Sunday Salon – Tribute to LibraryThing

The Sunday Salon.com

I enter all our books and reviews into LibraryThing. It is different from Goodreads in several ways. (I post a great deal – but not all – of my reviews on Goodreads.)

LibraryThing (LT) has fewer reviews than Goodreads, but they tend to be more “substantive” than those in Goodreads. For example, you can’t just post gifs expressing your desire to read the book in question. You can also rate using half-stars, a feature I much appreciate.

LT also includes “legacy libraries,” which means that volunteers upload information about libraries of famous people, such as Benjamin Franklin, whose library was extensively documented. Now you can see what books he had and how many you share in common with him. There are many legacy libraries that have been recorded – almost 300 at this posting, and they include those of actors, artists, authors, U.S. presidents, Royals, etc.

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I can access many fun statistics about my own collection, including how many books I share with Legacy Libraries and what those books are. (The person whose library I have the most books in common with is Ralph Ellison – we share 104 books.)

I can also see how many books I have that were written by men and how many by women. 67% of our books were written by a male author. Dead or alive? 72% of our authors are still living. Some of my favorite stats are Series, Awards, Characters, Places, and Events.

I can keep track of how many in a series I have read, and what they are. Sometimes I don’t even know a book I read was part of a series till I see it show up under Series. (Another good database for keeping track of series is fictfact.com. That site also sends you an email when new books are out in the series you follow. I have 110 series entered in fictfact but according to LT, I actually have read books in 630 series!)

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Every possible award or list you can think of is also tracked by LT – 1,312 of my books show up here. These stats include finalists, nominees, “short lists” and “long lists” as well as winners, Best Seller Lists, and even Book Club Picks. These aren’t just “merit awards” – I can also check to see, for example, which of my books made the list of “ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books.” Many I never heard of, such as the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee Prize, but I have twenty books that won this honor. I have many more books that show up on lists for National Book Award and Award Finalists, and National Book Critics Circle Award and Award Finalists. Who would have thought I had six books that made “South Carolina Children’s Book Award Nominee,” or that I have ten books on the list of “Norwegian Book Clubs Top 100 Books of All Time”?

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“Characters in Your Library” serves almost like an index for non-fiction books. Using this feature, I can how many books are about, say, Abraham Lincoln (although Lincoln is one of the tags I also use to categorize my books anyway), or Winston Churchill. If I want to know how many books we have read by Lee Child, I could search through my catalog by author, or I could check the character list for Jack Reacher. I not only see which books we have read, but what number each one is in the series.

With “Places” I find we have read a gazillion books set in Great Britain and Massachusetts (the latter because of Jim and his love for the Robert Parker books), but we have even read ten set on Mars! Fictional places are included also – for example, I have read six books set in the “Six Duchies” which refers to a place in Robin Hobb fantasy books. Alas, I have only one book listed (so far) for Skookumchuck Bay, in the state of Washington.

Events are a fun statistic to check also. One event I like to track is wars, divided into the wars themselves, such as Civil War, World War I, and so on. There are further distinctions within those categories, such as World War II – Pacific Theater. But you could also use this statistic to check for books about an event that interests you – say, 9/11, or The San Francisco Earthquake.

I can also see which members of LT have the most books in common with me in three different ways: weighted, raw, or recent. Not surprisingly perhaps, I have the most in common with another blogger, Bermuda Onion in the weighted category (which adjusts for library size). In terms of raw numbers, Jim and I share almost half the titles we own with a mother of four in Anchorage, Alaska. You can opt to “follow” the entries or reviews of any libraries you find to be of interest.

Besides fun stats, LT has groups you can join to discuss books or topics of interest, and there are a slew of them, including one called The Green Dragon – a “virtual pub” for discussions of fantasy and science fiction. They post this notice on the group’s bulletin board:

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There are groups for historical fiction, feminist theory, “girly books,” gardening, mysteries, local groups, travel books, cookbooks, “literary snobs,” fans of particular authors (two of the biggest groups are for Terry Pratchett and Jane Austen), anime fans, “LTers with dogs,” “Queer and Trans Lit,” and really any area you can imagine. If you don’t see what you want, you can start a new group. Within the group boards, you can see what the topics are, search by word or author, see what messages have been added since you last checked, and who the members are (by user names). (One of the most popular topic areas you will see for any group is “What are you reading now?”)

Finally I must mention that there are fun aggregate statistics that provide information such as “Top 25 Books by Rating,” “Top 75 Tags” (added to books by readers to categorize them), “50 Most Prolific Reviewers” (you will find my user name, nbmars, on this list), and “25 Most Reviewed Books.”

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This is actually only a small glimpse of what is available through LT, which also includes contests, free books each month for “Early Reviewers,” present exchanges at Christmas, and an app for your phone so you can check your library while out at the bookstore. Yes, it takes a bit of work to enter your books at the outset, but if you are already on Goodreads, you can sync your data. Once you have your library uploaded, then adding each additional book is quick and easy.

What about blogging? I never knew about book blogging, till I learned about it on LibraryThing. While I may opt not to continue with the blog, I plan to stay with LibraryThing no matter what!

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About rhapsodyinbooks

We're into reading, politics, and intellectual exchanges.
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15 Responses to Sunday Salon – Tribute to LibraryThing

  1. Hope Lee says:

    I have had a few people recommend LT to me. The legacy library sounds great. Did you find it difficult to set up/start an account? I have always used goodreads for lack of another site and I wonder if it would take a long time to get my libraries to LT.

  2. BermudaOnion says:

    I’m on LT and GR but don’t post on them, except for a rating. I didn’t know about all those features on LT and will have to explore it more. Isn’t GR owned by Amazon?

  3. Diane D says:

    I never tried Library Thing but, do try to post all of my reviews on Goodreads.

  4. Rita K says:

    I guess I might have to break down and try it, just to see your stuff.

    • Here’s some of what we put on there that we don’t put on the blog: reviews of books probably nobody on the blog will want to see (e.g., bridge card game books, or math books) or books that were really bad, or books we are too lazy to expand into an extensive review so they are just brief reviews.

  5. Michelle says:

    I do love LT. It’s the one place I do keep up. It’s where I put all of my books I own and haven’t read, have read and gave away, and have read and kept in my permanent library. It is fun to see with whom I have much in common. It’s a wonderfully geeky platform that is perfect for serious readers.

  6. litandlife says:

    I do have a LibraryThing account and have moved my books there from Goodreads but have never really spent anytime exploring it. Haven’t really figured all of the features out yet but clearly I need to spend more time doing that!

  7. Literary Feline says:

    I really like LibraryThing, although I admit I have gotten away from using it as much as I used to. I agree about the types of reviews you find on Goodreads vs LibraryThing. Maybe someday I’ll find my way back there.

  8. Aarti says:

    I have had a LibraryThing account I think since the very beginning. I do love it, though I REALLY wish they had a good mobile app. I have found that I am much less likely to go and delve into the website now than I was before, and I didn’t even know about (or if I do know about, use) many of the features you mention above because I haven’t spent a ton of time on the site recently. But good to know 🙂

  9. Rachel says:

    I post my reviews to LibraryThing but I didn’t know about all these features. I will have to take some time to explore. Interestingly, I also have the most books in common with Bermuda Onion using the weighted category!

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