My Goodreads Playground

About a month ago I discovered goodreads.com, and I haven’t been the same since.  In fact, I am close to addicted.  Anyone who’s ever known me or been in my house can tell you I’m a bookaholic. I signed up with librarything.com first, but one has to pay to list more than 200 books there. I also tried shelfari.com, but it insists on putting books on my shelf I don’t have and do not want to have. So I seem to spend all my spare time at goodreads.com. Check out my reading list there .

Now if you can’t understand why anyone would enjoy just making lists of books to read, already read, or what one is currently reading, please understand there’s a whole lot more to it than that. It’s a whole social networking site built around books. You can make friends with those on the site who have similar reading tastes or invite real-world friends to join you so you can keep up with each other’s reading choices.  You can compare your books lists with others to see if a friend invitation is in order. You can read member reviews of any books that interest you and rate and review any books you’ve read to help others with their selections. But, best of all, there’s trivia.

And, I confess, trivia is really what has me hooked.  Once you have your account, just go to the menu across the top and click on “Explore.” And from the drop down menu, pick “trivia.”  Your first multiple choice question will appear. If you don’t like it, you can skip it with no penalty — after all, not everybody can read everything that’s been written. You can even limit your trivia questions to those about books on your lists. And if you think there’s not enough variety, you can write some questions of your own to add to the fun.  The site keeps score of how you are doing in relationship to others, how you answer specific questions compared to your friends, etc.  You can even evaluate the questions themselves. I love playing goodreads trivia and adding questions on the books I’ve read and seeing what others think of them.

One other feature I occasionally use is the “books lists” on the “explore” drop-down menu. This enables me to see what others think are the best or worst books ever in a number of categories and to add my own additions to these lists and to order them according to my own opinion.  This, in turn, has the capacity of changing the main list as others continue to add their input. Looking through these lists is a great way of putting more books on your shelves because you are bound to run into a few you’ve read but not thought about when making your first bookshelves.  The more books you have listed, the more fun the site becomes as you compare reading lists with others — another good way to update your shelves.

The last feature I really enjoy is  the group discussion. There are public groups for every reading interest. Or you can start a private group for you and your real world book club so you can have your book discussions on line. I have joined a few of the public groups and really do have a good time interacting with others who want suggestions or opinions on books I’ve read and who will offer me suggestions for books that might meet my own needs.  As I participate in discussions and get reading updates and reviews from my friends, I find myself adding books I’ve never heard of to my own wish list.

I have by no means described all the features of this site that make it sticky. But I hope I’ve described enough to motivate you to get your own free account and give it a whirl.

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An Afternoon Getting Out the Vote

This afternoon I had my first experience going to my party’s headquarters to make “get-out-the-vote” phone calls. I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I reported for duty, I was given one sheet of paper with a short script, and what seemed like a ream (although, in fact, it was only about 20 sheets) of lists of ten voters to call. For every voter there were little ovals to fill in about whether you had gotten through, and, if so, whether you talked to the right person or a machine, or gotten a wrong number. If we talked to someone, we were to ask if he or she could be counted on to vote Tuesday for our candidate, and, if the person answered in the affirmative, we filled in another oval. There were also ovals for negative or undecided answers. Sometimes the sheets had several people in one household listed separately, and one person answered for all or, if in doubt, passed me to the other person. I was also given a cell phone and directed to a table and chair as my “station.”

Now I could never be a telemarketer. It is very hard for me to even think about making calls to people I don’t know that did not call me first. Even though my lists were people who had registered to vote in my party, I still had very cold feet. All the people on my list were in my own town, though I knew only one of them and he wasn’t home. Ironically enough, my husband made calls yesterday to the town we used to live in and actually had someone on his list he knew.

About four other people were scattered around making calls, including my husband. I sat there for a few minutes like a deer with headlights in its eyes. I’d look first at the script sheet, and then at the list, as I tried to make myself believe I could do this thing. I’d listen to the others, and as I saw they were pretty much ignoring the script, I finally took the plunge and made my first call.  I got a machine. I don’t know how long it was before I reached a live person, but I know for those first few calls I spent more time stalling than making the actual call. The first page was slow going for that reason.

It finally dawned on me that if I didn’t pick up my pace I would still be there by nightfall.  I decided I would simply have to pluck my heart from my throat, place it back in my chest, and start tackling that list as though I meant business. About every half hour I’d stop and count the number of sheets I’d finished and the number I had left to go. And it seemed that no matter how many I’d finished, the pile of those left to go didn’t shrink much. In fact, I actually began to believe that the listed reproduced while I was calling. I talked to so many machines I was beginning to feel like a tape recorder mysef, even though I didn’t look at the script and was pretty much making it up as I went along. Finally I got to that last sheet on the pile. And, would you believe, it was the hardest one. There was only one couple — the rest were separate calls. There were a couple of people I needed to talk to, a couple of disconnected numbers, and last of all, a changed number, which when called, was answered by a recording that the person had moved out of state. I left her my final message.

