Welcome to the September State of the Thing, your guide to all things LibraryThing. This month we have 2,708 free books, a meetup, our fifth birthday, an exclusive interview with Jane Smiley and a podcast with Mary Roach.
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News and Features
Happy 5th Birthday to us! August 29th marked LibraryThing's fifth anniversary. I mean, Thingaversary. You can see your own personal Thingaversary on your profile page, under "Member since". Thank you, every single one of you, for being a part of LibraryThing.
National Book Festival meetup. Come join LibraryThing and Bookcrossing members at the NBF meetup on September 25th, in Washington DC. Connect faces with names, and revel in the joys of reading with the perfect group of people! Read more about the meetup.
Add venue photos to Local. You can once again upload images of venues (bookstores, libraries, festivals) on LibraryThing Local, with the added feature that you can add multiple images now. We are also asking members to vote on a change in LibraryThing's image-uploading policy. Vote here.
Tidier than ever. After we announced that we had added more to the More tab, focus was brought to various member projects. Amongst other things, the unwieldy Star Wars series page has been tidied up, and all public libraries in the United States have now been entered into LibraryThing Local!
Publisher pages pullulatingly popular. There are now 71 publishers who have started pages on LibraryThing! You can see all of them, or just the publishers for books you have here.
Free books: Early Reviewers
Read and review free books, before they even hit the shelves! We've given out a whopping 59,602 books so far through Early Reviewers.
The September batch of Early Reviewer books contains 2,708 copies of 100 different titles. The deadline to request a free book to read and review is Friday, September 24th at 6pm EST. The next batch will be up during the second week of October.
The list of books
The most requested books so far this month:
Podcast interview with Mary Roach
Mary Roach writes funny, yet deeply researched non-fiction books on topics such as cadavers (Stiff), the afterlife (Spook) and sex (Bonk). Mary has just published a new book about humans in space called Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void, which features her trips to American, Japanese and Russian space centers, interviews with current and retired astronauts, her own experience in zero gravity and the very particular problems of living outside the warm, comfortable embrace of Earth's gravity.
Hear the podcast interview with Mary Roach.
Interview with author Jane Smiley
Jane Smiley has written one of everything: articles, essays, non-fiction, children's literature, a TV episode ... not to mention her popular fiction titles, including her Pulitzer-winning retelling of King Lear, A Thousand Acres. If you look at her author page on LibraryThing, you can see that 9,929 members have at least one of her works in their library.
Jane's new book, Private Life, is a fictional story based on her own great-aunt's life, spanning the 1880's to 1940's. The story unfolds over the turn of the last century, encompassing a number of well-known American events (both cultural and scientific) while remaining very much a domestic story about the private life and marriage of Margaret and Andrew Early.
Author MadLib: Jane Smiley is currently working on a new novel or two. She lives in California with five horses, three dogs, and one partner. When she's not writing, she's riding, knitting, cooking, traveling, or trying to get the children to clean their rooms.
What does Private Life refer to?
Margaret's inner life (which Andrew shows no interest in) and also the contrast between the role of the traditional wife and the world-renowned scientist-husband. But it also refers to the various layers of her memories of her early life and her interpretation of them.
Andrew's personality seemed to overwhelm and override Margaret. Do you think there was any way Margaret could have constructed a happy life while married to Andrew? If they were living in today's times, how differently might she have navigated her marriage?
In the end she gets some perspective on who she is within this marriage, but it is a certain kind of marriage that is less common today (though not gone away). Anyone, even today, can be married to a self-centered, self-involved tormented ego-maniac. It's also more possible today to get help in retaining your identity in such a marriage. But every marriage involves choices about whether to accommodate the marriage or to leave it, so even though Margaret and Andrew exist in an earlier time, the dynamic of their relationship is not entirely of their time. And of course, there are still plenty of cultures in our world where the wife's job is to be subordinate, and so what does that mean? It's a perennial question.
Read the rest of the interview with Jane Smiley.
Author interviews—you ask the questions
Next month I'll be interviewing Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants, about her new book Ape House. I'll also be interviewing musician and writer Kristin Hersh about her memoir Rat Girl.
Have a question for Gruen or Hersh? Post them in the Author Interviews—you ask the questions group.
Author Chat lets you talk to authors—ask questions, get answers, and find out more about how or why a book is written. The schedule of upcoming chats is posted too, so you can plan to read the author's book ahead of time.
More free books: Member Giveaways
At any given time, there are hundreds of books available from our Member Giveaways program. Member Giveaways is like Early Reviewers, but isn't limited to select publishers—any author or member can post books. Request books, or offer your own!
Popular this month
- Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
- The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
- Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich
- One Day by David Nicholls
- The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
- The Passage by Justin Cronin
- The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
- Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
- The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
- 61 Hours by Lee Child
Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions? Send them our way.
—Sonya, one of the LibraryThing librarians (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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