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text 2017-10-15 22:53
The bookcase cleaning project. Temporary halt, because SPIDER!

I don't do spiders.  Period.  If they are outside, I leave them alone, even the black widows.  But if they are inside, it's Raid-time. This one was almost certainly already deceased, but I had to spray first, then wait, then vacuum.  I simply don't do spiders.


Once that was taken care of, I began cleaning and organizing.  In the process, I found a battered copy of Barbara Michaels' House of Many Shadows, which I read for Bingo on a library digital loan because I didn't know I had the paperback.  A not-quite-so-battered copy of The Sea King's Daughter also turned up.  And a Victoria Holt title that had not been catalogued.  Plus a few other things.


Several other books on the back of the top shelf became library donations, because I have picked up digital editions.  I am often loath to give up my paperbacks even though I have Kindle copies, and that is just plain stupid.  If they were books I wanted multiple copies of for comparison of editions, that would be one thing.  They aren't.  In fact, they aren't anything special enough to have two copies of for any reason.  Paperback copies are going to the library!!


I did not make as much progress on this project as I had planned, but something is better than nothing.  The bottom shelf still needs a lot of work.  However, the motivation also prompted me to tackle some other cleaning/organizing chores that have been staring me in the face for far too long. 


A large pile of junk paper has been sorted and diminished by about one-half; half of what remains needs to be returned to their original file folders. I will try to get to that this afternoon.


A HUGE stack of small sewing projects related to art show prep has been pulled out of the corner where I stashed it a year or so ago and moved to front and center by the sewing machine.  I completed five of these little projects -- there are literally dozens of them -- this morning before the temperature in the studio made further work too uncomfortable.  My studio needs cleaning/purging/organizing every bit as desperately as the house.


We won't even talk about the workshop.  I think it may have spiders, too, so that's a good reason not to address it right now.


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text 2017-09-20 18:26
Summer's over; back to work

Even though it's 86 degrees before 10:00 a.m., temperatures are really cooling off here in central Arizona, and that means my fall and winter art show season is heating up.  With less than three weeks to my first show, it's time to get myself to work.


I have most of my Halloween Bingo books read, with just six (plus the Free Space) to go, and for the most part I've chosen longer but more likely enjoyable books to fill out the squares.  These are books that can be read at leisure, with less fear of DNFing just because I get interrupted!


So today I'm going to dedicate my efforts  toward making more stock.


As some of you know, I like to play with rocks.  Little rocks, not big ones.  Some I buy at rock and gem shows, but most I actually go out in the desert and find myself.



If you know the right places, sometimes the really neat rocks are just lying there waiting for you to pick them up!  It may look big, but that piece was only about 3 inches long.  It's pink chalcedony, a form of quartz, and actually quite common.  Though not particularly rare or valuable, it does make nice jewelry when cut and polished.  That's what I do after collecting them -- I cut them on a saw made specifically for cutting rocks, then I polish them, then I wrap them in sterling silver or gold-filled wire.



That's a piece of white chalcedony that I call Angel Feather Agate.  It has a void, or vug, in the middle that's filled with little tiny crystals.


Today I'm playing with a piece of what is probably Brazilian agate, part of an estate collection I acquired a few years ago. 




The red color is natural; the white is actually the crystal center of the agate nodule, which doesn't show up too clearly on an indoor photo.  Outside in the sunshine, it sparkles!


If I manage to collect enough discipline today, I'll finish the wire wrapping and have this piece ready for my first show on 8 October.  Guess I'd better start looking for some scattered pieces of that discipline; I'm sure I have a bunch of scraps lying around the house somewhere . . . .

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text 2017-09-13 20:57
If you can't say something bad, don't say anything at all.

Maybe BookLikes isn't the right spot for this, but I'm going to put it here anyway and on my sadly neglected blogger blog as well.  What the heck.


I was digging through some old files recently and came across a folder I had almost forgotten about.  It was one of those serendipitous events that got me to thinking about this whole business of reviewing, who we do it for, and what we put in our reviews.


There are people who review semi-professionally, by which I mean they are given books to read for the purpose of reviewing, but they don't actually get paid.  Maybe the books come from NetGalley or another online source.  Or from publishers.  Or from authors.  Whether they act upon it or not, these reviewers have a motive to give good reviews and to inflate ratings.  If good reviews and high ratings keep the free books coming, that's a motive.  If the reviewers can't afford to buy all the books they'd like to read or they like the attention good reviews bring them, those also are incentives to do what's necessary to maintain the supply.  They have a motive.


