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Editado: Ene 1, 2:05pm

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Editado: Ene 1, 2:09pm

Welcome to 2021's questions. Who knows where the year will take us? Many thanks to avaland for so many great threads last year, which certainly got the wheels turning.

If you are new to Club Read, this is a place where readers get to talk with other readers about books and reading and just about anything else related to those things, outside their usual threads. As usual, if you have any questions you would like posted, just send me a PM.

Editado: Ene 1, 2:16pm

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As if 2020 wasn't a terrible enough year, waking up today in this new year, you discovered that overnight some form of malignant death ray had destroyed your entire library: paper, virtual and audio. What are you going to do: replace it, start anew, or forget about it altogether?

Ene 1, 2:58pm

Moan a bit, deny any relief, take a moment to appreciate my freedom of amazon, hope the house is otherwise magically ok...then choose next book and hunt it down... might need to adjust my 2021 reading plan a bit.

this has been a great thread through these last several years, looking forward to it again.

Ene 1, 3:09pm

After I stopped screaming, complaining, and looking to see if my books just got re-located:

Download my e-books from the cloud (I actually had to do that two years ago, when my Kindle somehow went nuts and all my books disappeared from it), and probably replace some of the print ones.

Also sigh with relief that many print books I would have handed off are now gone, so I do not have to haul them to the used book sale or take time to "weed the collection."

Editado: Ene 1, 3:16pm

This is sounding a bit like that film about the same happening to Beatlesmusic, Yesterday.

I'd be hoping LT was still here and libraries and hoping the aliens are planning on compensation, then I would take library books on a good holiday before redecorating minus two walls of bookshelves, for now.

I don't think I should try rewriting any of the books as per the film.

Ene 1, 3:14pm

Yes, I think it would be a mixture of sadness and relief.
Of course, it depends a bit on whether we’re talking complete Fahrenheit 451 or a highly personalised death-ray (along the lines of the rogue housekeeper in Auto-da-fé ) that has eliminated my books without touching anyone else’s or inflating the secondhand prices.

Ideally, the thing to do would be to set off around the world on a bicycle, unencumbered by personal possessions apart from the one slim volume of exceptionally high literary merit that tradition allows us to assume will have escaped the disaster. Knowing my luck, it would be a rare unsigned copy of Seventy-two virgins. :-(

In practice, I would only need to sit in my empty library for a couple of days before the first helpful friends turned up with wheelbarrows full of books they don’t quite have room for, and I would be trying to work out the formula for re-invoking the death-ray.

Ene 1, 3:17pm

>3 SassyLassy: Question 1

You had to go there, didn't you? :)

I'll probably have to start again - UNLESS it also magically did catalog it while wiping - I really need to catalog what I have.

Technically, I had been through this twice already (not magical rays but...) - my very first library back in 2002 or thereabouts (~150 books) was sold so I can live (long story)... and then in 2010, when I finally managed to track down the last of those volumes (small runs are a pain), I gave away more than 95% of Library2 (now ~1500) to a friend (the rest went to my Mom's and is still there). I moved with 5 books, brought a couple of others over when I went home later but for all intents and purposes my library started on Nov 1, 2010.

I entertained the idea of replacing the books when I moved here (it was cheaper than moving my own -- for most English language titles anyway). Then I realized that my tastes had changed and even where they had not, I would rather buy books I had not read anyway. Then I got my first Kindle and things got complicated. Discovering the library here also changed the things considerably - so my library is a weird mix of books I want to read, books I try to collect and books that the library does not have. And I am really bad at giving up books -- although I am better than I used to be.

So starting over is not that bad... if one can afford it. Although at this point I will hate losing some parts of my library and some are all but irreplaceable (with some becoming replaceable if you win the lottery).

Ene 1, 3:38pm

>6 tonikat: now if we're talking permanent lost in culture... Or, and this might offer a potential theme of questions, if you had to choose from two things, which to rid the world of, and assuming you absolutely had to choose one - the Beatles or books would cause some hesitation.

>7 thorold: that last sentence... : )

Ene 1, 3:53pm

I would be in the 'forget about it category'. A useful lesson in not relying on possessions. I would probably join a library and relish all the freed up space in my house. The only books I would really miss would be the cookery books, but hopefully I would be able to remember my favourite recipes.

Editado: Ene 1, 5:04pm

>9 dchaikin: those are the only two choices? Id think war, racism and poverty would e much better, but not for this quesion, so....

I have had a fear of house fire for a long time, and apparently last night fireworks caused a house in my area to be completely destroyed. No one hurt thank god, but everything in this house comes from something or someone or some place that spark memories in my life so this is a timely questions for me. I am not sure I could take such a loss - but people do, I know. It would take me a while to decide that yes its good to start over and not immediatly try to buy every book I lost. Guess Id have to take stock on what I had, and what physically Id be able to replace or want to. Many of the books I have I know so well so not having phyical copies wouldn't be so bad.

Editado: Ene 1, 5:06pm

I would feel bad about the books being vaporized before I could give them away, but with a couple of exceptions, I'm fine with clearing the shelves as long as the public library books are intact.

My question is whether there's some type of setting on the Death Ray that allows it to zap other items (let's say the hobby supplies Other People have been hoarding in the garage for 30 years) and, if so, how much it might cost to rent said Death Ray for a 24-hour period.

Editado: Ene 1, 7:05pm

>9 dchaikin: yes i wasn't clear was I about permanent loss - but that is a horrible binary choice to consider, so i must refuse .. . maybe we'd have a Yesterday type situation that means the Beatles would be more retrievable. I am thinking about holidays and other things not had for the sake of this here collection though, prompted by this question.

edit - sorry i have contradicted myself and thought unthinkable nonsense.

Ene 1, 9:41pm

>13 tonikat: hmm. It makes sense to me so far. I'm getting worried about myself. : )

Ene 2, 4:19am

I would be devastated. While I recognise that technically books are just things, and that most of the books I own I will never read again, to me they represent as much of my life as photo albums would.

Having said that the only books I would possibly look to replace would be those on the TBR pile. I also have a couple of wishlists on the go so I would be more likely to start acquiring new pretties.

And if the death-ray can be "tuned" can I join the queue for borrowing/renting? Someone hasn't thrown out a shirt in (I reckon) 20 years.

Ene 2, 6:29am

Count me in to the 'secretly relieved' camp. I would start again (and probably by the end of the year would have ten years' worth of unread books). My main NY resolution as it relates to stuff is to persuade myself that I do not need to buy or keep things just in case, and only to take on new things that I will definitely use.

Ene 2, 7:09am

>15 rhian_of_oz: I would be devastated. While I recognise that technically books are just things, and that most of the books I own I will never read again, to me they represent as much of my life as photo albums would.

yes, this is me! Though the question has made me take a look at the shelves; i no longer keep every book I read and over the years have culled them for trade or for the library, and I don't miss them or even think about them afterwards, which tells me that maybe its time for another look see?

And love the idea of renting said death ray; tho I am the one who has shirts that are 20 years old, so maybe not? :)

Ene 2, 7:09am

>1 SassyLassy: ha ha, great start!

Once I got over my shock (or, perhaps, that's "if"), I would start a list of books which come to mind that I will need. Surely, a copy of Middlemarch and some Austen. Kate Grenville's Idea of Perfection, Joyce Carol Oates' A Bloodsmoor Romance (and others), Atwood's Handmaid's Tale and an Angela Carter...(and others)...the list would go on (and on and on) to cover nonfiction, poetry...etc. but it would NOT be an extraordinary amount of books. But ....add to that list what I can remember from the TBR pile.... the lastest Rebus and McDermid, the novels of the last author I fell in love with and bought her/his other books to read...etc.

Having more years behind me than ahead probably gives me a certain perspective. I love having physical books around me, there's the comfort of 'old friends' and the promise of new ones, but one would carry on and very soon head out to the local bookshop or online source (Amazon, Abe, Book Depository, small publishers...).

Ene 2, 8:06am

I mainly keep books that I love and want to reread, so I would start slowly replacing them. It's important to me to have books I love around right now. I have the space for it and I want to spark an interest in reading in my kids (they are 11 and 8). Having the books there sometimes leads to a conversation we would not otherwise have.

Ene 2, 9:24am

I've thought about this scenario, though mostly in terms of a fire wiping out my print library. And... I don't know. I have a lot of books here that I keep for sentimental value, which couldn't be replaced, and a lot of books I'll probably never get a chance to read in my lifetime. My e collection is obviously not so sentimental, but holds a whole lot of the latter. So I'd probably replace things piecemeal—start with a bunch of books I know I'd want to own again, and then replace as they occurred to me, or as I wanted to read them.

I'm probably thinking about this too literally, and too darkly, but as with any life-upending disaster I just imagine I would deal with it in the moment and after, and have no idea what that would feel like until it happened. I do have good homeowner's insurance but I can't imagine the material help would be much of a comfort, since I'm a person who has a large print collection largely because I like to be surrounded by my books. BUT, as my mom used to say, things aren't people, and we all live through everything until we don't.

Editado: Ene 2, 9:26pm


After I cried & moaned a bit, I would probably start over. And I am seriously hoping (I think) that it's just happened to me and not all over the world - because that would be seriously apocalyptic! And I don't think I could cope! (See Octavia Butler's "Speech sounds" for a tangently related story where people are able to speak or read, but not both.)

Ene 3, 3:30am

I couldn't handle it. If I lost all my print books, I'd be unhappy and go on a buying spree (mostly of used books, probably) - but if I lost _all_ my books, I literally would not be able to function. I still have a clear memory of going to college carrying four books, I read two of them on the plane and finished the other two in the first two days. The school library wasn't open yet, I couldn't find the town library or bookstore...I _literally_ had the shakes before I borrowed a book from my roommate. It was an awful book (standard men's fantasy, lots of bombs and sex and a highly unlikely plot), but it was a book, and it saved me until I found the library and bookstore. I can remember sitting there watching my hands shake. I am addicted to words-in-a-row...

Ene 3, 11:51am

As if 2020 wasn't a terrible enough year, waking up today in this new year, you discovered that overnight some form of malignant death ray had destroyed your entire library: paper, virtual and audio. What are you going to do: replace it, start anew, or forget about it altogether?

Yikes. I'll answer this extremely disturbing question later today, after I have a couple of shots of vodka...

Ene 3, 6:40pm

As if 2020 wasn't a terrible enough year, waking up today in this new year, you discovered that overnight some form of malignant death ray had destroyed your entire library: paper, virtual and audio. What are you going to do: replace it, start anew, or forget about it altogether?

The problem for me is that I would want to replace almost everything I have, but financially, I wouldn't be able to justify spending money replacing literally any of it. So for me, this scenario is absolutely terrifying.

Oh, to have the money to spend on books just because I want them.

Ene 4, 1:26pm

>24 Julie_in_the_Library: Your dream and everyone else's is answered. In an even more unlikely scenario than a bibliophobic death ray, your friendly insurance agent has agreed to pay out, based on the titles you have assiduously entered into your LT database over the years.

Now what do you do: get a subscription to NYRB classics, buy some beautiful boxed sets, or take a tour of the world's book towns (in this scenario, there is no Covid for people who do this)
The possibilities are endless.

Ene 4, 2:48pm

>26 Julie_in_the_Library: That's a nice daydream. Thanks for the article. :)

Editado: Ene 4, 6:57pm

>25 SassyLassy: I work in insurance and this is EXACTLY why I log what I own. :)

Ene 4, 8:28pm

>27 Yells: yup, same. We bought a fireproof safe early on and have flashdrives and photos and videos of our various collections, as well as household articles. We pray it won't be necessay, but will be glad to have it if it is

Ene 5, 11:25am

Question 1:

I... genuinely cannot bear to think about it. My mind retreats into a gibbering blankness of despair. Next question, please!

Ene 5, 2:11pm

>29 bragan: agreed. 2020 was bad enough. Moving on....

Ene 5, 4:38pm

>29 bragan: >30 kac522: Check out >25 SassyLassy: - There is opportunity there!

Ene 5, 4:50pm

>25 SassyLassy: If I did a book-buying world tour, I think I would try to make it a rule only to visit bookshops that actually want to sell books, and miss out the “beautiful” ones that exist purely for the selfie trade, or to sell coffee or pies. Sadly, that would rule out a lot of the book-towns, and might require a bit of time-travel back to ca. 1960, but you can’t have everything!

Ene 7, 7:57am

>31 SassyLassy: My first instinct is 'total nightmare', but you're right - there are a lot of books I wouldn't even want to replace. I'm not sure I'd actually replace many - probably no more than 20. I'd have to just start afresh. Now I'm thinking about why I go into hoarder mentality with books - I really shouldn't feel I have to keep them, but for some reason I do.

Ene 8, 2:27pm

>33 AlisonY: Interesting thought about hoarder mentality, as I think about myself in that way too. Not sure why I acquire so many more than I can read, and then feel like I don't want to get rid of them, although I am getting better at weeding the collection. Sometimes I look at a book I purchased and wonder why I got it in the first place.

Ene 9, 2:19am

I've had that with ER books. If I go back and read the description, sometimes I can see what sounded good - but I've had an awful lot of books that just don't match what I read at all. And I asked for them! Sheesh. I know why I have so many books that aren't all that interesting - I blame the library booksale, and specifically the Sunday bag/box sale. "Oh, this looks mildly interesting, toss it in...". A month later (or a few years later) and it doesn't look interesting enough to actually read...

I can get rid of books that I have read and will not read again. But if I haven't read them, it takes a major revelation (like, I've read three by this author and hated all of them... get rid of all the ones by that author I've collected!) to make me let go. Or if I've read them but didn't review and can't remember what I thought of them, that's just as bad. Sigh.

Ene 9, 2:26pm

>35 jjmcgaffey: I have also done that with used book sales. If it looks good, toss it in the bag. If I don't like it, I can always donate it back to the next sale. We usually go early in the sale and then again on the last day when they are priced by the bagful.

In that same line of thought, the huge book sale for Hoosier Hills Food Bank benefit did not take place in 2020! We donated a ton of books, then found out as the guys were unloading the many boxes from our car that the sale was cancelled. If I had known that, I would have donated the books to the local library used book corner sale and saved myself a lot of driving around to locate the donation site. We were very disappointed, since that is our favorite sale of the year. It is held at the local fairgrounds in one of the buildings and goes on for a week. There is something for every reading taste there. Not that we needed more books! But it is a very pleasant way to spend a day, and the people there are nice. I have often recommended books for other book lovers who are shopping there.

Editado: Ene 10, 9:13am

Fwiw, prison libraries are always looking for book donations. They have to be paperbacks usually. A lot of my books end up donated there. Borstal Boy by Brendan Behan has a funny and quite moving episode in which he is given Pride and Prejudice--or one of the Austens--and becomes intensely interested in the story on a human level. Reading seems to be one of the activities that de-radicalized him.

