Ruth lives in a small town with her equally small-minded mother. Her brilliant brother gets out as soon as he graduates from high school, but Ruth seems content to settle into an unhappy oblivion of work at a dry cleaner. In theory Ruth is an interesting character because she is so ordinary. She’s not that smart or pretty or ambitious. She is an average person, one that you meet every day.
The problem in that in her ordinariness there doesn’t seem to be anything new to be said about her. She settles quickly for whatever life hands her, whether it’s a job where her mom works or the first man who expresses and interest in her. Instead of trying to get out from under the thumb of her overbearing mother, she continues to live with her even after she’s married.
I have an incredibly hard time relating to and respecting people like Ruth. She has an awful life, one that she continually complains about, but she does nothing to improve it. I just want to shake her and yell, “You can do better!” She marries Ruby, a man who is basically still a child. He’s lazy and spoiled. He forces himself upon her on their first date, but she decides that’s okay and agrees that taking care of him is her new second job.
The two most interesting characters in my opinion are Ruth’s brother and her aunt, both of whom always remain on the periphery. Both are villainized in some ways, particularly her brother, for working to improve their lives. By the end of the book I just wanted to be finished with all of the horrible characters I’d met.
BOTTOM LINE: I couldn’t stand it. I kept waiting for it to get better or for some lesson to be learned, but it never happened. I stuck with it because it was a book for my book club and I always read those all the way though so I can discuss them.
Bring up book cataloguing with any giant book nerd (myself included) and you know you are about to get an earful. We each have our own system for tracking what books we’ve read and what we own. For some people it’s meticulous, others have are a bit more sporadic. For me it boils down to one word: LibraryThing.
I started my profile in 2006 and never looked back. Up to that point I’d used random collections of notebooks to write down what I was reading. There was no real way to track it and I still couldn’t tell you all the books I read in the years leading up to 2006. That year I was in the midst of graduating from college and starting my first job, so half of my books were in storage.
My best friend sent me a link to LibraryThing and within minutes I’d bought a lifetime membership (only $25, but that was a lot for me at that point!) and I started adding in my books. I even went to my Dad’s house and went through my boxes of books in his attic to write everything down to enter into LT. I got so caught up in what I was doing that I took a wrong step and fell through the ceiling.
Now, eight years later I have 2,979 listed in my library. This includes everything including categories like books I’ve “read but do not own” to books I “own but haven’t read.” I have dozens of tags that help me find what I’m looking for in a second. When I buy a book or start reading a new book I immediately add it into the system. It is second nature at this point and new books aren’t shelved in my home until they are in LT.
If I’m reading it I label it with the current month and year and note whether or not I own it. I can go back and see exactly home many books I’ve read each year and which months are better reading months for me. I also have tags for specific genres, graphic novels, poetry, nonfiction, etc. I can search through all of the nonfiction books I’ve read to give someone a recommendation when requested. The system also allows you to add in your own reviews, (I currently have 782 reviews up) and ratings. Unlike Goodreads you are allowed to use half stars, which I absolutely LOVE!
LibraryThing is also essential for helping me keep track of what’s on my kindle. Sometimes I buy a $1.99 daily deal and forget about it, but I always add it into LT and so I can check later and see that I own it. I find myself at used bookstores all the time checking LT on my phone to see if I already own a copy of a book that’s caught my eye. It’s saved me from making quite a few duplicate purchases.
I’m a huge fan of LT. I’ve tried Goodreads and just haven’t been a fan so far. I like seeing what my friends are reading, but I hate the dozens of friend requests I get from authors pushing their books. If you’ve never checked it out, I’d recommend at least stopping by LT to see if it’s a good fit for you.
How do you all track what you read and own?
p.s. Just in case anyone is wondering, I'm not getting anything for recommending LT, I just love their system.