That doesn't mean their reviews shouldn't be taken into consideration or be automatically deemed unreliable.  Having a motive doesn't mean they acted on it.


Furthermore, even if they acted on that motive, even if like the late and unlamented Harriet Klausner they give every book five stars, they're free to do so.  There's no law that says they can't.  There's not even a TOS that says they can't.


And anyone who reads their reviews is free to discount or completely ignore them.  Or to trust them.


I'm pretty sure there are some of those semi-pro reviewers here on BookLikes.  There are probably some in my followers and followings.  I have no problem with this.


We are each entitled to review what and how we please.  Period.


If you don't like the way someone reviews, don't follow them or don't give their reviews any credence.  But please, don't tell them they're reviewing the wrong way or that they shouldn't review the way they do.  (Personal attacks on authors are not reviews, by the way.)


If you believe reviews should take the author's feelings into consideration, that's your opinion.  If you believe no review should be written unless the whole book has been read, that's your opinion.  If you believe reviews are supposed to help sell books and should therefore always be positive even if it means lying about the quality of the book, that's your opinion.


It's not mine.  If you are entitled to your opinion, am I not entitled to mine?


I don't think most reviewers lie about the books they read.  I don't even think many of them do.  And those who do, frankly, are entitled to do so!  Their reviews are for readers, and readers will learn either to trust those reviewers or not trust them.  Readers are entitled to their opinions of reviewers, too.


A review, however, is not a critique, and to me this distinction is very important, which is why I titled this blog post with the twist on the old admonition about being nice.


The folder I came across contained the score sheets and evaluation reports from a romance novel writing contest I coordinated more than 20 years ago. 


1.  The entries were the opening chapters of unpublished books (first 25-50 pages).

2.  Through their entry fee, the writers had paid for and were guaranteed at least two critiques/evaluations in addition to a 20-element score sheet. (Possible score 0-100, with 100 being perfect 5 points on each element.)

3.  The judges were experienced readers and many were also writers, with varying degrees of experience.  Each entry would have three judges; each writer could compare the scores and comments from three different readers.


As the coordinator of the contest, I gave the judges a set of guidelines to help them provide the entrants, whether they won or lost, with some kind of useful feedback.  The last item was:


Don't be afraid to tell the writer that something doesn't work for you.  Even if you can't explain WHY it doesn't work or tell her HOW to fix it, let her know this might be an area she needs to work on or get help on.  Is her description flat?  Is her dialogue stilted?  Does she make too many grammar or spelling mistakes?  Are her characters wooden?  These are unpublished manuscripts, so they aren't expected to be perfect!


There were over 100 entries, over 300 score sheets.  Only three of those score sheets came back with perfect scores, all from the same judge.  They were the only entries she read.  She gave them 100 points and her comments were identical on all three:  "I loved your book.  It was wonderful.  Keep up the great work!"


To put it mildly, none of the other judges who had scored these three manuscripts agreed with her.  I felt I had no choice but to find out why she had given perfect scores to three books, two of which the other judges found seriously flawed.


Through a series of emails (which are in the folder) and phone calls (referenced in the emails), I asked her if she truly felt these three manuscripts had absolutely no problems or weaknesses and were so perfect that they could not be improved upon in any way.  She admitted she did not.


"Then why did you give them perfect scores?" I wrote in one of the emails.  "If you didn't think they were perfect, why tell the authors that they were?"


She wrote back:  "I didn't want to hurt their feelings.  I knew the other judges were probably going to give low scores so I wanted to be nice."


"Wouldn't that give them false hope and maybe prevent them from getting some help?" I asked in a follow-up.  According to the other evaluations, one of the manuscripts was riddled with spelling errors and misused words, such as "lightening" that should have been "lightning" and "custom" that should have been "costume."  One judge had scored it only 27/100, with several zeroes.  "Did you basically lie to them?"


She admitted, "I suppose so.  I just couldn't make myself be mean to them.  I wouldn't ever want anyone to tell me there's anything wrong with my book.  I want to believe it's wonderful because to me it is.  I'm sure that's what she wants to believe, too."


After several more exchanges along this line, I wrote:  "So it wasn't about what she wanted or expected to get out of the contest because you had no way of knowing that, other than she paid with the expectation of honest feedback.  For you, it was all about your feelings.  Even though you agreed to be an honest judge and knew you might have to tell someone their book had problems, you knew ahead of time you couldn't and wouldn't do it."