Ene 9, 11:02pm

>35 jjmcgaffey: But if I haven't read them, it takes a major revelation (like, I've read three by this author and hated all of them... get rid of all the ones by that author I've collected!) to make me let go. Or if I've read them but didn't review and can't remember what I thought of them, that's just as bad. Sigh.

heh sounds like me! Books I don't like I easily bring to the trade counter. But I feel horribly guilty to remove any book from my tbr stack, because I remember at some point there was a good reason I picked it butI haven't given enough time to. Yet there they sit...

Ene 10, 2:12am

>38 cindydavid4: and >35 jjmcgaffey:

So it not just me. :) Every time I move books I find things I do not remember seeing before let alone buying. And yet they are here and should be read before I give them away... And maybe, just maybe, I should get better at resisting buying.

Ene 10, 11:12am


Lists of 'best of' are everywhere at year end and the beginning of a new year. Many of us have our own star system for our books. As one year ends and the new year begins, a look back may result in a change in the stars and their ranking.

Although this may not feel like a new year, more like 2020 2.0, did you go through this process as the calendar year changed?

More generally: Do you award stars to your books? How does your ranking work? Do you ever look back and review these ratings, and if so, do you alter them?

Ene 10, 1:45pm

I used to rank, purely on how much I liked the book, which means the plot was tight, writing was competent, good dialogue, and interesting characters. The only book I have ever reassessed occasionally is The Scarlet Letter. I despised reading it, hated teaching it, but it is beloved of curriculum committees, so I keep wondering what I'm missing.

Ene 10, 2:17pm

>40 SassyLassy: For me anything four stars or above is very good. Five stars has to be excellent and also something that appeals very directly to me. I’ve awarded 2 five stars this year so far, but also only awarded 2 five stars in the whole of 2020. I rarely award anything below three star as I can usually weed those books out before I read them - the exception is books where I can see that they have literary merit, but I really don’t like them personally. They might get a two or a two and a half. I can’t remember the last time I awarded less than that - I know such bad books exist, but I very rarely read them.

I do reassess. Recently on my thread for the 75 Challenge group I posted my 5 star reads for the last 10 years. There were one or two that I thought hadn’t stood the test of time and I removed them from the list. Similarly there will be books that will stay with me far longer than expected after I have read them, and they might get an upgrade if I reread.

Ene 10, 3:18pm

I used to like lists of favourites and top tens and so on. When I joined I started rating my books but came to stop. My criteria were loose, I wasn't sure what it said of very different books, genre etc. I also tended to be generous. Which speaks to my tendency, amybe linked to my counseling, to appreciate the books just for what they are. So it started to seem a bit meaningless to me amongst all that. I had and have huge gaps in my reading too, more important to just enjoy my reading for what it is. I wonder if that is a motivation to figure out what they mean to me in my posts. Sometimes I think of dong it again, even in my loose it only means anything to me way, though why, they'd all be 4 or 5 stars for being themselves? But that is just me. I read through my first thread and there are definitely favourites, maybe a top five or ten. Maybe also for last year, but I seem to become clearer on this over time if i started on last years mob of books I'd probably name them all somehow.

Editado: Ene 10, 3:53pm

Love reading fav lists and compare my virtual reader buddies lists with mine.
Im in a RL book group that rates our reads, and its interesting to hear their various defintions of 1-5. But when its my turn, they all know Im going to be really strict and are surprised when I do rate a 5. Needs to be a book that I was a part of, that the film in my head was full of amazing imagry and language. A book I have or plan to reread, a book that stays in my memory. Books I can think of off the top of my head: Far Pavillions , Stones Fall ,possession

a few examples from last few years ( general fiction)

We are completely beside ourselves

Night Circus

Infinite Home

First Fifteen Lives of Harry August




4 stars are darn good reads, entertaining, glad I read them

3 stars average read with issues

2 stars painful to read but wanted to see how it ended

1 star usually = DNF

And yes I do change my mind; in fact the group im in , after our discussion often is able to get me to change it on the spot. Others are long ago reads that read very differently now.

eta what happened to all my touchstones? ah well

Ene 10, 3:48pm

I'm tending to assign stars less these days, as what I think of them right after reading often changes by the end of the year.

Ene 10, 5:52pm


I hate being made to rank things. It makes me feel as though I'm trapped in the world of Nick Hornby's High fidelity. I've learnt, though, to treat it like one of those silly exercises at management seminars, whose real purpose is just to be an icebreaker and get people talking: I list the first few items (books, in this case) that come into my head, on the assumption that there must be some good reason that I feel — at that moment — I want to tell other people about them. Which books I list will obviously change in unpredictable ways, depending on things like when I'm asked and by whom.

Maybe if I only read one type of recently-published book, it would make sense to rank my year's reading, but in practice it's not even apples vs. pears, it's more like apples vs. artichokes vs. pizza.

I accept that it's a social convention that we give star ratings to books, so I do what I assume everyone else does, and start out with three stars and add more for a book that I like or consider to be outstanding in its field, or (less often) take stars away from a book that has disappointed me in some way. And refuse to agonise over whether I got it right.

Ene 10, 7:08pm

Q2: I was bother by this question last year. I didn't like how arbitrary my ratings were, I wasn't just handing out ratings but at times I couldn't really put my finger on why things fell where they did. I couldn't quantify my reasoning which hurts the science part of my being. So I created a calculator that takes ratings on things like theme, concepts, and execution with both fiction and nonfiction. These these scaled ratings from 1-10 and aggregates a score that is then translated into a star rating. It includes a couple of kickers that can juice the score to adjust for things not included in every book. Using past reads and filtering all my books, it was comforting to see how my subjective ratings could be quantified in way the makes sense to me. I like having a number that reinforces my own internal thoughts and it has changed some of those past ratings that make more sense.

Ene 10, 7:46pm

I don't love rating books, so I do it with a really broad brush—4 stars for just about everything I like, 3 for meh or some form of problematic, 5 for books I adore, but I don't really pay much mind even to that system. And I don't go back and change ratings unless I reread a book and have a different take on it.

Ene 10, 11:11pm

I have my rating pattern on my LT profile because I can't keep it clear in my head - but I do like rating. It is entirely what I think of the book, which means that a really dumb stupid book that I enjoy reading and rereading (they exist) gets a 3.5, and a really well-written book that I hate gets 3 or 2.5. Three means I'm glad I read it but I won't reread, 2.5 means not for me (it may be a DNF, even, though I usually give those one or half a star). Sometimes I reread my own reviews and change the star rating, or change it because my opinion has changed - but I try not to do the latter because my opinion at the time is what I'm trying to rate and review on, not what I remember later. And I'm frequently surprised at my reviews - what I remember and what I wrote at the time differ quite a bit. I consider rating and reviewing as one thing - the stars are (supposed to be) a condensation of my opinion in the review.

Editado: Ene 11, 1:24am

>40 SassyLassy: Question 2

Well, someone did set up a "Best of the Year" thread so I used the opportunity to look at what I had read before. :)

I don't change my star ratings even if it feels like I should - I don't rank books I had read long ago and I tend to rank based on how I feel about the book immediately after I read it. That can change a year or 10 down the road but as I also keep reading dates, I can see what I had liked historically and what I had really disliked.

The only time I would change a rating is if I reread a book and in that case I usually would think again on why I need to change it.

As for my own system - half a star means "either I did not finish it or I did but it is so bad that... stay away", 1-2 stars are for "well, ok... bad but not awful", 3 and 3 and a a half are for "perfectly fine, nothing to write home about" and 4 and higher are for books that really impressed me for one reason or another. At the end of the year, it is usually the books from the last category (4 or higher) that make my Best of List - not always the ones who managed to get a 5 though.

I read a lot of older books (see my long running Gardner project for example) and for them I don't try to compare them to the current times and norms -- books exist within a context and my ranking takes that into consideration. Most of the time anyway.

Ene 11, 7:39am

I often wish there were no star ratings; and I really don't use them to decide on what books to buy or read. But I do award them and I do occasionally out of curiosity look at others' use of star ratings with their reviews (sometimes, the seeming incongruity confounds me and I despair to see the low star average of what I deem an excellent book*)

Back in my bookstore days I used to be quite good at assessing fiction more objectively and would also read a much broader selection of books. At this point in my life, not only is my reading more personal, but I also do not finish books that I'm not enjoying on some level, so I do not even give out one and two stars now. So, the remaining stars would be:

*** It's good! (enough that I finished it)
**** Very Good!
***** Loved it!

I may have changed a few star ratings on books read some years ago, but I try not to. I was a different reader in a different place in my life back then, and I should respect that.

There are a lot of very different readers here on LT who look for different things from their reading, and we can't assume we might (or should) like the same books. And as Annie notes in the post above, 'books exist within a context' and we can't know if the reader takes that into consideration when awarding a star rating.** Which is why we have book friends!

*Take, for example, Peter Hoeg's The Quiet Girl, a book I loved and gave five stars to. It's a challenging wild ride, and clearly a not-for-everyone read. The ratings are either one stars or five stars and little between, thus the 3 start rating. It's ratings are one of the most polarized I've seen.

**I just checked the rating of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, the second most popular book of the entire 19th century—shut out from #1 by only the Bible— and here on LT it gets a four star rating -- which is better than I thought it would be here on LT

And 'star rating' has a longer history than I ever imagined:

Ene 11, 7:51am

I find that how I rated a book at the time is not necessarily how I would still rate it at the end of the year, but I don't bother updating the original rating. The main movement would be between 4 and 5 stars, where sometimes I've rated something as maybe a 4.5 but it's not stuck with me, whereas something rated as a 4 really has over time.

My general rule of thumb (which is most definitely not consistently adhered to):

3 = Just OK. Either I didn't think the writing was great or something was lacking in the plot or characters that irked me.
3.5 = Enjoyable enough - had some redeeming parts that were better than others. Generally forgettable.
4 = Good read. Might also be something that wasn't totally my cup of tea but I really appreciated the quality of the writing.
4.5 = Really good - a title I'm going to enthuse over.
5 = Saved for those really special reads.

Below a 3 I tend to ignore the halves so:

2 = Disappointing. Definitely not recommended.
1 = Utter crap. Waste of a tree.

It's definitely no scientific guide that would stand up to any scrutiny....

Editado: Ene 11, 8:00am

>52 AlisonY: I have a very similar approach, Alison.

My star ratings (and actually my written reviews as well) are done within a day or two of reading a book and reflect that emotion upon completing a book. They are always heightened, either way, from how I will feel about a book in a year or longer. But I like having that record of how a book made me feel WHILE I was reading it. There is plenty of time for greater reflection and my opinions to change as I read other reviews and discuss with fellow readers. I like my reviews to be "all mine".

I love sparking discussion and discussing books, but I do think of my reviews as predominantly for me to have a record of my reading. My star rating helps me remember my most immediate reaction to a book. They aren't really for others. I think of the written portion as being more for other readers.

Like Alison, I do not change star ratings at the end of the year, so I often end up with a few "favorites" that were only 3.5 stars and a few that don't make the favorites list that I gave 4 stars.

I don't think I have huge influence over what anyone will read, so I don't worry about the impact my star rating will give to an author or particular book. If I was writing for a publication or editorial page, that would be different!

Ene 11, 10:10am

Ratings are weird, aren't they? Especially when it's "apples vs. artichokes vs. pizza". I try and rate a book within its own category, so if it's a really good crime novel (say) I will give it five stars, which doesn't necessarily mean it's better than some of the books which pop up lower in the rankings. Like >53 japaul22: I like having the record of what I thought of the book immediately after finishing it, and often at the end of the year I am a bit surprised by some of the ratings.

One of the main reasons this happens is that a book has a lot of strengths, but also some weaknesses, and by the end of the year I mainly remember the strengths. A good example of this is Milkman by Anna Burns, which I think does something really remarkable in the way it uses language - the narrator describes things in an extremely roundabout way, which highlights the restrictive political environment of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, and all the things it was not permissable to say - so that the reader gets a sense of claustrophic restriction from all these taboos. The book didn't get 5 stars though because I thought it was too long, but of course by now, I still have a strong impression of the writing but have forgotten the fact that it dragged a little in the middle.

I don't use the ratings to decide what book to read - I tend to get book bullets from the discussion threads, although sometimes if I'm deciding whether to abandon a book or not I will read the reviews. Sometimes a positive review will still convince me that a book is not for me, depending on what it says. I do enjoy reading 'best of the year' lists though...

I mostly don't rate books I DNF, it doesn't seem fair, unless there was something specific that I hated which made me stop reading. (The Bone Clocks I am looking at you). If the book is just a bit meh or not my kind of thing, I just abandon it and move on.

Ene 11, 10:39am

>54 wandering_star: I try and rate a book within its own category I didn't think to write that, but that is true of me also.

Editado: Ene 11, 2:00pm

I use the star ratings, based mainly on my own opinions of the book and whether there were aspects of the writing that annoyed me, but I do not go back and change the ratings very often. I tend to be generous in my ratings, so I usually start with 4-stars and go from there. I rarely give a 1 or 2 star rating unless the book is really bad, and then usually I skip and skim or DNF. (I no longer feel guilty about doing this, using the Pearl rule. I do not waste time on a book I don't like.) I also don't give many 5-star ratings, as the book has to be really great and hit all my likes in order to earn the highest ranking for me. If I am writing a review, I prefer to write it as soon as I finish the book, while it is still fresh in my mind.

Ene 11, 9:08pm

>46 thorold: When I am iisting my favs of the year, I include works that were published earlier, but that I read this year. And there is no right or wrong, my enjoyment is to see what others liked and see if I might as well. Thats what lists do for me, and since being a part of this group, finding lots of titles I never would have considered or heard of.

Editado: Ene 11, 9:18pm


Editado: Ene 11, 11:49pm

I'm not going to go into my rating structure here, because I mostly agree with what most people say here. That said, I rarely give 5 stars, but when I do, it's comparing an apple to other apples and a pizza to other pizzas. And it usually involves hitting something personal in me, which may mean nothing to other readers.

Since I'm not an important person (such as an Instagram influencer!), and I write reviews for myself, my ratings are a combination of my emotions and reading experience. If I see that I'm rating something either high or low for personal reasons, I note that in my comments.

And unlike some who abandon books that aren't at least a 3 star read, I do finish books that I rate 1 or 2 stars. Sometimes I am just awed by how much I hate a book and I do love to write a good scathing review (alas, I didn't write even one in 2020 -- I think I'm getting better at avoiding those books). I've had some of the best conversations over my 1 and 2 star reviews.

ETA: I have changed ratings on a book when I see later that I've rated it higher or lower than a book that is similar that I have a firm opinion about. I only do this with books I remember well. If I actually reread the book and my rating is different, I'll probably add a different copy with notes explaining my change.

Ene 12, 4:29am

My star ratings are how I feel about a book after reading it and I rate them in accordance with the genre in which I am reading. A science fiction book that I might rate at five stars may not be a literary masterpiece for example, but it will have those attributes that I like about science fiction. I find the star system useful when I look back on my reading at the end of the year.

