Just when I need to be paying attention to my REAL job, I discover Goodreads.com. Where has this been all my life?
I love reading, love reviewing what I’ve read, and love cataloging my books. It’s like the Goodreads people just said, “Here, let’s design a site that Janet will adore.” Now it’s standing between me and an American Literature test review. I hope my students understand.
One summer I actually paid my then-13-year-old son to create an index card for every book in my personal library. For the record, my “personal library” threatens to overwhelm our house. We have books stuffed in every room, and the shelves my Beloved made for me a few years ago are literally sagging now with double rows of them.
I have the index cards, but the Boy got weary of the project after the first few hundred books. (And he can thank me later for his unerring grasp of MLA documentation.) My goal was a spreadsheet of all my books, indexed by topic and location. This last is really important, because my biggest problem is that I know I have a particular book, but finding it poses some difficulty. I have actually bought duplicate copies of some necessary things, just because the original is lost amid the throng.
Naturally, the project remains incomplete, since the Kid is now a senior in college and I’m not big on doing this job myself. The discovery of Goodreads has me singing and dancing and adding books like a mad woman.
How did this happen to me?
I pride myself on being relatively un-materialistic and generous . . . except where it comes to books. Some omnivorous and thoughtful readers I know are content to borrow books, return them, and move on to something else. I cannot imagine this. It’s like, I don’t know, renting shoes? Why would you not want to revisit a book over and over, like an old friend? I have an entire collection of Mary Oliver’s poetry, for example, that stands ready to assist in times of dire spiritual need. I do not want to have to break into the library at two a.m. to find a copy of The Leaf and the Cloud when I can’t sleep.
There’s just something about the texture of a book — the pages, the smell, the weight of it. I get all weirdly possessive in the presence of books. My sister, my cousin Rob, and I once filled the back of Rob’s pathfinder TO THE TOP with goodies from the Green Valley Bookfair. (This was the trip where we had to have a little intervention when Rob actually bought The Illustrated History of Dentistry. You have been at Green Valley too long when you think that’s a good idea.)
And now I have discovered a web site that lets me keep track of all these books. It’s as easy as clicking and adding to my shelves, which I can also add tons of. I would like to apologize to all those readers out there who were invited to join me in this venture. You know who you are, because you got a little message on Facebook. I’m sorry. I got carried away.
But I really, really want to know what you’re reading, in case I need to scarf that, too.