Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Top Five Books of 2019


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

We’re always interested in what you are reading and loving, so we invite you to add your favorite books read in 2019 to our list. Again, not necessarily published in 2019, just ones that you read.

>> List: Top Five Books of 2019

Without much further ado, here’s our staff faves of the year!

 

 


Abby

Gideon the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir. This is the lesbian necromancer space opera you never knew you were waiting for. Gideon the Ninth is one of the sharpest books I’ve read in a long time.

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. A smart, political, nicely paced spy story, featuring a young black woman working for the FBI in the 80s.

Shades of Magic series by V. E. Schwab. Feisty pirates, brooding royals, magic, multiple Londons, strong women, queer characters–this series literally has it all.

This Is How You Lose The Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. This short, queer epistolary story of two time traveling spies who fall in love across time and space has prose so deliciously lyrical that I just want to eat it.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. Magic for Liars is a queer noir detective story set in boarding school for mages. It’s smart literary fantasy, and I absolutely loved it..

Honorable mentions: Both Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston (featuring love notes with attached bibliographies, because what could be better?) and Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner would have made my top 5 if they weren’t already included in a coworker’s list (thanks Kate and KJ). And I just read too many good books this year, so also let me also note The Dutch House (give me a messed up family saga any day, but written by Ann Patchett, and I will devour it), and Mostly Dead Things by Kirsten Arnett which has the most fantastic sense of place (taxidermy in swampy hot Florida!).


Tim

Tangata Whenua: an Illustrated History by Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris. I’m currently in New Zealand, taking in as much history and culture as I can. As far as I can tell, this is the best general overview of Maori history. It’s a wonderful text—scholarly in tone, but general enough to cover a lot of ground. It has one serious drawback as a touring text—it’s HEAVY!

Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust by Gary MarcusExcellent review of what’s wrong with AI. Less convincing on the future.

Mac Bundle! Insanely Great: The Life and Times of Macintosh, the Computer that Changed Everything by Steven Levy and Creative Selection: Inside Apple’s Design Process by Ken Kocienda. Inspiring comfort reads.

V(ery) S(hort) I(ntroduction) Bundle! The French Revolution: A Very Short Introduction by William Doyle and World War II: A Very Short Introduction by Gerhard L. Weinberg  I’m a huge fan of the Oxford UP series “A Very Short Introduction“. Lately I’ve taken to getting into a topic, such as World War II or the French Revolution starting with the VSI, and then taking up a longer text. This year, for example, I read the French Revolution VSI alongside Simon Schama’s Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution.

Aliens: The World’s Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life by Jim Al-Khalili I’ll never be a scientist, but this is one emerging and creative subfield I’m eager to peek into whenever I can.

Dishonorable mention: Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio García Martínez. The topic is very much at the center of my interests, but the personality of the author was so odious, I had to stop reading.


Kate

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. I would read a detailed ingredient list of any product were Taffy the writer. I’m fully and unhealthily obsessed with her writing. I had high hopes for her debut and I was NOT disappointed. Taffy’s character development is up there with the greats—and I’m a harsh judge.

Normal People by Sally Rooney.Speaking of character development, WHEW. Everyone has been talking about Rooney this year and this is the one to read. I devoured it, I want more.

Nothing Good Can Come from This: Essays by Kristi Coulter. This book knocked my socks off. As someone who identifies as sober curious, I read A LOT of sober memoirs, and Nothing Good Can Come from This is on a whole different level. Coulter has managed to pick apart her relationship with alcohol from the standpoint of being an ambitious woman, a young woman, a naive woman, a married woman, etc. This is so much more than a book about quitting the drink — it’s a book about becoming a person. I recommend this one to folks who aren’t sober curious — that’s how good it is.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi. A YA love/coming of age story set in my hometown of Austin, TX? I never stood a chance. Mary H.K. Choi seems like the raddest of people and I’m here to say I’m a fan of her writing.