Ene 12, 5:35am

I hope my rejection of star ratings doesn't sound judgemental - it's entirely for myself. Until this came up in this way I'd have been quite happy to do this but for some reason have changed track, for now anyway. I'm enjoying reading how they work for others.

Ene 12, 9:43am

Having come to some terms with the limits of ratings and, worse, my complete inability to manage any consistency, i’ve devolved to whatever looks right and feels right at the moment i click the rating button. My logic comes down, roughly, a 3-star book is a book that I think deserves 3 stars. : )

This feels like an of course in hindsight, but book that get emotions churning get higher star ratings and can only fade with time. Books that have an undercurrent might get mild rating and then hang around fondly a long time. So my ratings and favorites of the moment are rarely not in conflict.

Editado: Ene 12, 10:11am

>61 tonikat: Nope, didn't sound judgmental to me. I used to like reading, rating, and recording. It was helpful when I was teaching lit. Reflecting on what I read is still helpful to me, but I'm retired and tracking my reading just takes up time I'd rather be doing other things.

Ene 12, 10:22am

>61 tonikat: Don't apologize!

Ene 12, 1:09pm


I really like looking at other people's "best of" lists, but I have always struggled when it comes to compiling one of my own. The pile of books I typically read in a year (or even a quarter) is daunting to look back through. So this year in my book journal I set aside a page for my favorite reads of 2021, by month, in the hope that going month by month will be less daunting. Also, I am hoping it will help me look back at my reading more regularly, instead of just the "on to the next one!" mentality I tend to have.

I do try to give star ratings to the books I read, though I recognize that such ratings are more or less completely arbitrary and dependent on things like my mood when I read the book. In general....

5 stars - These are books I absolutely loved when I read them, and ones that I keep wanting to talk about. I tend to be rather sparing in giving out five stars, but they still show up consistently throughout the year.

4 stars - Probably my most common rating; these are the books I really liked and enjoyed reading.

3 stars - My second most common rating; these are books I liked reading, but that lacked...something that would increase the rating. Enjoyable, but average?

2 stars - These books were...okay. If I give something two stars, then I had problems with one or more parts of the book, but I did finish reading it. Saying something was okay might sound positive to some people, but at least in my case there is a big "but!" attached to the statement. Perhaps bizarrely, I think I am more inclined to actually write and post reviews of my two-star reads (maybe because I have things I want to say about them?).

1 star - At this point in time my life I almost never give out this rating, because I'm not typically going to continue reading a book that would "deserve" it, and I tend not to rate books I don't finish

If I reread a book I may choose to alter the star rating I gave it, but I am not inclined to make those alterations without any sort of reread.

Ene 12, 1:40pm

>61 tonikat: Why would it be? That is why we have these questions - there is no right and wrong way to answer those (unless one attacks someone else... this would be wrong) and everyone's opinion adds something.

Stars and ratings are subjective things... :)

Ene 12, 1:48pm

thanks - all true.

Editado: Ene 12, 2:46pm

>61 tonikat:

You Are Not Alone, tonikat!

Amusingly, I've come across several LT members who seem to have an inverse-value system of rating (one star is the best, five the worst), and a few who seem to use the stars for marking some sort of personal information, whatever it may be. For example, there's someone who gives everything he has read (entries with a Date Read filled) a single star. (All these were chance finds due to my noticing what would strike me as an intriguing rating on a title.)

Doesn't mean that ratings are completely useless, for many people; since the majority of people probably stick to comparable standards, it mainly depends on how many have rated something.

That being the case, I feel less guilty about (ab)using the rating system not for the benefit of the greater good but my own selfish needs. Typically I give either five stars or one or (fire and brimstone!) half a star. The five stars express my delight at something and may or may not also imply a critical opinion of something's high aesthetic value. The one or half a star express, in no particular order or combination, disdain, contempt, hatred, rage, and a curse. These too may imply an aesthetic judgement, but that's not essential. :)

Ene 12, 3:08pm

>3 SassyLassy:

Sad question, but in the main point, which is the separation from my collection, I feel I've been grappling with it a long time... so, weirdly, I feel almost steeled emotionally against the event.

I could never reconstruct my entire collection, and without unrealistically sufficient resources, I couldn't replace most of it.

Since it seems I've been born to read, I'd continue to buy, amass and read books until they or I gave out.

Ene 12, 3:15pm

>68 LolaWalser: lol ty. I'm ok in myself with my choice, just wondered if it had sounded judgemental. But I think too much.

I like playfulness with this thing - if anyone did soem research from LT though they are going to have to give that some thought. Your extremes seem good in many ways. But aesthetic judgement, there the problems start.

Ene 12, 4:11pm

>59 Nickelini: I've had some of the best conversations over my 1 and 2 star reviews.

Oh yes; and in book groups our books we didn't care for always lead to the best discussions.

>65 shadrach_anki: I think I am more inclined to actually write and post reviews of my two-star reads (maybe because I have things I want to say about them?).

hee for the same reason above!

>61 tonikat: in the words that my gym uses all over its building 'No Judgement Zone' We are chatting here, and I find it fun. I always make the same impression of other members. Its not a lecture, a challenge, a critic. so no worries, 'k?

Ene 12, 4:26pm

>59 Nickelini: I've had some of the best conversations over my 1 and 2 star reviews.

Oh yes; and in my RL bookgroups, books we didn't care for always lead to the best discussions. We loved Night Circus but really disliked The Starless Sea usually our discussions last about 30 min before we start venturing off. But the former one lasted a while till someone notice we'd been discussing the book for 90 minutes with no off topic comment!

>65 shadrach_anki: I think I am more inclined to actually write and post reviews of my two-star reads (maybe because I have things I want to say about them?).

hee for the same reason above!

>61 tonikat: in the words that my gym uses all over its building 'No Judgement Zone' We are chatting here, and I find it fun. I always make the same impression of other members. Its not a lecture, a challenge, a critic. so no worries, 'k?

Ene 13, 3:32am

>68 LolaWalser: There's at least one person who uses them to track rereads (or used to - now that we can have multiple dates, they may have stopped. Or not). One read, one star; reread, two stars; read again, three... That may be the same person that you found with the one-starred read books, or someone different.

Ene 13, 4:40am

I'm not thinking what I said yesterday was an apology actually - an expression of hope and response to what is said, polite. Having given my reasons, maybe not surprisingly, others' reasons to star rate read a bit like a defence of it from the same sorts of problems. Probably just my personal reading of what people said, we all face the same problems and then our own preferences on top of that. I'm thinking how cool many of these systems are.

Ene 13, 9:26am

I do use star ratings. I often go back and forth on them a lot right after I read the book and when I'm writing/posting my review of it on LT, but once I'm done with that, I usually don't go back and second-guess them and change them again, even if I feel like maybe I should. Because if I did that, I might never stop, and that way lies madness.

My rating system goes something like this:

1/2 star: If I believed in burning books, this one would be on the list

1 star: Dreck. Utter, utter dreck. I actively hated it, probably found it offensive, and very likely swore at the author a lot while I was reading.

1 1/2 star: Still dreck, but it may have, like, one redeeming quality somewhere which still does not make up for it being dreck.

2 stars: Not good. I may not be swearing at the author, but I definitely did not like it, and am probably feeling mildly annoyed.

2 1/2 stars: Mediocre. May be readable, but I couldn't remotely call it good. May be poorly written, may just be really boring.

3 stars: Okay-ish. Definitely readable, but not great. I got some enjoyment or information out of it, but not nearly as much as I'd hope for. Or else it had some good points, but enough flaws to drag it down a lot.

3 1/2 stars: Okay. May be mildly diverting/interesting but not much more than that. Or it may be a book that could have been really good but was marred by some flaws I can't entirely get past. Or it's decent, but vaguely unsatisfying in some way.

4 stars: A good book! Not necessarily perfect, but solid. I definitely liked it, overall. It did what I wanted it to do for me, and I'm happy with it. Any flaws are things that didn't bother me too much or get in the way of me enjoying it.

4 1/2 stars: I really liked this one! It was a great reading experience! I probably feel wonderfully satisfied, and possibly a little excited about whatever I just read. The author has definitely impressed me.

5 stars: Right up there with the best books I have ever read. Probably had a profound effect on my mind or my emotions. I may feel slightly stunned after reading it, in a good way. These are often the books that make me say wow in an awed tone when I finish them. Just perfection.

All of that is super subjective, though, and I fully admit that it depends a lot on my mood and my expectations and how forgiving or how critical I'm feeling that day,

Ene 13, 9:22pm

>75 bragan:
Very similar to my descriptions of those stars. Although I think that my half stars include some public ridicule of the author. But I'm not a nice person, so there it is.

Ene 14, 8:45am

>75 bragan: OMG, that is wonderful (and that humor is very welcome).

Ene 15, 5:08pm

Lots of people have mentioned the apples to oranges conundrum of the star system. Do you have a base comparator book for a particular genre to which other books can be compared? Would such a thing be useful?

I'm also wondering about "grade inflation". Do you become more lenient of more demanding over time when awarding those stars?

Ene 15, 9:04pm

as I have gotten older I have been much stricter in my awarding of stars. I have certain expectations about my reads (flexible of course depending on the type of book) But when they are bad, I don't bothre, into the trade bag they go

Ene 21, 9:32am


Do you ever find yourself accidentally rereading a book? Maybe you just brought it home from the library, a friend lent it to you, or worse, you just bought it. A few pages in that feeling of something familiar turns into a definite "I've read this before".

Does this happen to you often? If so, do you know why? Maybe it's a particular genre.
What now? Do you finish it, scrap it, skim it or what?

image from which uses the term in a different context

Editado: Ene 21, 10:25am

>80 SassyLassy: I have twice had the experience of getting to the last page of a book and realising from the the very last line that I have read the book before! And both of those had very distinctive endings, so who knows if I've done this with other books too and not even noticed.

They were not the same genre - one was a comic thriller and the other a novel about someone trying to find his son after a war.

I have been tracking my reading on LT for years now so this is likely to happen less and less. I have sometimes realised that I have two copies of the same book (once it was three copies) but all unread.

If I realised earlier that I had read it before, would I finish it? It depends I guess - how strong a memory I have of the narrative from the last time around, how much I am enjoying it now. I don't think I would automatically stop reading if I was enjoying it.

Ene 21, 10:51am

>80 SassyLassy: It's happened twice but not recently for a couple of reasons, (1) I mostly purchase from one of my many wishlists, and (2) I check LT to make sure I don't already own or have already read.

Ene 21, 11:24am


When I first moved to NYC, post grad school for my first real job, I didn't know many people and was working long hours. Reading was a way to relax, but I couldn't focus on anything taxing. So I read a lot of mysteries. A lot. One day I was about 200ish pages into a book and there was a fairly distinctive scene/plot twist and I realized I had already read the book.

It ended up being a fairly defining moment -- I decided I wanted to go back to reading books I hadn't studied in school and searched out all sorts of reading lists 500 Great Books By Women, The New Lifetime Reading Plan, etc. And in looking for book lists I first fell into goodreads and then later LT as a way to catalog what I owned (FOUR unread copies of Gulliver's Travels!) as well as what I was reading.

And I still (once again?) don't remember the title of the book that prompted these changes.

Editado: Ene 21, 12:14pm

Tangentially relevant: As I have aged and my brain is likely affected by oral chemo drugs, my memory records a version of a book that may not mesh with the text. Rereading a book that my memory has altered is often a strange experience.

We watched The Book Shop, made from the book of the same name by Penelope Fitzgerald. The film pulled some kind of redemptive ending out of a book that, as I recall, bordered on farce until the protagonist was left absolutely destroyed by small town prejudice and class privilege. I was nauseated by the film's upbeat ending, but now I have to go back to read the book to see what was actually in it.

I have a hard time remembering character names and titles. I appreciate Kindle's little reminder, "You have previously purchased this book."

I also tend to synthesize an author's work into a single plot. For instance, all Willa Cather's novels are about an immigrant girl who becomes an opera singer in the big city and reflects on her life on her deathbed.

I am available for psychological experiments and science fairs if anyone wants to study this.

P.S. I don't think I am impaired, because I described all this relatively lucidly. Or at least it seems so to me. You be the judge ...

Ene 21, 12:15pm

>80 SassyLassy: I would say the closest I have come to unintentionally/accidentally rereading a book is when I have picked up a book where I am unsure whether or not I have read it before. Which...isn't quite the same thing, since I'm going into the book with that uncertainty in place.

There have been the occasional "this book sounds interesting! Oh, wait, it's this other book (that I already have and like) with a new title" instances, but so far that has always occurred in the investigation stage prior to acquisition.

If I were to find myself accidentally rereading a book, I would probably just continue on, provided it is a book I actually enjoyed the first time I read it, and I am in the mood to read that sort of story. Of course, I am also a consistent rereader; in any given year it is safe to say that about 20% of my reading will be rereading in some form (it's been as low as 9% and as high as 37% since I started consistently tracking my reading).

Ene 21, 12:17pm

I've only done that once -- when I read Rebecca in my late 30s. I was almost finished when I recognized it as a book I read when I was 14 because a friend was crazy about it.

Ene 21, 12:59pm


It's happened to me a few times. Most often with library books — you know that eager feeling of discovery when you see the library has a book by that author you came across by chance and liked so much, and it's only when you get it home that you realise it is the very book you liked last time...

I think it's only really with things like crime stories that I've ever got well into reading the book before realising I've read it before.

I've also fallen for the "same book, different title" thing more than once — it's a particular hazard when buying English books in the Netherlands because booksellers often have a mix of UK and US editions on their shelves.

I've also once or twice brought home the "same book, different language" without meaning to!

Having access to my LT catalogue on the go has saved me from acquiring duplicates numerous times in the past few years, although I know there are booksellers of the Shaun Bythell type who are liable to shoot customers who check their phones with a book in their hand, on suspicion of checking to see if it's cheaper on Amazon...

Ene 21, 1:16pm

I have occasionally found that I was rereading a book I had read before (more often buying a book I already own. This is usually a result of a re-issue print version with a different cover!

The most recent one that I recall was Precious and Grace, one of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency books by Alexander McCall Smith. I was about half way through the book and the scenes seemed familiar. I looked it up on LT and found that I had indeed read it. I stopped there and went on to the next book in the series.

Ene 21, 1:22pm

>84 nohrt4me2:

all Willa Cather's novels are about an immigrant girl who becomes an opera singer in the big city and reflects on her life on her deathbed.

Love this. :)

It happened once, recently. But I decided I must have entered the "date read" by mistake, since I couldn't believe I could have no recollection of having read that book (on Bruno Schulz).

So either the first or the second sentence contains an involuntary falsehood and I have no way of knowing which.

Ene 21, 6:49pm


Oh, yes... especially when I read it before in a different language and do not realize I had read it.

