Tagging one's books from Across the Pond
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I enjoy reading many works by authors not from the US and the UK, and often tag my books with continent and nationality of the author (i.e. Africa, African authors, Nigeria, Nigerian authors).
At first, I thought I might tag US & UK authors, then I ruled it out because there were just too many of them. But sometime this year I changed my mind again and started to tag them but herein lies my quandary.
I tagged some "Scottish authors", others "English authors", still others "Irish authors" and recently I tagged something "Anglo-Irish authors". I've also tagged "UK authors" and there is, no doubt, somewhere in my library some book is tagged "British authors".
Now, I'm sure jargoneer has patiently explained all the differences to me (at least on a geo-political level) at some time in the last two years but apparently the lesson didn't stick or it didn't apply quite so neatly to books and authors.
How the author is labeled on the book is often what informs my tagging. I suppose I could just use the general "UK authors" tag, but certainly James Kelman and A. L Kennedy would also consider themselves Scottish authors, would they not? Is Dickens an English author (as in from England) or a British author? I would prefer to be more specific than the huge, general category of "UK authors".
So, please help me out here.
OK, this is spooky. I went on a tagging spree today, specifically with my Virago Modern Classics. Like you, avaland, I like to use author nationality as a tag. And I typically use the country name (i.e.; Nigeria instead of Nigerian), but then realized I already have several books tagged "American" and "British" instead of "USA" or "UK" or "England". I may have to redo some ...
I think you should tag Scottish and Irish separately from British, and consider using English instead of British ... although I haven't done so in my own library as of yet. I'd like to hear from some others on this topic ... the discussion just might help me figure out my own scheme. Thanks!
I use the country name to note where the story is set, so if it takes place in Nigeria, I will use the tag 'Nigeria'. As for author nationalities, I use the adjective form (e.g., 'Nigerian' for a Nigerian author). I distinguish by using 'Scottish' or 'Irish', depending on how the author identifies themselves, if I know. Also, I use 'British' instead of 'English' (when I mean English author) because the tag 'English' already has a different meaning for me.
But do what works for you! If you think there is a significant difference by which you want to sort your library, then distinguish the nationalities. If not, 'UK author' could work for you.
I don't tag my books using the author's nationality for a very simple reason : some authors have the nationality of one country but write a lot if not most of their books about or from another country. I much prefer separating my books into categories related to the date of publication : I have tags for centuries up to the 20th century which is divided into decades. I also tag them by genre (biography, novel, play), and that's about it. I'm afraid I think tagging is a very reductive system, I don't really like to classify the books I read : for example, I will never use the tag "children's book", I think most of the so-called "children's books" I read can be very much appreciated by adults, and I wouldn't know where to draw the line anyway.
>4 yes, we have had great, lengthy discussions on tagging by country of birth or location or culture over on the Reading Globally thread. It does have its drawbacks but for some of us, reading outside our own countries is important so we persevere! (we also like to see how we're doing sometimes). I'm not looking for perfection here, so I go, as Christiguc does, with how the authors identify themselves. To me it's important to separate out Scottish and Irish authors, in particular.
Wikipedia has an exhausting explanation of all these terms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Isles_(terminology) *rescued by wikipedia*
One may just have to consider tagging an imperfect science and hope for the best consistency possible:-)
avaland, I tag mine Modern Scottish Lit., Modern Irish Lit., or Modern English Lit., etc., as this works for me and the way my brain files things. I only use British when I don't know which specific country is the author's home.
If you want to keep it binary, you could stick to British and Irish. That would make, for instance, Thomas, Stevenson and Dickens all British - which I think is acceptable - but Yeats, Joyce and Heaney would remain Irish. (Heaney's the tricky one here, coming from Northern Ireland as he does, but not calling him Irish would be a travesty).
If you want to be more detailed, you could always go for British (Scottish) etc.
Someone like R. S. Thomas is utterly Welsh, but is it wrong to call him British as well? I don't think so. Our borders are fairly porous.
But, correctly, you're not calling him, or Welsh (Scottish, so confusing!) English, and that would be the ultimate faux pas.
Funny how we all have our own system. I tag as British rather than English for the same reason as listed above (confusion with the language). If people fit in more than one nationality, I list them both. I list countries in reference to the actual locals in the book rather than nationality of the author.
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