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- Apr 8, 2015
- Real Name
- Howard E. A. (Tony) Tinsley
- About My Library
- I have thousands of books filling five floor-to-ceiling bookcases. I had to reduce my book purchasing several years ago as I had no place to put them. From time to time I donate a selection of books to the Friends for their book sales, creating space to purchase new books. However, I rely primarily on the library, purchasing only those books (mostly non-fiction) I think I will want to read or consult repeatedly.
- About Me
Reading has been one of my favorite past-times since my early childhood in rural Kansas. I recall many happy visits to the local Carnegie library. While in the fifth grade, I was one of four students invited to make a brief presentation to the local friends of the library. The topic I chose was why I like biographies. In the 6th grade, I often spent Saturday afternoons in the library instead of going to the nine-cent matinee playing at the theater a block down the street.
Now retired, I presently serve as the President of the Friends of the Library in my hometown.
After the 6th grade, we moved to Washington, and the library in the small rural crossroads closest to my house was a single room in the back of the dime store. No problem: the school library provided some books, the thrift store in the closest town had a good supply of used books ranging in price from a nickel to a quarter, and my birthday and Christmas gifts always included books I wanted.
Beginning in high school and continuing up to the present, I accomplished what I believe to be one of the essential requirements for becoming a famous author; I held a potpourri of jobs. I worked as a cannery worker (and later, foreman), roustabout, fork-lift driver, pre-cool attendant, U. S. Marine, janitor, recreational facilities manager, counselor, elected official, university professor ... I could go on.
Our (my wife's and my) personal library includes lots and lots of books (translation: I am too lazy to count them). We have five floor-to-ceiling bookcases filled with books and another four-shelf bookcase filled with adolescent fiction, my wife's hobby. The need to consolidate our professional libraries with our home library forced us to donate hundreds of books when we retired. Since I retired, I have dabbled in various service activities: Friends of the Community Center, Seniors, and Historical Society. I served two terms on the City Council, and recently I taught as a visiting professor at a regional university. Presently I am serving as President of the local Friends of the Library.
I have had (and continue to have) a blessed life, but if I have one regret, it is that I am a slow (plodding) reader. I envy he folks who claim to be able to read a book in a single day. I seldom finish a book in less than a week. Just think of how many more books I could read if only I could read faster.
C'est la vie.
My 10 Point Rating Scale for Books
10 Excellent: A splendid book of the highest quality. I’m adding this to my shortlist of all-time favorites.
9 Superb: This book is exceptionally good and thoroughly enjoyable: a genuine pleasure to read.
8 Very Good: A solid work that was fun (or informative) reading.
7 Good: This was an enjoyable but not an "I can't put down” experience.
6 Okay: I’m not excited about this book but it’s good enough I will read another book by this author.
5 Mediocre: It'll do if you have nothing better laying around.
4 Uneven: Some parts were pretty good but other parts were mediocre, boring, or even bad. I might read another book by this author.
3 Boring: I wanted to know how it came out so I stayed with it but I didn't enjoy the process.
2 Bad: A “Why the hell did I read this” experience. Finishing this book required a stubborn effort. I should have quit.
1 Terrible: Unreadable! DNF. I tried but I couldn't make myself finish it. Why torture yourself?
0 Horrible: I hated it. My time would have been better spent getting a root canal. DNF.
Evolution Of My Ratings
My ratings generally tend to be on the high side because I carefully select the fiction I read based on past experience with authors and reviews that describe a storyline I find appealing. I select non-fiction books that deal with a topic of genuine interest.
However, my ratings in 2016 and early 2017 are lower than before as a result of more experience and the insight that comes from actually writing a review of each book I read. Often my general impressions crystallize as a result of preparing a review and the rating I assign is different than the rating I had in mind as I began preparing the review.
I used that approach and my numerical rating scale for 14 months before I decided to add brief verbal descriptors to each numerical rating. This required me to consider carefully the difference between adjoining points on the scale (e.g., the difference between ratings of 2 and 3 and 7 and 8). I began using this elaborated scale in late May 2017.
• The bottom four points on the scale express negative reactions of varying intensity.
• The middle three points on the scale indicate a somewhat neutral reaction. That is not particularly good as I select each book I read with the expectation that my reaction will be positive.
• The top four points on the scale indicate a positive reaction of varying intensity.
• The top point on the scale is reserved for those books that were particularly meaningful to me. Few books will receive that rating. Some seem to assign 5-star ratings with regularity but for me ratings of 4.5 are rare and ratings of 5 are reserved for only the most special books.
My Current Resolution/The Nancy Pearl Algoritym
Curiosity is my worst enemy sometimes as when I began a book, find that I really am not enjoying it, but continue through to the end because I am curious about how it comes out. Ratings of 2 and 3 reflect that folly. I plan to adopt Nancy Pearl's algorithm in an attempt to be more disciplined and eliminate such ratings.
* If you are 50 or younger give a book 50 pages and if you don't like it quit reading it.
* If you are over 50 subtract your age from 100 and use that page count as your decision point.
Given that, I am getting closer and closer to being able to judge books by the synopsis on the dust jacket. That underscores two general principles writers should always remember:
* On page one, you must give readers a reason to turn to page two.
* The inciting incident that changes the protagonist forever with no hope of turning back should occur in the first 20-40 pages and absolutely before page 50.
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