I do reread on purpose often (usually when working on a series I had read some of years ago) but it happens quite unintentionally often with SF and mysteries I may have read in Bulgarian/Russian more than 2 decades ago and never realized what their English title is...

I usually finish them - even if I think I know what happens, there is usually something there I had forgotten.

Although there is another category of unintentional rereads where I am pretty sure I had not read it until the very last pages when I finally remember that I had. Usually happens with mysteries, especially golden age ones - I may have forgotten the details (so the start and middle may sound familiar but unknown) but the solution had remained in my head...

Editado: Ene 21, 7:14pm

Q3, Unintentional rereading: This used to happen to me with library books. When I realized I'd read it before I would ask myself a couple of questions. Do you remember how it ends? Did you enjoy reading it before? I often reread as long as I have a positive impression of the book.

I have had this happen with a title within the past six months where I dnfd a book, then picked it up a few months later based on the description, got to a point where I realized I'd tried it before & wasn't enjoying it the 2nd time around & dnfd. But I don't remember the title, so I suppose I may do it a third time!

For whatever reason, I have not had this happen with purchases. I try not to buy unless I have concrete plans to read within the next couple of weeks. ( So I don't buy items on sale that are on my Mt TBR, unless I know I'll read them tight away. This is difficult, but is important.)

Ene 22, 4:32am

I have a Discarded collection on LT, entirely because I bought a book (based on its lovely blurb), read it, disliked it, discarded it and deleted it from LT (because that's what I was doing with discards at the time). Bought it again (possibly even the same book - it was at my library sale), read part of it (half?) and realized it was that book I hadn't liked. Discarded and deleted it. Bought it _again_ at the sale, started it, recognized it, and created the Discarded collection so this wouldn't happen again!

Twice in the last year - once this month - I've read a book, enjoyed it, counted it as a BOMB (book I've owned for at least a year and have not yet read - Book Off My Bookshelf); went to enter it on LT and found that I'd rated and reviewed it. Oh, that's annoying! I used to have an excellent memory for books, but it seems to have eroded recently. At least they were both good books, so I don't _mind_ having reread them, but still.

There was also the time I was reading one of the Gideon Oliver (Skeleton Detective) books, and thinking that he'd gotten very formulaic - I was recognizing large bits. I finally realized (actually, I think I found my review on that one too) that I'd read this one before. Still, he is highly formulaic these days - so that despite the interesting setting (Gibraltar) I hadn't recognized it in full. I stopped reading the series after that, they're not interesting enough to read the same story in different places. I do reread the early ones in the series, though.

So yes, I've done accidental rereads. I try to avoid them, though, they're annoying at best (mostly because I have as a major goal in my reading, for the last several years, to reduce my BOMB collection). I tend to react to the book as I did the first time; if I disliked or hated it, I'll stop where I realize the problem; if I enjoyed it or was mostly neutral, I'll usually finish it (I finished the Skeleton Detective book, but it wasn't as good the second time). I'm unlikely to skim unless I somehow realize I had read it before but can't remember what I thought of it.

Ene 22, 6:20am

Q3, Unintentional rereading
On rare occasion, I might pick up a book I think I've not read, and start to reread before I realize it is familiar. But, after fourteen years of LibraryThing, it's more likely that I read a long review of the book here and this is what is giving me déjà vu. And here, my friends, I admit to skimming your long reviews—of books I have not read—which lay out the plot in too great a detail (but then you are in good company, as I do the same to the NY Times reviews and others).

But then, as noted by others, for some of us (apologies to Emily Dickinson), memory is also a thing with feathers but it perches in the brain, and often sings out-of-tune and or doesn't sing at all.

Editado: Ene 22, 8:31am

Q3 usually not -- but just recently ona course in philosophy we were directed to a book by Camus that when I started it I think I must have read some of when I did my philosophy 101. I'd entirely forgotten.

Ene 22, 9:36am

No, generally I have a pretty good memory for knowing that I've read a book before from the title. The only exception is that as a student a picked up a Jane Austen book when I was staying with a friend for a few days and for the life of me I have no idea what it was. I suspect it might have been Sense and Sensibility, but it quite possibly also could have been Emma.

Ene 22, 11:25am

>95 AlisonY: Haha! I picked up a Jane Austen book when I was staying with a friend for a few days and for the life of me I have no idea what it was.

I bet it went something like this: Two young women are in the marriage market. One doesn't have much money. The other has an awful family. Some handsome rich boys come along. One is a charming rake. The other one is an uptight and repressed man of feeling. Someone plays the piano after dinner, and the local clergyman makes an ass of himself.

Ene 22, 12:43pm

Q3: Unintentional rereading

I have unintentionally re-bought, but I don't think I've ever reread. Titles and authors are one of the few areas I have a very good recall for (and very little else in life, unfortunately). The closest I get to that sensation is when I read a short fiction collection and partway through a story realize that I've read it as a standalone... somewhere, in some literary magazine or other. And sometimes it takes me a while to figure that out, too—it feels more like a general sense of deja vu until it finally clicks that yes, I read it before at some point.

Ene 22, 2:40pm

>97 lisapeet: Oh dear, short stories, that’s a league apart when it comes to unintentional re-reads. So often you come across them in different contexts and can’t work out where you’ve met them before. (That happens to me with people as well sometimes, though...)

Ene 22, 2:43pm

>96 nohrt4me2: Exactly! Well, you can see my dilemma trying to figure out what one it was...

Ene 24, 10:38am

>80 SassyLassy: That happened to me once with one of Wodehouse's Jeeves & Wooster novels. It turned out I already owned the novel in question, but it was as part of an omnibus volume, and that's why I didn't notice the duplication in my catalog. It took me a while to be sure I'd already read, it, though, because the Jeeves & Wooster books are all kind of the same anyway (in the most delightful way!). But eventually the sense of deja vu got strong enough that I finally went and checked. I can't remember if I stopped at that point or not, but I think I did. Not that Wodehouse isn't re-readable, but that deja vu feeling had gotten very distracting.

Ene 24, 1:06pm

I forgot I read The Little Prince a year or two ago and had forgotten I'd read it as a kid (so strange, how could I, I loved it at the time)

Ene 24, 3:06pm

Mmm thought I posted my response. I don't do it as much as I used to; and if I do, theres an easy solution- bring it back to seller for something else. The ones here have no trouble doing that. and amazon will even take books bought by mistake

>101 tonikat: With very few exceptions I have not re read books I loved as a kid. I may have collected the books which I treasure, but I don't think I could bear reading them with adult eyes. Little Prince is one I am sure I would not like near as much as I did.

Ene 24, 3:20pm

>102 cindydavid4: I'm very glad I did.

Ene 25, 12:27am

so am I! But I want to keep my memories from being too shot. If that makes any sense.

Ene 25, 11:25am

>104 cindydavid4: It does make sense to me. I have fond memories of childhood books, and often they are not as much fun seen through adult eyes. I do not want to have that feeling of "You mean I actually liked this book?"

Ene 25, 1:39pm

>104 cindydavid4: just saw this, it does make sense in a way. For me it was a delightful surprise to find it again and reconnect. I usedd to think i would leave a book by an author i was liking alone, so i would have to it read when older - but yes, sadly, as for most of us I might as well have read them all as they are fresh again when i reread them anyway. It's not even that i don't remember them, but for the best it doesn't matter. And I also think that if the goodness coems just from them (which it don't) then I can trust to have a taste of it again, at least a reminder. But I am not you. Best wishes for your reading jounreys.

Editado: Ene 25, 2:10pm

>84 nohrt4me2: >96 nohrt4me2: love these Cather and Austen summaries.


seems unlikely for me as I’ve been keeping track for most of my reading life. Although actually I remember when reading To Kill A Mockingbird a few years ago (um, 2009), I couldn’t figure out if i had read it before or had just seen the movie several times.

Ene 25, 3:28pm

>106 tonikat: There were some books I read in jr high, and reread with fresh eyes Kim is the best example of that; so much about the book was lost on me, I was just enthralled with the colors and all that make up the Indian culture. As an adult I picked up much more about the game and other themes. Read The LIttle Prince about the same time and reread it later in college and I still have good memories of it.

Ene 25, 3:30pm

>107 dchaikin: see this is where I have a problem - I try to read books before I see a movie; My brain makes my own movie with the images that appear as I read. After I see the movie, I am liable to forget whether or not a scene happened that way or is the ending the same and get really confused by what I read and what I saw

Ene 27, 2:42pm

>83 ELiz_M: I like that project.

So many recognizable situations in these responses. A few comments from my accidental rereading, which I usually enjoy, although I am bothered when I purchase a book only to find I already have it under a different title.

>97 lisapeet: >98 thorold: How true about short stories. Most of the time I'm happy to read them again though once I clue into the fact that I read them before. However, one of my favourites, which I would love to read again, was by T C Boyle, someone with many anthologies, but somehow this story from the The Atlantic never seems to have been published elsewhere. Not giving anything away, but it concerns a forest fire spotter in his tower.

>88 LadyoftheLodge: >100 bragan: Books in a long series are probably tougher when it comes to realizing they've been read before, but there is recognition here.

>102 cindydavid4: Returned books explains a lot - I haven't encountered a situation where you can actually do that, but it does explain why some supposed "new" amazon books feel as if someone has opened them before you.

Here is another aspect a possible accidental reread, alluded to poetically by >93 avaland: and others - is the book in question as you remembered it

Editado: Feb 3, 9:58am

This question came from Markon and discussions on other threads.

image from Wright Public Library

QUESTION 4 Book Clubs in Real Life

Are you involved in a book club? If so, how does it work: book selection, discussions, meeting place, and any rules there may be? Are you generally happy with it?

If you're not involved with a reading group, do you stay as far away as you can, just feel indifferent, or don't have the opportunity?


edited as previous image disappeared

Editado: Ene 28, 11:20am

For many years these groups were how I learned about new books and new to me authors, long before the net. Ive been involved in these all my adult life. First through the clubs at the box stores, ie Borders, Barnes and Nobel, till they got too big for my taste (which is 12 or less) then in indie stores where I meet on zoom for Modern Fiction and Sci Fi Fantasy groups, once per month. Now and again a group from work or neighborhood would meet, thill those turned into gossip and venting more than books.

Both I am in have a very large membership, but usually only about 6-12 regulars. We meet monthly In the Modern Fiction we choose books once a year. We all choose two books that are written in the last 10 years (with some exceptions), given a list of all titles suggestee and then vote on them; top 12 books get picked. (Before hand someone checks to see when they are out in paper back, and if the bookstore is able to order them) The person who choose it leads the group. We are pretty loosey goosey on how we do the discussion nothing in order, no reading guide questions. At the end we rank how we feel about the book 1-5 stars, 5 being highest, and you can give a half star. Then the scores are added and averaged. This group has been around almost as long as the bookstore (25 years) and we've kept a list of what we read and a list of boks by ranking. Interesting to go back

Sci Fi is a little different, we choose books over the quarter, one night people toss out ideas and decide what would be next. Only rules include trying to keep selections diverse esp woman authors and POC, and rotate between sci fi, fantasy and classic. Works pretty well. We do spend about half our time digressing, but these folk are tons of fun and its always a good laugh, along with a good discussion. In december we have a book exchange

I have tried book groups through Meet Up, where one the leader read the reader guide questions and we each responded to each one before going to the next. I left quite early from that one!

Editado: Ene 28, 12:08pm

Q4: Book-clubs

Mine arose fairly spontaneously out of coffee-break discussions at work, and it's really just a broad general agreement between a small group of friends to read the same book and then have a social event during which we try to remember to talk about it. So there's a lot of cat-herding involved and meetings frequently get postponed because we haven't all finished the book yet. But it's been going for many years, with minor changes in membership. At present we're a core group of six with two or three others who occasionally join in, if a book happens to interest them (or we co-opt them for their expertise). And we cover a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds, so discussions can go off in unexpected directions.

We try to pick books that reflect the diversity of the group, at least geographically, with a preference for books that have Italian, Spanish and Turkish translations available (although we can all read English or Dutch if the first-choice language isn't available). There's no fixed procedure, but what usually seems to happen is that two or three members suggest books they've heard about and are curious to read. We eliminate any that some of us have already read, and then either vote or more often pick randomly.

There's no fixed schedule, but we tend to read about six books a year, sometimes a few more. Most often we meet over a meal in a restaurant or someone's home; over the last year that mostly hasn't been possible, so we've had Zoom meetings and a couple of socially-distanced picnic brunches in the park. For a while we had a weekly Zoom meeting to talk about a short story instead of choosing a full-length novel, which seemed to work quite well but became tricky to schedule.

The current book is The bridge on the Drina, which we'll probably be discussing by Zoom next week.

As far as I'm concerned, it's a useful pretext for getting together regularly with a group of good friends, and it's a bonus that we can talk about books. It's not at the core of my reading experience, but it does occasionally make me read something I wouldn't otherwise have got to.

Ene 28, 12:04pm

I do not belong to any book clubs now because of lack of opportunity. (LT is my book club!) I do not live near a bookstore (sadly), and I am not interested in Zoom book club meetings.

In the past, I organized and chaired a book club of teachers with whom I worked. We met monthly for about two years. We selected books for several months at a time--usually members would bring suggested books to our meetings, and we would pass them around and then vote. Our meetings always included food, and we would meet at a coffee shop or at a group member's home.

The best meetings we had were over dinner at a member's home, or at the Barnes and Noble--they did not care how long we stayed in their coffee shop, they supplied us with water and got to know us and would order titles for us, and of course we always bought food and coffee and books! Sometimes we would fan out into the store to find suggested titles, and then meet back in the coffee shop at a designated time to share our finds. They were good times, and I enjoyed the intelligent and exhilarating conversations that were not related to our jobs.

In library school, I took a seminar course on YA books, and that was like a book club--small group, all women, and we each got a turn to choose books for the group and lead the discussion, based on themes from a list provided by the prof.

Ene 28, 12:13pm

>113 thorold: Hmm — meeting in a bookshop — sounds fun, but potentially expensive!

Editado: Ene 28, 2:13pm

I am not in a book group. It's my weird psychology, I suppose. I'm uncomfortable in groups unless I'm doing something. I have an English degree so did survive classes once upon a time. But, as noted below, there have been circumstances I can be part of a book group.

That said, in my roughly 10-year stint at the bookstore I started and facilitated a number of book groups (my job morphed quickly into being the events coordination/publicity...etc because talents were wasted behind a cash register). I started groups to, well, pull in more people into the store. My job with the groups varied, in some I was facilitator (keeping the conversation going, suggesting possible books...etc) in others, just the store contact. And people were happy to come to a neutral space and talk books. I loved making that happen, because I loved books & reading, too. I also liked to come up with clever extra stuff, like book-related refreshments (credit for this idea goes to my Shakespeare professor who had a party last class and we all had to bring "pedagogically-related" refreshments), and got the store to give book discounts to members.

