Ask the grumpies: Systems to catalogue books? Thoughts on endnote vs. librarything?

Lisa asks:

I was going to ask you and your readers [ed:  emphasis added] for recommendations on book catalogue systems, but then I saw your Library Thing icon and I read your very positive thoughts on that. I also see a brief reference to Endnote, so assume that you use Endnote for research.

Can you share your thoughts on the two different systems? I want to start a book catalogue for non-fiction books and texts, mainly based on my reading list so I have a central system for compiling book information (eg reviews, quotes, recommendations, “to buy”, “to borrow”, summaries, quotes etc etc). If I was to go into academic research (a possibility in a few years time), it is likely that I would use endnote for “real” research. At the moment I need something to manage my non-fiction reading list and “hobby research” which currently is a hodgepodge of messy notes, lists and links. I want to invest my time into a good catalogue system, but unsure if Library Thing is sufficient, or if I should take it a step further and look at Endnote. I can get a discount version of Endnote through my uni alumni, so cost is not a deciding factor. My preference is always just to use one system, but I am unsure if I am trying to force one system to do two different things (ie use Endnote as a book catalogue system, or use Library Thing for storing notes and quotes etc).

Can you compare Library Thing and Endnote? How you use each of them? How much cross-over is there? Would there be any scenario where you would recommend just using Endnote, ie for someone starting out with their book catalogue and notation systems? At what point do you prefer to segregate your work research and personal research systems?

also interested in your reader’s thoughts … particularly any librarians out there (I am in a regional area, otherwise I would be hassling the librarians in the city about this)

Also just out of curiosity, does anyone know what systems Journalists use for this sort of thing? I am not planning to become a journalist, but I am wondering if what I want to do is similar to what some journalists might do to keep track of their source information and ideas etc.

(I am not going to catalogue fiction books and I assume that Library Thing would be the best product for that scenario).

#1 says:
We’re glad you asked! To take the last question first, we have no idea what journalists do, but maybe someone in the comments will!

Other thoughts:

I think you might want two solutions for this.

For fiction and non-fiction books that I have for my own use, I love LibraryThing. Their cataloging setup works for me and I like its display options. The books I have for ‘professional’ purposes are in there too, although in my field we don’t use books so much as articles. You could have separate collections under one account if you want to separate things. The site is specialized for books and does not have an easy way to output citations or include page numbers. You can export a list of your library but that’s about it. No uploading files, although you can put some pictures in your account if you want to show them to people. It’s good for books in that it’s got ways you can put on your own tags and sort collections. You can put in up to 200 books for free before paying for an account. The lifetime membership I bought in 2003 is the best $25 I ever spent.

For articles, book chapters, web pages, etc., I use Zotero. I used to use EndNote but Zotero is free and open-source. You should choose one or the other, as it’s not easy to exchange libraries back and forth between them. These days I’m loving how Zotero lets me work across multiple computers and have access to my library everywhere both through a webpage and through a downloadable (free) program that sits on the local hard drive and integrates with word processing software for doing citations and bibliographies. Zotero, or anything like it, will reformat your paper and works cited for various formats required by publications with just a few clicks (e.g., Chicago style, APA, MLA). You can upload PDFs of your articles and Zotero will suck in the info you need for cataloging, such as date, title, DOI, etc. Then those PDFs (and your library) are accessible anywhere you can see a webpage. There’s a limited amount of free storage, but buying more isn’t expensive, and the amount they give you is totally fine for most purposes.

You could also do everything in Zotero if you wanted, although it doesn’t have pretty cover displays for books the way LibraryThing does. It’s certainly better to put books in Zotero than it is to put other media in LibraryThing, because Zotero is built with more flexibility as far as media type and cataloging it all correctly. You can put interviews, talks, government documents, films, etc. in there, and you can also use tagging and notes. Zotero doesn’t do quite as well as LT in managing, editing, and arranging collections of books, but it’s better for everything else and better for citations.

Does that help?

#2 says:  I use Endnote because it is free through my work, no other reason.  The best thing about librarything in my opinion is that you can buy a cuecat and scan in the barcodes of the physical books into library thing and it pulls everything up. With endnote/refworks/zotero, you have to look up the book in your library system or possibly some other way (maybe googlescholar will pull down cites, I don’t know) or else manually input the data. Endnote is lovely for making lists of works cited in any format that you need, which is the main reason I use it. I have zero crossover between the two systems– librarything is solely for my home library, endnote is solely for my research. But I mostly deal with articles and only the occasional book or book chapter for my work work.  If I were only allowed the use of one, I would go with endnote and just not catalog my fiction.


