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August 11, 2008

Classifying the Novel
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 12:01 AM *

Novels may be classified in this manner:

(a) Those that are best-sellers, (b) those that were assigned to you in school, (c) those that you feel you have already read even though you have not, (d) classics, (e) those that are not read as the author intended, (f) those that many intend to read “some day,” (g) fantasy trilogies, (h) those that are otherwise not flawed, (i) those that were written on manual typewriters, (j) those that can be judged by their covers, (k) those that were padded by their designers during production to appear longer than they are, (l) those that are only called ‘novel’ by courtesy, (m) those that have been condensed by Readers Digest, (n) those that look well upon the shelf.

Comments on Classifying the Novel:
#1 ::: Beth Friedman ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:23 AM:

(o) Those you have read so many times that you don't need to read them again to experience them.

(Am I really first?)

#2 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:29 AM:

(p) those you hold in sch a way as to hide the title and cover art

#3 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:17 AM:

(q) those that you don't read on the bus unless you're not embarrassed by snorting and guffawing in public

#4 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:19 AM:

(r) those so bad you wish they would end so you could hurry up and start the next

#5 ::: John Stanning ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:26 AM:

A reader's whinge: How often do you pick up a book on an airport bookstall with a splash on the cover saying "Her New Worldwide Bestseller" or some such thing? Obviously 'bestseller' is the most important feature of a book for the publisher and the author, but I the potential reader, who the blurb is supposed to attract, don't care how well the book sells - I want to know whether it's a book that I want to read, and 'bestseller' doesn't tell me that, specially as every book seems to be one.

#6 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:42 AM:

There should be a subcategory for "(g) fantasy trilogies":

(g.1) five-volume trilogies

#7 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:05 AM:

and I'd like a subdivision of "those assigned to you in school":

(b.1) those that were assigned to you in school that turn out to be much more comprehensible and interesting once you have gained some life experience, and thus should really not be read by anyone under age 30.

For me, this included Jane Austen's works.

#8 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:45 AM:

Where would you file "Those which were not edited, as the authour deems them perfect as written" ?

#9 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:45 AM:

Where would you file "Those which were not edited, as the authour deems them perfect as written" ?

#10 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:47 AM:

(s) those that were written as revenge for not being recognized as a genius by the people on whom the book's characters are based

#11 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:24 AM:

(t) those that are read solely to make the reader appear more interesting than s/he is (for various values of interesting)

#12 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:37 AM:

My favorite kinds are e, j, and p.

#13 ::: Audrey Estock ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:39 AM:

(u) Those that are part of a very long series and are so undeniably bad that you're only reading it because you've read the other 20+ books.

#14 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:58 AM:

Those which appear (like me) to be saying the same thing repeatedly?

#15 ::: Tracey S. Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 04:27 AM:

(epsilon) Those which are read in public solely to make other people think you are erudite. [possibly a subset of t]

(lamed) Those which, when being read in college, seem to explain the mysteries of the universe, but which when read after the age of 30 are revealed to be navel-gazing twaddle.

#16 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:21 AM:

Tracey S. Rosenberg @ 15: oddly enough, my first choice of word was "erudite"; I only changed it to "interesting" because it was broader. GMTA, I guess!

#17 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:52 AM:
  1. those that are on a "web2.0" site (like aNobii or GoodReads)
  2. those that have to be added to those sites
#18 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:57 AM:

Don't we forget the larger class? Those that were never written. Thank God they take so little space.

#19 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:22 AM:

A subfield of Giancomo's 18:

Novels that were sent in "idea" format to Neil Gaiman, and are waiting for him to get around to writing them. Because, you know... he has to eventually! I mean, I sent that idea 4 years ago, all he has to do is flesh out the details! Seriously, it couldn't be easier.

#20 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:55 AM:

And don't forget those that involve dinosaur sodomy.

#21 ::: Ken MacLeod ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:56 AM:

'Those which were being planned in some detail around an imaginary Caucasian ministate recognised only by Russia, and were really coming together nicely around about 7 August 2008,' he said bitterly.

#22 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:11 AM:

Those that were going well until an incident among the author's acquaintance made it impossible to finish on the grounds that no one would ever believe the novel was not based on the incident in question. (Actually in my case it was a stage play.)

#24 ::: Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:54 AM:

(v) Novels that were adapted from popular movies or TV shows.
(w) Novels that are about me. (Or perhaps "Novels that are not about me.")

#25 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:55 AM:

Pete@23 You beat me to it! I caught a smaller article on this last night, then this morning a friend in the UK posted a full article with the line about being published by AuthorHouse.

Clever, but deceitful PR.

#26 ::: Wesley ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:21 AM:

C.1: Those you feel you have not already read, even though you have.

I'm having this experience with The Hollowing by Robert Holdstock. I picked it up thinking I'd never gotten around to reading it, but after a couple of chapters I started getting serious deja vu. Now that I'm halfway in I'm certain I read it when it came out. I'm not sure why I should have forgotten it.

#27 ::: Giacomo ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:44 AM:

Those you like so much, you lend them to someone (because "it's SO good, you HAVE to read this") and never get them back... so eventually you're forced to re-buy them.

#28 ::: Tracey S. Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:18 AM:

(n) those that look well upon the shelf

What if they dislike the shelf and therefore look askance upon it? Is that a sub-category, or something entirely different?

And if they look poorly rather than well when they are upon the shelf, should we call in a book doctor?

#29 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:31 AM:

(v) Those that upset readers who wish they hadn't sympathized with the main character.

#30 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Ken MacLeod @ 21

That's really bad luck; I'm sorry to hear that. Seems like the boundary between SF and alternate history keeps coming at us faster and faster all the tim.

#31 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:47 AM:

#29 :

With a subcategory: (v.1) novels which make the reader sympathize despite herself with some very, very upsetting characters.

Thinking about C.J. Cherryh, here...

#32 ::: Ursula L ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:34 AM:

xeger wrote @ #8:

Where would you file "Those which were not edited, as the authour deems them perfect as written" ?

Left Behind?

#33 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:34 AM:

(x) Those that from a long way off look like dinosaur sodomy ...

#34 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:39 AM:

(y) those with first lines so bad you had to stop reading them immediately because you knew not a single editor bothered to touch them... an example, from Grisham's King of Torts. To wit:

The shots that fired the bullets that entered Pumpkin's head were heard by no less than eight people.

Yech! This, of course, is what I'd expect from a lawyer for whom the word "report" probably has only one meaning: legal brief.

