Archive for the ‘holiday’ Category

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

12 Days of LibraryThing: Holiday Scavenger Hunt

Happy Holidays! This year we’re trying something new, 12 Days of LibraryThing: a scavenger hunt around the site. Starting today, we will add one clue per day through December 24th. Each clue refers to a page on LibraryThing, which is marked with a pear icon when you go to it. Gather each day’s pear to be entered into drawings for prizes!

» The clues are here!

How it works:

  • New clues launch at midnight EST. There will be one new clue each day from now through Dec. 24th.
  • Decipher the clues and visit the corresponding LibraryThing pages to find the pears.
  • If a page has a pear, you’ll see a banner at the top of the page.
  • There is a new clue each day. We encourage you to find as many pears as you can, but you only get credit for the daily prize if you find the pear on the day it was posted.
  • Come and discuss your pear hunting and exchange hints on Talk.

Win prizes:

  • Any member who finds a pear on the day it was posted will be awarded a pear badge ()
  • Each day, we’ll randomly select a member who found that day’s pear to receive a set of our LibraryThing/TinyCat coasters.
  • Members who find all twelve pears will be entered into a drawing for a LibraryThing tote bag. We will pick the lucky tote bag winner on December 31st.

Questions or comments? Join the discussion on Talk. Happy pear gathering!

Labels: fun, holiday

Tuesday, December 11th, 2018

Top Five Books of 2018

Every year we make a list of the top five books every LT staff member has read this year. You can see past years’ lists here.

We also like seeing your favorite reads, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’re interested in not just the most read books of 2018, but the best of the best. What were your top five for this year? Note: books on this list weren’t necessarily published in 2018—these are the best we’ve read this year, regardless of publication date.

» List: Top Five Books of 2018—Add your own!

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!


Abby

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. If you want to feel gutted by excellent literature, this is the book for you.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. I love this book, this flaneuse, this love letter to New York, with its exquisite prose and heartbreaking history of one strong woman. I love this cover. And I love Lillian Boxfish. “The structure of the city is the structure of a dream. And me, I have been a long time drifting.”

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung. Phenomenal. Incredibly poignant memoir about adoption, family, race, and just being a human.

Who Is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht. This is the queer lady spy novel of my dreams.

The Calculating Stars: A Lady Astronaut Novel by Mary Robinette Kowal. In an alternate history where a meteorite strikes DC in 1952, bringing on the kind of climate change that could make earth uninhabitable, Elma is a mathematician and former WWII pilot who becomes involved in the space program. I cannot even begin to say how much I loved this book.

Honorable mentions
Honorable mention to the Rivers of London series which I discovered and then devoured this year.


Loranne

An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon. Really great sci-fi that prods at the legacy of the transatlantic slave trade and what a history of oppression does to people, set in space. The protagonist, Aster, is unlike any other I’ve read. Manages to feel very personal, while taking aim at the entire society Solomon has built here. Everyone should read it.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey. Sci-fi but with lots of feelings. About a team prepping for a mission to mars, and how that impacts them and their families. Made me want to call my mom a lot.

Circe by Madeline Miller. Fans of Miller’s equally excellent previous work (The Song of Achilles) will come for the beautiful writing; everyone should stay for the righteous wrath of a witch scorned.

The Quick by Lauren Owen. This book keeps changing what it is: first it’s a Secret Garden-style childhood mope, then it’s a Young Man off to The City to Seek His Fortune, then oh wait, it’s a love story! And that’s all before the vampires show up and things get really interesting.

The Wicked + the Divine. A comic I’ve been reading for the last five years that’s drawing to a close. Great writing, great art. Every 90 years, 12 gods (from different pantheons) are reincarnated as young people—this time around, they’re pop star archetypes: Lucifer/David Bowie, Inanna/Prince, Amaterasu/Florence Welch, and so on. Mythology nerds will enjoy.

Loranne’s… mentions?

The Power by Naomi Alderman. I had such high hopes for this one, having heard rave reviews: women everywhere develop the power to electrocute via their hands. It was ultimately a disappointment: great writing, cool premise, but completely glosses over even the existence of trans/non-binary folks. What’s worse than ignoring people who don’t fit the strict gender binary: there’s a total fakeout—could have explored that character and had it be very interesting, but discarded them instead.

