2017 reading list and commentary

books on a shelf, from the humor section. Prominent title is KRAZY

I started 106 books this year and finished 102. I seem to have some sort of aggressive attachment to reading serendipitously. Which means no matter what I set out to do, I read whatever the hell I want because I read for fun and can’t really queue up books I want to read. This means it’s hard for me to choose to read more diversely, or read more titles by women. I got some good suggestions from people last year and then watched myself basically ignore them this year. I need to work my actual reading habits in to my aspirational reading life. That said, here’s how the year shook out. It was a good year for reading, but that was also sort of because it wasn’t a great year for me. We muddle forward… Continue reading “2017 reading list and commentary”

2016 reading list and commentary

photo of books on a bookshelf

I started 71 books this year and finished 68. I feel good about not finishing those three. I should really not-finish more books to be honest. I try to read most evenings and most mornings with varying success. I also read a lot on planes and I was not on so many planes this year.

average read per month: 5.67
average read per week: 1.3
number read in worst month: 2 (Jun)
number read in best month: 10 (Oct)
number unfinished: 3
percentage by male authors: 62
percentage by female authors: 38
percentage of authors of color: 7
fiction as percentage of total: 63
non-fiction as percentage of total: 37
percentage of total liked: 87
percentage of total ambivalent: 10
percentage of total disliked: 3

Not as many books this year because I read a few really BIG books (Stephenson and Howey I am looking in your direction) Another year where I read a lot of genre fiction which interferes with reading more by authors of color. A lot of non-neurotypical folks in there, and non-US folks, but that’s not the same. Need to find a way to make this a genuine option for me somehow. Slowly balancing out my male/female reading. I’ve started the Maisie Dobbs series which I like pretty well (though do not love) and read a bunch of “moody seashore” books which were terrific and I’d love to find more. If you’ve made a reading list for last year, I’d love to read it. Happy New Year.

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. My always-updated booklist lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

The things I will miss about Open Library

I put it on my newsletter and up on TILT (my online magazine? Whatever that is) but I left my job at Open Library this week. This is bittersweet since I left because I could not get the hours to pay me for all the work that needs doing there. I was paid for ten, looking for (at least) twenty.

Open Library is a bit of a singular beast. They lend ebooks worldwide for free. It’s a grand experiment that’s so far been going pretty well. I like using it because I can search for keywords inside of millions of books and because their reading interface is one of the best there is. I use their public domain books to find illustrations for the talks I give (either on the site or from these five million images on Flickr) and shared out some of my favorites on their Twitter account. So now that I’m not doing that, I can share out some stuff I find here…

Like a neat-looking bookplate, and then doing some research to figure out whose it was. And learning a thing as a result. Here is a bookplate that pointed me towards knowing more about Robert Lowie an early social anthropologist. The book it’s in is actually a book about old books and so has some great illustrations.

Ex Libris Robert Lowie, image of native american man in headdress

I’ll also miss learning more about librarianship as it was once practiced. This Union class-list of the libraries of the Library and Library Assistants’ Associations looks fascinating and yet I’m not even totally sure what it is. Its companion book, the Bibliography of library economy is 400 pages of Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature type of things only for libraries. I’d almost be reading it for fun but I couldn’t help picking out a few keywords and browsing.

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 16.12.33

As library topics remain prevalent in the news, everyone likes to thing that being good at Google makes them a proto-librarian. But the longstanding traditions of this institution are more than just finding things. It’s so much more about linking people to the information they want. Every book its reader. Every reader their book. I’m 100% down with digital librarianship being an efficient and effective way to do this, I just need to orient myself to doing that work in more of an actual digital library.

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if we want to see more diversity in literature, we have to buy the books

school library journal graphic

School Library Journal came out with their Diversity Issue a few months ago and it’s been on my “to read” pile since then. Their lead article Children’s Books: Still an All-White World? tells a depressing tale of under-representation of black children in US children’s books (they are the only ethnic group mentioned, I am presuming this goes doubly so for groups with smaller representation in the US) and ends with a call to action for librarians to make sure they are creating a market for these titles to encourage more books by and about all kinds of people.

I grew up in a Free to Be You and Me sort of world where my mother actively selected books for me to read with a wide range of ethnicities represented. I had dolls representing many backgrounds. My mother wrote textbooks where there were strict rules about being inclusive and representative and, living in a small town, I assumed this was the way the rest of the world worked. Not so. Reading this article drove home the point that while I may have been a young person during a rare time of expansion of titles and characters of color, that expansion slowed and the situation is still stagnant even as the US is becoming more diverse than ever. Another article in the Diversity Issue highlights research which indicates that “the inclusion of these cross-group images encourages cross-group play“. Sounds like a good thing. We should be doing more.

unintended consequences: Wiley price hike post-Kirtsaeng

In the wake of the Kirtsaeng decision Wiley has, predictably, decided to raise their prices in the UK to match American prices for titles. The news I got was from a forwarded email but it appears, in part on this website as well

The price increases are the publisher’s reaction to a recent US Supreme Court ruling whereby lower priced editions bought elsewhere in the world were allowed to be sold back into the US, a market which has traditionally had higher prices than other markets. To reduce the impact on US sales, Wiley have chosen to increase the prices in the UK to match the American prices. Unfortunately we have no ability to influence this decision although our buying team has vigorously championed non-US customers against price increases.

The blog post goes on to mention that “Closer examination of Wiley’s list of titles shows that most US Edition titles have more than tripled in price.” The email I was sent also included a link to this list of comparison pricing for literally thousands of Wiley titles so you can do the math yourself.

The odd aspect to this post, to me, is that ebook prices are also going up despite the fact that ebooks can not be resold and are not, in my understanding, affected by this ruling. Am I missing something?