delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
Each December, GoodReads thoughtfully provides all its members with a summary of "Your Year in Books." It's rather fun to go back and see what one has read, and the collage of book covers is always lovely.

This year I read 72 books for a total of 23,983 pages (although GR stats only count books read for the first time; including re-reads, my grand total for this year so far is 113 books!). One of my books was also read by 1.9 million other people (The Help), while another was read by only three other people (Promise Island, a good premise disappointingly executed). My shortest "book" for 2016 was 7 pages (a Ted Chiang short story) and my longest was 848 pages (a fantastic collection of women noir authors from the 1940s). Though again, that's only first-time reads; in actuality my longest books this year were Stephen King's The Stand and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, both of which are perennial re-reads for me.

You can see my summary here -- and check it out, [ profile] drinkingcocoa's Snape: A Definitive Reading is right there at the top :)
delphipsmith: (Cicero books)
Recently over on GoodReads, someone started a discussion on "How Did You Become a Reader?" and kicked it off with the following three questions, to which I have added a fourth:

1) Do you remember being read to as a child?
2) Do you remember when you first realized you love to read?
3) Have you always liked to read, or is it something you developed later?
4) What are some "firsts" in your life as a reader?

I had a lot of fun thinking about these questions and my own history as a reader, and since so many of us here on LJ are avid readers, I thought I'd share with y'all. I'd love to hear your answers as well (if you answer over on your own LJ, leave a comment here and let me know so I can find it!).

I don't remember ever not being a reader. Mom was an English teacher and librarian so there were always books at our house. We went to the library A LOT and I was always allowed to take as many books as I wanted. (Our first trip to a bookstore was quite traumatic, apparently, as I did not like being limited to only two!).

Mom read to me, and later to me and my brother, until I was in my teens -- he was five years younger than me so it was quite a challenge finding something that suited both of us! I remember The Hobbit, The Paleface Redskins, Half Magic, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle...

Sometimes Mom would insist that I go outside and get some fresh of course I would go outside with a book. My favorite thing to do was take a bag of apples and two books and climb a tree. I would sit in the tree happily reading for easily a couple of hours.

My parents divorced when I was really young, like about two, so for years I would go spend two weeks with my dad every summer. My stepmom had three kids when they got married; I was a pretty shy kid and they didn't like me much, or I thought they didn't, though more likely it was just that we didn't have much in common because...THEY DIDN'T LIKE TO READ (gasp). So every summer I took two suitcases, one full of clothes and one full of books. One year I didn't bring enough and had to read some of them twice.

The only time I remember mom taking a book away from me was when I was ten or eleven and I got my hands on her copy of The Godfather. Probably a good idea, I think it's a bit much for a ten-year-old. Although the best thing about books is that, unlike movies, if a kid runs into something they aren't ready for, they probably simply won't understand it or be able to picture it, so it just goes right past them.

The first book I actually remember reading was Lloyd Alexander's The High King. The first book I remember getting as a gift is Bambi, when I was about seven. The first book I remember eagerly awaiting publication of is Silver On the Tree -- I'd recently discovered the series and had zoomed through them, and was horrified to discover I would have to actually wait for the last one. I think that was my first introduction to the idea that books weren't some kind of natural resource -- they didn't grow on shelves like apples grow on trees, but had to be made -- written by a real live human being and then printed and bound and shipped and so on. (The logical corollary, which I arrived at almost immediately, was People Write Books + I Am A People = Therefore I Could Write A Book. I haven't yet, but I haven't given up on it either.) The first nonfiction book I remember reading is Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man, about her research with chimpanzees in the wild. The first book that actually changed how I thought about life was Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

Growing up, I never went anywhere without a book, even if we were just running to the grocery store or the gas station. This is still true today; just as some people won't leave the house without putting on their makeup, I feel undressed if I leave the house without a book. They have been and continue to be the best of teachers and friends.
delphipsmith: (library)
delphipsmith: (BA beta)
The University of Iowa is digitizing its massive collection of fanzines and other fan works. As a fan, as a librarian, as an archivist, as someone who has been involved in six-figure digitization projects and knows just how complicated and expensive this is (and what a huge long-term commitment is involved), I am practically giddy with excitement. Best of all, they're going to open it up for crowdsourced transcription, so you can read fanfic and help future readers/researchers/fans all at the same time. Is that squee-worthy or what??

