A typical bookshelf in our house.

Both of us are heavy readers. I have had books in progress for the vast majority of my life, usually at least two of them at a time. My sister is like that. My daughters are like that. My youngest once spent a couple of weeks crying herself to sleep. She could see her sister lying in her own room with a book and she was so frustrated that she couldn’t yet read. It’s an addiction with as strong a pull as any other. The Utah contingent of this family travels with a large bag of books. And an even larger bag of shoes, but that’s a subject for a later post.

Which leads us to the problem shared by bibliophiles all over the world: what to do with all of these damn books? All of our shelves are at least two levels deep in both directions: up & out. We have boxes of books in storage. They’re everywhere. We try to weed them out by donating to the local library sale, but that doesn’t always work out. I once bought a book at the sale, only to get home and quickly realize that I had already read it. That, in fact, I had donated that very copy.

Which leads me to LibraryThing. It’s a site that catalogs and organizes your library. You enter your books and you have a record of your library. It generates statistics. (How many science fiction? How many by Neal Stephenson?) You can review/comment/rate your books. How many others share your interests? Lots and lots of different ways to look at your library. Most importantly, you can see what you’ve read and what you want to read. And it’s cheap. It’s free for the first 200 books and only $25 for a lifetime unlimited membership.

They sell a cheap bar code scanner ($15) that just lets you scan the ISBN and it adds the book to your library. For 15 bucks it makes the data entry task for a library of our size trivial. I’m totally there. After less than a week with the scanner I have 84 books entered. The vast majority of these are from one bookshelf, and they were the ones that were on top of, or in front of, the other books. It may not help us physically organize our collection, but at least we’ll know what we’ve got.

To see our library, go here.

(BTW: I had a problem when I ordered my membership due to operator error. I contacted their customer support and they rock! Quick response and they fixed my screw-up in short order. I love these guys.)