Monday, January 3rd, 2022

January 2022 Early Reviewers Batch Is Live!

The January 2022 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 56 books this month, and a grand total of 1,912 copies to give out.

First, make sure to sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing address and make sure it’s correct.

Then request away! The list of available books is here:
http://www.librarything.com/er/list

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, January 31st at 6PM EST.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Akashic Books Jumble Books and Publishers Creative Projects International Inc.
Black Rose Writing HENDRY PUBLISHING LTD Pumpjack Press
Niv Publishing JMFdeA Press Revell
City Owl Press BHC Press Three Rooms Press
Vibrant Publishers CarTech Books Meerkat Press
Bellevue Literary Press Ooligan Press

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021

TinyCat’s December Library of the Month: Slighe nan Gàidheal

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s December Library of the Month is for the linguists and Gaelic fans in the crowd. Thanks to Slighe nan Gàidheal and Library Committee Chair Brian Newell for answering my questions this month:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The library is part of Slighe nan Gàidheal (SnG) or, “Way of the Gaels” in Scottish Gaelic—a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington. Since 1997, we have built a dynamic and active membership base and grown into a lively, welcoming community of language-learners, musicians, singers, dancers, historians, artists, storytellers, and Celtic scholars.

The library’s mission is to support SnG’s teaching and dissemination of Scottish Gaelic language in its contemporary and historical context, supporting classes, performances, and individual study by its members.

Objectives include providing:

  • support to learners enrolled in our Zero-to-Gaelic (Z2G) language-instruction program, in cooperation with the Gaelic Education Committee and with the presenters in the Z2G program
  • support to presenters in the Z2G program
  • support for Gaelic-language instruction at SnG’s biennial Féisean (Gaelic cultural festivals) and other activities
  • support to members of SnG who are engaged in independent study of Gaelic
  • management and development of SnG’s collections of Gaelic-language learning materials (dictionaries, grammars, self-teaching texts, etc.), literature in Gaelic, library materials about the Gaelic language, and related topics.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The library has over 500 items which gives our members access to a wide variety of material for their Scottish Gaelic language studies or other cultural interests. We also have an extensive number of novels, short story collections, song and poetry collections, and non-fictional works. Some of these titles are written only in Scottish Gaelic, but many are dual-language or English only, giving our members plenty to choose from to borrow or to preview before purchasing a copy for their own use.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

What makes Slighe nan Gàidheal so enjoyable is the diversity of its members, their many different goals for learning the Scottish Gaelic language, and the varied depth of knowledge. With such a diverse group comes so many favorites. A few of the Library Committee’s favorite items are:

  • The children’s book A’ Chaparaid (The Tumult) by Phyllis Root.
  • The Silver Bough Series: An indispensable, 4-volume treasury of Scottish folklore and folk belief. The Silver Bough involved many years of research into both living and recorded folklore and remains a classic of literature.
  • Asterix ann an dùthaich nan Cruithneach (Asterix in the land of the Picts) by Jean-Yves Ferri: A Scottish Gaelic graphic novel built upon the famous French-language franchise. This satire is for advanced students looking for contemporary banter to spice up their conversations and who enjoy searching for puns on every page.
  • Cleas Sgàthain by Màiri Anna NicDhòmhnaill: An identical-twin-exchange humorous novel.
  • The Spàgan series by Ellen Blance: This series of illustrated short stories are an enjoyable way for Scottish Gaelic learners to improve their grammar and reading skills.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

Since we don’t have a physical “home” for SnG, all functions are held in rented facilities. Our library materials are held in a storage locker and items are retrieved and returned on an ad hoc basis. This makes it difficult for our members to browse the entire library and discover items that support their interests. We encouraged circulation and promoted the library’s TinyCat catalog during in-person events and in our newsletter—but it’s not the same as looking through the physical items. These COVID times have made promotions a greater challenge as our language classes and other meetings are now virtual.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Using TinyCat is a huge step forward for our members’ access to the library. Using LibraryThing and Readerware are good tools for our library management but are not as useful to most of our members. TinyCat provides us with an easy-to-use interface for searching and browsing the library, a tool for members to reserve items, and a way for us to manage checked-out items. 

One area becoming more common is receiving library material as digital media. We have audio files and videos in our collection and would like to have the ability for our members to “check them out” and listen to or watch them directly from TinyCat.

This is definitely something our libraries are coming across more often. While we don’t have any current plans to host library materials, we’ll be sure to announce any changes on this front. Thanks for the feedback!

Want to learn more about Slighe nan Gàidheal? Visit their website here and find their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Monday, December 6th, 2021

December 2021 Early Reviewers Batch is Live!

Win free books from the December 2021 batch of Early Reviewer titles! We’ve got 95 books this month, and a grand total of 3,282 copies to give out. Which books are you hoping to snag this month? Come tell us on Talk.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Early Reviewers. If you’ve already signed up, please check your mailing/email address and make sure they’re correct.

» Request books here!

The deadline to request a copy is Monday, December 27th at 6PM Eastern.

Eligiblity: Publishers do things country-by-country. This month we have publishers who can send books to the US, Canada, the UK, Israel, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Make sure to check the flags by each book to see if it can be sent to your country.

Thanks to all the publishers participating this month!