Crosstalk by Connie Willis. A book club read I just couldn’t get through. Maybe if you’re not into social media, don’t write a “romance” that hinges on it? Reminded me of The Circle (and that’s not a good thing).


Tim

Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology by Eric H. Cline. I started out disliking this book, whose early chapters go over much of the ground of Gods, Graves, Scholars, but not as entertainingly. It grew on me, and won my heart when it profiled an archaeologist (George Bass) I worked with once upon a time. It may not be perfect, but it’s so far as I know it’s a unique thing—an comprehensive, accessible, scholarly overview of world archaeology. Cat, meet catnip.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John McWhorter. I love McWhorter. I just love him. That is all.

The Winged Watchman by Hilda Van Stockum. A children’s book I listened to with Liam and Lisa. It’s something of a lost classic—a story of a rural Dutch family during the German occupation that is both exciting and, in the end, true to the pervasive horror and occasional mercies of the period.

In the Land of a Thousand Gods: A History of Asia Minor in the Ancient World by Christian Marek. I’m still working my way through this, a nearly 1,000-page summary of Anatolian history. No doubt it would be dry to some. As someone whose deepest historical and archaeological interests coincide perfectly with the topic, it is quite the opposite. The parts I know already read like rereading an old love letter, and the parts that are new to me make my hair stand on end.

Vatican I: The Council and the Making of the Ultramontane Church by John W. O’Malley. John O’Malley, SJ is best known for his work on the early Jesuits (see my 2017 top-five list). In recent years he’s taken up the ecumenical councils, including a rather good basic lecture series, a history of Trent, and a history of Vatican II (on my 2011 top-five list). His history of Vatican I is similarly good, and oddly appropriate to the moment. This is all my attempt to make up for having attended Georgetown when O’Malley was teaching, not taking any of his class and indeed being completely ignorant of who he was.

Dishonorable mention

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. In my 2014 list I gave Engines of God a dishonorable mention, writing “Why do I bother reading science fiction?” In 2013 I wrote “I love good science fiction, but most of it is crap,” and proceeded to disparage Wool, The Black Cloud, Children of God, and The Midwich Cuckoos. The year before, I said the same of The Kraken Wakes. In recent years Annihilation and The Maze Runner got the stick. I think you can see where I’m going with this one. Certainly, the idea of The Three-Body Problem is clever, but Cixin, Wyndham, McDevitt and the rest: that’s not enough.


Kate

Drink: The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston. I’ve read a great number of recovery memoirs (voyeurism? curiosity? something in between?), but this addition to the genre stands alone, at least for me. While Johnston shares pieces of her story and journey to sobriety, she also incorporates the results of years of research on the subject of women and drinking. I spent half the time reading this book with my jaw unhinged, my mouth hanging open in disbelief, and the other half reading statistics and other data aloud to my husband. I don’t think I’ve highlighted a book this much since graduate school.

The Incendiaries: A Novel by R.O. Kwon. I first heard this book mentioned on the Forever35 podcast by Doree Shafrir as “cults + North Korea + The Secret History,” which was all I needed to hear. I read The Incendiaries in a single sitting, which is definitely a testament to its excellence as I have two kids under four years old. Honestly, it exceeded expectations.

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life: Essays by Samantha Irby. Samantha Irby is a delight, y’all. I have *never* laughed so hard reading a book. Like, snort-laughing, gasping-for-air-crying. But beware that this book is essays isn’t all laughs: Irby is just as adept at discussing the difficulties of life, of which she’s had more than her fair share.

Educated by Tara Westover. Westover’s memoir of growing up in a survivalist, Mormon family and making her way to Cambridge for a PhD is as shocking as it is impressive. Although her strength, tenacity, and intelligence are laudable, I was perhaps most impressed by how delicately and respectfully she portrayed her family—even those who have obviously done her wrong.

Lethal White by Robert Galbraith. My personal favorite Cormoran Strike novel. I’m a fan of Galbraith/Rowling and I couldn’t put this one down. As my father-in-law put it upon finishing the lengthy novel: “No wonder it took her so long!”