Her reply to that was:  "Yes.  I would rather lie out of kindness than hurt someone's feelings."


I did ask her if she even read the entries or if she had just given them perfect scores "out of kindness."  She claimed she had read them.  I'll leave it at that.


The rules of the contest allowed for re-judging if any scores were way out of line; I gave all three entries to another judge who was able to give honest scores and critiques.  They were much more in line with the other two judges.


There was another manuscript that got rejudged in that contest, this one for a different reason.  Two judges rated it very high, well into the 90s.  The third gave it less than 20.  Again, as coordinator I had no choice but to ask her why she was so harsh on this entry, when the others she had judged fared quite well.  As it turned out, she didn't like the story or the characters because she didn't recognize the particular conventions of this type of romance novel.  They didn't fit the kind of books she was accustomed to reading, and so she didn't like it and thought everything was wrong.


"You scored it 0 on spelling and grammar," I wrote to her in an email, also in the folder.  "Did it have any errors?"


Her reply:  "I don't know.  I didn't pay attention."


She was very angry with me when I told her it would have to be rejudged because her score was so far out of line with the other two.


"My opinion this is a poor written book irregardless of the category.  Doesn't my opinion count?"


I had to tell her that in this case, no, her opinion didn't count, because she was giving inappropriate feedback to the writer.


"This isn't a review like in Romantic Times," I wrote to her.  "This book isn't done and edited and published.  You're not sharing your opinion of a published book that can't be changed with other readers as to whether you liked it or not.  This is between you and the writer who's looking for advice.  If you don't know anything about science fiction, would you try to help someone who's writing it?  Or a murder mystery?  Or would you just tell them their books are badly written because you don't like them?  You read [a particular category of romance novel] and this is [a different category] that has very different requirements.  Reviewing and critiquing are two different animals."


Also in the folder was a letter I had received from one of the entrants after the contest was over.  Though she had not won, she placed well (15th out of 103) with decent scores.  She thanked our group for sponsoring the contest and especially for guaranteeing that the writers would receive feedback.


"My family members and my critique partners are all too nice.  They won't tell me what's wrong with my book.  If publishers reject it without any feedback, where else is a writer suppose [sic] to get any?  Your judges all made comments that gave me points to look at for improvement that I wouldn't have thought of."


Another letter from another entrant was less complimentary:


"I can't imagine how bitter and cruel a person has to be to score a contest entry 0 points. I entered your contest to hoping to win not to get told how awful my book is. Your judges were not very helpful at all!  I thought [this contest] was about helping writers get published!"

Her manuscript placed 59th out of 103; each of her three judges scored at least one element with 0 points, though not on the same elements.


The manuscripts entered and the critiques offered through this contest essentially comprised private conversations between the writers and the judges, with the ultimate objective being to make the manuscripts publishable.  In the early 1990s when this contest was run, getting published by a traditional publisher was pretty much the only viable game in town.  If your work wasn't good enough, it didn't get published.  Period.


That aspect of the business has changed dramatically with the advent of digital self-publishing; nowadays, just about any piece of writing, no matter how crappy, can be "published." 


The digital revolution has also changed the "business" of reviewing.  At the time of that writing contest, there were very few outlets for popular fiction to be reviewed.  Each of the genre magazines had reviewers, but a monthly issue could only cover the most important, popular, or noteworthy books, and then with only one review!  When Rave Reviews spun off from Romantic Times in the late 1980s as an effort to bring non-romance reviews to the reading public, each of the hundred or so books reviewed still only received one review.


I reviewed for RR for about two years, mostly science fiction and non-fiction; then in the mid 1990s I reviewed mysteries for an online start-up that didn't get very far.  But that doomed start-up gave me a glimpse of what lay ahead for the digital era -- anyone can be a reviewer.


And everyone's opinion matters . . . to other readers.


The books I reviewed for Rave Reviews and the mysteries I reviewed online were published booksThey had gone through the acquisitions process and the editing process and now they were ready for the public to read.  The authors were finished with them and were probably hip deep in the writing of their next novel.  We reviewers didn't even think about the authors' feelings when we wrote our reviews; we were passing along our impressions to other readers, to the people who might be thinking about shelling out their hard earned cash for a copy of the book we had received for free in exchange for an honest review.