Unsolicited Press Akashic Books New Wind Publishing
Black Rose Writing West Margin Press Thinklings Books
TouchPoint Press Transformation Media Books Literary Wanderlust LLC
Rootstock Publishing Winter Publishing House Sunday Mornings at the River
Candlewick Press John Ott TouchPoint Romance
TouchPoint Faith City Owl Press Marble City Publishing
Jumble Books and Publishers Isabella Media Inc Time Lost Books, LLC
Revell CarTech Books Henry Holt and Company
Scribe Publications Alcove Press Bellevue Literary Press
Vibrant Publishers NewCon Press Cozy Corner Press
Ooligan Press BookViewCafe BHC Press
Wise Media Group

Labels: early reviewers, LTER

Monday, December 6th, 2021

LibraryThing Needs a Great Library Developer

LibraryThing is looking for a great developer to work on our library projects.

Win $1,000 in Books!

If you find us one—or you find yourself—you get $1,000 in books from the independent bookstore of your choice!

The Job

This job is focused on what LibraryThing does for libraries. These include Syndetics Unbound, co-developed with ProQuest, and TinyCat. You will also be involved in parsing library data for LibraryThing.com and other company projects, as needed.

Depending on interest and experience, you may also be involved in machine learning, systems architecture, or mobile programming.

Need to Have

  • PHP. LibraryThing runs on PHP, in mostly non-OO code. We love PHP people, but it’s not rocket science, so other, flexible programmers are welcome to apply.
  • JavaScript. We try to do as much as possible on the back end, but JavaScript is a must.
  • HTML/CSS. This is not a design job, but you should understand both well.

Good to Have

  • Library Degree. An MLS or equivalent degree is a plus.
  • Library Experience. This job is geared to library and library-industry developers. Other programmers are welcome to apply if you are excited about working with library and book-world data.
  • UX/UI Experience. We will use any design, UX, or UI experience you have.
  • Python. We also use Python, both for working with library data and machine-learning.
  • MySQL. Again, not rocket science, but true expertise in MySQL takes time and is valuable.

Non-Technical

  • LibraryThing is an informal, high-energy, small-team environment. Programming is rapid, creative, and unencumbered by process. We put a premium on speed, reliability, communication, and responsibility. If this sounds attractive, we want you.
  • LibraryThing has been proudly remote for 15 years. Working remotely puts a premium on communication skills, discipline, and internal motivation.
  • All LibraryThing employees come up with ideas and solutions to problems on their own. We also develop and refine ideas together. We need your ideas and your criticism as much as your labor.
  • All LibraryThing employees interact with users directly. We believe that “the user is not broken.”
  • Interesting, passionate people make interesting, passionate products and are fun to work with. This is also the rare job for which a masters in Medieval Irish or a side gig as a jazz bassist is a plus. Of course, we all love books, libraries and bookstores.

Location and Compensation ($60–120k)

This is a remote job open to anyone eligible to work in the US. We’d love to employ people outside the US, but the legal hassles are generally too much for us as a small company.

We are looking to work with the right person, not filling a spot with a clearly-delineated set of responsibilities and a predetermined salary. We will consider everything from junior to senior candidates. The salary range reflects that.

LibraryThing offers excellent health and dental insurance. Employees pay no premiums. We require hard work but are unusually flexible about hours and family commitments.

How to Apply

Before you apply, you should make sure you can do the LibraryThing Programming Quiz, which is something like Jeff Atwood’s “Fizz Buzz.” Our interviews include a simple programming quiz not unlike that. If you object to such things, please do not apply.

Send a cover-letter email and PDF resume to info@librarything.com. Your cover letter should go through this job advertisement, responding to it, briefly. 

The Fine Print

LibraryThing is an equal opportunity employer and will not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of religion, race, color, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy status, parental status, marital status, veteran status, or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Did you read this far? Prove that you did by making your email subject line “Gouda Cheese: [Your name].”

 


“Help LibraryThing…” image uses a CC BY 2.0 photo by Jorge Láscar (source).

Labels: employment, jobs

Sunday, December 5th, 2021

Top Five Books of 2021

 
2021 is almost over, and that means it’s time for LibraryThing staff to share our Top Five Books of the Year. You can see past years’ lists HERE.

We’re always interested in what our members are reading and enjoying, so we invite you to add your favorite books read in 2021 to our December List of the Month, and to join the discussion over in Talk

>> List: Top Five Books of 2021

Note: This is about what you read in 2021, not just books published in 2021.

Without further ado, here are our staff favorites!

 


Abby

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. This fantastical retelling of The Great Gatsby is amazing. It’s glittering and lyrical and jazzy and as it races towards the inevitable tragic end, it feels like Gatsby should have always been queer and full of magic.

The Liar’s Dictionary by Eley Williams. An utterly unexpected delight of words.

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe. Reads like an epic fictional family saga, and is, in a word, damning.

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner. This fantastic and intense memoir is an honest and unflinching reflection on grief, identity, family, and food.

A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske. This book is a queer historical magical murder mystery, set in Edwardian London. It is everything.

Tim

When terrible things happen, I crave nothing so much as reading and watching about terrible things. During lockdown last year, I read two books about Chernobyl. I watched Contagion—twice! So this year I read two books about the Coronvirus pandemic, two about pandemics generally, and two about the last days of the Trump administration, covering both the pandemic and the insurrection. I read little fiction this year, which probably wasn’t good for my mental health, but what was this year?