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo. This book made me equal parts angry and uncomfortable and sad. Three Women was not what I expected it to be, and I find myself reluctant to recommend it, but I think there’s something so important about this deep dive into women and their desires.

Honorable Mention: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Everything you’ve heard is true! This book was a damned delight!


KJ

Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. I have bullied at least seven people into reading this charming romance between a First Son of the USA and a Prince of England and now it’s your turn. Lovable characters, social media written the way it’s actually used, a dash of Star Wars, and two disastrous boys falling in love against a high-stakes presidential election.

Saga Series by Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples. Takes the tropes of space opera—bounty hunters, animal/robot companions, star-crossed romance, glitchy ships, weird drugs—and spins them in a big blender. You probably don’t want to read this comic series in public because, uh, nsfw. I adored every issue.

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Raza Aslan. This helped me contextualize all the biblical places I was able to visit earlier this year on a trip. A look at the historical man: Jesus of Nazareth, and his surrounding land and century. Not St. Paul friendly. Fascinating, illuminating, ultimately deepened my faith.

When Brooklyn Was Queer: A History by Hugh Ryan. Written to fill in a lacuna in the historical record, Ryan investigates queer history in the borough of Brooklyn. Loosely bookended by Walt Whitman and the Stonewall Riots, this book chronicles everything from early drag on Coney Island to the infamous Sands Street. Come for a grounding in the borough’s history, stay for Whitman’s extensive little black book.

Severance by Ling Ma. The world ends in a flu, but first it’s an uncomfortably accurate meditation on (book industry) office work in the 2010s. Also a nuanced story of a first-generation Chinese-American woman and an ode to NYC. For fans of The Stand and Station Eleven.

Honorable mentions: The Testaments by Margaret Atwood because it is a good sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale and I devoured it in one sitting. How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones, because we should just let poets write all the memoirs, if this is what they do with them.


Chris C.

The Book of Why by Judea Pearl.

The Art of Statistics by David Speigelhalter.

Rebooting AI by Gary Marcus.

Strings Attached: The Life and Music of John Williams by William Starling.

The Grapes of Math by Alex Bellos.


Kristi

My List this year is the “I Had A Baby!” edition!

Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle.My absolute favorite book in my son’s collection! Pretty illustrations, great lessons on kindness within the story, fun to read and a sweet, sing-song rhythm for my son to follow along. Reminiscent of The Little Engine That Could.

The Monster At The End of This Book by John Stone. It’s a Little Golden Book featuring a Sesame Street character (Grover), so how could it not be lovely? This book is so fun to read with my son.

Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert. Perfect for exploring colors, shapes, and a good book to grow into with advanced plant words like “rhizome” and “Delphinium”.

Ocean Meets Sky by Terry and Eric Fan. Gorgeous illustrations, and a sweet story. The lead character shares my son’s name, too, so of course I love it that much more. It’s a little more advanced for my son, but will be a great book for him as he grows!

The Baby Book by William Sears. Recommended to me by fellow staffer Kate (to whom Abby recommended), this book has it all. The entire team of Sears doctors worked to put together this in-depth reference for virtually any questions you might have about your child’s development for the first couple of years. Something I return to quite often! A worthy resource.


Pedro

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
Team Topologies: Organizing Business and Technology Teams for Fast Flow by Matthew Skelton.
Dune by Frank Herbert.

More?

Tell us about your favorites for 2019 on Talk, or add your own Top Five to our list!

Labels: top five, Uncategorized

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

LibraryThing Movie Night – Never Let Me Go

This weekend, join us for the first ever LibraryThing Movie Night! Many of our favorite books have been adapted for the silver screen. And while, yes, LibraryThing is a book site, we thought it would be fun to share the experience of these book-to-film adaptations together.

This Friday, Oct. 27th, we’ll be watching and talking about the film adaptation of Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. We’ll be talking about both the book and the movie, both of which were widely praised, although the movie is less well-known.

Details

Synchronize your watches for Friday, Oct. 27th, at 9pm Eastern (US). That’s when we’ll start the show. Never Let Me Go is available to stream on Netflix in the US and Brazil, or you can rent it on Amazon or iTunes.

