LibraryThing & Book Reviews

I first came across the LibraryThing website about a year ago. The idea is remarkably simple – it allows you to catalogue your books, tag them and review them. You can create a free account and manage up to 200 books to get a feel for it, but to add more you have to pay. The lifetime membership fee is very reasonable though, at $25 which works out at about £12, and I finally signed up this week.

Its a great way of keeping track of what books you have read, and also which ones you have lent to other people. I’ve still got a way to go before I will have added my entire collection. You can look at my library here. Another nice feature is that it will show you who has a similar library to you, which can be useful as you can look at the ratings people with similar tastes to you have given to books you are thinking of reading.

I’ve also put links to my book reviews on there, and discovered that I have now reviewed just over 100 books on this site over the last 3 years or so. I’ve been trying for the last couple of years to read more books than I buy (not counting books I am given).

Which brings me to a rather disturbing quote I found in Joanna & Alister McGrath’s book on self-esteem I read recently.

As Lewis W. Spitz, professor of history at Stanford University, once said: "There are those who write. Those who can’t write cut them down in reviews, which is one way of asserting themselves against their intellectual superiors.

I think there is value in a book review, even in one that is highly critical of the book in question. But those of us who write reviews need to beware of the review being more about ourselves and our impeccable gift of discernment than about the book in question.

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