Uncontrolled Spread: Why COVID-19 Crushed Us and How We Can Defeat the Next Pandemic by Scott Gottlieb. Gottlieb was head of the FDA under Trump, and while his account is detailed and convincing, it is sometimes angry and surely not unbiased. (His assessment of the CDC under Redfield is particularly harsh.) Most interesting, however, are his deep dives, such as a chapter on the government’s attempts to solve a crippling shortage of one critical element for COVID testing—nasal swabs. This is a book that assumes you don’t need everything wrapped in a personal story to keep your attention, want it all explained, and will sit for the answer. Honorable mention goes to Apollo’s Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live by Nicholas A. Christakis.

I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year by Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker. I suspect Leonnig and Rucker’s account will become the standard account. Peril by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa was also good, but mostly adding details to Leonnig and Rucker’s. The message of both books is clear: The end of the Trump administration was worse than you think. Got it? No, it was worse than that. Understand now? No, you don’t, because it was worse than that too.

The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans. They say men become their fathers, and this book, which was on my father’s bedside book pile for ages, proves it’s happening to me. I was expecting a military history, but the bulk of the account concerns the Holocaust and other Nazi attrocities. It makes for very tough reading, but it deepened my understanding of the regime and of how tyranny and genocide operate, with lessons for today and the future.

Veritas: A Harvard Professor, a Con Man and the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife by Ariel Sabar. I adored Ariel Sabar’s Atlantic article, which thoroughly demolished the Coptic “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” as a modern forgery. The book repeats the achievement on a greater scale and uncovers more details of the deception. The book is so good overall that the few mistakes I could catch, and a neglect of non-western (i.e., Orthodox) Christian thinking on priestly celibacy, really rankled me.

You Look Like a Thing and I Love You: How Artificial Intelligence Works and Why It’s Making the World a Weirder Place by Janelle Shane. The only really “light” book on this year’s list, a joyful romp into how modern “AI” goes wonky. (It’s the only AI book you can read to your teenage kid for the jokes.) I read it together with a book on my 2019 list, Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust by Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis, a more sober (but still sometimes funny) account of how AI fails and (less convincingly) some ways to solve it. As I was on a bit of an AI kick, I read four other books on the topic, including Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard, and, in a different vein, Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World by Cade Metz.

Kate

God Spare the Girls by Kelsey McKinney. I’m a fan of Kelsey McKinney’s writing in general and I was thus hyped when I saw she was publishing a book! And y’all, not only did she publish a book, but I’m pretty sure she published it just for me. I’m not a PK (preacher’s kid), but I did grow up in the church in Texas, so although the experiences in the book were not mine, it was all very familiar.

The Book of Lost and Found by Lucy Foley. This is not my usual genre (dark, depression, soul crushing), but I really, really liked this book. After finishing I immediately texted Abby Blachly for more recommendations in the genre.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. It’s been a minute since a book made me gasp. This one did.

Circe by Madeline Miller. I’m years late to reading this one and it definitely lived up to the hype. Such a gorgeous and well-written book.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.. This book DESTROYED me and I’m not sure I’ve recovered. This is the highest praise I can bestow upon a book.

Lucy

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. This year I discovered a love for the books of Haruki Murakami; I have yet to read one of his books that I don’t like, but this has been my favorite so far!

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. This book is a beautiful, fantastical journey…

Over in the Woodland: A Mythological Counting Journey by Nicole Abreu, illustrated by Susannah Covelli. This picture book features beautiful artwork and mesmerizing text depicting mythological creatures in a counting book format.

The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047 by Lionel Shriver. Lionel Shriver is another favorite author of mine, and this book did not disappoint; it looks at what could happen if US currency loses its value worldwide, and some of its predictions hit a little close home in our current Covid world.

Tetris: The Games People Play by Box Brown. I’m not usually a fan of non-fiction, but this graphic novel that tells the story of how the video game Tetris became a sensation across the globe was fascinating!

Chris C (ccatalfo)

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Mike Wiking.

The Art of Making Memories: How to Create and Remember Happy Moments by Mike Wiking.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio.

Practical UX Design by Scott Faranello.

Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty by David Kadavy.

Kristi

Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o recounts the year he spent imprisoned at Kenya’s Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, all for writing a play (that empowered the community but challenged the regime). Powerful, insightful, humorous at times, and a good history lesson on White colonialism in Black communities.

Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. This one gave me a few surprising twists, which isn’t a usual occurrence with most mysteries I read. Well done! I’m going to have to read more from Carole Johnstone.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. An unmatched level of prose in this one. Parts of the story stopped me short, with haunting flickers of relatability in traumatic female experiences. It’s obviously a classic that I needed to finally check off my TBR list, but now I have to read the sequel because the ending left me hanging off a cliff!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. This was another classic that I had to read this year, finally. I have watched the movie many times, and have to say that it’s one of the better adaptations I’ve seen. They took quite a bit from the book, and the book was such an enjoyable read I felt that watching the movie first didn’t ruin the experience. This will definitely be a regular re-read.