And since when do "shots" fire bullets?!

#35 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:48 AM:

Grisham, whose books have been recommended to me by any number of people, including friends who are studying to be lawyers, has caused me to formulate what I like to call THE GRISHAM PRINCIPLE, which was perfectly stated by Sloane decades ago:

Editors (. . .) know that (. . .) people who are really readers want to read. They hunger to read. They will forgive a vast number of clumsinesses and scamped work of every sort if the author will delight them just enough to keep them able to continue.
— William Sloane, from The Craft of Writing

#36 ::: Tim Hall ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:09 AM:

"Those which were not edited, as the authour deems them perfect as written"

Those which were so imperfect, as written, that all the actual published prose is that of the editor, rather than that of the author.

#37 ::: Lola Raincoat ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:18 AM:

Two more categories:

Those that are sold only in airports.

Those that are improved by translation.

#38 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:28 AM:

z) Those that one reaches for in times of illness and despair. (All works of PG Wodehouse go here. Betty MacDonald, too.)

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:33 AM:

(aa) Those with swastikas on their covers.

#40 ::: Richard Anderson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:40 AM:

(bb) Those that sound so interesting you mistakenly order them twice through Amazon.

(cc) Those that in another era would've been known as "comic books."

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:42 AM:

(dd) Those that you hurl across the room with great force.

#42 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:44 AM:

(aleph-null) Those which you loved as a child and which you save or buy for your children, among which

(aleph-null+1) some stand the test of time and child, and are loved in the next generation. Fox in Socks and My Side of the Mountain

(aleph-null+2) some don't. Heidi

#43 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:44 AM:

Lola #37: Those that are improved by translation.

I'm inclined to think that this category contains all books.

#44 ::: Tracey S. Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:46 AM:

Sarah @38 - many people I know include Dorothy L. Sayers in that category.

James @39 - Dave Barry wrote something to the effect that airplane crashes are terrifying in part because so many passengers are reading such novels, so swastika-covered novels are hurling about the cabin.

#45 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:23 PM:

(ee) those that exist only so the two main characters can have unbelievably wonderful intercourse.

(These are usually labelled as 'romance', although there isn't much actual romancing in them.)

#46 ::: Kevin Reid ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:34 PM:

(ff) those which have chapter titles.

#47 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:44 PM:

(za prime) Those which cause the reader to throw up.

#48 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:47 PM:

re #46: those in which the chapter titles are better than the actual novel.

#49 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:51 PM:

Novels that few have read, but everybody knows their story (sort of) because of the movies made from them and/or inspired from them.

#50 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 12:56 PM:

Novels written by friends.

Love, C.

#51 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:28 PM:

James @ 41 and Fragano @ 47: my two favorite classifications. Especially if they are given as gifts by aunts and uncles who just KNOW you're going to love them.

#52 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:28 PM:

(gg) those which were written by my enemy, and have since been remaindered, thus pleasing me greatly.

#53 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:29 PM:

(alif) Novels with footnotes; among which:

(alif prime) Novels whose footnotes have footnotes. Among which:

(alif bis) Novels whose footnotes are having a chat.

#54 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:33 PM:

(gg) Those placed upon a shelf labeled "Wanted on Voyage".

(/gg) Those books you feel you can do without for some period of time, to the point you box them up and they go somewhere, to be retrieved later.

#55 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:35 PM:

Nicole #52:

Oops, labeling collision. I'll take "hh" and "/hh" instead unless somebody's just nicked them.

#56 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:49 PM:

Surely also ii) novels not included in this classification.

#57 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 01:54 PM:

(ii) Those that are included in one of the categories from the categorization (not dissimilar to the present one) from the first chapter of Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler;

(/ii) Those that are begun but not ended in Calvino's novel (necessarily including the novel itself).

****

If anyone wants to read the classification, it's about halfway through this excerpt from the first chapter (describing the protagonist -- you (or You?) -- walking through a bookstore).

#58 ::: Stephen Frug ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:00 PM:

Sorry ajay; I wrote that while you were posting. So if you want, reclassify mine as (jj) and (/jj).

#59 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:36 PM:

kk: Weapons-grade books.

#60 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:41 PM:

(ff) those that have no cover

[Along with its complement (j) this forms the set of all books.]

#61 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:42 PM:

Damn. That'll teach me to read new posts when I preview. So that'll be (ll) then. :)

#62 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:50 PM:

ff.1 Books with Chapter titles, and quotes at the beginning of each chapter

ff.1.a Books with Chapter titles, and quotes at the beginning of each chapter, where the quotes are more clever than any other writing in the book.

ff.1.b Books with Chapter titles, and quotes at the beginning of each chapter, where the quotes are more clever than any other writing in the book, even though the quotes are made up by the author, too.

#63 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:51 PM:

Not to mention (with apologies to the ghost of Jorge Luis Borges):

(*) Those written with a fine paintbrush, (**) those belonging to the emperor and (***) those included in the present classification.

#64 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:54 PM:

(gg) Those which you buy, or are given for Christmas, but never get around to reading until it's 10:30 at night, you've finished reading your last book, and you're not yet sleepy. The next thing you know it's the last page and the sun is coming up.

(ggsup1) Such books, often not sold as works of humor, which have a bit in the middle that you hit about 2:45am and laugh so loud you wake the house.

#65 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Irene Delse@63: Also, how about
**** Books not included in this classification.

There, that ought to throw a nice monkey wrench of logic into the works.

#66 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 02:58 PM:

Mine is also mislabled, shall we say jj and JJ sub one, then?

Also, It says much about the truth of 44 and the state of my health, the weather, and so on that I am reading Gaudy Night.

#67 ::: Tracey S. Rosenberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:20 PM:

JESR @66: I am wearing my University of Oxford sweatshirt in solidarity.

(Okay, mostly I'm wearing it because I was chilly this morning. But I still offer solidarity.)

#68 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:24 PM:

mm) Those written by undeniably enthusiastic amateurs, leaving the reader wishing the editors had been a little more professionally demanding, and
mm-sub1) Those that do not remain in the house but are immediately boxed up and sent to friends with less discerning palates or at least younger friends with greater needs for books.

#69 ::: SeanH ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:25 PM:

n0: the copy of the Da Vinci Code that you honestly cannot remember ever buying or reading;

n1: books purchased in order to improve one's standing as a Bookshelf Bingo player*;

n2: the copy of The Handmaid's Tale you bought, correctly surmising that you were in some sense deficient as a human being until you had read it.