Many of us were also writers, whether published or not.  The distinction, therefore, between a critique of a work-in-progress and a review of a finished, published book was obvious to us.  We didn't even have to define it.  A critique was a dialogue between the critic and the writer; a review was the more or less unchallenged opinion of the reviewer expressed to potential readers.


Thirty years ago, a major, best-selling author's latest release might get a few dozen reviews from the major print publications such as The New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal.  Most of the reviewers were professionals, either paid reviewers on the staff of those publications or working professionals in related fields whose opinions were solicited. 


Today, an unknown writer's first self-published work might get 200 reviews on Amazon, 500 ratings on Goodreads, another couple hundred blog reviews, but it may never have had a single pre-publication evaluation and critique.  It may never have been proof-read or edited.  The writer may have been told by his or her friends how cool the book was even though none of them had read more than the required reading in school and 50 Shades of Grey.


So where's the distinction between a critique and a review now?   How do you -- whether you're a reader or a writer -- know who to trust when it comes to reviews?  Where's the distinction between a knowledgeable reviewer and "An Amazon Customer"?


Let's start with the first question.  There's probably very little distinction between a critique and a review these days simply because the relationships have all blurred as well.  A writer who brought her manuscript to a critique group of four or five other writers or who entered it in a contest was likely sharing her work with no more than a dozen other individuals.  All of them knew at the outset that her work was unpublished and that she was asking them explicitly for and expecting their feedback on it.  Today the writer who digitally self-publishes has no control over who reads their book, how many people read it, or what they have to say about it.  The uninformed writer may not even understand how the digital review system works -- that anyone can say anything -- and be completely unprepared for negative feedback. 


Is that writer the intended audience for the review that's posted on Amazon or BookLikes or a reviewer's blog?  How is the writer to know if the review was intended for her?  How is a reader in search of new books to read to know if the review was intended as a critique for the writer or a review for the general public?


(The issue of purchased reviews is a whole separate kettle of fish.  Don't get me started on that one.)


There's no one-size-fits-all answer.  Not any more.  If you're a writer looking for honest feedback in online reviews, all I can say is "Good luck, honey!"  You're going to see five-star reviews that will warm your heart but that mean absolutely nothing in terms of improving your writing and furthering your career.  You're going to see one-star reviews that mean even less.  Your only real option -- if you absolutely must read your reviews -- is to read the negative reviews and see if there's anything you can learn from them.


That means that if you're a reviewer, the best way to help a writer is to be honest.  Point out the flaws, offer suggestions for improvement, warn them not to quit the day job.  But no one is going to make you do that.  If you don't mind promoting books you know aren't well written, that's okay.  If you don't want to review those books at all, that's okay, too.  If it's more important to you to be nice than to be honest, you're perfectly free to make that choice.  You will, of course, have to live with any consequences of that choice.


If you're a reader looking for recommendations you can depend on, the job is even harder.  You're going to have to find those reviewers whose opinions you trust.  They aren't going to find you!


Each of us, whether we are a reader, a writer, a reviewer, or any combination thereof, has our own style and our own requirements.  We will each have our own followers; we will each choose who to follow.  It is up to us to determine how we're going to review, what our criteria will be, what our tone and our objectives will be.  It's not up to anyone else to tell us how to do it, any more than it is up to any individual reviewer to tell us what we can and cannot, should or should not, read.  Or write.


However, neither will any of us be automatically protected from the consequences of our choices.  If you choose to be like Harriet Klausner and only give five-star reviews to everything that comes in your mailbox, do not be surprised if writers love you but readers don't take you seriously.  If you choose to flay bad writing and contrived plots and plywood characters, be prepared for the slings and arrows of outraged writers and their fans.


A review that's posted publicly is for the public as much as a published book is for the public's consumption.  There are still channels for private communication, but the public review is not one of them.  And if your public review isn't really for the public, then maybe you should reconsider putting it out there.  If you don't want feedback -- and especially negative feedback -- then maybe publication, even of a review, isn't your best course of action.


Regardless what you choose to do, remember that everyone else has the same freedom to choose and deserves to have that right respected even if you don't agree with them.











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text 2017-09-10 17:35
What I did and didn't learn in school about being a reader

Some of the reviews and DNFs posted for the Halloween Bingo got me to thinking this morning about what it is that makes a poorly written book become popular.  The following isn't a finished work -- I'm still thinking about it -- but I wanted to throw out some ideas for general discussion.


