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« August, 2010 »
Scarlett Takes Manhattan

A terrific porny romp through old time New York and burlesque shows and the weird relationships between cortesans and politicians and women and men. This was written and illustratd by friends of mine and while it’s likely not quite right for the library, it was great reading and enjoyable storytelling.

Perfunctorily, Me

Not sure what category to put this book into. It’s a collection of blog posts from the effing librarian, a library blogger who has a witty irreverent blog that I sometimes read. This book was given to me during one of my many travels. And I read it on the way home. Some of the text doesn’t really lend itself to being ported outside of the hypertext millieu, but some does. Some of the jokes don’t quite work but many of them do. I was pleased to see that the book is offered via Amazon [complete with ISBN] or for free via Scribd, so if you’re dying to get more of the effing librarian or just want a nice looking book to put on your librarianan shelf, this one might just do the trick.

Good Faith Collaboration: The Culture of Wikipedia

I got a copy of this book as an advanced reader’s copy from a friend who runs a bookstore. I enjoyed it so much I wrote a fan letter to the author. Here’s the text of the email, by way of a book review.

Hey there -- just a brief fan letter to say that I just finished reading an ARC of Good Faith Collaboration and enjoyed it a lot. I run an online community called MetaFilter [well, I’m one of three people who mostly runs the site] and we’re constantly in the reinventing the wheel phase of doing a lot of our work. I am also a Wikipedian, though not a very active one, and it’s interesting to see the similarities between the communities as far as things that work, things that don’t and how things go wrong.

I usually dislike reading what people write about online communities because I think they tend to focus on details like amusing usernames or bumps in the road and ignore the overarching things like “Isn’t it a miracle that this sort of thing mostly works?” I found that you did a great job both explaining that hey it’s not perfect but at the same time showing some of the ways it works well. At the same time you weren’t a slavering dork about the “zomg human potential” transhumanism wankery that I find is often a big problem with people who are maybe a bit too into the online communities at the expense of the rest of their lives.

In any case, I read it start to finish including the footnotes and I hope many other people do too. I hope working with the smarties at the Berkman Center is as much fun as it looks like it will be.


I have a really difficult time with genre fiction, trying to figure out if I’ve read a particular book by an author before. Picked up this book at a library book sale and it looks like I’ve never read another book by Kellerman and I’m wondering if that’s even possible. It would explain why I somehow didn’t recognize any of the characters. This book was fine. It was an interesting San Fran mystery. The mystery part was good enough, but it concerned eco-terrorism which is a subject that I know a little bit about. And that part was less interesting to me. I don’t know if Kellerman knows a lot about the subject and was trying to simplify it for his readers, or if he’s just not that well informed but it seemed like he had a few generalized opinions about eco-terrorism, dug up a few facts and then created a few two-dimensional characters that had those facts as major personality traits. It was fine, but seemed overly simple to me, and a little too pat as a way to wrap up the whole story line. In any case, an okay book.

The Dead Beat

This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read lately. I have to apologize to Johnson because she sent this to me graciously a long time ago and it’s been on my “to read” pile for an embarrassingly long time. It was worth the wait. Johnson’s look into obituaries and the culture that has grown up around writing and reading them is a wonderful well-researched look at a subculture that most of us probably know very little about. Her compassionate look at the touchy subject of death and dying and people who immerse themselves in it for a living is interesting and funny without being too funny. Johnson has just the right amount of stories about other people and self-reflection [she is a freelance obituary writer herself] to make this book captivating and compelling. The addition of an appendix of URLs and a photo section really takes it beyond what you’d expect in the standard “New York writer talks about weird things other people don’t know have a cult following” vein. As someone who enjoys those types of books but is frequently left wanting more details, less New Yorker anxiety and more depth, this book completely delivers. Can’t wait to read her next one, also on my nightstand.