*this is a subset of the well-known "books bought to make the owner seem more interesting/intelligent" category already cited. Bookshelf Bingo is my name for the game any literate person inevitably plays when in the home of an acquaintance for the first time and left alone for a minute; that of scanning the bookshelves and judging the owner on the contents. This is an important part of my mating ritual.

#70 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:25 PM:

Just thought of another important category:

(oo) Those which are so well-written you have to buy more than one copy in case one book falls apart.

#71 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:37 PM:

(pp) Those which are so well-written that one begins an exhaustive collection, running to several editions of a series.

#72 ::: Tony Garnock-Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 03:41 PM:

James #41: Such as The Unconsoled, by Kazuo Ishiguro.

#73 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 04:01 PM:

(α) Books you have read while fighting off the flu, making your memories of the book seem fevered and hallucinatory.

(β) Books you are sure were written while the writer was fighting off the flu, making the prose seem fevered and hallucinatory.

(γ) Books that seem to have been copy-edited while the copy-editor was fighting off the flu, making the spelling seem fevered and hallucinatory.

#74 ::: Nick Kiddle ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 04:18 PM:

Books of which you read a dozen even-numbered pages over your neighbour's shoulder on a coach and then had to buy to find out what happened next.

#75 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 04:37 PM:

(hay) Books you have read only the reviews of, and know that you will never ever read the book or anything by that author, for that matter.

#76 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 04:57 PM:

¹ Novels you loan to your younger sister in the hope to make a convert to your favorite author, and which she returns promply with scathing sisterial comments.

² Novels you loan to your younger sister in the hopes of making a convert, and consequently never get back.

³ Novels your mother think you will like (if only she remembered you're not 15 any more...)

#77 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 05:51 PM:

{n+1} Quasi-technical books vaguely related to your professional field, with no actual professional value, gifted by well-meaning relatives.

{n+1sub1} Books of this type you nevertheless do not quietly dispose of because you know the relatives in question really are well-meaning.

#78 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:17 PM:

Books that you put down, pick up and realize you have already read that sentence. realize you have already read that sentence.

#79 ::: Syd ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:22 PM:

qq: books bought on the recommendation of (1) personal friends or (2) Internet acquaintances ***cough-Fluorospherians-cough*** because they sounded too fascinating to pass up and which are now double-stacked on bookshelves or congregated in teetering piles on numerous flat surfaces, threatening the owner's immediate demise should s/he be nearby such a pile in an earthquake.

(Lucky for me my house is built along the lines of the Rock of Gibraltar...)

#80 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:29 PM:

And the inverse of SeanH's n1:

o1: Trashy novels that you enjoy, but keep out of sight so visitors to your home do not learn of your fondness for vampire lesbians.

#81 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 06:42 PM:

Those that belong to the Emperor;
embalmed ones;
those that are trained;
[those that are about] suckling pigs;
[those that are about] mermaids;
fabulous ones;
[those that are about] stray dogs;
those included in the present classification;
those that make one] tremble as if they were mad;
innumerable ones;
those [written] with a very fine camelhair brush;
others;
those that have just broken a flower vase;
those that from a long way off look like flies.

#82 ::: Spiegel ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:17 PM:

Novels that explain that they are A Novel in the title.

#83 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 07:24 PM:

(vav) those that you read because your father said it was the worst book he ever read.

#84 ::: Soon Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:17 PM:

Jon Meltzer #33
(x) sounds like Dinah Shaw shows to me.

James D. McDonald #41:
(dd) Those that you hurl across the room with great force would surely be a sub-category of kk: Weapons-grade books (Nicole TWN #65), or should that be a new category?

(rr) The door stoppers that scream out, "Never mind the quality, feel the weight."

#85 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:21 PM:

① Novels you read on a dare

#86 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:27 PM:

Books that you loved as a child, forgot about, were reminded about, and have purchased as an adult, in order to have them on the bookshelf for random children who wander into your house.

#87 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:34 PM:

(ch) Those that smell as a book should.

(beith) Those that do not possess all their pages.

(beith-prime) Those that are inexplicably missing a small number of crucial pages right at the end of the book, or at least after you have been thoroughly hooked.

(th) Those that have been annotated in pencil by an indignant yet erudite previous reader.

(ng) Those over which one has gained fast friendships.

(ng-sub-aleph) Those over which one has repudiated friendships or all acquaintance.

(ng-sub-alfred) Those over which one has fought battles.

#88 ::: vcmw ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 08:35 PM:

SeanH @69:
I love the phrase of Bookshelf Bingo and have never heard it before.

But of course I play it (and so do all my friends), and my bookshelf drives them batty. So now I am very pleased to have a precise name for this type of social game.

I nominate the category of "books other people hide under their beds when company is coming over, but which I leave displayed on the bookshelf"

#89 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:06 PM:
  • Books which have been de-canonicized after the author's worldbuilding vision matures (such as the early Darkover novels with young WASPy protaqgonists and way too many sentient species for one planet).
#90 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:09 PM:

Without Googling for it, who can name the intersection between Debbie's alef-null and Fragano's za prime, famously reviewed with the phrase "Tonstant Weader fwowed up"?

#91 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Wesley @ 26: That would be deja lu.

#92 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Wesley @ 26: That would be deja lu.

#93 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 09:25 PM:

#90: I expect everyone here knows: "Pooh Corner".

#84: Fast 'n' bulbous?

#94 ::: John Mark Ockerbloom ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:17 PM:

Way too many classifications of online fiction to fit on a sensible web page (read down the left hand column). And this covers somewhat less than a myriad novels; I haven't yet categorized all the fiction in my online collection, let alone what would be in a large library.

I'm planning eventually to make a more sensible bit-by-bit browse for big categories like "Fiction", but for now it can be fun to read down the whole list and try to think of what books might lie behind the categories. (Can you guess a novel that might be under "Foundlings -- Fiction"? How about "Feral dogs -- Fiction" or "Fugitives from justice -- Fiction"? And that's just from the F's...)

#95 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 10:28 PM:

Jim's list sounds a lot like how I classify porn stars.

#96 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:12 PM:

#94 puts me in mind of some beautifully absurd library catalog subject headings:

Convenience foods -- New Jersey -- Drama.
Exercise -- Equipment and supplies -- Drama.
(Clue: these are for the same drama.)