Why I like the Rake/Bluestocking trope

I don’t always like it.  I don’t like it when the rake is just a womanizing jerk.  I like it when the rake likes women and sees them as people who enjoy having a good time (generally merry widows or wives in unhappy arranged marriages or happy marriages of convenience).  He hasn’t found one he wants to settle down with yet, until he meets the bluestocking.

They’re both fighting against the strictures of society.  He accepts her ways because he hates society’s ways.  She craves the knowledge she believes only he can give her.

And yet, they’re also both rebelling in ways that society has prescribed them.  The woman cannot be a rake, she can only be a bluestocking.  The man cannot be a bluestocking and still rebel.  When they meet, she allows herself to indulge in sensuality, and he is allowed to share (and wallow in) his love of whatever academic subject he has hidden from his rakish friends.

They’re smart.  They have intelligent conversations.  They have witty senses of humor.  They share jokes that nobody else gets.  There’s lots of narration about their eyes, which sparkle with intelligence and humor.  They like each other.

They are people that the reader might like to know in person.  Or that the reader might even be, in another world.

And by meeting each other, they are allowed to be even more themselves, not less.  They free each other.  She allows him the ability to settle down and follow his true loves without caring what society thinks.  He allows her the freedom that she can only get through marriage to a husband who does not view her as property (or as a wealthy widow).  And they share many passions.

Fantastic Reads and Where to Find Them

Where to find them:  your local library, bookstore, or our amazon affiliate links.

Fantastic reads:  Here they are!

I’ve been doing a pretty good job at having read the Hugo nominees before the list even comes out; the things I like and the things the voters like often overlap.  I don’t read a lot of short stories but I do read novellas and novels.  For example, I think I’ve talked on here before about how I like Mur Lafferty’s book Six Wakes.  I enjoyed Trail of Lightning and am waiting for the sequel.  We both love N. K. Jemisin.  I own and have enjoyed Liz Bourke’s Sleeping with MonstersMonstress is gorgeous (and violent); Bitch Planet is just what I need.  Both of us on this blog are in love with the writings of Seanan McGuire and I also love to read Sarah Gailey.  Etcetera.

I’ve been re-reading the Craft Sequence by Max Gladstone.  You should read them in the order of the titles, not the order they were published in.  I re-read the first five in quick succession and am now waiting for the newest one, which the author says is the start of a new arc.

#2 got me Fault Lines by Kelly Jennings.  I’m looking forward to reading that.

I loved Witchmark by C. L. Polk and I’m excited to get that sequel next year, too.

Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski is a book about sex for women but more interestingly, it’s also a book about stress and how emotions work.  People should read this one!

The Stone in the Skull is the start of a new series by Elizabeth Bear.  Thumbs up!  Yes.

The Price Guide to the Occult is an interesting story about family and magic and secrets.  By Leslye J. Walton.

If you’re like me, you might want to also read Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack.  It wasn’t revelatory but it’s worth a library read.

I’m currently enjoying Winter Tide by Ruthanna Emrys.  I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll just tell you to check it out.

p.s.  I just finished it and immediately put the sequel on hold!

Grumpeteers, got any suggestions for what to read next?


What do you do when your local library is going to be closed for 7 months?

It’s not a great library, but it’s better than nothing!  The closest other library in the system is 30 min away in the next town, which we only go near when I have to drop off voter registration forms.  (That will drop off a lot once students settle in.)

DC1 will be ok because hir school library is already better than the local library for hir reading needs (they have multiple copies of popular YA books, unlike our local library which has long wait lists and series gaps that take a long time to replace when a kid loses a book).

What would you do?  Where do you and yours get reading material?

Not-so-hot takes on reading fantasy

Is this a hot take?  I’m blogging about a blog post.  (Color commentary from #2!)

Things I have read:

1 (excellent) [#2 agrees], 3, 4 (great, plus the sequel is better), 5, 6 (it’s right in my wheelhouse), 7, 8 [#2 found Eddings’ treatment of his few female characters to be unnecessarily tropey– #2 is secretly proud of what a good feminist she was as a kid], (not 10 but the other one of the pair, which was great), 11, 13 (THE BEST!) [#2 notes that this was what made her start reading fantasy in earnest when Ms. A assigned it in 4th grade], 14 [#2 was kind of meh on this one– Lloyd Alexander would do better about female characters in his later books], 19 (the whole trilogy), 20, 21, 23, 26, 27, 28 [#2 says, Anne McCaffrey died for me in the third book when her hero tw rape] (I didn’t ever read the third one), 33 [#2:  I swear we read about every single time a character poops, and yet, I read like 5 of these… they go down easy, I guess], 34, 35 (HELL YES), 36, 38 (deserves all the awards it won!), 39, 43, 45, 46, 48 (a lonnnng time ago), 50 (so many times), 52, 53 (more than once), 54 (everybody go read this), 55, 56, 57, 58, 59 (#2 may have given this to me as a gift) [#2:… I don’t think so but I probably made you read all her stuff when I should have also been making you read Edward Eager– I certainly kept a couple of her Chrestomanci books in our room], 61, 63, 65 (I literally got this from my mother) [#2 notes this one was extremely popular sophomore year with all the girls– very unfeminist for something that pretends to be feminist], 66 (and the sequel), 70, 72 (I think?), 73, 74 (was not as impressive as people make out), 75 (ditto!), 76, 80, 82 (these books are soothing) [#2:  borrrrring], 83, 84 (this one plus the sequel; need more!) [#2:  there’s a sequel?!  To the wishlist!], 85, 87 (this series is great), 88 (SO GOOD Y’ALL) [#2:  buy it!], 89, 90, 91 (LOVE IT), 93, 94, 96 [#2: I trudged through this– I find her later stuff more readable], 97, 98 (I think), 99 (this series ate my brain in a good way), 100 (ditto).