How To Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran. A witty, validating read for the modern woman (or man)! Just read it, you’ll be entertained, at least, and you might even gain some added perspective.

Chris H (conceptdawg)

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett. This was such a wonderful addition to the Pillars of the Earth/Kingsbridge series. If you liked the first installments then you’ll love this one too.

The Thomas Hill Trilogy: The King’s Spy, The King’s Exile, The King’s Return by Andrew Swanston. A fun series: full of murder, mystery, intrigue, and cryptography.

Porsche Unseen by Stefan Bogner. A wonderful look at future design ideas within the Porsche design department accompanied by exquisite photography.

The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. by Neal Stephenson. A book with technology, witches, magic, and time travel to historic Boston and London. It’s pretty spot-on for me.

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. If you enjoyed The Martian then you’ll enjoy this one just as much.

Abigail

The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Kate Milford. A marvelous middle-grade fantasy, set in Kate Milford’s made-up world of Nagspeake, this book is modeled on such classics as The Canterbury Tales or The Decameron, and features a set of characters thrown together by circumstance, who must each relate a tale for the entertainment of their companions. These stories give some fascinating insight into the magical world of Nagspeake—an independent city-state in the Middle Atlantic region of an alternative-history North America—and are interconnected with all of Milford’s other books. Recommended, along with all of the Greenglass House books before it.

Anna ~ Charlotte by Clare Mallory. Well-written, entertaining, engrossing, and emotionally involving, this middle-grade novel from New Zealand author Clare Mallory was written in 1949-1950, but not published until 2016. It manages to combine so many of the charming elements of vintage girls’ books—the school story elements, the friendships, the satisfying self-improvement narratives—with a realistic, sympathetic and non-sensational depiction of bullying, family dysfunction, and alcoholism. This story addresses real problems, but it does not feel like a “problem novel,” as they would come to be called a number of decades later.

Knight Crusader by Ronald Welch. Originally published in 1954, and awarded the Carnegie Medal that year, this British novel for young readers is a marvelously told work of historical fiction—instantly engrossing and consistently engaging. The historical setting is believably depicted, and the characters feel as if they truly live. This is definitely not one of those “historical” novels that feels like a contemporary tale dressed up in period costume, with characters whose outlook on life would be more appropriate today, then in the twelfth century. Rather, one feels as if the characters were people of their time, and the reader enters into their feelings, rather than feeling they were created to reinforce her own.

Branches of Hope: The 9/11 Survivor Tree by Ann Magee, illustrated by Nicole Wong. An immensely powerful and poignant picture book, one which addresses the calamity of the 9/11 terrorist attack through the story of the Callery pear tree which survived being buried by the rubble of the World Trade Center. Ann Magee makes her debut here, and her tree-centered tale is well matched by illustrator Nicole Wong’s lovely artwork. I wasn’t sure at first that I cared for the opening scenes, in which the calamity of 9/11 intrudes, with no explanation given in the text as to what is going on, but then it occurred to me that this was a story from the tree’s perspective, and that human actions and affairs would seem well-nigh incomprehensible to our arboreal friends at the best of times. This realization made the opening scenes even more powerful to me, and I appreciated how the narrative from the tree’s perspective was paired with visuals that depicted both the events surrounding the tree, and the life of a family experiencing 9/11 and its aftermath. I was moved to tears by this book, both because of the story it was unfolding, and because of my memories of New York, after the attack.

The Three Lucys by Hayan Charara, illustrated by Sara Kahn. Based upon events in his own family’s life, Lebanese-American author Hayan Charara addresses the devastation that war causes in this deeply moving picture book. Following the story of a young boy who goes away from his home for what he imagines will be a one week visit to relatives, the book depicts the way in which children and animals—the eponymous three Lucys are the family cats—suffer as a result of adult actions. The story here is pitch perfect, exploring serious real-world issues from a child’s perspective. There is a sense of the more complicated grownup world in the background, but the boy has his own concerns, and so do the three Lucys. Charara’s moving story here is skillfully matched by illustrator Sara Kahn’s watercolor artwork, which perfectly captures the emotional register of each scene. I wept, reading this.

Pedro

A Promised Land by Barack Obama.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

That’s it!

Come record your own Top Five Books of 2021 on our December List of the Month, and join the discussion over in Talk.

Labels: top five

Friday, December 3rd, 2021

An Interview with Scholar Anna Faktorovich

LibraryThing is pleased to sit down this month with author, academic and publisher Anna Faktorovich to discuss her fascinating new project, which attempts to solve some of the mysteries surrounding the authorship of many literary texts from the British Renaissance. From the works of William Shakespeare to Christopher Marlowe, these texts have been analyzed using the computational-linguistic method she invented—one incorporating a combination of 27 different tests—as well as being subjected to structural, biographical and other attribution approaches. Dr. Faktorovich concludes that all of the tested 284 works from between 1560 to 1650 were authored by six ghostwriters. The results of this massive study have been published in Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus, while a number of the texts themselves have been translated for the first time and released as part of her British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization Series, published by Anaphora Literary Press.

Your project seeks to reshape our understanding of a key period in British literature. How did you get the idea for it?