My first creation was a science fiction/fantasy group (I was reading a fair bit of SF at that time). By the third month the first four members decided to just meet and discuss what we individually were reading rather than reading the same book (not unlike what Club Read offers, eh?). At its height there was more than 20 regulars. Most notable discussion was probably around Stephenson's Cryptonomicon, some of the gals took up the challenge to see if it was a 'guy book'. They read the book, weren't terribly impressed, and the guys spent quite a bit of time trying to convince the women otherwise. ha ha. And because we had this large book group we were able to get lots of notable SF&F authors to come to the store (Card, Jordan, Goodkind, Mieville, VanderMeer, Crowley, Bova, Sawyer, DeLint....) The group is still going now, 23 years later, with a small core group (the hubby is in it, all Zoom currently).

I set up two fun Jane Austen-themed book clubs one after the other, the 2nd of which later morphed into "The Classics Group." At one point I set up an event for a Regency dance instructor to come and teach a dance in the long middle aisle of the bookstore. Unfortunately, we had to cancel, I forget why now (hubby & I awkwardly tried Regency dance at one of the SF conventions we went to and this is where the idea came from) Sometimes when the groups were functioning well, I would hand them off and work on some of the other ideas in my head.

We also did a kntting & books social group, which I called: "Eats, Knits and Leaves". The bookstore has moved twice since then, so I'm not sure they still meet.

Now you understand why a Random House sales rep referred me to this new thing called LibraryThing in 2006 when I was thinking of leaving the bookstore because of a knee injury. She thought it would help me to adjust. LOL. (She went off to start a bookstore in Brooklyn and it is still there)

Ene 28, 2:23pm

We had a faculty book club, but everyone ignored the books and talked about golf or showed photos of their kids. I would love a sci fi book club. I need to be around more young people.

Ene 28, 3:10pm

I love the idea of a book club, but find that in practice I want to read what I want to read, and have difficulty committing to a book a month that someone else choses, even if it's people I know.

Having said that I do try to participate peridoically in online discussions on Goodreads (MENA, Great African Reads, Literary fiction by POC, and Women of the future). These are great resources for my TBR, but the discussions aren't as in depth as I'd like. I haven't tried Zoom book clubs.

I'm currently experimenting with the silent book club concept, where we meet online, share what book we're reading, read together silently for an hour, then have a short book chat. This is probably about as committed as I'm likely to get.

Editado: Ene 28, 3:21pm

>117 nohrt4me2: You might want to check out Women of the future on Goodreads. This group reads science fiction by women. The only drawback is your profile has to have your birthdate available (so the group knows you're of an age to discuss mature content I assume, which most likely means sex and gender.) And, of course, it isn't an in person group. But there are people there who are younger.

Ene 28, 3:28pm

>118 markon: I think the Zoom clubs are adaptation to current times, perhaps not a permanent thing....

Ene 28, 3:32pm

>111 SassyLassy: QUESTION 4 Book Clubs in Real Life

I've never been part of one. I never really looked for one either - the whole process just never appealed to me - I don't think I really talked about books with strangers before I joined LT. It is not that I will need to read books I do not choose (I like that aspect) - I am not sure why the whole format just sounds weird to me... I am not the most social person in person so that may have a lot to do with it...

Ene 28, 3:43pm

Q4: Book Clubs

I am currently a member of one book group that meets in person, and in general I am happy with it. We've been meeting since 2006, and typically read eight books a year. Since many of our members have school-age children, our book group year is synchronized with the school year. Our September meetings are a general "what we've been reading lately" type thing, with no chosen book for discussion. We also take December, July, and August off (holidays and family vacations). Book selection is done and published months in advance, with members suggesting potential titles. The public library has a program for book groups where they can get multiple copies of a book for the group via inter-library loan, so we focused our book selection on titles that could be obtained in that way. We don't require people to have read the book to come to our meetings, but the discussions are always more interesting when most of the people have read the book.

Now, 2020 did create quite a few changes to our normal method of doing things. Libraries were closed, so we started focusing on works that were in the public domain for ease of access. We also moved most of our meetings to Zoom, and we introduced more theme/topic discussions. And our schedule seems to have gone back to a more traditional calendar setup, at least at present. We currently have the first half of 2021 planned, with three books and three topic discussions (alternating months). This has also changed who runs the discussions; previously, whoever was hosting that month's meeting was also the discussion lead. Now it's a bit more of a free-for-all.

Ene 28, 6:56pm

The best group I was ever in was a group started by one of our neighbors, who invited others. We didn't choose books, we choose themes - so one month we all read a biography, and talked about what we read as a group. Another month we chose a classic, or sci fi, or adventure etc. Was really fun because yu got a sampling of many books that I might want to read, Lasted about a year then people's schedules and lives changed. But I remember it was such an unusual way to run a group

Ene 28, 7:24pm

I've been in three book clubs, two at different times when I was living in Munich and I'm currently in one here in Greenville, SC. Once I got over the fact that the conversation was only briefly about the book and that it was more a reason to schedule in a change to drink a glass of wine and chat, I enjoyed it a great deal more.

The book club I'm currently in is run by my local independent. I was in their Southern Lit book club, but it got too large to be enjoyable, so now I'm part of a smaller group that bases each half year's reading on a location. This time we're doing the Caribbean and last time was London. There's usually one book that annoys me for being too silly and light for a book club and one book, usually a shorter local classic, that I had never heard of and that I'm glad to have been introduced to. It's enjoyable as an evening with a small group of people who would not otherwise spend time together and we've gotten to know each other fairly well over time.

Ene 29, 8:33am

I’ve been in a book club for over 20 years. It was set up in 2000 by members of the local NCT (National Childbirth Trust) group, so everyone at the start had youngish children, although it outgrew that a long time ago. I’ve been a member since the second meeting, and we’ve got five other members who’ve been there since the start. The membership is usually about 10-12 although it fluctuates over the years. My husband is the only male member of the group, and has been ever since he joined about 18 years ago. We each take turns to pick a book, the only rules are that it has to be in print and available in paperback. Over the last five or six years we’ve also started reading the shortlist of one of the main literary prizes, we started off doing the Booker and for the last couple of years we’ve read the Costa novel shortlist.

Ene 29, 11:00am

Q4 Bookclubs

I'm in a bookclub run by the owner of my favourite bookshop. It's been going since 2013 (though I missed about a year or so) and we meet monthly except in January.

We read primarily scifi, fantasy, and spec fic and the bookshop owner chooses the books, though he chooses ones that we can easily source (i.e. doesn't require we buy them from him) and that are in paperback (so they're not too expensive) plus offers a discount. He chooses a good variety of classic (e.g. last book was We by Yevgeny Zamyatin) and contemporary (e.g. current book is A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine).

What I like about it is that (unlike bookclubs with friends) we spend the whole time talking about the book. I also like that the group is quite diverse and so I hear perspectives that can change the way I think about what I've read.

Ene 29, 2:27pm

I've never been in a book group, would probably enjoy one that worked for me somehow. I am a bit unsure of the potential for some choices I'd not be interested in, but it coudl also be good. Social interaction around books is usually good and interesting.

I ahve done some classes though that I've really enjoyed, when i don't get in my own way, and some of them reopened me in a way to reading seriously (I'd never ever have thought of trying to read all a authors novels in a summer for myself). It'd be nice to think they can return in some form.

Ene 29, 3:49pm

I've tried book groups in various formats, but it just never worked for me. I have a stubborn reading brain, and if I'm "supposed" to read a book, it wants to read _anything_ else. (Yes, I had trouble in school, too). So going to meeting after meeting not having more than started the book gets really boring (for me and everyone else).

Ene 30, 10:32pm

>118 markon: I love the silent book club concept! I think that's the only kind of book club I'd be remotely interested in. I'd rather read than sit around talking to people, any day. Even about books. :)

Ene 31, 8:52am


I resisted joining a book club for the longest time—hearing other people's descriptions of "wine club," or talking about putting together a big dinner for ten people or no one actually talking about the book. I had a great experience with a book-adjacent club in my 20s, in the '80s—we were a bunch of women, originally from college with lots of adjacent friends, who got together a few times a month and talked about art exhibits and books and did art projects, like working with residents of a local nursing home and putting together a show of their art. We had a rotating membership of about 25? and a xeroxed newsletter and everything, and we were called Broadcast. Just seeing that name gives me a happy feeling—we kept it up for years, until we started moving out of NYC, having kids (though I can still remember bringing my son as a baby, sitting crosslegged on the floor and nursing him while we talked, and making all the smokers move to one end of the room).

In the past couple of years I've joined two, though. One is a nineish-member feminist book club that my friend Heather (an original Broadcast member) started a couple of years ago—people she knows from work and her/our general circle of friends. We generally pick a book by consensus—we'll do a google poll of the contenders. And we keep in touch via email, talking about what we're reading, what art we're seeing, our political actions (those last two already feel like a million years ago). And we'd bring postcards to meetings to write our elected officials. We obviously haven't gotten together in almost a year—we had a meeting scheduled for late March 2020 that we had to cancel—and have done a couple of zoom meetings, but I don't think people's hearts are in that format. I expect we'll get together again as soon as we can in person, because it was a fun group and I think we all enjoyed it.

And then there's one book club that's started since the pandemic, the Iris Murdoch Fan Girls Book Club, which is a circle of nine longtime—like 15 years—online friends. We started out reading Iris Murdoch and have moved on to Muriel Spark and Sylvia Townshend Warner—we're all sarcastic middle-aged broads, and we're having a lot of fun with the authors we pick. We just decide at the end of each meeting what we'll read next by consensus—smart, arch novels with nuns in them seem to get a lot of play. Even after the pandemic is over we'll keep meeting by zoom, I'm sure, since we're spread out all across the country.

I really like both of them—the people rock, and I like what we're reading. I hope they keep on for the foreseeable future.

Ene 31, 11:03am

I love the idea of being on a book club. I mean, what could be a more apt way to while away some free time hours when you love books? But no.... CR is as close as I've got.

My reasons are pretty similar to others here who have also not joined any. First and foremost I have a fear of being obliged to read the kind of fiction I have no interest in, to the detriment of my own precious reading time. And then having to chat about it on top - eugh.

Secondly, I'm not really a 'group' person. In fact, there's something about them that makes me quite anxious. I enjoy good craic and conversation with small numbers of people I know well and whose company I enjoy, but I actively avoid bigger group events if I possibly can. At school I preferred to have a small number of really good friends than being part of bigger group of people whose friendship may not be as genuine, and that group avoidance has really stuck with me in life.

I'm an extrovert introvert, probably more extrovert than anything when I'm with people I know well, but I disappear right into my introverted shyer self when I'm forced into a group of strangers or people I don't know that well. I can definitely make the effort to get over that if I have to, but I feel too old to be bothered these days. And if there are one or two particularly gobby people dominating the conversation, well - definitely forget it.

I feel like I'm giving myself therapy here and I'm not coming out if it in a very good light! I don't think I'm overly odd - at least I hope not. But I've often said to my husband that if I was forced to go on a reality TV show like Big Brother I'd be the first one voted out as I'd find it impossible to quickly become pally with a group of complete strangers. I'm a slow burner with people.

Jeez Alison, the question was only about book clubs. You can get off the therapist's couch now.

Ene 31, 11:22am


I've never been in a book club. I have so many books I want to read that I don't like the idea of taking time from those to read an "assigned" book. LT scratches the "talk about books" itch.

However, I do occasionally read a book with a group of neighborhood friends. This happens spontaneously - we will be having a conversation about a book we're reading or thinking about reading and everyone will decide to read it at roughly the same time. Then we discuss whenever we see each other (which is often as we all have kids the same age that play together). I'd say it's only about twice a year that we do this.

I also started trying, about 2-3 years ago, to read new books that have a lot of buzz. I have several friends at work who also read the new release books and that offers opportunity for off the cuff book discussion. This has also been enjoyable and I'm no longer the one who reads all those "old books". :-)

Ene 31, 11:32am

>131 AlisonY: You can get off the therapist's couch now. Hee.

Groups often reveal things about ourselves that we've conveniently left out of our highly idealized images of ourselves. No less so a book group.

I often forget how bossy and impatient I am until I'm in a group setting. If/when the pandemic lifts and we can start freely socializing again, I will have to ease back into it because all this self-directed alone time is going to make it hard not to feel other people are intruding.

Feb 1, 6:21am

>132 japaul22:
I've never been in a book club. I have so many books I want to read that I don't like the idea of taking time from those to read an "assigned" book. LT scratches the "talk about books" itch.
Well said!

Feb 2, 9:13am

I have only been in one book club and ended up being secretary - that tends to happen to me. It is now defunct because of people moving away and I have not had the energy to go on a recruitment drive. I have managed a virtual wine tasting, but virtual book clubs have not been top of the list.

From my experience a book clubs is as good as the members which it attracts. We were fortunate in having a mixed nationality book club (although we read in English) and so had a variety of views and opinions. The sex balance was usually fairly equal and we talked long and hard about the books and only when we were finished did we get onto the cakes and wine. We usually read two books over a six week period which was about right: one of the books would be classic and the other more contemporary.

If you enjoy books and other peoples opinions then book club meetings can be something to look forward to, especially if the members are not usually in your social circle. There are of course some issues. Its good to have a peacemaker for the more lively discussions and you may end up reading a lot of books that don't really interest you, but then you don't have to go to all the meetings. Our numbers ranged from two (when it was my turn to chose the books) to twelve, but it was usually about 7 or 8. I don't see myself rushing to join or to revive my book club anytime soon because of covid 19 or whatever the variant is now. I know of a french reading club in my village who sound me out from time to time, but I have hesitated, wondering if I could cope and being frightened of being persuaded to be secretary.

Editado: Feb 3, 1:35am

Book clubs . . . I've been in my book club since around 2003, and I joined LT in 2008, so I'm sure I've described it too many times. We are structured differently from most other book clubs I hear about and it seems to work for us. I just wanted to say that we went online in spring 2020, and I actually really like it. Mostly because there is no driving involved, and all the fuss of having people over. We do our own wine--or not, and our own snacks--or not. Mostly I like to be able to do book club without driving 35 km (sometimes) on dark winter nights (sometimes).

Also, we all vote on the books, so even when books come up that I don't want to read, most members DO want to read it. There's always book discussion. I left for a year or so in 2017, but I'm happy that I went back.

Editado: Feb 3, 3:21pm

My three book club experiences have each differed from the others.

In university I was the only lowly undergraduate student in a book club with a group of female professors from several countries. It was competitive and challenging, and I loved it. We met in each other's houses. Depending on whose house, there may or may not have been anything to eat or drink; some of the members scorning such hospitality as a remnant of the old patriarchal social order which forced women into menial roles. Myself, at my house there were always goodies to eat and drink, as I believed it was part of the culture of where we lived, and besides, who can resist a good scoff?