Thanks to [ profile] ennyousai for alerting me to this project :)

...Peter Balestrieri, Curator of Science Fiction and Popular Culture Collections for UI Libraries, and his colleagues are working to preserve the writings and records of fan communities. While these fandoms have become increasingly accessible and well known since the advent of digital communication, they are nearly as old as the genre itself—and in some cases, nearly as storied.

“Our collecting emphasis on fandoms and fan-created/related materials is solid and ongoing, as is our connection to fan communities and our dedication to helping them preserve and provide access to their histories for research and pleasure,” Balestrieri [said]...Now, the pulps and passion projects alike will be getting properly preserved and digitized so they can be made accessible to readers and researchers the world over...Once the titles are digitized, they’ll become the basis of a searchable database that UI is counting on volunteers to develop through crowdsourced transcription...

Read the whole fabulous story ====>
delphipsmith: (thinker)
Francis Bacon's recommendations for being a "gentleman scholar" (1594), and my new ambition of what I want to be/do/have when I grow up. I love the idea of "in small compass a model of universal nature made private" so that you can study whatever it is you want to, right there in your own little realm :)

First, the collecting of a most perfect and general library, wherein whatsoever the wit of man hath hitherto committed to books of worth, be they ancient or modern, printed or manuscript, European or of other parts, of one or another language, may be made contributory to your wisdom. Next, a spacious wonderful garden, wherein whatsoever plant the sun of diverse climates, out of the earth of diverse molds, either wild or by the culture of man, brought forth, may be, with that care that appertaineth to the good prospering thereof, set and cherished; this garden to be built about with room to stable in all rare beasts and to cage in all rare birds, with two lakes adjoining, the one of fresh water, the other of salt, for like variety of fishes. And so you may have in small compass a model of universal nature made private. The third, a goodly huge cabinet, wherein whatsoever the hand of man by exquisite art or engine hath made rare in stuff, form or motion; whatsoever singularity, chance and the shuffle of things hath produced; whatsoever nature hath wrought in things that want life and may be kept, shall be sorted and included. The fourth, such a still-house, so furnished with mills, instruments, furnaces and vessels as may be a palace fit for a philosopher's stone. Thus, when your excellency shall have added depth of knowledge to the fineness of your spirits and greatness of your power, then indeed shall you be a Trismegistus, and then when all other miracles and wonder shall cease, by reason that you shall have discovered their natural causes, yourself shall be left the only miracle and wonder of the world.
delphipsmith: (BA beta)
[ profile] rivertempest recently posted her contribution to an interesting meme, so I commented on it in order to be able to play along.

The rules are thus: Comment to this post and I will pick seven things I would like you to talk about. They might make sense or be totally random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your journal. Other people can get lists from you, and the meme merrily perpetuates itself.

She gave me seven very interesting word-prompts to play with: Books, Writing, Editing, Philosophy, Libraries, Wine, and Travel. So let's dive right in, shall we?

1. Books: Books are such a core part of my life and always have been that talking about them is sort of like talking about breathing. I started reading at a pretty young age, before preschool, and just never stopped -- since my mom has been both an English teacher and a librarian, I suppose there wasn't ever any question that this was my fate! Books go with me everywhere and have colonized almost every room in the house (I think the bathroom is the last holdout). I feel nervous if I don't have something to read within reach. Books have been companions, teachers, entertainers, mentors, guides and tools, both defense and weapon. Some people have comfort food; I have comfort books. Some people pack a book or two for a trip; I have to bring at least six, because what if I brought only two and it turned out I wasn't in the mood for reading either of them?? Calamity!!! When I visit someone's house, the first thing I do is troll their bookshelves. When I used to go visit my dad for two weeks in the summers, I brought two suitcases; one was full of clothes, the other was packed with books. My list of books read (which is incomplete) shows what a glutton I am for the written word. My to-read list demonstrates why I will never die, because I refuse to do so until I've read everything on that list. And yeah, I own a Kindle, but give me a proper book every time, complete with pages to turn and that great book-y smell :)