#97 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:29 PM:

n+a) Those bought because you loved a different book by the same author but are really quite terrible.*

n+b) those which are magazines

n+c) those which have been poorly bound

n+delta) those which are about the military

n+expo) those which are about the military but were written by people with no military experience

*Inspired by the collected works of Alfred Bester

#98 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: August 11, 2008, 11:47 PM:

() Books that precious and are out of print, and therefore will never leave your bookshelf/reading place.

(()) Books that, when culling the herd, you realize that not only did you really not care particularly much for it and cound happily get it at the library should you want it, you catually have it in hardback and paperback.

(((three wine boxes of books were culled last night, and are on their way to the used book store/thrift store. we still do not have nearly enough bookshelves for the books that are still in boxes that we still really want )))

#99 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 12:07 AM:

Counterpoint to eric @98:

Books which you have replaced several times over the years, because you have read them, maybe even a few times, and then decided they were not worth the space and given them away or sold them, only to suddenly be struck with a burning need to reread them.

Special subcategory of this class is books you have purchased several times over the years because you've been persuaded to loan them to someone who then keeps them.

#100 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 12:12 AM:

+ books that you waited n years for reprinting, or for a copy to show up on the used-book market.

#101 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 12:18 AM:

(*) those which are actually collections of short stories cunningly marketed as though they were novels, thus earning an asterisk (*) by their entry in the classification of novels

#102 ::: Jeff LeBlanc ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:02 AM:

Those that are written "in the best-selling tradition of" some other author.

#103 ::: Jeff LeBlanc ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Those whose nominal nominal author contributed nothing but an "outline" that would (and did) fit neatly on a bar napkin.

#104 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:10 AM:

Ken, #21, oh dear. I'm sorry.

G D Townshende, #35, I'm reading Storm Front, a Dresden File book, for bookgroup on Saturday. It's awful.

Books of which you have many paperbacks so you can give them to mundanes and convert them to SF. (Willis' Impossible Things)

#105 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:24 AM:

Novels you'll never read again and are just taking up space, but are signed so you just don't think dropping them off at Goodwill is right.

#106 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:31 AM:

Jon Meltzer @ 93

"Tight, also."

#107 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:35 AM:

(1 + √2 i) Novels whose plots are circular, ending where they began.

#108 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:39 AM:

{foo} Books by authors you no longer care for, but which were inscribed gifts from sorely-missed family members.

(One of Anne McCaffery's Talent novels, now recognized as drivel, but which was a gift from my mother when I was in junior high. I just re-discovered it whilst unpacking books this weekend...)

#109 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:42 AM:

Marilee @104: I'm withholding my judgment on Storm Front until I've finished it. I'm currently a little more than half done.
_____

Oh, my! O.O I can't believe all that's been posted since I last popped in. So, I'll just add this...

A novel, written by a friend, given to you as a gift, which, after reading it, you realize is just plain bad, which is why your friend was published by a small press, and not a commercial (but at least it wasn't a vanity press). It is also a novel which helps you to realize why your friend complains about commercial publishing all the time... because none of them would publish your friend's book, GRISHAM'S PRINCIPLE notwithstanding.

#110 ::: Lindra ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:42 AM:

+ Books which fill you with a burning urge to fix the plot by rewriting them yourself.

+1 Books which fill you with a burning urge to fix the plot by means of a daydream wherein your self-insert will be able to command the characters' attention long enough to lecture them on the value of common sense.

+2 Books which fill you with the burning urge to burn them because you can't think of a way to fix them even with the assistance of Mary Sue.

#111 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:46 AM:

Another...

Novels you own which you had signed by Poul Anderson (or some other equally famous author) while at the WorldCon in San Francisco (or some other location) mumblety-mumble years ago, all the while thinking to yourself, "I wouldn't mind it if people brought me their copies of my books to sign."

#112 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:51 AM:

{foo} Books by authors you no longer care for, but which were inscribed gifts from sorely-missed family members.

(One of Anne McCaffery's Talent novels, now recognized as drivel, but which was a gift from my mother when I was in junior high. I just re-discovered it whilst unpacking books this weekend...)

#113 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:21 AM:

Jeff LeBlanc @ #102-103, sounds to me like you've run across latter-day Robert Ludlum and Alistair MacLean books.

#114 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:28 AM:

{foo} Books by authors you no longer care for, but which were inscribed gifts from sorely-missed family members.

(One of Anne McCaffery's Talent novels, now recognized as drivel, but which was a gift from my mother when I was in junior high. I just re-discovered it whilst unpacking books this weekend...)

#115 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:45 AM:

Crud, triple-post, spread out. Sorry, everyone.

#116 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:14 AM:

The original Borges piece from which this is so beautifully adapted (http://www.multicians.org/thvv/borges-animals.html) gets quoted in computer science books as a perfect example of what a well considered object inheritance hierarchy isn't (or perhaps the quality of work one might expect to get from a freshly graduated programmer).

I recently found another nice example of literature in the service of computer science:

LISP (the computer language) is fiercely self referential and full of nested hierarchies which contain themselves and so on, and is prone to making peoples' minds go *POP* when they try to think too hard about it. I was reading a page on LISP the other day, and it quoted one of my favourite poems from the wonderful Chatto Book of Nonsense Poetry (which, as I think I've said before, contains not so much "nonsense poetry" but "poetry which appeals to Steve").

---
Warning to Children

Children, if you dare to think
Of the greatness, rareness, muchness
Fewness of this precious only
Endless world in which you say
You live, you think of things like this:
Blocks of slate enclosing dappled
Red and green, enclosing tawny
Yellow nets, enclosing white
And black acres of dominoes,
Where a neat brown paper parcel
Tempts you to untie the string.
[...]

Full poem at: http://www.crockford.com/wrrrld/warning.html

#117 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 04:13 AM:

Sam Kelly @87 -- (beith-prime) Those that are inexplicably missing a small number of crucial pages right at the end of the book, or at least after you have been thoroughly hooked.

(beith- sub-prime*) Those that are explicably missing a small number of crucial pages. It is reprehensible, but understandable, why someone ripped out THOSE poems in the anthology.

*no, not books about mortgages

#118 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 04:43 AM:

e (the number not the letter): Those which you are glad to read while in hospital, because they take more than a day to finish, being a thousand pages long, but which you wouldn't give houseroom if there was anything else you could do.

#119 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 06:01 AM:

#117:

(beith-sub-sub-prime) Books obviously written by con-men, hawking "debt cures" to people caught in mortgage crisis.