Years later, in a completely different part of Canada, I joined a low energy terrible book club, which had initially had some interest in actual books. Like >136 Nickelini:, the idea of driving 35 km each way on dark snowy nights soon paled when the actual book discussion amounted to variations of "It was a good book", or worse, "I didn't read it, but just wanted to see everyone". I didn't stay with them for long. The biggest complaint was one voiced by many above: wasting time reading books in which I had no interest, made all the worse by the complete lack of discussion.

Back on the east coast again, my current book club I quite like. It is held monthly in the library in winter. Each spring we draw up a list of books fitting defined categories: poetry, play, Canadian fiction, classic, nonfiction, international, science, current fiction, and so on. We then vote in each category for the books we will read the following year (September through August). The person who first put forward the title leads that month's discussion. Our December meeting is devoted to each person reviewing their favourite fiction and nonfiction book of the year outside the books read for the club. Since this one is held in a house, we then have Christmas goodies to follow. Summer meetings are also held in a house or on a deck. The book selection process ensures a wide enough variety of books to ensure there will be something of interest throughout the year. In the three years I have been with this group, I have read and enjoyed books I would never have thought of reading otherwise, and have only encountered one real dog.

>131 AlisonY: I suspect you have quite a few kindred spirits here! You can see where the type of book club in >118 markon: gains in popularity.

Feb 3, 9:54am


So here's another part of the book club world. Do you actually see the members of your club outside the meetings, or are they a sort of world apart, only seen at meetings, no matter how sympatico you may find them otherwise?

Do you think you need a book club more in the current circumstances, when talking with a real person is such a treat?

Finally, how did you join your book club: did you set it up like the redoubtable >116 avaland:, were you invited, or was it part of another group you were in?

Editado: Feb 3, 3:02pm

Book clubs:

I've written about this, I think, on my own CR thread, because I joined my first book club ever (I am 65) just over a month ago. I've always joked that I could only be in a book club if I were able to pick the books every month. However, with Covid abroad in the land and social isolation a major deal for most of my peers (Did I mention that I am 65?), I decided the time was definitely not ripe for turning down the invitation to a reading group. These are mostly guys I know and would generally be socializing with, so, if nothing else, it's good to have an excuse to see their ugly mugs on my computer screen once a month. I live in a very small rural community in Northern California, in which there is a women-only reading group of long standing (20 years at least) with a rather ribald name. Most of the men in my new group are married to members of that group and we have adopted one or two of their general guidelines.

We rotate selection of reading material each month. Since the fellow who picked our first book last month is named Bill, we decided we might just as well go in alphabetical order by first name.

So far, the way it's worked is that at the end of one meeting, the person who's up next presents two or three possibilities and then the group reaches consensus on which of those to select.

One rule that has worked well for the women's group is that the person selecting the book must have already read his suggestion(s), and we have adopted that one. This prevents us from picking a book currently going the national hoopla circuit that ends up being disappointing to everyone. We know for sure that at least one person in the group actually likes the selected book.

I think this takes in the original question and most of the follow-up question in >138 SassyLassy:.

Feb 3, 2:51pm

Book Club Questions (Cont)

The book group I mentioned in >122 shadrach_anki: started as a social group for women in the congregation of the church I attend, so there was and is a lot of "outside book group" interaction between the members. I was initially invited to attend by my mother (our congregations are geographically and semi-demographically organized, and at the time this group was formed I was attending the local congregation for young single adults rather than the family congregation), and for several years my attendance was rather spotty, but at this point I am something of the group historian, maintaining the list of books we have read and taking notes of titles discussed at our more free-form meetings.

I have actually expanded my bookish discussion circle quite a bit in the past year, joining a whole bunch of different online groups, mostly organized through Instagram. Some of these groups form to discuss a particular title or series, while others are more general in scope. Some of them are text-based discussions only, while others have included Zoom chats, so there's a bit of an odd blending of remote and in person going on. Mostly because, even when I've seen these people (Instagram pictures, Zoom chats), I have yet to actually meet any of them in person.

Feb 3, 5:35pm

To the original book club question, I’ve had a couple failures with book clubs. Once trying a with friends where I discovered people have a really strong reading opinions in strange ways (myself included). We didn’t make it through one book. Later I looked for neighbor book clubs and discovered they were mom-only. Later I had one good experience with a book club through my synagogue. Usual issues applied - too many junky books and limited conversations. And all women, except me. But it was fun and we pulled in two authors who were members to speak with us (and read one of their books.)

Anyway, my only take home is that real life book clubs aren’t easy to make work and be fun. Happy for those of you who found good experiences.

(PS a friend made me jealous years ago when her bookclub would meet for a meal themed on the book they were reading. (I was also jealous they were in San Francisco.) That always sounded wonderful to me.)

Feb 3, 9:33pm

>141 dchaikin: (PS a friend made me jealous years ago when her bookclub would meet for a meal themed on the book they were reading. (I was also jealous they were in San Francisco.) That always sounded wonderful to me.)

I agree. That would be amazing.

Feb 4, 8:22am

I've (off and on) been a member of a bookclub that started in Sep. 2003. It is loosely a group of alumni from my small liberal arts college. So, the participants range in ages (from a woman in her 80s) to fairly recent graduates. (It broke my heart when recent grad recommended we read a classic -- A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; I am getting old). We've also had a regular member who is a parent of an alum and an occasional spouse of an alum. While mostly women, generally there are a couple of men. We even had a republican member. There is a core group of people that have been members for many, many years (three of us were at the very first meeting).

Over the years, the book choices have been rather eclectic and only a few stinkers among them, perhaps due to a couple of odd traditions. We alternate fiction and nonfiction and have a convoluted book nomination and voting process (at least two rounds of voting, first round every one votes for several books and the next round(s) is a runoff for the leading contenders). We can be snobby -- when The Da Vinci Code was all the rage, we decided to read it -- not as the official selection and not as a book, but rather to discuss the phenomena. We've had at least four authors at meetings (two of whom went on to win major literary prizes after attending our bookclub).

We always meet at someone's house (well until Mar. 2020, of course) for a pot-luck dinner and discussion. In the summer, there usually one meeting on a weekend outside of NYC. This is usually a longer event (for many years it was a beer-can chicken in NJ. More recently there is a couple with a house upstate that has a lovely outdoor pool). We even once held a meeting in the apartment of someone who was out of town.

Usually there is about 30 minutes of socializing/eating and hour to 90 minutes of book discussion followed by 30 minutes of selecting the book for the meeting in two months (fiction book discussions always choose the next fiction book).

Since we've been meeting more or less monthly for years, there is some socializing outside the group. I've attended a NYE party, one wedding re-committment and one funeral. I've had a half dozen bookclub members as guests to performances at my workplace and others have gotten together to attend plays or museums or just general socializing.

Feb 5, 12:02pm

>138 SassyLassy: A book club consisting of English speakers in France and in a sparsely populated area of the country meant that I often bumped into people in the book club, sometimes at social events. One of our participants was going through a fairly acrimonious divorce with someone who I knew outside of the book club and when I got an invite to a party organised by him I had to confess that I had already been in his house for a book club meeting organised by his ex. Knowing both of them separately I could never understand how they had got together in the first place, but life is full of such mysteries.

I joined a book club following a sort of local advert and found that I was the only male - however as time went on I managed to interest other men to join and eventually we had a balance.

Feb 7, 9:55am

This question was suggested by nickelini, and opened a whole new world to me.

image from Aldus


Do you use BookTube? What is it about it that appeals to you or appals you?
Who do you follow there for podcasts, shelfies, discussions and anything else?
What have you found there that you wouldn't have discovered elsewhere?
You can even tell us how much time you spend wandering down rabbit holes.

Editado: Feb 7, 10:19am

What? Another place to waste my time, um I mean to explore books??? Ive not heard of it - off to find out more (to my probable future regret)

ETA well despite the fact that they make this online book thing sound brand new (um RL F2Fs since 2000 anyone?) it does sound like a place to look through, see if any of it is different enough from what I am doing re my book habit. Mmmmm wonder if they have a collectors site?

Feb 7, 10:27am

Oh wait, you have to make videos? this might not be for me....

Feb 7, 10:52am

Q. 5 Book Tube: I'm aware it's out there, but haven't watched. I've got enough book related social media already. Interested to hear from people who do watch it post though?

Editado: Feb 7, 1:24pm

>145 SassyLassy: Honestly, I'd never heard of it until I saw your post. It looks/sounds interesting, but I will probably stay away from it, simply as per Ardene's comment in >148 markon:. Already up to my eyeball's in online stuff.

Feb 7, 12:51pm

I haven't dipped into BookTube, really. I do like virtual author talks and panels, but find those through notifications from bookstores, publishers, libraries, blogs, friends, and literary organizations rather than that particular community. Ditto for literary podcasts, which I listen to pretty often. But having limited time as it is I stick with those avenues of discovery, and have so far avoided BookTube, Bookstagram, and Litsy.

Feb 7, 1:12pm

Honestly, I’m hoping the answers will tell me about BookTube. I don’t know anything about it.

>150 lisapeet: awe. You might like Litsy.

Feb 7, 2:17pm

Like everyone else, never heard of it.

But I am aware of that great principle of social media that states that when you first come across it you will be baffled about why anyone could possibly need it; six months later you’ll be spending every waking hour there; and two years after that you will have forgotten that it ever existed.

Feb 7, 2:37pm

Q 5 - BookTube

Before I got into BookTube, I listened to book podcasts. I usually found them by searchig a book title in my podcast app. This is how I discovered BBC Radio4 Bookclub, BBC Work Book Club, CBC Radio Writers & Company (this one I'd heard on radio), What Should I Read Next?, UNspoiled!, Slate Audio Book Club, and my two favourites: Overdue and The Readers. I was sad when Simon Savage and Thomas Hogglestock quit doing The Readers, but I followed Savage over to YouTube and that's how I got into BookTube.

Simon at Savage Reads has similar taste in books to me-- if he describes a book that I find interesting and I track it down, I'm never disappointed. My other favourite BookTuber is Jen Campbell, who also has great book recommendations. These two are both involved in the bookish community in the UK (Simon Savage was a judge for the recent Costa Award, for example). I also like how they are consistent with showing the book and listing the books they talk about in each video. I don't actually sit and watch these videos as much as have them on in the background while I'm doing other things and when I hear something particularly interesting I'll stop and watch for a bit. I have to say that these two have increased my TBR pile more than any other source. If you're trying to descrease your TBR pile, stay away from BookTube.

I'm trying to expand my list of people to listen to but I find too many BookTubers talk an awful lot without saying much. And there are a whole group who only talk about fantasy YA series. I guess that's the answer to what appals me.

As for shelfies, I usually find those here at LT! And also on Instagram (Bookstagram). There I mostly follow publisher's but I also love Charlie Edwards-Freshwater's gorgeous account thebookboy

I'm looking for new suggestions for bookish podcasts, YouTube and Instagram, so if you know some good ones, please share.

Feb 7, 2:41pm

>147 cindydavid4: Oh wait, you have to make videos? this might not be for me....

No you don't have to make videos. Personally, I just watch or listen to videos and I have no intentions of ever starting my own channel. My Instagram account is going more Bookstagram though since I don't have any vacations photos to post these days. Now it's books and food.

Feb 7, 2:57pm

We both admit to not knowing anything about BookTube. I can see the appeal of course.

I still occasionally buy audio books. Alan Rickman reading Hardy is difficult to exercise to.... I usually listen to public radio or an audio book when I'm sewing.

Feb 7, 10:51pm

I don't watch videos if I can help it - I have trouble with audio information and video doesn't make it better. So I have occasionally heard of BookTube, but have never followed up on it; not for me.

Editado: Feb 8, 12:25pm

>151 dchaikin: You might like Litsy.
That's kind of what I'm afraid of. I definitely don't need any new ways to spend what time I do have.

Editado: Feb 8, 9:49am

I've seen mentions of BookTube, but I haven't watched any of the videos. I mainly use YouTube to follow several of my favorite recipe subscription sites, such as Spain on a Fork.

Feb 8, 11:06am

I know of BookTube and I know that there is some interesting content there but I've probably watched a handful videos and don't plan on more. I find videos to be a very ineffective way to get information (at least for me). Audio podcasts are a bit better and I listen to a few now and again but I prefer my book related information to come in a form I can read.

Feb 8, 11:22am

>157 lisapeet: I definitely don't need any new ways to spend what time I do have.

For me, it's not taking more time because I was listening to YouTube anyway - I just changed my content

>158 kidzdoc: I mainly use YouTube to follow several of my favorite recipe subscription sites, such as Spain on a Fork.

Those are the ones that take time and concentration -- you actually have to watch them. I do the same, but with Italian chefs - and my Italian isn't good enough for me to watch without subtitles

Feb 8, 11:23am

>159 AnnieMod: Audio podcasts are a bit better and I listen to a few now and again

Do you have any go-to bookish podcasts? I'm always looking for new ones

Feb 8, 12:13pm

>161 Nickelini: Depends on what you are looking for really. From the non-genre ones on my list after a quick check of my podcast client:

"Fictiona‪l‬" is always entertaining (they are between seasons now - or at least I hope they will be back - but the backlog is there)

BBC's "In Our Time" has literature related episodes often and has a huge backlog. I like most of theirs (not just books related) so... :)

NYT's Book Review has some interesting episodes. Same with "The LRB Podcas‪t‬" and "The TLS Podcas‪t‬". They tend to be a bit.. high brow sometimes but if you read the newspapers, they are in the same style. And a few of the New Yorker podcasts...

Book Riot's "All the Books‪!‬" tends to get my bank account in trouble often so I enjoy it but... :)

"Overdu‪e‬" is hit or miss sometimes - although some episodes surprise me nicely.

"What Should I Read Next‪?‬" by Wondery is occasionally entertaining as well - really depends how much you click with whoever is the guest.

How often I listen to any of them depends on my mood for the most part :)

Feb 8, 3:11pm

>161 Nickelini: I listened to my first episode of "Strong Sense of Place" which I found quite enjoyable. I know nothing about the podcast -- it was recommended as part of a Listy "Food and Lit" challenge (focusing on Vietnam for February). The podcast was hosted by two people (a couple?) they give a 10 minute overview of the history (so really brief) then each discusses the books they read - the woman had three fiction choices and the man picked two non-fiction.

Feb 8, 6:18pm

Just a thought: Could there be a place where we can store titles and links to book podcasts? BookTube didn't do much for me when I went and looked, but some of the podcasts you all mention sound pretty cool!

Feb 8, 6:38pm

>164 nohrt4me2: We can always start a new thread specifically for that... or use the "Interesting Articles" thread... :)

Feb 9, 12:14am

>162 AnnieMod:

Oh, lovely! Thank you!

