CollectionsYour library (4,116), Books I have read (1,177), Currently reading (2), Background reading projects (5), Read but unowned (263), All collections (4,379)
TagsFiction (1,133), History (701), Astronomy (518), Biography (259), Physics (236), Science Fiction (224), Fantasy (214), Poetry (179), History of Science (171), Philosophy (161) — see all tags
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About meI'm an academic scientist who also has strong interests in literature, history, and almost everything else.
The motto of my "university" is written (in Quenya) on the book in the university seal. Transliterated, this is “melne tinta ar istya calya i mána coile,” literally “Love kindles and knowledge illuminates the good life”, a translation of Bertrand Russell’s aphorism “The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.”
About my library"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
- Jorge Luis Borges
It will take a long time to get the 4000+ books in my library cataloged here, so be patient!
I've kept a list of every book I've read since 1990. Since 1982, I've selected a "best fiction" and "best nonfiction" of the year, and at the end of 1990, 2000, and 2010, I've selected three works that didn't win the annual prize for a "decade award." I may have missed a few, but all the books in these categories are now entered.
For books I read before 1990, I compiled a pretty good list of these books retrospectively (in 1996). That list is certainly incomplete, and for most of these books there's a 1-3 year uncertainty as to when I read them. I can date some of them more precisely (for example, I may have read them for a specific course in college). These books have now been entered.
The "Books I have read" collection is probably incomplete.
When I acquire new books, they are added essentially immediately.
I'm now (slowly!) entering the books I owned before joining LibraryThing but haven't read. Until October 2011, I entered these books alphabetically by author (into "M"). I will probably be adding the rest more haphazrdly, based on where they are shelved. I will sometimes go for several weeks without entering any, and then enter a few dozen over a few days.
For books I've read, the comments will indicate when I read them. There are a number of cartoon books (Dilbert, Doonesbury, etc.) that I've read that I didn't list in my records, so the comment will only mention that they have in fact been read.
Some books are compilations of individual works. If I have read some part of such a compilation, that will be indicated in the comments.
Books I currently own are being placed in the "My Library" collection, whereas books I've read but do not currently own are going into the "Read but unowned" collection (rather obvious, I would think). Since the total number of books that I know I have read is about equal to 1/3 of the number I own, I have long assumed that I have read about 1/3 of the books I own. LibraryThing has made me realize how many of the books I've read are things I don't own anymore, though - the percentage of unread books in my library is higher than I realized. I'm not sure whether this is good or bad, but it is a side effect of being able to purchase books faster than I can read them.
For books that are compilations of works that were originally published separately, I'll comment on which of the constituent works I've read.
I tend to keep books after I've read them and rarely discard them, but there have been a few purges in my life. The purges have been mostly of science fiction and fantasy, which I read almost exclusively in high school, but rather less often and more selectively since then. Occasionally I will discard a book if I obtain a better copy or a more complete compilation that includes it. Those books will appear in the "read but unowned" collection.
When I started entering my books on LibraryThing, I wasn't trying very hard to get the exact edition, with one or two exceptions: I tried to have the right cover and I tried to get the translator right for translated works. I must admit that I have a strong dislike of dust jackets - I think that hardcover books are far more aesthetically pleasing without them. Therefore, many of my hardcover books no longer have the dust jacket pictured. I know this will alarm many book collectors, but the true value of the book is its contents, not its cover.
As time has gone on, I've gotten pickier about getting the edition right. When I finish I may go back and correct details on books entered early on.
Some multi-volume works currently have a single entry, but I'm converting them into one entry per volume.
Some of the books on this list technically belong to my wife, although I think of books in a fashion similar to the traditional Maasai belief about cattle - they all belong to me. Don't worry - you may continue to borrow the ones in your care indefinitely!
Favorite authorsNot set
Account typepublic, lifetime
Member sinceJul 9, 2009
Currently readingFire And Blood: A History Of Mexico by T. R. Fehrenbach
Lapham's Quarterly, Vol. V, No. 3, Summer 2012: Magic Shows by Lewis Lapham