Therefore, be warned:  This may ramble.  A lot.


Thinking back to the novels I can remember as class assignments in school:


Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway

The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy


Maybe there were more, but those are the three I remember most clearly.  Great Expectations bored me so horribly that I never did finish it.  I loathed The Old Man and the Sea, and my English teacher Ms. Cobb made it even worse.  The following year, Miss Leonhard's adoration for Thomas Hardy turned me off The Return of the Native to the point that I read it but absorbed almost nothing.


Years later, I read more of Dickens -- and more about him -- but never did read Great Expectations.  My feelings about Hemingway never changed: that forced reading of "Life's a bitch and then you die" as a teenager created a permanent disgust.  Eventually I reread The Return of the Native and marveled that we were even allowed to read about lust and adultery, etc.  I even wondered if Miss Leonhard -- who traveled to England each year with her two equally unmarried English teacher sisters so they could refresh their collections of heather and gorse and furze from "Egdon Heath" -- understood what the story was about.


The analysis we got of The Old Man was almost entirely cloaked in symbolism.  What did this mean?  What did that mean?  I remember there was something about lions, though I don't remember what they "meant."  I remember that we discussed "themes," but I never really understood that either.


The Return of the Native was all about Egdon Heath.  Or at least that's the way Miss Leonhard taught it.  It wasn't about the people and their motivations.  It wasn't about good and evil, or desire and frustration, or how the story was constructed.  It wasn't about logic or turning points or black moments.  It was about . . . Egdon Heath.


It wasn't about how the writer communicated his message -- we only read male writers in those days -- or even what his message was.  We learned about the text, and sometimes about the history in the text, and that was it.


We certainly didn't learn story structure.  Or how to create a believable, consistent, three-dimensional character.  Or how to avoid plot holes.  Or how to tie up ALL the loose ends.


And I don't think that as writers, we necessarily learn all that by osmosis.


Moonlight Reader made the comment on my review of The Haunting of Ashburn House

that the author might be very young and not have any experience of how adult life -- especially home ownership -- actually works.  I tend to agree, and that was another factor in these ruminations on the teaching of reading, bolstered by Jennifer's BOO-ooo-OOKs' reading of another book by the same author.  If in fact we do come out of high school (or the local equivalent) without an understanding of how stories are constructed, does that affect how we read as well as how we write?


At the same time that I was reading Great Expectations and The Old Man and the Sea, I was also writing my first novel.  It had a plot.  It had a beginning and a middle and an end.  But it didn't have a real structure.  It was just . . . there.  Over the next half dozen years I did a lot more writing, but didn't complete another novel until eight years after the first.  The plot of the second book had a much more solid structure.


By then -- the mid 1970s -- I was also reading about writing.  I had found a little paperback with the title Constructing Your Novel or something like that, and it helped me to understand how plot functioned.  This was not something I had ever learned in school!


More than any other, Larry Block's book Writing the Novel: From Plot to Print turned on all the light bulbs in my brain.  The many articles I read in Writer's Digest and The Writer filled in details of how to take that framework of plot and make it into a novel.  How to make characters come alive.  How to weave description in with the narrative and action.  How to show rather than tell.


The more I read about writing, the more I learned about reading.


But what happens if a reader never learns that?  What happens if they don't understand that plots have to have internal logic?  What happens if they don't understand that characters have to behave consistent with their own personality?


Is that how we get "best sellers" that make us roll our eyes and wonder if the author has ever been in the real world?


Somewhere in my files is an article from The Writer magazine that features brief articles/interviews -- no more than a paragraph or two -- with a bunch of authors who had their first books published that year -- early 1970s.  I don't know who all of them were or whether they went on to fame and fortune, except for one: Stephen King.  I need to dig out that article to see how it compares to his memoir On Writing, of which I bought the Kindle edition and have read about 75%.  I know, from the memoir, that he had mentors, and that he had people who early on saw that he had some spark of talent.


But I've never read any of his books.  I simply don't do horror.  I just don't.  Someone lent me Misery because they thought I'd find it amusing; I skimmed enough of it to know it was definitely NOT amusing!