I heaved a sigh of relief and handed in my sheaf of papers — and waited for my husband to finish. He likes to make his calls in a more social setting than I, and had settled into a chair in the midst of other callers and had spent time talking to them between calls. It’s hard for me to make phone calls if anyone is within earshot, and it was hard for me to concentrate being even across the room from the section the other callers occupied and within hearing range of the organizer across the room the other way who was talking to her helper. My husband finally finished his list after there was no one left to talk to, and we started home. Both of us felt emotionally and physically drained, even though we’d lifted nothing heavier than paper, pen, and cell phones. We both kind of wondered if what we did really helps get people out to vote. We hope it is effective. But at least we know we’ve had a part in the process. We voted ourselves absentee last week. And I know I’ll try to be more appreciative than I have been in when volunteers call me from now on.

Untimely Deaths?

Yesterday I learned that an e-friend’s baby had died in the womb. She realized she hadn’t noticed any movement, and the doctor confirmed that her small heart had stopped beating. Her much anticipated child would have to be buried when born. She will never know what this child would have become, and would never be able to bring her home. Such an untimely death!

But is any death timely? We do expect to see the old die. But not the young. Little did I suspect that when my barely 14-year-old son left on a water-skiing day trip on August 27, 1991, I would never see him alive again. I considered that death quite untimely. A vital member of our family was suddenly removed from our table. I would never know whom he might choose to marry. We would never be grandparents. I would never know which career he finally would have chosen.

In 2003, we lost a dear friend, only 44, suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a regular at our table on Friday nights and on holidays. And then he was gone. Way too soon, in our opinion. At least he left no wife and children, but he was like another son to us. And he, too, left a hole in our lives.

And now we know of another young man, in business with his wife. They have small children. And he is sick, always in and out of hospitals, sometimes near death. And his parents have lived with the knowledge that since birth he has been in danger. And we hope and pray he will continue to live to see his children grow up — that he will not meet an untimely death.

I have wept with many mothers who have lost sons who were not yet out of high school — some in accidents, some with illnesses they didn’t know about, but all suddenly, without warning. Untimely

And yet, it seems that no matter when the grim reaper appears to take someone, it is not timely. My own mother, at 89, who had said she had no real reason to continue on, was shocked when she received word from her doctor that she had only two months left. And all of a sudden, that seemed untimely to her. She found out then why she wanted to keep living. But it was too late, and she departed on schedule, finally giving in to the inevitable, not afraid, but still wishing she didn’t have to leave us behind.

When I lost my son, I still remember the words that brought me the most comfort. A pastor’s wife wrote to us, and shared that her brother had died at the age of 16. She shared these words from Psalms 139: 13-16

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

———————————————————
Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Bible NIV
Copyright (c) 1994, 1995, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc. All Rights Reserved

My Comforter reminded me that there are really no untimely deaths in the eyes of God — only in our own eyes. All of us live as many days as God has planned for us — no more, and no less. And then he takes us home to make us perfect as we can never become while still here.

Begin at the Beginning

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said, To talk of many things: Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax –Of cabbages — and kings. So I thank Lewis Carroll for my title, and you can expect to find me talking of many things in this blog.

Since I’ve chosen a blog name from Lewis Carroll, I might as well quote him in the title of this first blog. “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is one of my favorite poems. And I’m also rather fond of the Cheshire Cat. Sometimes when the moon appears as just a big smile in the sky, I’m reminded of the Cheshire Cat’s grin when that’s all that’s still visible of him. Another of my favorite scenes is when Alice encounters the caterpillar. I didn’t intend to talk about this, and I’ve no idea where my copy of Through the Looking Glass is right now, but I think these references are to scenes in that book.

'The Time Has Come the Walrus Said To talk of many things: Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing wax -- Of cabbages -- and kings -- And why the sea is boiling hot -- And whether pigs have wings.'

As the blog name indicates, the topics may change from day to day. I am a affiliate seller of new and used books, and most of them are for teachers or children. Others, especially the used ones, are about topics I’m interested in — gardening, cooking, biography, history, humor, etc. Because I read a lot of books, I’m likely to talk about them often. I may also share experiences I have had as a bookseller or a blogger. And if it’s been a beautiful day, I just might mention my garden or what I’ve seen on a walk. Likewise, if something has inspired me, or if I’m thinking over something, I might share that here.

 

‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
‘To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’ (from “Through the Looking Glass” by Lewis Carroll)

And that’s what I will do in this blog — talk of many things.

I hope you’ll join the conversation by commenting and asking questions. Maybe you have a new twist on something I’ve said here.Feel  free to disagree with me, too. We can all learn from each other.