Tim's views about keeping track of books read

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Tim's views about keeping track of books read

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juny 24, 2009, 11:15am

From another thread, just so we know what we're up against. This was about collections rather than reading dates, but I think it's relevant here too.

Every classification system implies something about the world. The GoodReads system divides the world of books into "read," "currently reading" and "to read." It implies that books are about read-ness. Some people clearly want that. But I can safely say that many LT users do not. For my part, I think that's an impoverished way to see your books—the way people see books who aren't fundamentally book lovers, let alone collectors. It's a classification system that sees books as "done" or not, as if any book worth reading is ever "done." I don't throw my books out when they're done, and I reread them. And neither of these activities are why I want a catalog of them on LibraryThing! And that leaves aside reference, essays, poems and short stories the "read"-ness of which is very problematic. Down deep, LibraryThing isn't a simple reading tracker. You can use it as one, but we're not going to reorient the system for the benefit of a minority.

LibraryThing's system is intentionally modest, and not based on a read/unread/to be read paradigm. The main collection means whatever you want it to mean. I suspect most users will keep their books in that base collection, called "Your Library." The others represent things that people wanted that have fairly different existential statuses. In the limitless ways of categorizing books, books you merely want stand out more than most. If you disagree, don't use it.

Intentional modesty means that the default set may not be perfect for every use. That's why you can change them so easily. So, if you want to use LibraryThing as a reading tracker only, you may want to add some collections. Go ahead and add them. I suspect that you'll find the world isn't divided into read, unread and to-be-read. You'll find some books are technically owned but actually lost, or read, but not finished, or "to be read" but not soon. I have a bag of books that are moldy. Where does that go? (And why do I need to mark this, when I know perfectly well which they are?)

juny 24, 2009, 9:27pm

I actually use LT for two purposes. When I first joined it was to maintain a list of my owned books - my actual library. But when I found all the groups here, the discussions led me to the reading aspects of the sight.

Before LT, I had tracked my reading in a spreadsheet. I converted 4 years of data into LT and now I continue to track all my date info here. I use the dates all the time. It's my main sort for the books that I have read whether they are owned or unowned.

feb. 13, 2010, 12:32am

1> Wow, that's... different. You can use phrases like "some people" and "many LT users", but what they really translate into is "it's my opinion, and I don't really have any kind of hard data to bolster it but instead simply have more of my opinion." But after all the song and dance you have to ask yourself - what are books "for"? Or they for sitting on a shelf or in a box? No. Primarily, books are for reading. To ignore that fundamental property of books really seems to be missing the forest for the trees.

How many times have you been asked "Hey, did you ever read ______?"

How many times have you been asked "Hey, do you own a copy of ______?"

How many times have you been asked "Hey, have you ever seen a copy of ______?"

How many times have you been asked "Hey, were you interested in ______ (totally aside from reading it or not)?"

I can appreciate books as works of art. I can appreciate them as memories. I can appreciate them as being brick-a-brack and a sign of a packrat. But the one thing that sticks out here is the reading.

Editat: feb. 13, 2010, 5:02am

1 Wow, that...pisses me off pretty good, actually.

I don't throw away books. I reread books (two of the four I'm reading now are rereads--one I've already read about a hundred times, one I've read only twice but anticipate I will read about a hundred times). I still see a pretty fundamental distinction between books I have read and books I have yet to read. This has nothing to do with books I've read being somehow "done" and everything to do with the fact that books I have yet to read have not fulfilled their essential purpose, which is to be read. And I think if any view of books is "impoverished", it's the so-prevalent view here that somehow what's important is, of all things, whether you physically have a copy of the thing on your shelf or not.

I realize this is an old thread and can only hope our benign dictator has perhaps had his mind opened a tiny bit in this regard in the interval, because I think that's a downright shitty thing to say.

març 16, 2010, 1:15pm

I've unfortunately seen no evidence that he's changed his mind. But I also haven't seen much (any) user outrage at his position, other than in this thread. I think we need to press the point more.

març 16, 2010, 1:33pm

I've brought up this issue again in the thread about why there are so many more people on GR.