This series would not have been possible without the previous two decades of research I undertook on surrounding topics. My PhD dissertation and my first scholarly book, Rebellion as Genre in the Novels of Scott, Dickens and Stevenson, explored the concept of formulas and structure of literature. Then, my second book, The Formulas of Popular Fiction, dissected the range, history and methodology of the formulas that modern readers are familiar with. Then I digressed from the standard topics covered in scholarly books to explore via my own publishing company more complex social questions such as the difference between mega-corporate capitalism and Radical Agrarian Economics. I also explored why the publishing industry has a bias that prefers lighter and more low-brow literature from female writers, while preferring denser fiction from male writers in Gender Bias in Mystery and Romance Novel Publishing. While writing this book, I realized that romances, mysteries and male and female voices had quantitatively different linguistic measurements.

None of these titles, “self-published” with my Anaphora Literary Press, received any recognition, so the next book I researched was The History of British and American Author-Publishers and Satirical 18th Century British Novels, which explained that the best British/American authors (Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Benjamin Franklin, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Herman Melville and Alice Walker) self-published their best works. Then, I decided to attempt to return to traditional scholarly publishing by writing about the foundations of British satire in the eighteenth century, but as I began my research, I came across studies that questioned the authorship of texts assigned to Daniel Defoe. I designed a few linguistic measurement experiments to test these authorship questions and immediately discovered that some of “Defoe’s” novels were obviously mis-attributed and were actually ghostwritten by Robert Paltock. I made several other re-attributions of texts from the 18th century across fourteen essays, but before I edited these for publication as a book, I was asked by Editor Robert Hauptman, who published one of these essays in his Journal of Information Ethics, if I could prove the accuracy of my method by applying it to a uniquely complex period to re-attribute—the British Renaissance.

There were around sixty authors that had been previously proposed by scholars as the “true” Shakespeare, so I adjusted the computational-linguistic author-attribution method I had used for the 18th century to be more easily applicable to a much larger corpus of texts. The attribution process was indeed extremely difficult because I kept finding similar texts that matched only six linguistic signatures, so it became apparent that there were only six ghostwriters working across this period. The identity of these ghostwriters remained a mystery, until I expanded the study to 104 different bylines and over 200 different texts. Only one of these six ghostwriters (Ben Jonson) is familiar to modern literature researchers, while the rest remain obscure, despite their obvious significance in their own day (Josuah Sylvester was an official Court Poet, William Byrd was granted a music/poetry publishing monopoly by Elizabeth I, and Richard Verstegan held control over an exile Catholic publishing monopoly). When these six ghostwriters’ biographies were compared to all of the other biographies in their linguistic groups, it became clear that only they were alive long enough and had access to have written these clusters of texts.

While the evidence I was gathering, in the form of documentary records, handwriting, forensic accounting, and various other forms of proof was overwhelming, scholarly journals kept saying that I needed more proof. So I decided to add to the 698-page scholarly study, or Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus (Volumes 1-2), a full series of translations from Early Modern English into Modern English of previously untranslated plays, poetry, non-fiction and other genres (Volumes 3-14), with around fourteen more volumes forthcoming. These translations are accompanied by annotations, introductions and primary sources that add thousands of pieces of evidence that confirm the re-attributions made in the central study. This was a gradual process of digging into the research, and addressing new evidence and new questions as they came up.

How does this newly invented “computational-linguistic method” of textual analysis work? Can you give us an example?

Here is a simple set of steps anybody can take to apply my method.

1. Find a group of texts (there should be at least 20 texts by a few different bylines) from a given period that are connected to an authorial mystery you want to solve, and save them as plain documents.

2. Open free publicly-accessible websites—www.analyzemywriting.com, www.online-utility.org, or http://liwc.wpengine.com—and download the WordSmith program.

3. Enter each of the texts separately into each of these platforms and record the data for several linguistic tests into a spreadsheet. For the Renaissance corpus I used 27 tests for punctuation, lexical density, parts of speech, passive voice, characters and syllables per word, psychological word-choice, and patterns of the top-6 words and letters. The tests for top-6 words and letters require additional steps, so you can skip these in favor of other simple single-number tests available on these platforms. Your first column should be the titles of all texts in the group, and the top row should be the names of the different tests applied to them. You will want to create duplicates of this raw data in separate tabs in the spreadsheet, with one sheet for each text in the group.

4. In the spreadsheet, organize the numbers for each of the tests from-smallest-to-largest, and mark only the texts that are with 17-18% of the compared text on this spectrum. For example, if you are only testing 20 texts, you can select 2 texts just above and 2 more just below your compared-against text’s value and change their numbers to 1, while changing all of the other numbers to 0; the 1 means the texts are similar, while the 0 means they are different.

5. When you have changed the entire sheet’s data into 0s and 1s, create a last column and automatically add up the Sum for each row.

6. Evaluate your results to determine what number in the sum column means two texts are by the same author, or if they were written by two or more authors, or if they were written by different authors. A smaller corpus can still have a few texts with extremely high numbers of matches to each other, if all of the other texts were written by different authors. And a large corpus might have fewer matches, but to a very large quantity of texts that all share a single underlying author. You will have to create a cut-off point for the number of matches that separate similar from divergent texts in your chosen group.