2. Writing: I love putting words together almost as much as -- and occasionally more than -- I love reading them. There's something magical about translating a story in your head into a form that other people can read and share. My plan as a kid was to be a writer. My goal as a much much older kid is still to be a writer, though I need to be more industrious about working at it. I belong to a very good online writing workshop, but need to carve out more time in my day for BIC HOK TAM. Not counting technical/non-fiction, I've had exactly one very short piece published and one unofficially accepted by Big Name Magazine (which operates on a Big Name Schedule, meaning it may be Big Name Years before it ever sees the light of day...). My goal for 2013 is to apply to the Clarion West writers workshop; it's pretty much the gold standard of FSF/speculative fiction workshops and counts among its alumni literally dozens of award-winning authors. All you do for six weeks is write, write, write, which is my idea of bliss. "That is one reason I write: as a kind of spiritual practice, to force truth to emerge from my habitual state of lazy dishonesty." (George Saunders)

3. Editing: In addition to my day job, I have a side business doing editing, proofreading and indexing. The most satisfying thing about editing, and why I love to beta, is helping someone say what they have to say, assisting in the birth of a piece of writing. That might mean finding exactly the right word the author was searching for, or spotting a plot hole so they can plug it, or simply tightening a phrase so that a sentence is honed to a point. (Or, occasionally, identifying anatomically impossible sexual positions LOL!) Much of my freelance editing is non-fiction -- dissertations, theses, papers to be submitted to journals -- which has its own limitations of form and function, but many of my authors are not native English speakers; if I can untangle a syntactical or grammatical knot so that their argument runs free and clear, I feel as though I have brought a tiny bit more order in the world.

4. Philosophy: The closest match for me is Stoicism. I believe that reason is the most important tool we have for understanding ourselves and the world, and that our highest purpose is to use that reason to improve ourselves as ethical and moral beings. As Marcus Aurelius says, "Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones." We need more philosophy in our daily lives, because it makes you think about why you do the things you do; too many people, personally and socially and professionally, act on the whim of the moment, without ever knowing (or caring) why. The book that best explained to me why that matters -- why a moral code isn't an abstract theory but a matter of great practical importance -- is Atlas Shrugged. "Isn't it odd? When a politician or a movie star retires, we read front page stories about it. But when a philosopher retires, people do not even notice it." "They do, eventually..."

5. Libraries: Given my response to Item 1, you'd have to be pretty slow on the uptake not to realize that in my world, libraries = win. Mom took me to libraries from a very early age; in fact the first time she took me to a bookstore, apparently I was still operating under the library mentality and picked out two dozen books :) I got my MS/LIS in 2004 and I currently work at an academic library in the rare books and manuscripts department (kind of like the restricted section at Hogwarts) which is BLISS. As you can imagine, I love stories about libraries and archives and mysterious manuscripts and letters and diaries and so on and so forth. Libraries rock -- we need more of them, and more money for them, and everyone should visit/support them, frequently and generously.

6. Wine: Wine is A Good Thing. I like the way it looks in the glass. I like the way it smells. I like the way it tastes. I like the way it inspires my fics -- as Hemingway famously said, "Write drunk; edit sober." (I don't like the calories, however, so I recently gave it up for a month to see if that would allow me to lose weight while still consuming all my other favorite stuff -- i.e., garlic, chocolate, cheese, etc. Sadly, it did not.) I am a down-to-earth oenophile, so I enjoy laughing at pompous and pretentious descriptions ("Historic almost overcooked Chardonnay. Throws out raspberry, focused lemon and atomic traces of smoked bacon. Drink now through Friday." HAHAHAAA!) Favorite white: Mud Pie Chardonnay. Favorite red: Rosemont Shiraz. Favorite bubbly: Veuve Clicquot (New Year's tradition at our house!). Favorite fictional wine: Benden red, beloved of the Masterharper of Pern.