KJ

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio. A murder mystery/campus novel/Shakespeare homage, this gem isn’t for everybody, but if you like even one of those genres, give it a try. Familiarity with Shakespearean tragedies helpful.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer. This Pulitzer winner is a deceptively small novel about a mid-career gay novelist on a scrimped together round-the-world trip. In addition to its hilarious, beautiful language, I loved how it delicately demonstrates the monumental changes travel can engender in a person.

Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. If I ever become even a halfway decent home cook, it will be because of Samin. Also, there’s a really great Netflix series and the illustrations are gorgeous.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel by Alexander Chee. This collection of essays by one of my favorite authors covers everything from Chee’s rose garden in Brooklyn, his time as waiter for the ultra-rich, and his activism in San Francisco amid the AIDS crisis in the 80s. Come for the solid lessons on craft, stay for the illustration of a fully-lived life.

Circe by Madeline Miller. Miller made a splash with her debut novel Song of Achilles, an adaptation of The Iliad through the lens of the love of Achilles and Patroclus. Now, she tackles The Odyssey through the eyes of the witch Circe in a moving, righteously angry, and emotionally loaded interrogation of women’s place in Ancient Greece, and now.

Honorable mentions

The oeuvre of James Rollins I’ve spent most of this year on the road, and Rollins’ action thrillers made planes and buses and ferries pass more quickly. Think Dan Brown morphed with Michael Creighton with some Indiana Jones for good measure.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. What Abby said, above. Only didn’t make my top five because it’s in hers.


Chris C.

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived by Adam Rutherford.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin.

Breakfast with Socrates by Robert Rowland Smith.


Kristi

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. A compact, powerful message that must be read, broadcast, and the lessons heavily applied to the world. Read. This. Book.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I devoured this book. The characters had depth, the stories blended together seamlessly, a page-turning plot structure…very well done.

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I was a little skeptical of how Gaiman would make retellings of Norse mythology interesting…silly me. A delightful little collection.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. Great read. I loved the mundane observations Lahiri’s characters added to the overall theme of each short story. Definitely gave me more knowledge and insight into a culture I needed to learn more about—I’ll surely be looking for more.

Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky. Another fun read in the Olympus Bound trilogy, a modern NYC crime series intertwined with Greek mythology. The shortcomings I’ve found in this series, for me (the endings that drag on a bit and the characters that aren’t as well-developed as I’d like), are saved well enough by the good research Brodsky puts into her writing.


Kirsten

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Narrated by the author, this novel told in verse is at once a very easy read and an incredibly powerful one. I bought the hardcover after finishing the audiobook because like a book of poetry but unlike most novels, I really wanted to be able to mark it up and revisit certain passages.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland. I’m not much for zombies, but I’m very glad I made the exception for this one. For fans of Gail Carriger, Mackenzi Lee, and NK Jemisin, and anyone who enjoys a rollicking, fast-moving historical reimagining with whip-smart characters. Justina Ireland also gives real good Twitter.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. As with much of my reading this year, I didn’t know anything about this beyond reading a brief summary before listening to it (Scribd is proving quite excellent for book roulette), and I was blown away. It was intense, and also beautiful, empowering, heartbreaking, infuriating, and inspiring. It’s one that has stayed with me and which I think of often.

The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty. This author-narrated audiobook was both a joy to listen to, and a sobering recollection of one Black man’s ancestors and the lives they endured. In the afterword, Twitty acknowledges that the book is a complete mishmash of genres: he is apologetic about it, however, while I find it to be one of the book’s greatest strengths. Part culinary memoir, part history lesson, part spiritual journey, all heart.

How Long ‘til Black Future Month? by NK Jemisin. Nothing like a surprise December title to shake up the annual top 5. This short story collection exceeded any expectations I might have had if I’d known it was coming before the day it was actually released. The variety in themes, landscapes, and characters’ experiences and demographics is incredibly refreshing in a genre that can often feel like authors are revisiting past successes or giving their take on a story that’s been told time and time again. The audiobook was top-notch, and I’ll be seeking out a couple of the narrators so I can stalk their work forever. The first and last stories in particular were fascinating and exquisitely performed.

Honorable mentions

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I’ve been told for years that I should read this, and to everyone who said so, you were right.

Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi. Mafi’s lyrical prose and Bronson Pinchot’s narration are a perfect match.