You can see the trailer for the movie on YouTube—avoid that if you’re spoiler-averse, though.

Talk about it

This is one instance where you’ll be encouraged to talk during the movie. Join the discussion on Talk thread during or after the movie, as you like. If you’re so inclined, tag your Twitter or Facebook posts with #LTMovieNight so we can keep in touch there, too.

We ask that you keep discussion spoiler-free until we’re all watching together. If you’ve read the book or seen the movie already, don’t ruin any surprises!

More

This is an experiment that we thought would be fun to try. If it goes well and folks like it, we’ll do it again! Questions, comments, or suggestions for other movies you’d like to watch with LTers? Post ‘em on Talk.

Labels: events, fun, movie event, movies, Uncategorized

Monday, December 12th, 2016

December 2016 Early Reviewers

The December 2016 batch of Early Reviewer books is up! We’ve got 73 books this month, and a grand total of 1,710 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.

» Then request away!

The deadline to request a copy is Tuesday, 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, 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!

Henry Holt and Company Chronicle Books Beacon Press
Tundra Books Velvet Morning Press World Weaver Press
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers Five Rivers Publishing Oneworld Publications
HighBridge Audio Tantor Media Kaylie Jones Books
Akashic Books Free Store Books City Owl Press
BookViewCafe Recorded Books McFarland
CarTech Books Provisioners Press Crown Publishing
EsKape Press Plough Publishing House EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
Sandra Jonas Publishing

Labels: early reviewers, LTER, Uncategorized

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

LibraryThing Holiday Store is Live!

holidaystore-2016-600

On top of SantaThing (signups close this Sunday, 5pm EST!) and our annual Holiday Card Exchange (which starts this Monday—more coming soon), LibraryThing is bringing you more holiday cheer with our annual Holiday Store Sale! Everything is off but this year, we’re offering CueCat scanners and barcode labels at exceptionally low prices for your library’s cataloging needs. Check out all of our other cool swag, including t-shirts, book stamps, and tote bags, and stock up for some fun, bookish giving. All orders now through January 6* will also include a free laptop sticker!

Come and browse our Holiday Store today, and share with your fellow book lovers!

Psst—we’re also working on adding some exciting new TinyCat merch for you guys, so stay tuned!


*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?

Labels: barcode scanners, barcodes, cuecat, cuecats, gifts, holiday, sale, teeshirts, tshirts, Uncategorized

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Job: Remote Sysadmin for LibraryThing

We’ll let you out from time to time.

Work with a great team, without meeting them!

LibraryThing is looking for a full-time systems administrator, starting soon. The job can be remote or local to Portland, Maine.

Why? Seth Ryder, LibraryThing’s sysadmin is moving on to an exciting new job at HarperCollins. This is bad for us—Seth was a fantastic shepherd of the LibraryThing systems. The good news is, thanks to Seth, our systems have never been stronger, more organized or better documented!

Specifics

Hours: In the past, we’ve listed the job as full- or part-time. This time we’re listing it as full-time, expecting the new sysadmin to take on various systems projects. We remain open to considering part-time applicants who are a particularly good fit.

Qualifications: We’re looking for someone with broad systems administration experience, who can quickly pick up unfamiliar technologies, diagnose problems and keep everything running smoothly. You need to be calm under pressure, cautious and an excellent communicator. We’re a small team, so when things break at 4am, you need to be available.

Work Anywhere. LibraryThing is “headquartered” in Portland, Maine, but the servers are in Massachusetts and most employees are in neither.

Experience: Applicants need considerable experience running websites. Experience in Linux systems administration is essential; we use RHEL and CentOS, but you’ve probably got professional experience with at least half a dozen distros. Experience with MySQL is also important, including replication, monitoring and tuning. You will need to be able to demonstrate experience with remote server administration including lights-out management techniques and equipment.

Technologies: Here’s a partial list of the technologies we use.

