Recently, I stumbled upon LibraryThing, a very cool site/web-based book cataloging application, which is still in its beta phase but developing new features on what seems to be a daily basis. It’s become a near obsession. Who knew how much fun pulling books off the shelves and entering ISBN numbers could be? I don’t generally go out seeking massive data-entry projects, but this is a pleasure. Perhaps because it gives me the opportunity to pick up my books and look at them and think to myself things like:
“I really need to read this one.”
“Wow, I forgot how cool this book is.”
“Why the hell do I have this book?!?”
Over the years, I’ve gotten rid of probably as many books as I own since I frequently vacillate between wanting to own every book I read (and keep them even when I know I’ll never read them again) and wanting to own fewer possessions. Sometimes I think I’d like to have a giant room filled with books on all subjects, and at other times I think it would be cool to have all my books digitized and only have a small stack of DVD-ROMs.
I suppose it comes down to the question of a book’s worth. Is it the content? Is it the object? Or is it both? I would like to think it’s mainly the content, but then a house without books would seem such a lonely place.
That’s really the coolest thing about Library Thing: As I enter books, I feel like I’m visting old friends.