Dishonorable mentions

Julie & Julia. This books has EVERYTHING: slurs against mental illness, disparaging terms for folks with disabilities, fatphobia… hard pass, thanks. Just… wow.

The Essex Serpent. I bailed on this one despite high hopes because of the increasingly icky-feeling use of an autistic-coded character as a plot device.


Chris H.

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari.

We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor.

The Mechanic’s Tale by Steve Matchett.

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2018 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations, top five

Friday, November 30th, 2018

5th Annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange

cardexchange-fullOur 5th annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange is here! Inspired by ALA Think Tank and Reddit, previous years have brought holiday cheer to many, so we’re doing it again!

The idea is simple:

  • Mail a Holiday card to a random LibraryThing member.
  • You’ll get one from another member. Only that member will see your address.*
  • You can mail a hand-made or store card. Add a note to personalize it.

Sign-up closes Friday, December 7th at 5:00 PM EST. We’ll inform you of your matches within an hour or so. Send your cards out soon after.

» Sign up for the LibrayThing Holiday Card Exchange

Questions? Join the discussion on Talk

* In order for the cards you receive to be addressed to your real name, you must include your name in the address box.

Labels: card exchange, events, fun, holiday

Monday, November 26th, 2018

LibraryThing’s Holiday Store and New Coasters

holidaystore

holidaystore_collage2

Holiday Store Sale

LibraryThing’s annual Holiday Store is here! If SantaThing (signups close this Wednesday, November 28th, 12pm EST) and the Holiday Card Exchange (details coming soon) aren’t enough to spark your holiday spirit, our generous Holiday Store Sale ought to help.

Highlights: we’re selling CueCat scanners for just $5 apiece and all tees for just $7*. Be sure to check out our favorite, organic-cotton LibraryThing and TinyCat tote bags, American-made book stamps, and more. The Holiday Store is running now through Epiphany**—here.

New LibraryThing/TinyCat Coasters

We’ve just added adorable, dual-sided LibraryThing/TinyCat coasters (image left, center) to our Store. Made of thick, 60pt pulpboard and sold in sets of 4, these coasters make the perfect add-on or stocking stuffer for any book lover in your family. Be sure to treat yourself, too—you can dress up any beverage of choice with the classic LibraryThing “L” logo, or the always adorable TinyCat. Coaster sets are just $2 through Epiphany, and only $3 thereafter*.

You can post any questions about the Holiday Store on Talk, and to let us know what you think of our new coasters. Be sure to visit LibraryThing’s Holiday Store and stock up on your holiday shopping before we run out!


*Prices do not include cost of shipping. Shipping is included on Store pages.

**Epiphany is also known as Little Christmas, the night before Orthodox Christmas or the day after the Twelfth day of Christmas—and doesn’t your loved one deserve twelve LibraryThing t-shirts?

Labels: barcode scanners, cuecats, events, holiday, sale, teeshirts, tshirts

Monday, November 19th, 2018

SantaThing for Litsy Members

SANTATHING_2018-Litsy

Every year LibraryThing members participate in “SantaThing,” our Secret Santa for book lovers.

This year we’re inviting Littens to join in!

The idea is simple: You sign up and pay $15–50 and choose your favorite bookstore. We match you with someone to pick books for, and someone else will pick books for you. We try to match people with similar reading tastes, and members help each other out with suggestions. LibraryThing staff does all the ordering and everyone gets surprise books for the holidays!

LibraryThing/Litsy takes no cut: this is a community project, not a money-maker. And it’s a lot of fun.

The first 20 Littens to sign up for SantaThing will get a free Litsy mug!(1) Mugs will be coming to the LibraryThing store soon. But you’ll get them first of anyone.

To participate:

Wait, what? Link your account? Yes. You can now link a Litsy and LibraryThing account. At present, it does almost nothing but enable SantaThing and give you a web page that summarizes some of your Litsy reading. It will do more soon!

Questions about SantaThing? You might find this post about SantaThing helpful.

Hoping to see you in SantaThing this year,
Tim, Loranne and the Litsy/LibraryThing Team


1. We’re defining Litsy members as members who posted to Litsy at least once in the last 14 days—this to favor regular Litsy members, not LibraryThing members who signed up for Litsy once upon a time. If there aren’t enough of these, we’ll open it to any Litsy member.