  • Apache
  • Nginx
  • MySQL, Master-Slave replication
  • Memcached
  • Solr, Elasticsearch
  • Subversion
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Bash shell scripting
  • Munin, Graphite, Logstash (ELK)
  • Xen and KVM virtualization
  • rrdtool
  • NFS
  • LVM
  • iscsi

Compensations: Salary plus great health insurance.

How to Apply: Email sysadminjob@librarything.com. Send an email with your resume. In your email, review the blog post above, and indicate how you match up with the job. Be specific.(1) Please do not send a separate cover letter.

If you want to stand out, go ahead and take the LibraryThing Programming Test. If programming is part of your skills, we’ll ask you to take it before we interview you.

We aren’t considering head-hunters or companies.


1. This job is going to be posted lots of places, and that means we’ll get a lot of people “rolling the dice.” If you don’t seem like you’re applying for this job, we’ll ignore your email. If you want us to KNOW you read the job post–and are therefore a detail-oriented person–please put “banana” in the subject line, as in “Sysadmin Job (Banana).” Really.

Labels: employees, employment, sysadmin, systems adminitration, Uncategorized

Friday, March 20th, 2015

New Drag and Drop Catalog Style Editing

We’ve updated how you can arrange the fields in your catalog. What was formerly a collection of drop-down menus has been converted to a drag and drop method. Questions or comments? Tell us all about it on Talk.

Test it out and update your catalog styles here!

Here’s what it looks like now:

Details

You’ll still have up to five customizable display styles, A-E as pictured, with a maximum of 14 fields in each style. Now, instead of having to adjust five or six drop-down menus in order to add a field to the middle of a style, or completely rearrange the order in which the fields appear, all you have to do is drag and drop!

You can drag fields over to a style from the collapsible menu on the right side of the page. This menu categorizes various fields according to type/function: “Physical” contains all the options for dimensions of the book, “Classification” features call numbers, Lexile measures, and so on. You can even drag fields from one display style into another, although doing so will remove that field from the original style.

You can reach your Display Style Settings from either the handy little “Settings” button at the top of Your Books, or by clicking the “Settings” that appears in the upper-right corner, just below the site search bar, when you’re signed in and on the LibraryThing home page, or your profile.

Go see it in action and come tell us what you think on Talk!

Labels: new feature, new features, Uncategorized

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Your Call Number System

I’ve added a feature so members and small libraries can record your own primary call-number system–the one that you actually use, if you use one.

callnumber-2

You can then add a new field, “Call number” to your display styles:

callnumber-3

You do this here, at Settings > Other settings.

Why do this? Well, a few reasons.

  1. Your styles can include a “Call number” field, which visitors will find easier to understand.
  2. If you set it to Library of Congress (LCC) or Dewey (DDC/MDS), then you can change the “Call number” column and it will change your LCC or DDC.
  3. If you set it to “Personal or custom system” you can add, edit and show your own private call numbers, without bothering to edit another system.
  4. If you set it to one of the many others (Bliss, Cutter Expansive, etc.) you can add your own numbers, and at some point in the future we may be able to improve on that with additional data from library records. If not data, we can at least code the rules for sorting other classifications.

Here are the options. Feel free to suggest others. Note that nothing has been taken away here. You can continue to use DDC, LCC and now a new private call-number system without obstacles.

callnumber-1

Come talk about this on Talk.

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, Uncategorized

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Better recommendations: Display

Over the next week or so we’ll be talking a lot about recommendations on LibraryThing and LibraryThing for Libraries. We’ve been doing a lot of work on this part of the site, and will be rolling out a number of improvements.

Today we’re debuting a new system for showing recommendations on works.

Check it out:

  1. Recommendations page for The Fault in Our Stars
  2. Recommendations page for Archaeology and Language
  3. Work page for Code Name Verity

And come talk about it on Talk.

