron.

He also has a series for Young Adults called the Cooper Kid Adventures. It follows Jay and Lila Cooper as they join their father Dr. Cooper the Biblical archeologist on adventures. The stories are a little bit like if Indian Jones married Nancy Drew and their kid went to Bible camp and started telling scary stories around the campfire; adventure, mystery, a couple of good scares and a life lesson at the end.

3. Philip K. Dick– PK Dick is just about the biggest modern influence in science fiction. His stories have inspired dozens of movies, from Blade Runner to Minority Report to Total Recall.

Pretty much all of his stuff falls into the “weird sh**” category that my one literature professor said was necessary to be true “Science Fiction”. He wrote hundreds of short stories, and many novels. They are so popular that it is very rare for us to find them in any used book store, much less Goodwill or St. Vinnies. Simply put people buy his books and keep them for life. Even though he passed away in 1982 all of his books have been in continuous print.

His short story collection starts with The Short Happy Life of the Brown Oxford and ends five volumes and 2,00 and some pages later. My favorite novel by Dick is Deus Irae, a strange book about a crippled artist living in a post apocalyptic America who goes on a quest to find an image of the man who triggered the world wide disaster, the god of their new religion. Many start reading Dick with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep the book that was the inspiration for Blade Runner.

4. Edgar Egar– I remembered these books from my childhood. As an adult I have been working on collecting them all, and re-reading them as I do. They are surprisingly sweet, innocent and truly delightful. The books let children be children. It remind me of running barefoot in the grass, enjoying summer with friends, playing outdoors until the sun goes down, and all the other uncomplicated joys of childhood.

As it says in his book Seven Day Magic “All books are magic, but some are more magical than others.” The Egar books are certainly magic for both children and adults. Also of note are Half Magic and Magic or Not.

My drawing based on a picture in a Christopher Hart book.

5. Christopher Hart– This may not fit into a normal reading list, because Christopher Hart writes How-to-draw books. One of my other hobbies is drawing cartoons and Hart’s books are the best for learning how to draw comics, comic books, or manga for book adults and kids.

I checked out Manga Mania from the library several years ago and was an immediate fan. I use his Kids Draw series often in my after school program. Now whenever I see one of his books on sale I grab it. I have a good collection going; including Manga Mania Shouju which has been a major influence in my technique.

Brought to you by the letter ‘S’

Even though I read through each blog twice before I post sometimes mistakes slip through. This is a posting I wrote for a previous blog about one of my most common errors. Hope you enjoy. Remember to share a joke with someone today because April is National Humor Month.

by Arwen McGilvra on Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 10:26am
s

“In a relationship sometimes you wake up one day and realize that you don’t know the person any more, that you’ve drifted apart. You’re not sure how it happened, but suddenly you feel different. And when you’re honest with yourself you know it really wasn’t all that sudden. But you don’t know how it started.

And so it is with my complicated relationship with the letter ‘S’. I don’t know when it began, but the letter ‘S’ and I have grown apart. I didn’t even know it. In fact I would have gone on thinking everything was alright if my husband hadn’t pointed it out to me. And when I had to look at it straight in the mouth I saw the terrible truth; in almost every blog I’d written for months I’d left off the ‘s’ at the end of words.

Oh ‘S’ how could this have happened? Where did we go wrong? It’s not like I hate you or anything. I just sometimes find you inconvenient. When I’m typing I guess I’m just thinking faster than I can type, and you just get left behind. Don’t take it personally. It’s not you, it’s me.

Really ‘S’ could we work this out? Oh, don’t look at me like that. I didn’t do it to purposely hurt you. It’s not like I’m going to cut you out of my life. In fact sometimes I use one ‘s’ too many. Doesn’t that help make up for some of the times I’ve left you out.

Now, don’t glare at me. I know I’ve used you wrongly. Isn’t there any room in your heart for forgiveness?

Okay, I can’t talk to you when you’re like this. If you want to work things out you know where to find me. I really thought you could be more mature about this. That’ right walk away. I don’t need you anyway. I can do it without you. Will ee whoe writing uffer more.”

2010 Overview and Book of the Year

Overview

See my 2010 Book Reviews

It’s hard to compare the rating of this year with last years rating because I only finished 27 books in 2009. The reason for that was the total FAIL of Robinson Crusoe, which slowed my reading to a crawl during the first half of the year. I still can’t understand why its a classic. The only thing I can think of is that everyone else read the abridged version which left out most of the second half of the book.

Also last year I was unable to use the emoticon rating system and actually had a five point rating, not a 7 point system. 2006 and 2007 also have the 7 point system. 2008 uses the five point one.

Summary of 2010 Ratings:

Loved It– 18

Liked It A lot– 7

Liked It– 10

It Was Okay– 11

Kinda Bad– 2

Bad– 3

It Stunk– 0

Total= 51

Book of the Year

Although I marked a lot of books with a Loved It rating many of them do not qualify for the Book of the Year simply because they are well, Junie B. Jones books, four of them in fact. The two Stephen R. Lawhead books Scarlet and Tuck are good, but don’t represent the best of Lawhead, so like last years Hood they are out of the running too. Serenity is out because its a movie adaptation. I would be greatly ashamed if the best book I read during a given year was a movie adaptation. Stephen King’s Wolves of the Calla also gets dropped for shame. It’s way too pop-culture not to mention graphic to be real book of the year material.

Two other books  Holes and  Seven Day Magic are very good books and I highly recommend them. In fact if I were to separate out a YA book of the year I would choose Holes. The 7th Tower series is also very good YA and I have been tempted to consider it. The series was so completely engrossing and the idea refreshingly new that I speed through the entire thing. However, it hasn’t withstood the test of time. The further I get from the reading the less it appeals to me, and I wonder if there is enough depth for very many re-readings.

That leaves me with four real nominations for books of the year; A Name of Her Own, The Case for Christ, Starship Troopers, and As Sure as the Dawn.

A book of the year pick has to be more than a book I really enjoyed reading. First of all it has to be re-readable and recommendable to a wide audience. The book also has to be entertaining and have a lasting impression upon readers. With those things in mind my pick for book of the year is… A Name of Her Own by Jane Kirkpatrick.

19. A Name of Her Own 4/18/10 A very likely choice for book of the year. Jane Kirkpatrick sat next to me at a Oregon Women for Ag dinner. Afterward I was able to buy a couple of books and have her sign them. Sacajawea was one of my childhood hero’s and the heroine in this book share a very similar story. The book is about Marie an Indian woman who insists on taking her children and going with her French-Indian husband to Oregon Territory with the Aster Party. The Aster Party were the second party to successfully make the journey overland to Oregon, and they founded the city of Astoria. But they were badly managed and suffered many tragedies. Marie Dorion is a founding mother of Oregon, and this story is well researched and historically sound, but told as if you were watching it all unfold.