Many years ago, not long after I had sold my first historical romance novel, I was in a critique group with several other romance writers.  I was in my mid 30s at the time, married with a house and a mortgage and a couple of kids.  All the others in the group were younger, some single, some married but with no kids.  None of them, in other words, had very much "life" experience.  I could see that lack in their writing, and after all, this was a critique group; we were not reviewing already-published-and-in-front-of-the-public books.  We all tried to share our various types of expertise -- one of us was a nurse, another was a legal secretary -- but for some reason or other, knowledge of how to construct a plot and how to create believable characters didn't seem to have any value.  Yet that's what we were supposed to be doing!


Let me give an example.


In one of the books, set in the years immediately preceding the U.S. entry into World War I, the female main character is established as having strong anti-war, anti-German sympathies.  Her father, who has political aspirations, encourages her to have a romantic relationship with a German diplomat.  She doesn't resist.  The German is older than her father and a very unpleasant, pro-war person, but she doesn't protest.  He takes her to the theater and spends money on her, buys her gifts, and offers to give her father funds for his political campaign.  He hires thugs to beat up her anti-war friends, and one of them is almost killed.  She never says a word to her father about not wanting any more to do with this dude.  She likes his gifts, enjoys going to the theatre, doesn't even remove his hand from her knee.


When I confronted the writer about this, and about how she was making her character seem like a hypocrite who would sell out her friends and her principles for theatre tickets and a pearl-encrusted locket, she didn't get it.  "She's just a character in a book, not a personal friend or even real person," was the gist of her defense.  "You don't have to like her.  She's just doing what she has to do to make the story move."


I don't know if she ever finished writing the book, and I can only say that I've never seen anything published that remotely resembles the story.


Digital self publishing altered not only the way books are put in front of the reading public but also the way they are read.  Readers who have never learned how the stories they read are crafted never learn how to distinguish the bad from the good.  They read with the assumption that the writers know what they're doing.  They read with no basis to question the quality of the writing, the structure of the story, the consistency of the characters.


Does this explain a book like The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane in which the main character's actions make absolutely no sense whatsoever?  Or A Discovery of Witches in which the main character is described as both all-powerful but weak and spineless?  Or The Haunting of Ashburn House in which the plot never develops with any sense of logic or rationality?  Traditionally published with big commercial publishers or self-published with Kindle Direct Publishing -- there's something about the two that doesn't seem to make any difference.


I don't know.  I do know that there are still books being published that DO make sense.


I'm just not sure if that matters to anyone at all any more.








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text 2017-08-22 16:27
The collection: Confessions of a book glutton

Prompted by Kaethe's post:


I am a book glutton.

There are well over 5,000 books on my Kindle.  Before Kindle, there was Project Gutenberg, and I have another 1,000 or so of those; I've never actually counted.  I suspect a lot of those titles are now available in Kindle format and could be transferred/reloaded, but, well, it takes time.

My physical library contains another 4,000 volumes, more or less.  Most are listed on my simple spreadsheet inventory, but many are not.  Those paperbacks in boxes in the workshop, for instance.  I have no idea what's in them, only that there are three stacks of boxes and each box holds 50, 60, maybe 70 books.  Or more.

When I went back to college in 1998, I got into the honors program, which afforded free photocopying services.  I abused it, and made copies for personal use of another 100 or so long-out-of-print books.  That's how I acquired my copy of the full, three-volume original version of Briffault's The Mothers.

While in graduate school, I had a part-time job with a small property management firm.  There were only two of us in the office regularly, and on the two or three days a week that I worked, my boss often disappeared for hours at a time.  The photocopier was on a lease contract, the minimum allowed, which included toner and up to 1500 copies per month.  I was in charge of reporting the number of copies to the copier leasing company, and we only made about 100 copies a month for the office use.  I provided my own paper and used the rest of the allotment to copy more of those out of print academic tomes.  

My personal collection is therefore somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,000 to 15,000 titles.  Maybe more.

I ordered a book from the county library system (for Halloween Bingo!) and received the email this morning that it has arrived at the local branch.  Yes, the local branch that has the entrance from the parking lot go right through the used book sale room.  Every single time I SWEAR I will not buy any books, but so far I've only succeeded in avoiding the temptation once.  Every other time, I drop a few bucks in the Friends of the Library coffers and bring home . . . more books.

Sadly, I don't make, take, or have the time for reading that I used to.  Last year's Halloween Bingo provided terrific incentive, and I started to get back into a routine.  Life disrupted that.  Then came BookLikes-Opoly, and I regained some momentum, until other obligations intervened.  Now it's Halloween Bingo time again, and I am more determined than ever to right my listing ship and steer her back on course.

Ahead Full Sail!

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