Labels: events, fun, holiday, Litsy, santathing

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

SantaThing 2018: Bookish Secret Santa!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: the twelfth annual SantaThing is here at last!

What’s SantaThing? SantaThing is “Secret Santa” for LibraryThing members.

Done this before?

» SIGN UP FOR SANTATHING NOW!

HOW IT WORKS

You pay into the SantaThing system (between $15–$50), and pick your favorite bookseller. We match you with a LibraryThing member, and you play Santa by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others. Click on an existing SantaThing profile to leave a suggestion.

Every year, LibraryThing members give generously to each other through SantaThing. If you’d like to donate an entry, or want to participate, but it’s just not in the budget this year, be sure to check out our Donations Thread, run once again by our fantastic volunteer member, mellymel1713278.

IMPORTANT DATES

Sign-ups close WEDNESDAY, November 28th at 12pm EST. By Wednesday evening, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

You’ll then have a week to pick your books, until THURSDAY, December 6th at 12pm EST. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?

Every year we tweak SantaThing a little. This year, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Print as our official local SantaThing store once again. Print is a great indie bookstore located in Portland, ME (not far from LibraryThing HQ!). Other new additions: Amazon.de has expanded their free shipping options, which is good news for all. Sadly, Audible still doesn’t allow for the gifting of individual audiobooks. I know that was a big disappointment last year. If you’d like audiobooks, be sure to say so in your SantaThing profile, and your Secret Santa can select CD copies of those from your store of choice.

Just like last year, the Kindle option is available to all members, regardless of location. So long as your Kindle is registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.), you can elect to receive your SantaThing gifts as Kindle ebooks. See more information about Kindle and SantaThing here.

SHIPPING

Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $5 less in books, to cover shipping costs. You can find details about shipping costs and holiday ordering deadlines for each of our booksellers here on the SantaThing Help page.

Go sign up now!

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?

This is our TWELFTH year of SantaThing. See the SantaThing Help page further details and FAQ.

Feel free to ask your questions over on this Talk topic, or you can contact Loranne directly at loranne@librarything.com.

Happy SantaThinging!

Labels: events, fun, holiday, santathing

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

Top Five Books of 2017

Every December, LT staff members compile a list of our top five favorite books we’ve read this year. You can see past years’ lists here.

We also like seeing members’ favorite reads, so we compiled a list that all of LibraryThing can add to. We’re interested in not just the most read books of 2017, but the best of the best. What were your top five for this year? Note: books on this list weren’t necessarily published in 2017—these are the best we’ve read this year, regardless of publication date.

» List: Top Five Books of 2017—Add your own!

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!


KJ

Hunger by Roxane Gay
This memoir is both baldly honest and achingly human. Gay writes in her forthright manner about her lifelong relationship with her body and soul, pointing her incisive lens on how fat women experience a deeply prejudiced world.

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan
Combining two of the world’s great storytelling cultures, Gilligan’s book about Jewish people in Ireland in the 20th century, told through three intertwining stories, strikes a unique and heartfelt note.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
This collection of connected short stories really nails the unique interpersonal conflicts of small town Maine better than any book I’ve ever read, except perhaps a couple Stephen King novels.

Edinburgh by Alexander Chee
This author’s first book (he’s better known for his second, The Queen of the Night), which details the fallout from a sexually abusive choir conductor, contains the spectrum of human emotions in spare, wrenching prose, and some lush descriptions of Maine landscapes as well.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
The book I have been physically pressing upon every woman in my life who has ever been called “kinda intense.” Machado’s short story collection uses the format of gothic tales to interrogate the daily visceral horrors of women living under a patriarchy which is both distant and intimate at the same time. My favorite? “Eight Bites,” a.k.a. the answer to the question: “where does the fat go after bariatric surgery?”

KJ’s honorable mentions:
Honorable mentions go to the fantasy books that helped me through the hard parts of this year: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (Note from Abby: this book is utterly charming, the perfect balm to the insanity of 2017), The City of Brass, and The Queen’s Thief series.