You can see the raw data and calculations I derived for the Re-Attribution series HERE. One of the tables I added to this GitHub site is “Koppel Experiment Reviewed – Data Tables.” This was a small experiment I ran for a second article I wrote for the Journal of Information Ethics, in which I discredit the findings and methodology applied in Moshe Koppel, Jonathan Schler and Elisheva Bonchek-Dokow’s 2007 article, Measuring Differentiability: Unmasking Pseudonymous Authors.” As you can see from the data, my findings are tragic from my perspective, as I am a fan of all of these great writers that I would not have thought were capable of being implicated in ghostwriting. For example, the data indicates only two linguistic signatures between the three Bronte sisters, suggesting it is likely the initial assignment of these texts to only two male brothers was more accurate than the current belief three women wrote them. This conclusion did not shock me as much as it would have a couple of years ago. I had initially hoped previous scholars who guessed “Emilia Bassano” could have been the true author behind “Shakespeare” were correct, but the data proved that “Bassano”, as well as several other ostensible female groundbreakers like “Mary Sidney” and “Lady Mary Wroth,” were not actually writers, but either hired ghostwriters or were mis-attributed with credits. You really have to read Volumes 1-2 to understand how overwhelming the evidence is for these conclusions, as reading this summary alone could not possibly convince anybody that the history with which they are familiar is entirely incorrect.

There have been challenges made in the past to the authorship of some of these works—in William Shakespeare’s case especially. What does your approach bring to the ongoing discussion that is new and convincing?

The approximately 60 previous bylines that have been proposed by scholars as alternative “true” authors behind the “Shakespeare” byline matches my finding that only six ghostwriters wrote all of the tested texts from this century. With only six authorial styles in this mix, it has been very easy for scholars to find linguistic, structural, thematic and other similarities between any cluster of randomly selected texts by two given bylines or between a questionable text and a text by another byline. While scholars in this field have made the current attributions seem rational, a close examination of all past re-attributions betrays nonsensical chaos. For example, A Yorkshire Tragedy was bylined as “Written by W. Shakspeare”, but it is currently attributed to “Thomas Middleton” in Roger Holdsworth’s analysis in the The New Oxford Shakespeare Authorship Companion. Another absurd string of past re-attributions I found was for the short poem, “Funeral Elegy by W. S.” (1612), which was first attributed to “Shakespeare” by Donald W. Foster, before it was re-assigned to “Davies” by Brian Vickers and then to “Ford” with equal certainty. My study re-attributes this “Elegy” to Gabriel Harvey, the Cambridge rhetoric professor.

William Percy has never been previously proposed as a potential underlying author behind the “William Shakespeare” pseudonym. I started my study by researching all previous articles, books and the like that suggested alternative “Shakespeares” and this list included many obscure names such as Alexander, Armin, Aylett and Daniel, popular bylines such as Bacon and Fletcher, and aristocrats such as Dyer, and even Queen Elizabeth. There are a mere 70 titles in WorldCat attributed to William Percy as an author versus the 81,521 titles attributed to “Shakespeare”. The translations of Percy’s self-attributed 5 plays and sonnet collection that I executed in Volumes 3-8 have never been attempted before, so modern scholars have not even had access to these to allow them to realize their similarity with “Shakespeare” in structure, storylines, as well as in linguistics. I only came across Percy’s name when I considered nearly all of the bylines used across this century that could have approximately fit with the timeline of these publications. Percy’s sonnet collection (the only book he published under his own byline) happened to have been digitized in Early English Books Online, and this invited me to dig up his buried in the archives plays.

The 284 texts I tested comprise the largest corpus of Renaissance work ever subjected to computational-linguistic analysis. My combination of 27 different tests is thousands of times more accurate than the standard method in this field, which only tests the frequency of common words. The point that swayed me beyond all doubt towards Percy was when I learned about the £2,400 loan William and his brother Henry Percy (Earl of Northumberland) took out from Arthur Medleycote (London merchant tailor) in 1593, just before the granting of the theater duopoly by Elizabeth I in 1594. This documented proof, without any corresponding record of what else William could have spent this sum on, firmly establishes that William re-invested this sum in troupe-development and theater-building in London, under pseudonyms such as “Shakespeare”. The currently accepted mythologic belief that “Shakespeare” was a real person who was a theater investor and manager was largely started by Nicholas Rowe, in his 1709 Some Account of the Life of Mr. William Shakespear. Rowe absurdly claimed that Sir William Davenant had started the gossip that Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, gave Shakespeare £1,000 “to set him up in his career.” It is absurd to believe that any aristocrat would have gifted this astronomic sum to any actor without a record in his accounts of this irrationally generous gift. There are similar irrefutable pieces of proof in every line and paragraph of my series.

You also seek to modernize and reintroduce the works to the public. Why is this important?

As I mentioned, none of William Percy’s plays or poetry, or the plays I am re-attributing to him in this part of the series, have ever been translated into accessible Modern English before. In the middle of my computational study, it became clear that the “Shakespeare” plays and poetry translated into Modern English registered as a separate linguistic signature from these same texts in their original spelling. In other words, editors have made such heavy changes to the canon of “Shakespeare” texts that this resulting style is a distinct linguistic signature or author. Modern readers and scholars alike intuitively believe in “Shakespeare’s” superiority and distinction from the bulk of other British Renaissance bylines such as “Robert Armin”, or anonymous plays such as Look Around You, because they are used to reading the understandable and polished modern versions of “Shakespeare”. This is also why when computational-linguists have tested plays such as the anonymous True Chronicle History of King Leir (1605), they have concluded that it was written by a different author than the modernized version of King Lear (1608). When I compared the original-spelling Lear to Leir, they had some near-identical linguistic measurements and were obviously both written by William Percy. Leir was the first experiment that Percy very heavily re-wrote in the second polished Lear edition under the “Shakespeare” byline.