7. Travel: I don't do so much now, but I traveled quite a bit in and just after college. I've been to most of Western Europe, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, France, England and Scotland. On one memorable trip we mistakenly bought tickets for the slow boat down the Rhine rather than the fast one which, while highly picturesque, meant three days on a boat and two nights sleeping in the shrubbery ashore, since you couldn't stay on the boat overnight. (We did meet some very nice young Brits who were on vacation from medical school, and assisted them valiantly in building up a very large tower of empty bottles at a wine bar in Cologne the first night. This probably explains why we were able to sleep so soundly in the shrubbery.) Switzerland was memorable for vividly illustrating how out-of-shape I was, when we hiked from Interlaken up to Gimmelwald (GORGEOUS place, complete with the cleanest cows I've ever seen wearing big clonking cowbells). Immediately upon leaving Interlaken there was a sign that said "Gimmelwald 40 minutes." An hour later, after panting our way up perpendicular hillsides, we passed another sign: "Gimmelwald 20 minutes." Gimmelwald was also notable for the curious hot-water arrangement at the hostel: the shower was down the end of the garden, but the meter for hot water was in the kitchen. So you dropped your francs into the meter and then had to sprint down the path in order to get there before the timer ran out :D

Thank you, [ profile] rivertempest, for seven highly useful words!
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
Two recent college graduates sit in nameless, faceless cubicles, staring at glowing blue computer screens. One laments, "It's like my four years of college just went down the toilet...I'm not helping anyone!" The other says wistfully, "I just wish we could find something better."

Suddenly, a huge majestic half-naked figure (a bit like an older Thor) appears behind them. "YOU SEEK ADVENTURE AND PURPOSE? SEEK NO MORE, FOR YOUR SEARCH HAS BORNE RIPE FRUIT! BEHOLD, I AM...LIBRARIAN!!!!"

Yup, it's a comic book -- a very funny, original, creative and (I think) effective PR project from Emporia State College's School of Library and Information Management. Read the whole thing here.
delphipsmith: (calvin books)
Pretty accurate :)

Delphi's Dewey Decimal Section:

141 Idealism & related systems

Delphi = 452689 = 452+689 = 1141

100 Philosophy & Psychology

Books on metaphysics, logic, ethics and philosophy.

What it says about you:
You're a careful thinker, but your life can be complicated and hard for others to understand at times. You try to explain things and strive to express yourself.

Find your Dewey Decimal Section at

delphipsmith: (library)
I love to find representations of archives and archivists in fiction. Dracula wants his books cataloged? Yes! Scholarly commentary on non-existent tomes? You bet! Footnotes with citations to fictional reference works? I'm so there!

So, for anyone else who loves that sort of thing and who's also on GoodReads, I've started a new group called Arrangement and Description: Archivists at Large. Step on over and join if you're interested!
delphipsmith: (library)
The Librarian By Day blog has a great post entitled Nine reasons publishers should stop acting like libraries are the enemy and start thanking them. I'm particularly fond of #4: "Archives - We keep copies of your older books that the bookstores have sold at discount prices or gotten rid of. We will buy additional copies when the ones we have get old or lost or stolen."

As an archivist I approve of this and would have put it at #1, but at least it's in the top 5.

She also points out that "For children we are a magical place where they can check out 20 or 50 books a week and take them home to read or for parents to read those books." My mother still loves to tell the story about the first time she took me an actual bookstore when I was about five. I'd only ever been to the library before, so of course I wandered the store and ended up with about thirty books in my pile. I was traumatized to find out that I could in fact only have TWO, and promptly went back to doing my shopping at libraries for the next ten years.

When I was fifteen, of course, I got a job and my own disposable income, most of which I now dispose of on books (better job = more book money!). Since then I haven't gone longer than a week without buying at least one book, which only goes to show that working is a bad idea; I should have stayed unemployed and stuck with libraries.
delphipsmith: (library)
A mysterious book lover/book sculptor is leaving beautiful works of book art in UK libraries. And in a lovely classic example of British taste, both journalists and readers have opted to refrain from identifying the giver. I wish I lived in Britain. In America it would already have been identified, dissected, turned into a reality show ("PAGED!!! YOU'RE BOOKMARKED!!"), voted on, spawned another reality show, and been cancelled. *sigh* Read the full story here.

delphipsmith: (VampiresKiss)
I very nearly gave up on this, due to fear of anticipated witch/vampire paranormal-romance cheesiness, and had it not been for the luscious descriptions of Duke Humfrey's reading room at the Bodleian, old manuscripts, food and wine, I might have bailed early on. But perseverance was rewarded: the author came through in terms of plot and I'm glad I stuck with it, because it turned out to be quite good. Some of the romance is, I freely admit, indeed a bit cheesy -- the male lead really needs to stop growling and purring -- and after the horror that was Twilight I have very little patience for the "I want you desperately but we cannot have sex now, we must wait until it's PERFECT" nonsense, but in the end these were minor quibbles in light of the intriguing plot. A plot, I might add, which manages to combine witches, vampires, demons, alchemy, secret crusader societies, and just about every magical power known to witch-kind. Not to mention some supremely good descriptions of wine (she said, smacking her lips).