Loranne

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
I read the entirety of Jemisin’s Broken Earth Trilogy this year, back-to-back-to-back, and if I’m being 100% honest, those three books would all be in my Top Five. But I wanted to give a special nod to the second installment, for knocking my socks off where other middle-of-the-trilogy books often fall short. If you like inventive fantasy, with rich, unique worlds, or if you just like rocks, definitely give her work a shot.

Touch by Claire North
This was one of the most fun, compelling books I read all year. A sci-fi thriller about a centuries-old entity that can take over a person’s body via touch, and who finds theirself being hunted down.

The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Smart, well-written, hard sci-fi set around China’s Cultural Revolution. Full of wonderfully complex characters and a unique premise—once you figure out what’s really going on.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan
If a 1980s girl gang of newspaper deliverers + time travel doesn’t sound like an awesome, wild ride, then this probably isn’t the comic for you. If it does…

Injection by Warren Ellis
My favorite creepy, weird comic about a group of geniuses who unleash an AI onto the Internet, and what it does once it settles in.

Loranne’s dishonorable mentions:

  • Armada by Ernest Cline: Meet “All the pop culture references that couldn’t be crammed into Ready Player One: The Novel”. I’m not much of an RPO fan to begin with, but attempting to read this one (my only DNF this year!) makes me actively dislike RPO in retrospect.
  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari: A big ol’ NOPE. What a slog that amounted to nothing.

Abby

Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
A fantasy world with gay spies and smugglers in an eerily prescient fascist state.

The Wanderers by Meg Howrey
A fantastic but somewhat quiet character study of astronauts during a simulation of a mission to Mars. (Note from KJ: cosigned from the resident company space opera nerd.)

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
This book has everything. It’s an Ocean’s Eleven-esque heist, with magic, and with maps in the front. (I’m a sucker for a book with a map in the front.)

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
Murder mystery + theater students who are both incredibly pretentious and undeniably human + so much Shakespeare. Glorious.

The Unseen World by Liz Moore
This book is smart, and heartbreaking. If your motto is like mine, “get wrecked by literature,” read this.

Abby’s honorable mentions:

  • The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone: The amazing story of Elizabeth Friedman, one of the first code-breakers, whose achievements are buried in history behind those of her husband.

Kate

Honestly, I would have an easier time of listing the five books I disliked most this year (I’m looking at you, Lincoln in the Bardo). Turns out 2017 was difficult for a lot of folks! Add a newborn and a toddler to the mix and my year in reading was less than stellar. I did, however, read every single children’s book published, so here’s my top five in children’s literature:

Supertruck by Stephen Savage
We love all of Savage’s books, but my son especially loves this one. And the dedication definitely didn’t* make me cry.
(*it did)

Dog on a Frog? by Kes Gray
Silly rhymes, which led to lots of laughs.

Gaston by Kelly Dipucchio
A cute book that challenges what it means to fit in, complete with great illustrations, and dialogue which necessitated my horrid, exaggerated french accent which made my son howl with laughter. Plus dogs!

Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon
My sons is crazy about trucks—to the point that we’ve exhausted our library’s vehicle-centric kids’ collection. This one popped up a few weeks ago and he loved it: animals, trucks, and a sneaky lesson about forgiveness.

Everyone by Christopher Silas Neal
Sparse and beautifully illustrated, my son had LOTS to say about this one.

Kate’s honorable mentions:


Kirsten

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
I had no idea when I started this book that it would be one I consider potentially life-changing YA. Featuring protagonists with intersectional identities; questions of culture, gender, sexuality, and family; a healthy dose of magical realism and unique prose, I wish it had been around 20 years ago for teenage Kirsten to read.

The Lightning-Struck Heart by TJ Klune
Look, I’ve boiled this down to a simple pitch: it is at once the raunchiest and most wholesome thing I’ve ever read. This book has everything: wizards, a royal family, sexually aggressive dragons, a hornless gay unicorn—need I go on?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Listened to this on audio—Bahni Turpin’s pacing probably isn’t for everyone, but her delivery was perfect throughout. This is a very accessible story about police brutality, race relations between classes, and living one’s truth. Recommend to absolutely everyone.