#120 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 07:12 AM:

Related to eric @98 & JESR @99: Books you buy at a second-hand shop or library sale, even though you already have a copy (said copy is in a box in the attic, and it is easier to buy the book again on impulse to re-read it, than it would be to dig the first copy out of the attic).

In the spirit of the thread:

  • Books with words and no illustrations.
  • Books with words and some illustrations.
  • Books with illustrations and no words.
  • Books with illustrations and words in balloons.

#121 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 07:30 AM:

(xx) Those written by Making Light commentors . .

#122 ::: Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 08:16 AM:

(yy) those written by Making Light lurkers

#123 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 08:26 AM:

($_) Those books you try desperately to 'forget', but are continually returned to you by well meaning others.

#124 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 08:59 AM:

(zz) Ths wrttn b Mkng Lght trlls

#125 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:27 AM:

Those of which you buy another copy every time you find one at the thrift store because it's a book you like to lend people and you expect high attrition. (My personal example of this category: How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back.)

#126 ::: Malthus ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:36 AM:

(yuzz) Those that are read in a sing-song voice to children.

#127 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:46 AM:

(ichi) Those that were read so often as bedtime stories that one can recite them 25 years later.

#128 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:54 AM:

(++x) Those containing knowledge of the non-euclidean depths wherein dwell the Great Old Ones; reading these books will drive you mad.

#129 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:59 AM:

(1..n) This is just to say

I have categorized
the novels
that were on
your shelves

and which
you were probably
haven't read yet.

Forgive me
they were delicious
so disordered
and so numberless.

#130 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:59 AM:

(ia) Those that are read in a sing-song voice to Great Old Ones.

#131 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:02 AM:

(c++) Those that have polymorphism, abstraction, inheritance, and encapsulation.

#132 ::: Cat Meadors ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:05 AM:
  • Those meant to be read aloud.
  • Those which are chosen for length to suit air travel.
  • Those where the editor has given up at the 300th page, giving the author 600 pages of rein-free insanity.
#133 ::: Ginger ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:08 AM:

(fthaghn) Books that must be chained up and kept in a proper Library.

#134 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:14 AM:

(yan)Those which drive the reader mad metaphorically, with anger.
(tan) Those which drive the reader mad actually,
(tan-i)by means of their rugose covers and italics of no earthly shape;
(tan-ii)by means of prions in the paper;
(tan-iii)by means of the Langford Visual hack;
(tan-iv)other.
(tethera) Soothing books.

#135 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:23 AM:

The Great Old Ones have come for four of us within twenty minutes... save yourselves... do not read the books...!

(fethera) Those which drive librarians mad. (As for example: Those that are a funny shape, apt to fall to bits, or exceedingly heavy; very expensive and have a new edition every two years, loopy but inexplicably popular, excellent but subject to frequent challenges by concerned parents...)

#136 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:27 AM:

Σ: The New York and San Diego Necronomicons

#137 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:47 AM:

α books which you don't actually need to own, because you basically have them memorized
β books which you are waiting until you forget enough of them to read with pleasure again
γ books which you are afraid to pick up again, because they can't possibly be as good as you remember

#138 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 12:28 PM:

Venn diagram:

(Books by Tolkien [Books with maps on the frontispiece; books with family trees, lexicons, and pronunciation guides at the back) Books that are shameless rip-offs of Tolkien]

#139 ::: Nick ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 01:12 PM:

#134:

Why did Lovecraft find rugose things so horrifying, anyway? Tortoises are rugose (and also squamous). Tortoises are cute.

#140 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:15 PM:

Further subcategories of Giacomo's 18:

() Books which were never written, but will be someday
(+) Books which were never written and never will be
(++) Books which were never written and both will and will not be written someday
  (++)sub-1 Books which owe their future existence and nonexistence to a division in quantum universes
  (++)sub-2 Books whose future existence and nonexistence causes a division in quantum universes
  (++)sub-3 Books which simultanously will and will not exist in the same quantum universe, but only in an impossible one

#141 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:19 PM:

(n+1) Books which were copied by someone who found the text and passed it off as his own work, but which, after publication, were then dropped into a time warp to be found by the original plagiarist, and thus exist solely as the result of a causality loop. (In honor of this year's Hugo winner for Best Dramatic Presentation (short form).)

#142 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:39 PM:

(kav) Neat books that you read once and have never been able to find again.

#143 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 02:49 PM:

(kav.1) Neat books that you read once and have never been able to find again - because they apparently never actually existed.

#144 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:12 PM:

(♳) Books that you remember clearly, but have never read.

#145 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:31 PM:

There's clearly overlap between 143 and 144

143 ⋂ 144 = Books you have both read and not read and remember clearly, though they don't exist.

143 ⋃ 144 = Books you have either read and not read, and may or may not remember clearly, which may or may not exist

#146 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:31 PM:

42*pi: ones which you have outlined lovingly and in great detail but will never write.

Books you would like to have written

Books you like to think you would have written, if somebody hadn't done so first.

Books that, have never been written, yet *(make you) wish you had read them when you had the chance.

*(I first typed this one without "...make you...", which creates a whole new category of book...)

#147 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:35 PM:

I see I am having trouble with basic grammar and punctuation today. :(

I hope what I meant is clear.

#148 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 03:38 PM:

Giacomo@18:

Those that were never written. Thank God they take so little space.

Yeah, they keep those somewhere else.

#149 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 04:32 PM:

Books that were read in hospital which were highly worthy of being finished once one was out of hospital, but which nonetheless never got finished because they kept reminding one of one's stay in hospital.

(Yes, I mean *you*, _Lord Valentine's Castle_.)

#150 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 05:35 PM:

Related to Joann's @149: Books which you would have read/finished while recovering from surgery, had they been light enough to place on your lap without weighing uncomfortably on your surgical dressings. (I liked the chapter and a half that I read before I was hospitalized. The library wanted the book back, and I think I will let them retain all their copies of it.)

#151 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 05:47 PM:

#82.a] Those whose titles suggest, without being too assertive about it, that they may be novels. Maybe. (Example the first: the Tem's The Man on the Ceiling)

#87.b] Those which are ARCs and may have lost the entirety of pages 85 through 130 into a leaf-consuming blob of black ink, but for which I would have finished reading Linnea Sinclair's Finders Keepers...

#125.c] Those of which you buy another copy every time you find one with cover art you hadn't seen before.


re: Wirelizard #108 and several following: I recently read McCaffery's novelette included in the Legends II anthology. It was a follow-up to the story of Moreta. It made me wince in deep, deep embarrassment for the author.