Things I started but couldn’t finish:

2 (#2 may have read this) [#2:  I read it the year it came out and recall liking it– what I did not like was the later books in which she slept with her boss and then with her much older mentor YUCK– I’m so glad #metoo has made people realize that is NOT ok], 15, 29, 44, 51 (kept trying, could never do it), 60 (hate that whiny jerk), 62, 71, 77 (tried twice, too dense), 79 [#2:  Wait, for real?  But it’s so good!  Oh, I bet you tried to read it in paperback, which is nigh impossible– check out a hardback from the library.  The print is in different colors which makes it easier to parse.]

Things I haven’t started (yet):

9, 12 (I will probably read this at some point), 16 (currently on my library list), 17 (never heard of it, though I’ve heard of the author), 18 (ditto), 22, 24 (probably will read at some point, just for the lulz), 25 (but I’ve read other things by her), 30 (ditto), 31, 32, 37 (someday), 40, 41 (seems huge tho), 42 [#2:  HOW CAN YOU NOT HAVE READ THIS?!?!? I made DH read it, how did I miss you? And 7 day magic which is EVEN BETTER and about a BOOK!], 47, 49 (heard good things about this), 64 (on the list for someday) [#2 I liked it– oddly popular among economists], 67 [#2:  A very quick read, but nice!], 68 (though I have another book by this author on my wish list), 69 (I think– can’t tell from the description), 78, 81 (is on a list somewhere), 86, 92 (is on my shelf right now) [#2:  tell me if it is any good– I love Matthew Hughes and they say he’s a modern Jack Vance], 95 (will probably read at some point).

I read a lot of fantasy and am aware of a lot more.  I read a LOT of fantasy.

Need speculative fiction recommendations?  Ask away!  Have spec fic recs?  Do tell!

Locally specific manners? Reading at the dinner table edition

Do you let your kids read at the table?  I feel like this used to be impolite but personally, I have no problem with it.  When I was growing up, at home we were allowed to read at lunch (my dad still does).  But we were not allowed to read at the dinner table.

I’m lucky that my parents supported and modeled that reading for fun is a great thing to do.  My dad’s mother was also a big reader, and as a result so are most of her children.  I think it’s ok to read in restaurants and bars (if you can concentrate).  My nightmare is a person who sits on a plane next to me and brings nothing to do except talk.  What did you plan to do for this six-hour flight, just stare into space???

Do you think reading at the dinner table is rude or perfectly ok?

#2 who has kids hasn’t really given this much thought but her kids do read at the dinner table sometimes.  We’re much more informal about meals than we were growing up though and sometimes eat standing up in the kitchen.  #2 also cannot handle the middle-seat chatterbox who has run out of the airplane magazine.  #2 wants to read novels uninterrupted on planes!

What are we reading?

I read a novella called River of Teeth. It was super fun! A caper. (“It’s not a caper! It’s an operation.”)

A great middle-grade graphic novel is Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham. It’s about how it’s hard to make friends and being friends is cool, but sometimes complicated.

Greenglass House, by Kate Milford the main character is a 12-year-old boy who lives with his parents in an old weird huge B&B.  Snowed in over winter break, he and his friend start LARPing a D&D campaign in the inn! THERE ARE SO MANY MYSTERIES maybe a secret identity or two, I dunno.  It had a satisfying ending.  The second book is also good, though it drags a bit.

You should read Ladycastle by Delilah S. Dawson.  There’s references to Hamilton, Oracle from the Batman universe, Beauty and the Beast, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Monty Python.

