Listing towards quality

This morning I came across a post on Good Reads – a popular book recommendation site. Their 2013 Reading challenge allows you to set yourself a challenge to read a certain number of books and record their details – for the edification of all?

I thought about attempting this and then wondered if it should be consigned to the pile of resolve to do in 2013 advice that floods in at this time of year (and then gets ignored). But then I thought – it’s just the numerical aspect I find hard. Read 100 books – even if you dress it up as “A century of reading” or something like that seems a bit too mechanistic to me. What if you get to 90 and you are running out of time – do you rush and find some quick reads just so you can say you have done it?

The New Year has thrown up another disturbing reading challenge – someone who is planning to read all 131 Babysitters club books.

I do quite like the idea of setting myself a reading challenge though. I’ve only done it once before – I set out to read all the Patrick O’Brien Napoleonic seafaring novels (Master and Commander et al). This proved to be a satisfying challenge because he was such a good writer and I found the characters and stories interesting.

I’d like to set myself a challenge this year but can’t think what. Maybe 10 books in an area outside my reading comfort zone? 10 books of philosophy? 10 New Age classics? Proust? Aaaargh! I think it has to have an element of enjoyment. Actually I’ve just ordered a book from Amazon and it made me realise that I have already brought 2 other books this year already. Perhaps that is my challenge – buy and read enjoyable books this year.

Has anyone else set themselves reading challenges before? Any suggestions?

Listing to starboard (and beyond)

Books - they're waiting for you on the shelf ...

Sorting through a pile of papers the other day I came across a list that one of my children made, back in the day.  It was written in green and purple crayon, and decorated beautifully and intensively, and went a bit like this:

Things I like:  cats.  foxes.  my new bed.  singing.  drawing.  the sky.

And so on (it was quite a long list).  Seems listing is a bit of a family habit, and there’s so much to be said for sitting down with a blank piece of paper and pen, or a blank screen and keyboard.

With this in mind, I’ve got a bit of a challenge for you (and a treat, really).  Our new catalogue (oh, so shiny!) has a few features that make it truly a joy to play with, and one of the top treats is the list-making facility.  I’ve been having a blast creating lists online – it’s dead easy, and I can put whatever I want on them:

  • Books I have read,
  • Books I want to read,
  • Books the library owns,
  • or ones I’d like the library to own.

I can make my lists private, just for me, or public, so everyone can see and share my weird and wonderful finds.  I can name them, claim them, rearrange them …  I can think of all my favourite things (and not just books, but movies, music, websites too), and create one mega-list – say, Bronnypop’s Ultimate Reading and Viewing Wishlist.

Some days my Ultimate Wishlist could be called:
Books I want to read, with zombies and weird stuff, but not too much sexytimes, where the authors are cool and not pretentious, but still use quite big words.
Other days my Ultimate Wishlist might be:  True books about food critics who live in big European cities and eat delicious food.  And write about it.
Or even:  Books about librarians who have strange things happen to them, and solve mysterious mysteries, but not in a naff and cliche-d way, even though they have three cats.  And wear cardies.

So this is my challenge to you (two challenges, really):

  • Go have a look at BiblioCommons and find some lists you like (here’s some of the ones we’ve been working on for the library, and some for teens), and even have a go at making one yourself;
  • Tell us what your ultimate Booklist Wishlist title would be – comment below, and you never know, if it tickles our fancy enough, we may even have a go at creating it ourselves …

Love those lists! Have a play in our new BiblioCommons catalogue

CoverHave you taken a look at our new library catalogue yet? I’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring BiblioCommons recently, and I think I like it… a lot. It’s the perfect place for opinionated people like me to go and be, well, opinionated. You can speak your mind about library materials you love or hate, agree or disagree with other people’s comments, tell everyone what (or what not to) read, watch or listen to, and much, much more.

During my adventures in BiblioCommons, I’ve come across lots of weird and wonderful lists other librarians and library users have made. Here is a collection of my favourites (of what I’ve seen so far):





Five book challenge on steroids?

coverProfessor Jim Flynn is a world recognised expert on intelligence. He has written The Torchlight List – two hundred books which he hopes people will begin to read (or re-read) to gain an understanding of the world.  Reading these books  will, he believes, free people from being just “swept along by the river of time with no real comprehension of what is happening to them”.

Like all lists, it is intensely personal. Prof. Flynn is an American who has taught at Otago University for many years. As a New Zealander you might want to see something of our culture reflected there . So instead of a book about American socialist Eugene Debs you might want to read something by John A Lee. He  recommends books by the American Civil War historian Bruce Catton and maybe reading Judith Binney or James Belich would be better for us New Zealanders. On the other hand the American Civil War has a powerful fascination and much can be learnt that is applicable to all internal conflicts. The treasure house still has a copy of Bruce Catton’s centennial history of the civil war.

In his introduction he launches a five book challenge – to read:

His bet:  “at least two of these will move you to tears and awaken emotions beyond anything pop culture can do”. The other challenge is “Read for forty minutes before bed each night to clear your mind of the day’s concerns”.

I’d have to say reading at the end of the day often sends me to sleep but I’m tempted to read two of the five just to see what I think.

Listomania for Music lovers

There is high correlation between people who like music and list lovers. Some new books should give pleasure to those who are meet both criteria:

A bit of a browse brought some more intriguing music titles to light. Nul points – for those of us with fond memories of lurid Eurovisions past (who could forget the girls from Bucks Fizz getting their skirts torn off), this book focuses on those that managed to score the infamous “nowt”.

Old rare new is a homage to the independent record shop, with interviews of a variety of music types like Everett True, Devendra Banhart and James Lavelle having their say on the joys of discovery.