#152 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 05:59 PM:

Books in your professional area which were written so long ago that they contain no (or almost no) information which isn't out of date, but which are beautifully written.

Books in your professional area which were written long ago and contain information which is still useful/accurate/informative.

#153 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 06:05 PM:

Books that you wish to Ghod that you'd never written.

#154 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 06:06 PM:

(wonder)* Books that when you start them they grab you and drag you into the story kicking and screaming and three hours later you finish it, realize you are panting, feel as if you'd helped the protagonist and are just as exhausted and a little bewildered at where the time went.

*I've had a frustrating couple of days. I'm not being patient enough to figure out the count.

#155 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 06:12 PM:

Re. JESR @ 64

Books which contain one-liners which have you laughing out loud in public (and getting loooked at like you're nuts) but which you can't explain to any bystander without going into lots of detail about the whole book (or series).

#156 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 08:20 PM:

@140 and 145:

Those that are in some sense true,
in some sense false,
in some sense meaningless,
in some sense true and false,
in some sense true and meaningless,
in some sense false and meaningless,
and in some sense true and false and meaningless.

And in some sense dinosaurian and sodomistic.

#157 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 08:44 PM:

How could I forget?

jkr^ Books which your fifteen-year-old reads all in one great gulp, only to end up crying at the parental bedroom door, wailing "She killed him!

#158 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:08 PM:

⊗ Victorian novels in which all the characters are dragons, thus making otherwise-implausible behaviour of the female characters a natural consequence of the biology of the species

⊕ Late-period Heinlein novels in which all the characters are robots, thus making otherwise-implausible behaviour of the female characters a natural consequence of the design of the species

#159 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:10 PM:

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Books: Books which have minimal nutritional literary value, and which are not even good examples of their genre*, but which are none the less comforting to eat read.

Particularly applicable to books you have read so many times you know which parts you can skip because they are the author ranting/the author geeking about their favorite hobby/utter drivel/complete claptrap/boring/irrelevant.

*Yes, I use genre to describe food, as in "What genre do you want for dinner tonight?"

#160 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:22 PM:

Books which you read furtively, and apologize for, if caught reading them...

#161 ::: Lance Weber ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:23 PM:

(#) Those written by RPG Designers to include their friend's player characters.

(#) Those written by Hugo Award winning authors under the age of 45 that do not fit these other classifications.

(#) Those in which nipples go "Spung!"

#162 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:35 PM:

Lance Weber@161... (#) Those in which nipples go "Spung!"

Are those the same sort of novels where somebody parts the twin nodes of her clitoris?

#163 ::: Bob Rossney ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 09:50 PM:

Those written by Muriel Spark.

#164 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:05 PM:

G D Townshende, #109, how odd, considering you're not in my bookgroup! I'll finish tonight. I'm the wrong reader for this (which is why I've avoided them no matter how many people said I should read them) because I'm not very good at suspending disbelief for paranormal, and the infodumps and clunky writing drove me nuts. I keep wanting to take a blue pencil to it, but it belongs to the library.

chris y, #118, e prime, the books you have brought to the hospital because you want to read but it turns out you can't focus and you end up watching cartoons.

xeger, #162, not the one I read last week.

#165 ::: shadowsong ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:50 PM:

Joel Polowin @158: ⊗ Victorian novels in which all the characters are dragons, thus making otherwise-implausible behaviour of the female characters a natural consequence of the biology of the species

I am intrigued, having run out of Temeraire books. Are there any extant examples of this genre?

#166 ::: ade;e ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:52 PM:

[does the delurking kerplop]

#139 Why did Lovecraft find rugose things so horrifying, anyway? Tortoises are rugose (and also squamous). Tortoises are cute.

After reading so many descriptions of penguins as grotesque in At the Mountains of Madness, I suspect that (of all adjectives) cute was not in Lovecraft's vocabulary. I had previously thought it was a truth universally acknowledged that penguins were cute!

#167 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 10:58 PM:

Shadowsong @ 165: Jo Walton's Tooth and Claw is such a novel, and well worth reading.

#168 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 11:17 PM:

Re # 153: Books that the author wishes to Ghod s/he had never written, but which you nevertheless like better than the author's more recent and still-unrepudiated work (yes, I'm looking at you, Bimbos of the Death Sun).

#169 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 11:29 PM:

Lila @ 168: Is Bimbos the repudiated work or the more recent one? (I thought it unpleasant in its treatment of SF fans, and a cheating failure as a mystery story. For much-better examples of the set "mystery/adventure stories set at an SF con", see Gene DeWeese and Buck Coulson's Now You See It/Him/Them and Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats.)

#170 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 12, 2008, 11:43 PM:

re Lovecraft's finding things rugose and penguish horrific, keep in mind that the man was terrified of everything. Old things, new things, foreign things, familiar things, mountains, valleys, cities, forests. Everything.

Bob Rossney #163: Those written by Muriel Spark.

OK, I take back what I said at #12. That is my favorite kind of book.

#171 ::: Wirelizard ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:19 AM:

@159 Singing Wren - the happy flipside to books you have read so many times you know which parts you can skip because they are the author ranting/the author geeking about their favorite hobby/utter drivel/complete claptrap/boring/irrelevant must be:

{foo+bar} Books you have read many times but continue to re-read despite knowing the plots backwards, for the sheer pleasure of the character's & author's company.

Under this classification, I put all of T. Pratchett's Discworld novels.

Also, {foo+bar_sub1} Books re-read for the tiny details of plot that delight & surprise despite the reader being so foolish as to think they knew the entire plot backwards.

#172 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:23 AM:

ethan,

That is my favorite kind of book.

based solely on that recommendation, i went & looked up muriel sparks on audible. unfortunately, all of her books there are under nine hours, & to get the most out of my subscription, i only listen to books over ten hours.*

leading me to these important categorizations:
(tet) audiobooks.
(tet-alef) audiobooks shorter than ten hours.
(tet-bet) audiobooks longer than ten hours.

& while we're on the subject:

(yud) books which you may have liked, if the reader weren't so smarmy that you instead wanted to punch them for fifteen hours (see above, getting my subscription's worth).
(kaf) books which you probably would have disliked even worse if the reading weren't sort of charming.

*one of the biggest reasons why i bought moby-dick. also it's one of my sister's favourite authors, i'm a sucker for "cultural benchmarks," & the reviews of the audiobook were really really good.