Someone to love by Mary Balogh was pretty boring, and has a bit of unnecessary cultural appropriation.  I guess it’s the first in a series and she’s introducing more interesting characters than the two main ones.  I dunno.  Sadly there is absolutely nothing original about the book (even the cultural appropriation) and the hero isn’t fleshed out enough (or the sex scenes sexy enough) for it to stand on merits other than plot.  Someone to Wed was better than Someone to Love.  It’s the third but for some reason the library got it before the second, so I requested them out of order.  Worth a library read, but not a purchase, I think.  The second book, Someone to Hold, started off strong with a really great heroine (someone finding herself), but the hero was meh and the romance was rushed.  It would have done better to meander and grow throughout rather than have sex and misunderstandings.  Another worth it from the library but don’t need to own.  The fourth was also fine, but not great, so I’m glad our library is invested in getting Baloghs when they come out so I can try without having to buy.

The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne could have been good, but it wasn’t.  Also:  this is the second “lady auctioneer tries to save auction-house despite her older brother’s whatever” plot I’ve read in the past month.  The other one was better.  The main failing of this one is a hero who deliberately ignores the heroine’s express no, which somehow is supposed to be fine when it is the hero.  In a sort of meta thing, once she does surrender she loses her voice and herself and the book becomes all about him.  Pretty blah.  I wouldn’t have finished if it weren’t for wanting the missing brother thing to be resolved.  But then that was resolved off-screen, so… I assume book 3 or 4 has the actual on-screen bits.  I’m not sure if I want to bother or not.  Probably not.  :/  I mean I’ve read worse, but…  Right now I’m feeling the need to reread a regency in which we discover that consent is super sexy.  Sooo sexy.

The Lightning-Struck Heart. Gay humorous fantasy. It’s hilarious but also packs in a surprising amount of emotion. However be prepared for MANY sex puns. It has excellent dialog among a group of friends as well as between the love interests. When I first started reading it, I was like, this is too cutesy to live. But it turned out to be good. Sadly the second turned into a weird anti-Trump thing and just wasn’t that enjoyable.  The first one’s still brain candy.

I thoroughly enjoyed Miss Buncle’s book. It’s in the Pippa Passes line of literature which I generally enjoy (like Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day or Cold Comfort Farm). Very fresh for something written in the 1930s (there’s some stuff that is a bit dated, but overall, surprisingly fresh for something that was never made into a movie!).

Kelly Bowen is my newest love.  You should all get Between the Devil and the Duke. It has a plot, mystery, and adventure! blackmail! intrigue! highwaymen! military veterans! businesswomen!(plural!) It is a little bit sordid and it does have a few sex scenes if you’re not into that. The hero falls in love with the heroine early in the book when she asks him to choose between different mathematical scenarios, which, not coincidentally, is when I fell in love with the book. And it has a completely satisfying climax and denouement. I now need to get the rest of her books even though my library only has 3 of them. (I’m buying this one.)  The first two in that series (Duke of my heart, A duke to remember) are fine, but not as good.  They’re also more sordid and have rape (including child/teen rape) as a back story but don’t go into much detail.  Note that with all three of them, historical accuracy is not a priority.

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare is an odd but fun romp.  The hero isn’t particularly likable or multi-dimensional (your standard brooding Duke) and if you care at all about historical accuracy this one is not for you (there are Star Wars jokes!) but it’s over-the-top silliness makes it worth at least a library read.  Just don’t start it expecting anything serious. Cosplayers! Bats! Secret passageways! Ermine!  Total brain candy.

I enjoyed Cat Sebastian’s latest, Unmasked by the Marquess, but I know it really wasn’t that great a book.  Like, I kept reading it and thinking about how amazing KJ Charles is.  And yet, it was silly and unbelievable, and I do not begrudge the $3.99 I spent on it nor the fact I will probably reread it some day.

I gave up on two library checkouts:  Six Impossible Things by Elizabeth Boyle which wasn’t bad, but also wasn’t any good.  I tried, but I just could not care and the book needed editing.  Books like these make me really appreciate imperfect books like the Cat Sebastian or the Tessa Dare above– silly, unbelievable, but at least one likable believable character in each (most of the main characters in the Cat Sebastian were likable).   Couldn’t get into Jane Ashford’s Once again a bride.  Skipped to the end and wasn’t impressed by the ending and decided there was no point in trying out the middle.  I had gotten lucky with my last few new tries.  Now I have to decide whether it’s worth paying money to take a chance of the Kelly Bowens I haven’t read yet or if I should try more of what my library has to offer even though that sometimes means spending more time looking for books than actually reading them.  (Or I can reread some that I already own– there’s one book that I really want to reread but I can’t remember which one it was!  Right now I’m thinking maybe it was one of the temptation books by Lauren Royal, but maybe it’s a Loretta Chase that I never purchased… I don’t know!)

It’s summertime!  What are you reading?

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