The main character's irritating Mary Sue-wimp-ness ("No no no, I don't want to be a witch, I don't want to be magic" -- what are you, NUTS, woman??!??) does at last get explained in relatively credible terms. I suspect that in book 2 (forthcoming) she'll be a much stronger person, since there are some strong female characters, the best being Matthew's mother Ysabeau; when she faces down her other son, Baldwin, it's quite a scene. The Bishop House turns out to be a pretty strong character itself; I love the way it creates new bedrooms and spits out useful items as needed.

The intertwining of alchemy and genetics, magic and evolution, past and present are engrossing, and a nice change from the fluff that makes up most vampire/witch/demon fiction in these degenerate days. I'm looking forward to Book 2.
delphipsmith: (much rejoicing)
The Lee Library at BYU has done a brilliant and hilarious take-off of the original Old Spice ad, about studying in the library. Instead of The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, we have The Grades Your Grades Could Be Like (did you know "scientists have proven that studying in the library is six bajillion times more effective than studying in your shower?"). Enjoy!

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delphipsmith: (library)
The Old Spice guy gives a thumbs-up for libraries -- huzzah! Sexiest library spokesperson ever :)

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delphipsmith: (library)
[Warning: Marginally bitter rant ahead]

Yet another entry in the "libraries are dead" debate. I note parenthetically that certain people's statements at EduCause have taken on zombie status and WILL NOT DIE, viz. and to wit, making it even unto the hallowed halls of the New York Times and being referenced as supporting evidence by this jerkwad *ahem* sorry, James Tracy of Cushing Academy. Hell, let's just put all "those old pulpy devices" out of their mizry and burn 'em right now. Pffffft. Wonder what CA's enrollment will be four years from now.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not against digital. But there is flat-out no way the digital repository(ies) out there are sufficient to replace print, Google Scholar and the Gutenberg Project notwithstanding. I pity those CA students. They'll be leaving prep school with a completely distorted view of research, literature, and Western civilization in general.

Oh wait -- it's a prep school (tuition $32K per year, $44K for boarders -- plus that $1500 "technology fee" which probably goes to fund their new all-digital "library"). They probably leave with that anyway.
delphipsmith: (Default)
Giant saurian goes in search of the author of a mysteriously potent piece of writing and uncovers a strange subterranean city and helps to set right an old crime.  Overall: disappointing.  Mostly things happen TO Optimus Yarnspinner (best thing about the book were the names -- in the original German his name was Hildegunst von Mythenmetz !), but he isn't very active on his own behalf.  He runs away from things, gets rescued, etc., all passive, and some scenes seemed to go on a bit long.  And all the strange little creatures seemed unnecessary; why do we need ones that look like pigs and ones that look like vultures, etc.  It seems partially a caste system; some creatures are always in a particular profession.  But that's not consistent.  And I was unimpressed with the very ending which I guess was intended as a twist but instead came across as arrogant.  I did have great fun trying to figure out the authorial anagrams (Wamilli Swordthrow = William Shakespeare, Asdrel Chickens = Charles Dickens, etc).

The little creatures that memorize an author's entire oeuvre were kind of neat; that and the way they're referred to by the name of their author rather than by their own name reminded me of the memorizers at the end of Fahrenheit 451.   Speaking of which, I just found out that that was originally a short story entitled "Bright Phoenix," which I now must find.  Also, according to Bradbury, the novel wasn't about censorship but rather about the way in which television destroys interest in reading and leads to a perception of knowledge as composed of "factoids", partial information devoid of context.  He must be SO depressed today.  The fact that the Bookholm has no mass media is surely not an accident -- the closest thing are the "timber time" readings, where people listen to someone reading their latest work.  The largest "mass media event," the symphony, turns out to be evil as it's used to hypnotize the listeners into doing things; perhaps a reference to the mass media of television "hypnotizing" people?  Perhaps an implication that reading is something best done one-on-one with a book, not as a common shared experience?  Hm.


delphipsmith: (Default)

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