#173 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:38 AM:

miriam, Muriel Spark's books are very short, but* very worth it. She wrote over twenty novels, and while they do vary a bit in quality, there ain't a stinker among them. Or, OK, I can't quite say that with assurance, because there's one I still haven't read (The Mandelbaum Gate, coincidentally** the longest of them all, by a long shot), but I'd be willing to bet a large sum of money that there ain't. I'd recommend starting with either The Comforters or The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, and once you're used to her style, read*** my favorite, The Driver's Seat.

I admire people who can listen to audiobooks, by the way. My mind wanders terribly if it's not stimulated by both sound and vision.

*My preferences are such that I'm almost tempted to change that "but" to a "and therefore", but in context it has to be a "but". Tell me about your big but, Simone.
**or IS IT?
***Imperative intended as a suggestion, not an order, and addressed to everyone, not just miriam.†
†Speaking of footnotes, if I turned into abi, how would I know?

#175 ::: Nicole TWN ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:50 AM:

ethan@173: Check your surroundings for windmills.

#176 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:51 AM:

ethan,

My mind wanders terribly if it's not stimulated by both sound and vision.

me too. that's why i listen to them while i draw. & that's why i've finished more audiobooks, i'm pretty sure, than any other books excluding graphic novels in the last several years. i've certainly bought more audiobooks than, er visualbooks. it's a work expense, you see.

so i'd love to try muriel sparks books, but i probably won't buy any, & my to-be-read stack of printed non-graphic books is still fairly deep right now.

#177 ::: JHomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:02 AM:

xeger @ 162 "Are those the same sort of novels where somebody parts the twin nodes of her clitoris?"

I would be very surprised, and disappointed, if either Mr Heinlein or Mr Stross made that sort of blunder.

JHomes

#178 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:46 AM:

JHomes @ 177: In Mr. Stross's case, I think it'd be a feature, not a bug. (Have I mentioned lately how charmed I was by Saturn's Children? No? Well, I was. It's a friggin' good book.)

#179 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 02:55 AM:

Marilee @164: I started reading Storm Front on the recommendation of a co-worker, but I think I may have said that already. He had first offered to me, on loan, his audio-book version of it, but I turned it down for two reasons:

First, I've listened to a few audio books — A Christmas Carol, read by Patrick Stewart, Pepys Diary, read by Kenneth Branagh, and some others — and I've always found myself all of a dither about what to do with my hands.

Second, I own a copy of it in paperback.

As for the suspension of disbelief, I'll suspend mine for just about anything (mysteries, thrillers, adventure, children's, mainstream, classics, horror, fantasy, science fiction, and even an occasional romance), but that's because I love to read, I love to write, and I think everything can teach me more about the latter. I do have my favourites, though (science fiction, fantasy, horror, mysteries, and classics).

#180 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:33 AM:

G.D Townshende: I've always found myself all of a dither about what to do with my hands.

knitting* + audiobook = win

(Trying to listen to an audio version of "Otherland" while cooking, with the CD player in another room, not so much.)

*for knitting, substitute "handwork"

#181 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:41 AM:

(fred) Those with cover art by Darrell K. Sweet.

#182 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:45 AM:

Debbie @ 180 -- *jaw drops* *brain wonders why that never occurred to me before*

I always tried to figure out how to watch movies while knitting, but I'm not good enough at knitting that I don't have to watch my hands, so it didn't work. Audiobooks! Genius!

I foresee a lot more knitting in my future.


#183 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 10:27 AM:

From the perspective of a long-time reviewer (with a crummy memory of most past reads and a damaged sense of deja vu, but still a love for the job):

* Novels that disappoint (or vanish up their own tails) in the last few chapters -- so no review, drat!

* Novels that seem different enough on rereading, in the context of other books, that I'd really like a second chance at a review -- but no chance, drat! (Happens sometimes with delayed US editions)

#184 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 11:39 AM:

Caroline @182, you've inspired a new classification. Books that lead to the Dark Side. Mwahaha!

And, tangentially,
(k1) books about your craft that you find inspiring, (k2tog) books about your craft that you find inspiring and actually use.

#185 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:01 PM:

(k3) books about your craft that you find infuriating because of all the factual errors;

(k4) books about your craft that you find infuriating because the author is wrong wrong wrong WRONG.

#186 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:09 PM:

(resh) books you buy for their bindings
(shin) books you read only to bind
(tav) books you can't face reading, and therefore can never bind

#187 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:14 PM:

ethan @173:
if I turned into abi, how would I know?

You wouldn't. Or rather, you didn't, just over three months ago, when it happened like a scene out of a Kafka book.

#188 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:40 PM:

187: ah, but which Kafka novel?

Metamorphosis? "ethan awoke one morning from a night of uneasy dreams to find himself transformed into a moderately-sized bookbinder..."

At the Penal Colony? The visiting narrator is shown a complex machine, the invention of the Commandant, which disemvowels offenders - but as soon as he gets close to it, it stops working...

#189 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 12:42 PM:

Classifying the Dragon (inspired by the mention of Temeraire)

a) those owned by the Emperor
b) those which own the Emperor
c) those which fit in a breadbox
d) those under rocks
e) those which are made out of rock
f) those still in eggs
g) those without wings
h) those with beards
i) those which, at a great distance, still look like dragons
j) those which gloat
k) those which do not fly
l) those who wink
m) those which are actually dinosaurs
n) those which sleep
o) those which look like dogs

#190 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:29 PM:

ajay @188:
ah, but which Kafka novel?

I was thinking Metamorphosis, but it could be fun* to have him arrested and prosecuted for one of my more interesting misdeeds† instead.

-----
* for values of fun
† I'm not telling which one, naturally.

#191 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:38 PM:

abi #190: That's an interesting sentence to read about oneself. Fun!

I was going to try to come up with a "Hunger Artist" joke, but I failed miserably.

#192 ::: G D Townshende ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:45 PM:

Debbie #180: I think I've got a handicap. I've found I can't read and do something else at the same time. Too bloody distracting to try to do so. Or maybe it's just that I don't want to do something else while reading. A distinct and very likely possibility.

However, I'm very adept at typing one thing on my computer while holding a conversation with someone on a completely different topic simultaneously.

More categories...

• Those you've purchased, tried to read, then put down; then tried to read again, then put down again; then tried to read again, then couldn't put down! and wondered what the problem was the first couple of times.