"Overdu‪e‬" is hit or miss sometimes - although some episodes surprise me nicely. Since The Readers disolved, Overdue is my favourite . . . except they read too many books that I'm not interested in and so don't listen to many of their episodes, especially for the last year or so. They can be so much fun when they talk about books I know, or at least I'm interested in

Feb 10, 6:29pm

I've heard of BookTube, but haven't spent much time with it. I will, however, share my favorite book-themed YouTube video. :)

Feb 12, 3:27am

No BookTube in this house either. Not enough hours in the day. Perhaps I'll make it a retirement goal, but I can't quite decide if it's my thing or not.

Feb 12, 11:16am

I do indulge in booktube from time to time. Mostly because I read darker fiction, and a specific sort of darker fiction. A niche that is sometimes harder to find good books from so i watch a lot of the horror orienated booktubers to find book recommendations for this specific niche. There are also a couple channels that discuss more literary/bookish topics that I enjoy. Booktube is heavily dominated by YA and romance, but with some searching I've found some that add to my own reading pile. I typically treat them as podcasts rather than videos, actual bookish podcasts are not my thing as they are either deep dives into books I haven't/won't read or a fire hose that is impossible to keep up with. Litsy has also been a good place to find my reading niche. Everything else just consumes too much time.

Feb 12, 1:04pm

Q 5 Booktube

I don't do BookTube. There are a lot of little reasons, but the main reason is that I can't handle an audio-visual format like that.

I can do podcasts, but only if I'm also washing dishes or cleaning or driving or folding laundry or whatever. I can't just lie on the sofa and listen. And I can't do videos at all because there's nothing to do with my hands/body, and my ADHD cannot handle it at all. I'm too under-stimulated, and I have to stop. Maybe, if I learned how to knit or crochet or something, I'd be able to watch videos. But barring that, they're not really an option.

I can do zoom lectures and presentations, if there's an active chat to keep me stimulated enough, or I have to minimize it and do something else, like browse Tumblr or go through my email and delete the ones I'm not going to open, while I watch it in the corner of the screen.

Editado: Feb 12, 1:42pm

As mentioned above, BookTube was new to me. I found this 2019 article from the Huffington Post, What is BookTube, which made me wonder about watching to read, when reading is visual enough in itself, but then in most cases I also have difficulty with the idea of audiobooks, so not very flexible there, feeling they defeat the idea of book.

I must confess I love looking at other people's book arrangements, but try not to indulge.

Like >153 Nickelini: I do listen to Eleanor Wachtel's Writers and Company on CBC radio, or later in podcast form, and have discovered many authors there over the years I probably would not have encountered elsewhere.

>162 AnnieMod: Tempted by some of these podcasts.

>158 kidzdoc: But what if there was a BookTube format for cookbooks?

Feb 12, 1:41pm

Wondering based on responses above:

Here in Canada, literary awards are telecast. Does this happen elsewhere, and if so do you watch? (I don't)

Another thing I wondered, looking at the guarded responses to the genres of books on these platforms, was would you be tempted by the same format with books which appeal to you?

Feb 12, 7:29pm

>170 Julie_in_the_Library: I can do podcasts, but only if I'm also washing dishes or cleaning or driving or folding laundry or whatever. I can't just lie on the sofa and listen. And I can't do videos at all because there's nothing to do with my hands/body, and my ADHD cannot handle it at all. I'm too under-stimulated, and I have to stop. Maybe, if I learned how to knit or crochet or something, I'd be able to watch videos.

Yeah, I can relate to that. I treat book podcasts and BookTube the same way -- I have it on while doing other things-- they're perfect to have on while doing laundry. I also do art on the computer, so it works for me to have it on in the background.

I look at it as the same as having the radio on, or TV in the background, and so doesn't take any extra time out of my life.

Feb 12, 8:22pm

>172 SassyLassy: Another thing I wondered, looking at the guarded responses to the genres of books on these platforms, was would you be tempted by the same format with books which appeal to you?

How so guarded? last year we have several stimulating conversations about books of many genre, including Non fiction. I don't get the feeling that people were looking down at those who read 'genre' books, but many of the labels are limited, and we explored other ways these books could be presented

Feb 13, 11:02am

>167 bragan: when you said your favorite book-themed YouTube video I thought it might be this one!

I'm similar to >170 Julie_in_the_Library: above, I like bookish podcasts, but always listen while doing something else. I watch relatively few videos online.

Feb 15, 4:22pm

>174 cindydavid4: In my mind I was operating on the idea that all books belong to one genre or another, not that 'genre' books were a specific category. With that in mind, what I was asking was whether or not if people had looked at BookTube and other platforms like that, and not found their particular types of book, whatever they might be, and so lost interest, would they be interested in a similar platform if the types of books they read were featured. Hope that helps.

Feb 15, 4:52pm

>167 bragan: Ear worm territory! I think my future reading for today is done for.

>175 wandering_star: That's really well done.

Feb 15, 5:04pm

Thanks to avaland for this question.


'Should' is a loaded word. We tell ourselves we "should" read all kinds of authors.

Who's on your "should" list and why?

Maybe there's someone you've read once or twice, liked, and feel you should read some more. Should you complete that body of work?

So what's stopping us? Or maybe more to the point - where does that "should" come from?

Feb 15, 5:51pm

Yes. I am a fully paid up member of the 'should read' read brigade. I have tackled many of the writers in the British and American cannon, especially 20th century authors. There are plenty of guides as to what we should read and with a limited time at our disposal then it makes sense to at least read some of those books that are critically recommended. They must make those lists for a reason. However the should read in this instance is when you have already expressed a need for guidance and I can live with the word should.

I suppose the most famous list is 1001 books you must read before you die, but that doesn't include poetry and drama. It is also very late 20th century biased. It uses the words "must read" and not "should read" which tends to make it seem a little too superior - is it saying your a bit of a numpty if you don't choose the books on the list.

So where does the should come from? well there are plenty of recommendations of books on the internet, and on LT it is rare that people use the word should. People tend to post their views and sometimes make recommendations. Amazon, Abe are continually bringing books for my attention, but they are careful not to use the word should. When someone says you should read something it can mean that it would be in your interest to read the book, but more often than not it is someone saying your education would not be complete without it or you would miss out on something. Anybody that drives a car should read the Highway code for instance, we should read the small print on any purchase agreement we make. Perhaps then 'should' is a word that makes us positively not want to read something in some instances.

Feb 15, 6:04pm

I would tell you that I am no longer driven by literary shaming (a therapist would say: 'why 'should' all over yourself?') I think 'should' is different that having reasonable, well thought out goals.

But, 'should' sneaks in my head from time to time. I should read this classic or that new author. I should finish a book even I'm not liking or connecting with it. I should read more of this or that. More poetry. More short stories. More of this author. Where does that come from? Hmmm. For me I think in the past this came from stretching reading myself but it also comes from being in a large group (this one, for example) of enthusiastic, intelligent and adventurous readers, constantly reading reviews about such great (or not so great literature).

Recently, as I was posting a review of Margot Livesey's latest novel on the book's page, and among the 'automatic recommendations" was author Lydia Millet. I had read two of Millet's early novels, enjoyed them and always meant to read more... and here came the "shoulds".... I should read her other books, I should, I really should.

Thankfully, I am of an age where I understand that I will not be able to read All. The. Books. I do tend "fall" for authors and want to read their entire oeuvre, and it's an interesting reading experience to do that... but, being a fan of Joyce Carol Oates has cured me of that.

Meanwhile, I ordered two other novels from Lydia Millet ....

Feb 15, 6:10pm

I suffer from "shouldism" but it's not so much related to what I read, but how I read. I should (it rings in my mind) read more slowly, more carefully, more critically--in general, more effort-fully.

But then I slide into a fear of religious fundamentalism based on seeking the One Good Book I could read and reread through a lifetime, crazily convinced it's the one key to all the mysteries... and I go back to my polybiblious ways ASAP.

Feb 15, 6:40pm

As many folks here know, I am currently reading through a list of books about African American history and racism in America provided by a friend of mine, because I feel like this is information I should at long last be better versed in. That's about my only "should."

I am reading more from my already owned books (I am in no danger of running out!) because I feel that I should stay out of bookstores and every other indoor space that is not my own home or a grocery store or a dentist office (quick runs into restaurants for pickup only). That's two "shoulds," I guess.

Editado: Feb 15, 10:07pm

>180 avaland: (a therapist would say: 'why 'should' all over yourself?')

I had a therapist who told me exactly that, and I took it to heart. I'm not much of a should-er when it comes to books. Yes, I should eat more vegetables and fewer potato chips, and I should make sure I exercise daily, but when it comes to books, I'm good. I have an English degree, and I've enjoyed reading for recommended books lists (like the 1001 books list), so I've read lots of the "shoulds". I read them and studied English lit because I enjoyed it, and as soon as it just becomes a chore, I move on to other things.

I used to think everyone should read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, not because it was such great literature but because I thought it had something important to say, but then I saw people using it as a training manual, so never mind.

ETA: Actually, I SHOULD read all the books I already own. Also, I SHOULD support my favourite independent bookstore by buying more books. You can never win the should game

Feb 15, 9:38pm

>176 SassyLassy: Ah yes it does! none of the pods have any description of the types of books read so I lost interest in them. to be fair tho, I already have more than my share of book related media so unless one was going to blow me out of the water, I wasn't going to bother to look very hard

Editado: Feb 16, 2:13am

Este mensaje fue borrado por su autor.

Feb 16, 8:11am

I am not big on "shoulds" about reading anymore. One time I thought I "should" read The House of the Seven Gables, and that's a waste of time off my life I will never get back.

That said, I avoided Dickens for decades. I have picked him up in my old age and when he's good, he's very entertaining and perceptive. But sometimes he's cloyingly sentimental. He's a bit of a crap shoot like Stephen King.

Editado: Feb 16, 9:15am

>183 Nickelini: Actually, I SHOULD read all the books I already own. Also, I SHOULD support my favourite independent bookstore by buying more books.
Yeah, this. But not really any others—I think when I was younger and had all the reading time in the world ahead of me, I was a little more of an aspirational reader in that way. Now, eh, there's so much I want to read that I'll never get to. Plus experience has shown that reading something I think I should won’t turn me into a better person.

OK, on a little reflection, two shoulds: for a while I've been thinking I need to read up on the French Revolution, just for context. I get as far as the introduction of Simon Schama's Citizens every few years, but maybe this will be the year I go further—my original idea was to read a chapter every Sunday night, and I was good about that during January, but then I had a book for review and another reading project in February that kept me away from that project.

I also want to read down more of the books I've been given as gifts. For the most part, people have been really spot-on in what they've given me—surprisingly few "oh, Lisa likes to read so here's a book for people who like to read" things (almost always from people who don't read a lot themselves)—and a lot of them are fascinating-looking, stuff I wouldn't have picked up on my own. So I'd like to dig into those, if only to say "I finally read xyz you gave me and it's wonderful!"

Editado: Feb 16, 9:08am

Should is such a weird word - there is no exact translation in Bulgarian - in this context it more often than not translates the same way as “must”. Which always colors the way I think about it - I know the differences in the degrees and so on and still.

I don’t do a lot of reading because of shoulds these days. I read the books I had to when I was in high school - even when I was not sure why I had to or I hated them, they paid off, sometimes years later. I may read a short story now and again because I feel like I should but for longer forms, the only should still in play is my own “I like this style/author, I should read more”

Now I pretty much read whatever takes my fancy. I would read series in order when possible (is that a should read situation) but the safest way to make sure I do not read something is to tell me that I should read it. Maybe some of my reading projects started from an old should read - but by now they are in the want to read category.

Feb 16, 10:35am

>183 Nickelini: Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention my English degree; that certainly played a part. I know you are younger than I but does age play a part in your non-"should" philosophy. It certainly does in mine.

>186 nohrt4me2: Never thought I'd see Dickens compared with Stephen King....

>188 AnnieMod: How interesting about the language differences. When I hear "you must" I think of how the English have used it... "You must, old chap, come shooting with me on Thursday next..."


Does anyone think that there is a gender difference in use of "should read" thinking? (just thought I'd throw that out there). Age difference? Education differences? (i.e. those of us with English degrees are less likely to 'should' all over themselves, whereas the science majors might be more prone to "shoulding')---- or is it more likely personality?

Feb 16, 10:36am

I think I *should* read something often. I should read more poetry, I should read all those Greek and Latin classics, I should read more works from this or that country/culture/place/time, etc. I should read that work to gain a deeper understanding of this work... It does drive my reading choices. That doesn't mean I feel guilty when I fail to follow up on all the shoulds...

Feb 16, 11:28am

>189 avaland: I think it is the opposite - English/Literature majors tend to have a lot more "should reads" than science majors - partially because of all the reading that was done for the degree. At least it seems to be that way in my friends' cycle. On the other hand one of my friends who majored in Medieval literature had not touched any of it in 20 years. So who knows. I think that it is personal but also that for most people their degree is a mirror of their personality (at least in their teens) so that kinda muddles the waters.

I've had another thought:
There was a time (early/mid-2000s when I started reading in English more) when I felt that I should/must read the English and other western classics in English (I've read a lot of them in either Bulgarian or Russian). It was partially because I was worried about talking about any of them when I had not read them in English (so the names did not match and I never knew how close the translation was). Then Internet happen - between Wikipedia and google, finding the names that correspond to the ones I know became a LOT easier and the pressure in my mind kinda disappeared. I still re-read some of them (especially the Victorians) because I like them - but not because I feel like I should before I can talk about them.

PS: The dual may/can and should/must were two of the things that still could trip me badly even after I had passed my CAE exam (C1 in the new framework)... as much as "think in English" was already a thing at this point, it just took some more time to kick the "translation in your head" completely out in all cases.

Feb 16, 12:08pm

I have some "should reads" and I view it as a positive. These are books that I might not otherwise pick up, but often end up broadening my perspective or world view. For instance, this year I'm making a point of reading books by and about American Indians. Last year, I purposefully read books by Black American authors. And I always read from the 1001 books list, which stretches me to other cultures, books in translation, and some lesser known classics.

All of these "shoulds" are often some of my most enjoyable reading. And when they aren't, I'm still generally glad I tried them. I read about 80 books a year, and I'd say about 20 of them are what I consider "shoulds".

Feb 16, 4:09pm

My biggest "should" when it comes to reading is that I "should" read all the books I buy (already an impossibility), just because I spent all that money on them. I guess that is the thrifty guilt tripping--why spend all the money on books I am never going to have time to read? I generally read at least 100 books each year, so I am constantly making headway, but I still have many books that I "should" get to. And of course I "should" stop buying all those books anyway, right? That probably is not going to change either, since I have had the book-buying addiction since I was a child. Sorry for the rambling commentary.

Feb 16, 7:56pm

>191 AnnieMod: English/Literature majors tend to have a lot more "should reads" than science majors -

But as an English major, all my shoulds are behind me. I don't feel there are any other books I should read at this point.

