03 April 2006

Vous et nul autre

Neat new feature on LibraryThing sure to excite Thingamabrarians*: Tim has programmed a new feature that lists books that only you & one other person own -- vous et nol autre. This 'fun statistic' certainly was; I spent a couple hours browsing and comparing my catalog to others who with whom I share a common work.

Paging through some of the users, I was surprised that we only shared one book since we shared similar interests: art, computer, history, literature, cooking. Interesingly, though, of most of the catalogs that included computer books, travel books, or cookbooks, there were no intersections between our catalogs. The 'one other' book frequently was not common ground with the other owner's library. But, in some catalogs, where there was an obvious similar reading interest, I usually had read or previously owned many of the same books, but had not included them in my catalog. On average, I owned 19.9 books in common with the 50 readers on my 'votre et nul autre' list.

There were only 4 readers with whom I shared no other books:

Reader #1 only had 37 books catalogued. Maybe after he has more, we might have more books in common. However, of the 4, his was the library I would feel most comfortable with. In total, there were only 4 or 5 books that wouldn't have interested me enough to pick off a shelf or browse through in a bookstore. The book we own in common has been lingering in my TBR pile-- Flag: An American Biography. I was intrigued by the idea of a history of a cultural icon being a 'biography'. Picked this up in a Smithsonian Museum gift shop on my last trip to D.C. late last summer.

Reader #2 Myth of the Northern Lands, published in 1895. #2 indicated that this was her oldest book. Mine too! I have had it for about 20 years, was sort of a gift from a professor. I reclaimed it from a discard pile when he was cleaning out his office and remarked that it was really old. After looking through it, he gave it to me and told me to enjoy it. #2 indicates that it is copyrighted in 1923. My copy was inscribed in 1901, so maybe an earlier edition unless her note is incorrect.

Reader #3 -- The book in common is Russel's Rules and I'm not sure that I have read it. I think I gave it to my spouse for Christmas and only casually perused it. Since we talk so much about books, sometimes if a work isn't memorable, it's difficult to recall whether I actually read it, or just heard about it. Reader #3 and I use 5 similar tags and actually 'share' one other work -- a novel I borrowed from the public library but never owned. #3's catalog is slanted towards religious books and sports books -- 2 types of books I wouldn't typically read.

Reader #4 -- We share a Fodor's guide to Paris. While I have 61 books tagged 'travel', #4 has only 1. 4 of #4's books -- all computer instruction books -- could have been books I might have owned, but chose a competing title. Two of 4's books I owned previously -- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Lake Wobegon Days, by Garrison Kellior. Having lost a few thousand books to water damage a few years ago, my libary is sparse and represents mainly books acquired in the last 4 years. Who knows, maybe if I still had all of those books that had to be destroyed, I might have had other et nul autres.

* If you have read this far and haven't discovered LibraryThing, go check it out now at On-line cataloging and social networking. It's lots of fun. What's a Thingamabrarian? -- one addicted to LibraryThing!

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