Details. The first change is to the “brief” display on work pages. We have a new way of showing a “shelf,” with both cover and title. We think this is more appealing—to more users—than the previous text-only system.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.09

You can expand to “see more,” to get two more rows, then “see all” to get ten or more. The deeper you go the less confident we are that the recommendation is a good one. But our recommendations are often quite good deep.

If it’s not more appealing to you, you can see the recommendations as text, with series “tucked under.”

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.51.48

If you want to keep it that way, click the “edit” pencil. To keep the number of icons down, you’ll only get this if you click to change views. (Not everyone will like this. I do.)

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.54.27

Besides “covers” and “text” you can also choose to vote on recommendations, as before.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.55.46

The new way of seeing recommendations has transformed the “All recommendations” subpage. (Here’s the ugly, list-y thing it looked like before.) To the various recommendation types we’ve added “More by this author,” which sorts the authors books by their algorithmic similarity to the book in quesiton, and “‘Old’ Combined Recommendations” for members seeking to compare the old algorithms with the new.

As before, this page shows all the different elements that make up LibraryThing’s “main” (or “combined”) recommendations.

Screenshot 2015-02-04 13.58.44

And come talk about it on Talk.

A note on authors and repetition. Algorithmic recommendations are something between a science and an art. There’s a lot of math involved, some of it very complex indeed. But the mathematically “right” answer isn’t much good if it’s boring. So, mathematically, one James Patterson book is statistically most similar to two dozen other James Patterson books before and other author can contribute a book. But who wants to see row after row of that?

Turning math into something stimulating and diverse, yet credible, is complex process. In this case, the same-author problem is addressed not in the initial data, but “at display,” by limiting how many times an author may appear on a given line. You can see this, for example, in the recommendations for The Fault in Our Stars, which restrains John Green from taking over, or Horns, which restrains Joe Hill, but also Steven King, Justin Cronin and others.

Because of differences in screen size, members will now sometimes be presented with slightly different recommendations lists, as books get pushed between rows. We think the drawbacks there are outweighed by the visual benefits of not overloading members wih repetitive recommendations.

Labels: design, new feature, new features, recommendations, Uncategorized

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Holiday Store: Everything off! New shirts! Totes!

store-screen-600

We’ve just debuted a fresh new “store” and new LibraryThing swag. New items include attractive v-neck t-shirts for women and men, and tote bags. We’ve also lowered our prices dramatically until January 6.*

Rather than having me blather on about it, why don’t you just go visit our new store?

After that, come tell us what swag we’re missing on Talk.


*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?

Labels: gifts, holiday, sale, stickers, teeshirts, tshirts, Uncategorized

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

Cataloging improvement III: Better “Sort character” support

Short version: We’ve added more tools for specifying how titles should sort.

Background: LibraryThing has been sorting “The Road” under “R” not “T”, and allowing members to change where the sorting “starts” since 2007. Mostly, the system gets it right in the first place, especially if you use library data, whose records contain information on “non-filing characters” (within the 245 field, second indicator, of course). If it doesn’t, super-knowledeable members use the “pipe trick,” changing a title like Die Fleledermaus to Die ||Fledermaus, to mark the start of sorting explicitly.

Bringing Sort Characters into the Open. To improve understanding and use of the feature, and to help troubleshoot when LibraryThing choses poorly, we’ve decided to expose the “sort character” (a.k.a. “non-filing characters,” “sort offset,” etc.).*

You can now add the field to one of your “Your Books” views:

cataloglist

Edit and manual entry now get a tiny drop-down menu (on the right), so you can see and change the sort character number. (We aimed for inconspicuous enough not to frighten newbies, but not entirely hidden.)

bookedit

We’ve also improved the “pipe trick” by making the pipes invisible under normal circumstances. For example, here’s a book in “Your Books.”

pipe1

And here it is, with pipes, when you double-click to edit.

pipe2

In practice, pipes always disable and/or override the sort-chracter number.

Come talk about this feature on talk.


* I asked for help naming the feature. The geeky-cutest was definitely Chris Holland’s “alphabit.”

Labels: new feature, new features, small libraries, Uncategorized