Feb 16, 8:19pm

>194 Nickelini: That's fair enough :) I do not have that many Lit/English majors around me -- so apparently the trend I was seeing is not global :)

Feb 16, 8:33pm

>195 AnnieMod:
And to be truthful, as a mature student at university, one of the things that drew me to majoring in English Lit was that I'd have to read all those books that I should read . . . so for sure shoulds are what got me there. But now tick tick tick! I'm done and can relax . . .

Feb 16, 8:46pm

>196 Nickelini: I had been thinking along these lines... :) My problem is that I want to read all the books from an author - not because I should but because I tend to like completing things. Easy enough with Austen and the Brontes, not so much with Trollope or Walter Scott for example. And that is not what ends up happening unless you major in a very narrow field. Oh well. :)

Editado: Feb 17, 9:48pm

>182s many folks here know, I am currently reading through a list of books about African American history and racism in America provided by a friend of mine, because I feel like this is information I should at long last be better versed in. That's about my only "should."

non fiction social justice and similar topics I admit I feel guilty for not reading. I feel like, between the books I read now and keeping up with current events, I sorta 'know'. But I know I don't and really should read those. I look at them longingly in the store, then walk by. Yes I am a awful person.

>183 Nickelini: I used to think everyone should read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-four, not because it was such great literature but because I thought it had something important to say, but then I saw people using it as a training manual, so never mind.

training for what? Personally when I think of where out world is right now, much of it was predicted by 1984. Its not great litereature but it is a siren, a warning. (cartoon: Benn Diagram with four circles, first one labled 1984, second Brave New World third Handmaids tale fourtth Fahrenheit 451. Smack in the middle labeled NOW.) Actally all four of those 'should' be read by everyone (maybe should isn't the right word, maybe open your eyes more like)

One thing about reading 'the should' books is that they often contain tons of cultural references you might miss otherwise

That being said since college I never shoulded myself re books. There are books I'll give a few college tries for, but if Im not interested, bored, don't like subject, I shrugg and move on.''

>Actually, I SHOULD read all the books I already own. Also, I SHOULD support my favourite independent bookstore by buying more books. You can never win the should game

Yeah, its rough. I can't resist bright shiny covers of favorite or interesting writers, but cant afford the indie prices too much. I do trade a lot so have credit plus a teacher discount which makes me feel better. But I do have so much else....

Feb 18, 4:59am

There seem to be a lot of different flavours of should.

— There's the "everyone else should read this, because I have and I think it would change you in a good way" — not that it's changed me, I was already good in that way before, obviously...

— There's the "I should read this because there will be a test on it" — the course set text, the legal manual for the job I'm doing, the next book club read, the study text for my prayer group, ...

— There's the "I should read this because it's important to someone I care deeply about" — it looks bad if you haven't read your significant other's most recent poetry collection, or if you can't pick up any of their H2G2 references, as the case may be.

— There's the "I should read this because it will enhance my status in my peer group" — there's possibly a social cachet to being the only hold-out in your office who hasn't read Harry Potter, but if half your friends have read Proust and half haven't, you probably want to belong to the half that can talk with confidence about madeleines and Balbec.

— There's the "I should read this because it's been sitting on my shelf for X years" — why it arrived there in the first place becomes almost irrelevant at some point.

— There's the "I should read this because it will make me a better person" — for most of us, this will be the book in the "on my shelf for X years" category.

Most other reasons fall under "I want to", rather than "I should", I think


>189 avaland: (etc.) If you're a bookish sort of person, I don't think it makes a huge difference what your academic background is: when I was a science undergraduate I had plenty of friends who were reading Dostoevsky and Proust and Herman Hesse, and I knew I ought to read all those as well if I wanted to keep up in conversation. And I did, and enjoyed it, and ended up going back to study literature as a mature student. Other scientist friends hung out with people who were reading their way through the science fiction canon — they had plenty of "should reads" as well.

When I was a literature undergraduate my pile of "must read" books led on to other "should reads" I probably wouldn't have known about otherwise, but I'm sure something similar would have happened to me in other ways anyway, as I met new people and developed new interests.

Editado: Feb 18, 4:50pm

>198 cindydavid4: "non fiction social justice and similar topics I admit I feel guilty for not reading. I feel like, between the books I read now and keeping up with current events, I sorta 'know'. But I know I don't and really should read those. I look at them longingly in the store, then walk by."

Just a note that regarding my reading on social issues/African American history which you quoted from, you may be sure that no matter how much I feel like I should read the books on my list, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't find the subject matter, and for the most part the books themselves, extremely interesting.

Editado: Feb 19, 9:34am

>200 rocketjk: Understood. could you send me a list of your recommendations (message me if easier) thanks

Feb 19, 12:59am

>189 avaland: Not everyone can speak from both sides of that! And yes, I have a marriage that illustrates your point.

Feb 19, 11:57am

>188 AnnieMod: Interesting about Bulgarian. Is there no conditional tense in that language? I like 'should' as it's free of the imperative of 'must'. I guess that allows it to have a whole range of meanings from polite suggestions "Should we..." to accusation "You should have..." to strong insult "You really should do..." Following all this, if I tell myself I "should" do something, it's quite different than telling myself I "must" do it.

Then there's 'shall' versus 'will'.

>189 avaland: I'm not convinced there is a gender difference in "should read" thinking apart from possibly the subject matter, other than perhaps the degree of self forgiveness for non required reading.
With regard to education differences, having gone through both arts and applied science, I think it is not so much education differences as personality differences. Those people are well represented in both areas.

Editado: Feb 19, 12:06pm

>197 AnnieMod: You've hit on the question in >178 SassyLassy:, which was initially about authors, and then, as things do in the wonderful world of LT, took on a life of its own.


So, going back to >178 SassyLassy:, who are your "should" authors?

Editado: Feb 19, 1:12pm

>203 SassyLassy: There is a conditional mood but it is for the would (the control of the subject - "I would read that if I could find it") and not the should situations. There is absolutely no distinction between must and should translations when used in the this sense - you provide the grades of that in clarifying phrases or you go into imperative if you do not want to use "must" (The Bulgarian"Read this" can be translated as "You should read this" into English in some cases depending on context and what else is in this sentence)...

Same with can/may/might -- same word used, context and sometimes tense differentiate them. This is why conditional sentences and phrases in English are extremely confusing for Bulgarian speakers. :)

On the other hand, the first time I had to translate the dubitative form into English, I was ready to throw away all my English textbooks -- "I've been told that my friend read the book, but I doubt it." or "I've been told that this student did their homework last night but I doubt it" is essentially shown with a verb form in Bulgarian (so you do not need to clarify the "I doubt it" or that you were told and you did not witness it - the form says it). The rest of the evidentiality forms are as fun to work out... See if you are curious.

You may have noticed me using "-ish" occasionally on my verbs and phrases. That's a side effect of that lack of evidentiality as a category in English - instead of going into the longer phrases, I add "-ish" when I speak/write informally as a shortcut (or "kinda" if it fits better). And now that I went digging, it seems like that is even official(~ish): Evidentiality in English :) If you look at pairs (and groups) of words like look/seem, can/may and so on, languages with evidentiality forms will almost always have single words to translate them - they assist English speakers into forming these... but the difference is not needed if you have the other markers so it never developed in the language. But the separate verbs are not exactly the same as the forms so they are hell to separate when you are trying to learn the language...

Verbs and verb forms differences between languages can be fascinating :) Sorry for the long off-tangent.

Feb 19, 1:09pm

>204 SassyLassy: Ha! I'd admit that somehow the part of that question in the middle that was talking about bodies of work flew over my head and I forgot about it when I answered so I went for books and not authors...

To answer the actual question - all of the ones I had read a book from and I liked... :) It is a BIG problem - I like finding new authors but I also like the familiar ones. See my reading of Erle Stanley Gardner (where I am at 95 novels read) and Robert B. Parker (at 63) in the last years and I am working on some others that just did not write that much (Daniel Silva (23) is on the "come on, go write something" list; someone like Steve Hamilton (14) is close to that but I am kinda saving the few remaining for when I need something I know I will like). Which gets into another pattern - if I really like an author, I have a problem deciding between "Read everything" and "Keep some for a rainy day". Although I seem to be leaning more and more into the "Read it now" camp...

I am working on my list of "catch up" and "go write something so I can read it" lists of authors in my thread - I kinda got most of the series I am working on already listed but had not done much progress on recording my authors.

Feb 19, 3:22pm

>201 cindydavid4: Sent you the list I've been reading from via private message. Cheers!

Feb 19, 3:24pm

>207 rocketjk: Why not just post it here?

Editado: Feb 19, 4:35pm

>208 AnnieMod: Well, it's pretty long, here goes:

Greetings! Here is the list of books about African American history and racism in America in general I have been working from. This list was suggested by my friend Kim Nalley, who is a great blues/jazz singer and is also a PhD candidate in American History at University of California, Berkeley. All of the notes and descriptions of the book are Kim's except for my one note after Been in the Storm So Long. She originally posted all of this publicly on Facebook, so I don't feel like there's any reason not to share her thoughts here. The ** represents books I've read so far. As you can see, I've been jumping around rather than reading them in order. I'm getting to one of these works every third book I read:

I have seen several anti-racist book lists going around so I thought I would curate my own list as well. If you have heard of these books and pretty much know the thesis, but have not read them, then read them. If you read them when you were a teen or an undergraduate and you are much older now, I would suggest reading them again. I continually see things I missed by reading a book several times. I especially love reading the footnotes and bibliography.
**1. Been in the Storm so Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, Leon Litwack This shows how enslaved African-Americans were quickly converted into different forms of slavery post Reconstruction. It uses the oral history of former slaves and Litwack is an amazing writer. (I also went ahead and read the follow up to this book, ** Trouble in Mind, about the Jim Crow Era in the South from the end of Reconstruction to approximately World War I. Of the two books, I'd actually say the second is even more vital to understanding both the horror of the history and the fix we're in now. -- Jerry)

2. The Color of the Law, Richard Rothstein which addresses redlining and how the US kept Black people from owning property which is the main way to accumulate wealth.

3. The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander How the modern police state and the privatized prison system works to keep Black Americans in an enslaved disenfranchised state.

These first three are key and will show how the US systematically and intentionally tried to keep Black people in a slave like state by using continually finding new tools of subjugation and segregation. These three books should be required reading for everyone and are the best start for people who don’t have a background in African-American History. They are listed chronologically from the end of the Civil War to the present.

I have noticed that many times well intended white feminist friends of mine inadvertently treading on the toes of Black woman. It is very complicated. I would start by reading these two books.
**4 Black Sexual Politics Patricia Hill Collins I cannot say how important this book is.
**5 Women, Race and Class Angela Davis. This is also a must read.
6 Aren’t I A Woman, Deborah Gray White. White is the first historian to give a definition for the Fancy Trade, “the sale of light-skinned black women (and children) for the exclusive purpose of prostitution and concubinage."

Many people understand slavery was bad, so that is why I I listed the post-Civil War books first. However, every year there are students (even Black students) who come to my office traumatized by the readings on slavery because they didn’t realize how terrible it was. It is important to understand the nature of chattel slavery and that it stretched from North to South in the New World. The colonization of the New World was possible because of slavery, so the laws and practice were intended to keep this institution in place.
7 They Were Her Property, Stephanie Jones-Rogers (Currently number 1 in history.) A hard but necessary book that shows how women and children were complicit in slavery.

**8 Capitalism and Slavery Eric Williams explains the whole New World system.

9 Black Jacobins by CLR James on the Haitian revolution was a game changing eye-opener for me. It also demonstrates how different chattel slavery was compared to indentured servitude. The brutality of slavery versus the brutality of revolt is a major theme.

10 The Slave Ship: A Human History by Marcus Rediker illustrates the horrors of the Middle Passage and the high death toll of newly enslaved African youths.

Reading at least one primary source slave narrative such as 11 the Autobiography of Frederick Douglass or
12 Harriet Jacobs is important because we should hear what slavery was like from the enslaved peoples themselves.
And for your children there is a paperback trilogy book

13 Booker T Washington Up From Slavery

14 WEB DuBois Souls of Black Folks and

**15 Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man James Weldon Johnson

16 Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston

17 Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement by Barbara Ransbey.

18 In Struggle: SNCC and the Black Awakening of the 1960s Claybourne Carson

**19 Black Power: The Politics of Liberation Kwame Ture (Stokley Carmichael)

**20 Black Against Empire The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Waldo Martin

And then there is philosophy, much of it which is derived from Frantz Fanon and studies on the subaltern which is an idea that originated from the caste system in India. I do not think people should read philosophy and political science until they know the history first. Of course, I am biased as an historian, but I do believe one should know the events of which they are talking about before they philosophize or strategize about them.

Feb 21, 10:06am

>178 SassyLassy: Even though I usually ignore the nagging 'should' in the back of my book selecting mind, I still feel guilty about not listening to it. Yes, I do have a list of 'should' authors, including

- Joyce Carol Oates for some reason I have never been able to connect with her writing, although so much that is positive has been written about it and she is a major cultural influence in some areas

- Cynthia Ozick, someone whom I have never read, but again comes well recommended and is also an influence on many. I am probably more likely to read her than JCO

- Anthony Trollope whom I enjoy when I read him, but never actively think to pick up another of his works. I might add William Thackeray in the same boat.

Also in general, I should read more contemporary authors, just to know what makes people tick, and where things are coming from.


More to the point, I do have a "would like to" list. Most of it is completist and would include authors whose works are hard to find with the exception of a couple of representative works:

James Fenimore Cooper
John Ehle
George Gissing
Margaret Oliphant
Sigrid Undset

Editado: Feb 21, 10:13am

>210 SassyLassy: I was a lit prof in a former life, and I hereby absolve you from feeling you should read Cooper. Cooper was interesting only in that he sent me off on learning all about the Moravians.

Feb 24, 9:51am

>211 nohrt4me2: Thanks so much - a weight off my mind! I did like seeing the American perspective on what they call the French Indian War though, which I know as the Seven Years War.

Did your Moravians search lead you to Labrador?

Feb 24, 9:52am

Referring us now to the continuation of QUESTIONS

Feb 24, 10:58am

>207 rocketjk: got it, thx! gosh where do I begin....

Editado: Feb 24, 3:46pm

>214 cindydavid4: "gosh where do I begin...."

Not sure if you're actually asking for feedback, but here goes:

It's a question of perspective and interest, of course, but from what I've read so far, the most comprehensive, enlightening and mortifying account of the history of the origins and growth of racism in the U.S. are the two Litwack books, "Been in the Storm So Long: the Aftermath of Slavery" and "Trouble in Mind: Black Southerners in the Age of Jim Crow." Both are long, detailed and excellent.

Those two provide an good foundation for the rest of the list, I think.

Feb 24, 8:37pm

>215 rocketjk: I wasnt expecting any so this was a nice surprise. I think my knowedge of the age of jim crow and the reconstruction is limited in comparision to other subjects, so I will find these. thz
Este tema fue continuado por QUESTIONS for the AVID READER Part II.