The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr
Yep, more MM romance fantasy, because 2017. I loved the characters in this one, as well as Derr’s decision to center a linguist as necessary to successful governance. Another fun romp, a bit less absurd than the Klune, but no less enjoyable.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Beautifully told stories of intricately interwoven lives, over seven generations of a family. Do recommend looking up the family chart if you listen to it on audio.

Kirsten’s honorable mentions:


Tim

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
Lockwood by turns dazzles and drives me nuts. Either way, I’m sure to remember the characters that inhabit her breakthrough memoir—the strangest and most interesting of whom may be the author. The next State of the Thing newsletter will include my interview with her.

The Samurai by Shusaku Endo
Silence made my list last year, in anticipation of the Scorcese movie. Samurai is a much “larger” book, and might have made a more successful movie.

A History of Britain by Simon Schama
Especially volume three (1776–2000). Help me, I’m turning into my Dad. Schama was one of a number of British history books I read this year. Also memorable—and even more of a Dad-read—was Lukacs’s The Duel: The 80-Day Struggle Between Churchill and Hitler.

John W. O’Malley The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present and St. Ignatius Loyola and the Remarkable History of the First Jesuits.
After Georgetown, devouring a raft of “Jesuits in Space” novels, and experiencing the first Jesuit Pope, it was time to do a deep dive into Ignatius and his order.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen
I read and/or listened to a number of books with my eleven year-old son this year. Hatchet was one of the stand-outs.

Tim’s dishonorable mentions:
This year was marked by as many duds as successes. A few deserve special mention.

  • Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari: What a terrible follow-up to Sapiens—or rather, a magnification of everything flip and cliched in Sapiens, without any of its interest.
  • The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher: Dreher is asking some of the right questions, and he started a necessary conversation. But his answers are mostly wrongheaded—and frequently gross.
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer: How on earth did this win the Nebula? If this is the best, why bother?
  • The Maze Runner by James Dashner: Now and then I like to read a celebrated YA book. This one’s a stinker.

Kristi

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters
This sensuous historical romance chronicles the evolution of Nancy Astley, an oyster girl who follows her beloved male impersonator to the theatres of London. The abrupt end to their romance is just the beginning for “Nan King,” who discovers other parts of herself—and other lovers—in Victorian England.

Black Moses by Alain Mabanckou
Incredible tale of an orphan from Loango who flees to Pointe-Noire at 13, and experiences a myriad of adventures, trials, and tribulations.

The High House by James Stoddard
High fantasy starring the newest steward of Evenmere mansion. Evenmere holds the power to the universe, quite literally, and our hero must protect it from those who seek to endr reality as we know it.

The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
A creepy thriller! A young couple’s relationship—and sanity—is tested after moving into their new and suspiciously cheap home in small-town Wisconsin.

In the Woods by Tana French
Det. Ryan returns to the woods of his Dublin hometown to investigate the murder of a 12-year-old girl. The case resembles one in 1984, where Ryan and two friends went missing: he was found with no memory of what happened. Now, he must try to remember…


Chris C.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
I found this oldie but goodie absolutely fascinating and eye-opening. Offers an insightful history of the world’s cultures from a variety of different angles.

Stranges in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
An account of a writer’s journey to understand a part of the US she doesn’t personally “get.”

Numbers and the Making of Us by Caleb Everett
A fascinating look at the way numbers have shaped societies and human development from a technological and linguistic point of view. I particularly loved the linguistic aspects.

Sicily: A Literary Guide for Travellers by Andrew Edwards
A tour through Sicily from a literary point of view, visiting important Sicilian writers’ towns and explaining some of Sicily’s variety through a history of it’s literature.

Agile Data Science by Russell Jurney
An introduction to a set of tools and practices for processing large amounts of data and producing visualizations and/or predictions from that data.


Pedro

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Radical Candor by Kim Scott Malone

The Weekly Coaching Conversation by Brian Souza

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2017 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: holiday, lists, reading, recommendations, top five

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

4th Annual Holiday Card Exchange

cardexchange-fullOur 4th annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange is here! Inspired by ALA Think Tank and Reddit, previous years have brought holiday cheer to many, so we’re doing it again!

The idea is simple:

  • Mail a Holiday card to a random LibraryThing member.
  • You’ll get one from another member. Only that member will see your address.*
  • You can mail a hand-made or store card. Add a note to personalize it.