All of the texts I included in this series have unique significance to literary history. For example, Look Around You was the first part of the myth-starting Robin Hood trilogy that previous critics have missed. And while the second quarto of “Shakespeare’s” Hamlet has been repeatedly re-translated, the first quarto that I translated in this series (Hamlet: The First Quarto) has never been translated in full before. It appears to have been intentionally censored by academia as “bad” because it (unlike the later versions) clearly points to Hamlet deflowering Ofelia and pretending to be mad to hide his homosexual relationship with Horatio (who threatens to kill himself for Hamlet). There is more literary and historical value in each of this series’ texts than in any of the canonical “Shakespeare” plays. It is impossible for even a seasoned scholar to read any of these texts in their old-spelling originals, not only because the meaning of most words has changed, but also because Percy also uses multiple languages (Latin, French, Italian), makes up words (which have been claimed to be nonsense by most scholars, when they have clear meanings when their parts are isolated), and uses allusions and quotes from obscure sources that need to be digested in annotations to be grasped. Some of these texts were never published or staged, and those that were printed were mostly only printed in as few as one or two copies. Thus, these Renaissance plays have never been introduced to the public before.

Tell us about your library. What’s on your own shelves?

My shelves are full with around 500 physical books, most of which I received for free from academic publishers in exchange for reviewing them in my Pennsylvania Literary Journal. You can see the latest of these reviews HERE. Some of them I received as free exam copies from publishers, when I have taught these textbooks in my college classes. I used to buy books back in college and graduate school, but I have moved so frequently in those years that I have donated most of them. The only paid-for books I now have are Anaphora titles by myself and other writers.

What have you been reading lately?

In addition to the hundred or so books I read annually, in order to review them in PLJ, I read thousands of other books for my research projects. When I am teaching in universities or live near an academic library, I check out the maximum-allowed pile of books every couple of weeks. But across the last four years I have conducted my research remotely by accessing free books on Google, Project Gutenberg and various other platforms. I also use LookInside features to find evidence in newer books, or request some relevant new titles for review before reusing them in my research. I also have access to research articles on TexShare. Most of the books I needed for the translation series were published during the Renaissance and have been digitized to be freely available. On an average day of translation research, I probably check 100 different sources to write a single page of annotations, and the series has 2,500 pages so far. It would have been impossible for me to check out a quarter-of-a-million books from even the biggest library, and most of the contemporary books are rare single-copies that are in closed collections. The names of the specific texts I have been reading are thus cited in the annotations; I will not attempt to insert a bibliography here to name them.

Labels: author interview, interview

Monday, November 29th, 2021

8th Annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange

The 8th annual LibraryThing Holiday Card Exchange is here!

How it works:

  • Mail a holiday card to a random LibraryThing member.
  • You can mail a handmade or storebought card. Add a note to personalize it.
  • You’ll get one from another member. (Only that member will see your address.*)

» Sign up for the LibrayThing Holiday Card Exchange now

Sign-ups for the Card Exchange closes Wednesday, December 8th at 12:00 PM Eastern (17:00 GMT). We’ll inform you of your matches within an hour or so after we close. Send your cards out soon after.

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. Some postal services require that addressee names match what’s on your mailbox.

Labels: card exchange, events, holiday

Monday, November 29th, 2021

The LibraryThing Holiday Store is Open

holidaystore

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! LibraryThing’s 15th annual SantaThing exchange is in full swing—signups just closed and matches are being made! It’s also Cyber Monday, so we’re opening up the LibraryThing Holiday Store all the way through Epiphany*. Come and stock up on all of your favorite bookish gifts for the holidays.

We’re offering some serious discounts** this year, including CueCat barcode scanners for just $5 apiece, barcode labels starting at $5 for the first packet in each set (that’s half off), book stamps starting at $6, our favorite, oversized, organic-cotton tote bags for just $19, and more.

Shop the Holiday Store now through January 6: https://www.librarything.com/more/store.


*Epiphany is also known as Little Christmas, the night before Orthodox Christmas or the day after the Twelfth day of Christmas—surely your loved one deserves twelve LibraryThing tote bags?

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

Labels: holiday, sale

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2021

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month: The Gnomon Library & Learning Resource Center

To read more about TinyCat’s Library of the Month feature, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

TinyCat’s November Library of the Month is one that I have admired for years from afar, and I’m so glad that Library Director Lucy Bellamy was able to take my questions this month. I hope you enjoy reading about the Library & Learning Resources at Gnomon’s School of Games, Visual Effects & Animation in Hollywood, California as much as I did:

Who are you, and what is your mission—your “raison d’être”?

The Gnomon Library boasts an attractive space for study and digital creation.