Sign-up closes Friday, December 8th at 5:00 PM EST. We’ll inform you of your matches within an hour or so. Send your cards out soon after.

» LibrayThing Holiday Card Exchange

Questions? Join the discussion on Talk

* In order for the cards you receive to be addressed to your real name, you must include your name in the address box.

Labels: card exchange, events, holiday

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Holiday Store & New Tote Bags!

holidaystore

holidaystore_collage

LibraryThing is bringing a little more excitement your way for the holidays! In addition to SantaThing (signups close December 4th, 12pm EST) and our annual Holiday Card Exchange (more coming soon), we’ve added gorgeous new TinyCat totes to our Store and a bigger, extended sale on all LibraryThing merchandise!

First up is our shiny new TinyCat totes (pictured at right)! Made of 100%, certified-organic cotton, these bags boast an interior valuables pocket, key clip, contrast bottom, and open front pocket for smaller items. Pack your gifts, winter gear, and all of your book hauls in style this season—these beauties have quickly become a LibraryThing staff favorite.

While you’re checking out our new totes, you can also enjoy an extended holiday sale between now and Epiphany* (a couple weeks earlier than last year’s sale!). Snag even more amazing deals this year, including CueCat scanners for just $5 and all shirts for just $7.**

Claim your holiday merch from LibraryThing’s Holiday Store today, before we run out!


*Epiphany, Little Christmas, the night before Orthodox Christmas or the day after the Twelfth day of Christmas—and doesn’t your loved one deserve twelve LibraryThing t-shirts?

**Prices do not include cost of shipping. Shipping is included on Store pages.

Labels: deals, holiday, LT swag, sale, teeshirts, TinyCat, tshirts

Monday, November 13th, 2017

SantaThing 2017—Bookish Secret Santa!

We’re pleased to announce that the eleventh annual SantaThing is here at last!

What’s SantaThing? SantaThing is Secret Santa for LibraryThing members.

Done this before?

» Sign up for SantaThing!

HOW IT WORKS

You pay into the SantaThing system (choose from $15–$50). You play Santa to a LibraryThing member we pick for you, by selecting books for them. Another Santa does the same for you, in secret. LibraryThing does the ordering, and you get the joy of giving AND receiving books!

Sign up once or thrice, for yourself or someone else. If you sign up for someone without a LibraryThing account, make sure to mention what kinds of books they like, so their Santa can choose wisely.

Even if you don’t want to be a Santa, you can help by suggesting books for others. Click on an existing SantaThing profile to leave a suggestion.

Every year, LT members give generously to each other through SantaThing. If you’d like to donate an entry, or want to participate, but it’s just not in the budget this year, be sure to check out our Donations Thread, run once more by fabulous volunteer ladylenneth

IMPORTANT DATES

Sign-ups close MONDAY, December 4th at 12pm EST. By Monday evening, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

Picking will last until MONDAY, December 11th at 12pm EST. As soon as the picking ends, the ordering begins, and we’ll get all the books out to you as soon as we can.

» Go sign up to become a Secret Santa now!

WHAT’S NEW THIS YEAR?

Every year we tweak SantaThing a little. This year, we’re thrilled to be partnering with Print as our official local SantaThing store. Other new additions: Barnes & Noble and Walmart are joining our list of booksellers, which also includes Powell’s, Book Depository, Apple iBooks, and Amazon (including national ones). You can choose to have your books picked and sent from any of these stores at any and all price points.

Just like last year, the Kindle Only option is available to all members, regardless of location. So long as your Kindle is registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.), you can elect to receive your SantaThing gifts as Kindle ebooks. See more information about Kindle and SantaThing here.

SHIPPING

Some of our booksellers are able to offer free shipping, and some are not. Depending on your bookseller of choice, you may receive $5 less in books, to cover shipping costs. You can find details about shipping costs and holiday ordering deadlines for each of our booksellers here on the SantaThing Help page.

Go sign up now!

QUESTIONS? COMMENTS?

See the SantaThing Help page further details and FAQ.

Feel free to ask your questions over on this Talk topic. You can contact Loranne—the LT staffer who runs Santathing—at loranne@librarything.com.

Happy SantaThinging!

Labels: events, holiday, santathing