My name is Lucy Bellamy. I am the Director, Library & Learning Resources at Gnomon’s School of Games, Visual Effects & Animation in Hollywood, California. I came to Gnomon to help build their library from the ground up when the college was accredited to offer their first Bachelor of Art program. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not many librarians experience. Gnomon is an accredited technical college that offers bachelors programs, a two-year certificate program, Foundation in Art & Design courses, as well as individual courses for career professionals wanting to enhance their industry skills.

Tell us some interesting things about how your library supports the community.

The Gnomon Library is part academic and part special library. The collections support Gnomon’s programs and courses first, as well as inspire the creativity of our community of digital artists. While our collections include traditional books, ebooks, print and digital magazines, resources commonly found in most other libraries, there is also a diverse collection of art objects which our students use as reference for course work. These include vintage cameras, light fixtures, skulls(!), and more.

Our collection was started with donations from instructors, working digital artists, and industry publishers. The resources being donated were those that the donors found helpful, even inspirational to their professional development. In many ways, I viewed their donations as a demonstration of their support of our students looking to join their industry in the future.

What are some of your favorite items in your collection?

Real-life skulls, used as artistic references, peek out of the shelves at the Gnomon Library.

That’s a tough question. With so many unique objects in the collection, I think my favorite thing is the 19th century volume set of Encyclopedia Britannica published in 1877. It was originally added for its visual value because the texture of the covers is so unique. Students reference textures to re-create various surfaces in the digital space, thus this part of the collection is used not only for what is in the encyclopedia — as an information resource — but for the actual cover. When any audience appreciates a text, it is exciting, but when an audience values a text, it’s structure, and studies in the same way, it is exhilarating. I have consulted and referenced one or more of the volumes during library instruction sessions specifically for our art history and cultural studies courses, and it is wonderful to share this asset.

What’s a particular challenge your library experiences?

One challenge has been maintaining a print collection of current resources for the different software programs students are learning. Because of publishing lead times, often once a (software) book is published it may be outdated because the software has been updated which then can compromise the value of the information. Simply, our specific technology is dynamic to the point of any given new resource which may be obsolete within months post-publishing.

What we’ve done to address that concern is create catalog records that are discoverable in our online catalog (TinyCat) embedded with a link to the learning resource pages of the different software companies. This access point offers students a connection to the most up-to-date information including reference documentation and tutorials for the programs they are learning and will be using when they work in the industry.

What is your favorite thing about TinyCat, and what’s something you’d love to see implemented/developed?

Prior to using TinyCat, I had NO experience with cataloging nor an understanding of the “back end” of a library management system. That quickly changed when the new library needed one. Of the different vendors considered, only LibraryThing and TinyCat seemed promising for what our library needed, and my learning curve. The platform is easy to use, understand, and navigate. More importantly, our students and faculty use TinyCat’s online catalog to connect with the resources they need when they need it.

What I’d like to see as a future tool? Perhaps a WYSIWYG “call out message box” that will display on the online catalog home page. Maybe it could be an option included under the “Content to show underneath the search box” category on the general TinyCat Admin “Settings” page. Something that would allow users to post quick messages like “Good luck with finals!” or “Return your books before the end of the term!”

Great feedback! You may be able to add something like this via the Custom JavaScript feature in your Content Settings, though this would show up on every page in your TinyCat rather than just the Homepage. Check it out here, just in case!

Want to learn more about the Gnomon Library? Visit their website here and find their full TinyCat collection here.


To read up on TinyCat’s previous Libraries of the Month, visit the TinyCat Post archive here.

Want to be considered for TinyCat’s Library of the Month? Send us a Tweet @TinyCat_lib or email Kristi at kristi@librarything.com.

Labels: libraries, Library of the Month, TinyCat

Monday, November 8th, 2021

SantaThing 2021: Bookish Secret Santa!

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

We’re focusing on indie bookstores again this year. The pandemic has been a disaster for independent bookstores, even as it sent Amazon sales to new heights. So we picked a few of our favorites indies from around the United States. You can still order Kindle ebooks, we have Book Depository for international orders, and also stores local to Australia and New Zealand this year!

» SIGN UP FOR SANTATHING NOW!

What is SantaThing?

SantaThing is “Secret Santa” for LibraryThing members.

How it Works

You pay $15–$50 and pick your favorite bookseller. We match you with a participant, 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 (to come), run once again by our fantastic volunteer member, mellymel1713278.

Important Dates

Sign-ups close MONDAY, November 29th at 12pm EST. By the next day, we’ll notify you via profile comment who your Santee is, and you can start picking books.

You’ll then have until FRIDAY, December 3rd at 12pm EST to make your picks. 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!

Supporting Indie Bookstores

We’re teaming up with independent bookstores from around the country to deliver your SantaThing picks, including BookPeople in Austin, TX, Longfellow Books in Portland, ME, and Powell’s Books in Portland, OR.

Once again this year, we’re also offering international deliveries through Book Depository. New to this year are retail partners Readings for our Australian participants and Time Out Bookstore for the Kiwi participants. Kindle is available to all members, regardless of location. To receive Kindle ebooks, your Kindle must be registered on Amazon.com (not .co.uk, .ca, etc.). See more information about all the stores.

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 FIFTEENTH 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 Kate directly at kate@librarything.com.

Happy SantaThinging!

Labels: events, fun, holiday, santathing