• Those you've purchased, tried to read, then put down; then tried to read again, then put down again; then tried to read again, with the same result, and wondered why you bothered in the first place! Harumph!

#193 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 01:53 PM:

(π) Those you adore so much that you expect everyone else in the world to be familiar with them and are astonished when they aren't.

#194 ::: Tlönista ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 02:41 PM:

(rho) Those you adore so much that you promptly disown those of your friends who aren't familiar with them.

(cf. the Scott Pilgrim series, To Say Nothing of the Dog, &c.)

#195 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 02:50 PM:

(ssk) books about your craft that inspire you to do something with their projects, but not necessarily the way they intended. (Using a shawl or stole pattern for an afghan is the immediate thought.)

#196 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:06 PM:

Those you were forced to read in high school and even then realized you needed more life experience to understand and appreciate.

Those you were forced to read in high school and even then realized you would never either understand or appreciate.

#197 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:07 PM:

In all this, nobody has mentioned the fundamental division, which I contemplated as I wandered the dealer's room last week:

- The Book of Gold, versus
- Books.

The experience of finding *the perfect book* is my closest association with bookstores and the life of reading. And, as Gene Wolfe implied, this is perfectly insane, because no book is *perfect*.

I have shelves full of wonderful books; not once as I bought one of them did I think "This is it, this is the perfect book"; and yet when I remember them (and drift through the dusty friendly rows of books I don't yet own) I still think "When will I find another perfect book?" I know I've done it before. I used to do it *all the time*. I can show them to you.

#198 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:10 PM:

(kuf) Bookbinding books which rail against specific binding styles, and are themselves bound in those styles.

For instance:

Bookbinding for Bibliophiles, by Fletcher Battershall, rants against:
- sewing with anything other than silk (the binding is sewn in linen)
- sewing on buried cords (it is)
- thick paper* (my edition is printed on Enfield paper, about 100 gsm)
- rough-cut page edges (which it has)

-----
* "Suppose, however, that you have one of our modern 'thick paper copies'—a book printed on inchoate cardboard, on a paper which misses the whole point of paper, on a detestable and unholy material, made by the devil for the purpose of ensnaring souls."

#199 ::: Sarah ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:23 PM:

RE #170 et al:

Bear in mind that the penguins in At the Mountains of Madness are a fictional species of six-foot-tall eyeless albino cave penguin, thus somewhat less cute than the penguins of our world. (Though IIRC the narrator eventually concedes they are “benign.”)

#200 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 03:37 PM:

(?) Books which are supposedly better in the original Klingon.
(?.1) Books which actually ARE better in Klingon.
(?.2) Books which would be MUCH better if rendered in Klingon (Thereby reducing their readership).

#201 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 04:46 PM:

Tlönista (194): You couldn't lend them copies instead?

#202 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 04:47 PM:

Tlönista (194): You couldn't lend them copies instead? Forcibly, if necessary?

#203 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 04:48 PM:

(Sorry for the double post; I didn't think it had gone through the first time.)

#204 ::: Singing Wren ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 05:24 PM:

(hdc) Books about your craft that you find inspiring and actually use, and would use still more if they were not so old they have wood cuts instead of photographs for the illustrations.

Re: 192
Books you tried to read*, then put down; then tried to read again, then put down again; then tried to read again, then couldn't put down! while knowing exactly what the problem was the first couple of times**.

*Because your father wouldn't let you near his copy of Lord of the Rings unless you finished The Hobbit first.

**The first couple of chapters were boring.

#205 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 05:38 PM:

$n - Books which you read many years ago, and have just read again.

$n[0] - The last chapter is different this time.

$n[0][0] - The book involves time travel, the many-worlds theory, or some other way of making it plausible that the last chapter should be different.

#206 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 06:20 PM:

#196 and #205 remind me of what may be a special case of (c):

(xe^x) Books which you genuinely believed you had finished when you went into English class to discuss them, and then realized there were five more chapters that you had not read and had not realized existed.

(Light in August. This really happened, and it is the most out of character thing I have ever done, to the point where I was briefly afraid that I was truly losing my mind. I think it demonstrates the depths to which I do not get Faulkner's novels at all.)

#207 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:28 PM:

* Books which your kids are reading in high school and you decide to read along with them to figure out what the heck they're learning.

** Books which you recommend to your teenager which they ignore.

*** Books your teenager loves and recommends to you which you have never read, and which do not feature wizards.
***a The subset of same recommendations which you ignore.

****Books which your teenager is exclaiming he does not understand and which you smugly inform him he will when he's thirty, only to realize that you are 47 and you really don't get the book either.

*****Books someone lent you that you loved but that you now can't remember who lent them to you in the first place and so can't return them.

#208 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 08:33 PM:

I contend that the authors of novels may be classified according to the following complete and disjoint categories: a) those wholly controlled by their publishers, b) the members of the unliving castes, c) those with advanced degrees in the arts of literature, d) coprophages, e) fairies, f) unknowing replicants, g) the Snowdens of yesteryear, h) those whose works of fiction are interdicted for reasons of national security, i) those who cannot but gibber and caper in the starlight, j) the uncountable denizens of the slushpile, k) those constructed entirely from contractual language, l) the illiterate ones, m) those who have just hanged themselves, n) the ones who enjoy the favor of their editors.

May I please now have a cookie thank you?

#209 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 09:07 PM:

[[you will have to imagine a heart symbol in here]] Books, lent to you by a very beloved person who is 14 years in the ground, which you may never read, but cherish anyway because they were hers.

#210 ::: heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 09:39 PM:

abi @ 198: "Fletcher Battershall" is a great name.

#211 ::: ade;e ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 10:10 PM:

199:

I fully grant the potential uncuteness of the six-foot-tall eyeless albino cave penguins. However, IIRC, on their way into Antarctica the expedition encountered a number of ordinary penguins as well, some time before they encountered the mutant etc. cave-kind.

I think their grotesqueness in that case was supposed to have something to do with the fact that they couldn't fly. I think. That was all the sense I could get out of it, anyway.

#212 ::: pericat ::: (view all by) ::: August 13, 2008, 10:24 PM:

If a variant may be permitted, I varied. It's all the boxes in the near vicinity's fault, really. I put the whole list on my site, so as not to clutter this one, but here's a bit that's somewhat relevant:

Boxes of ...

  • necessary books
  • loved books
  • unread books, with beautiful covers
  • read books, with scarcely any covers left
  • things one is obliged to cherish
  • things one cannot imagine living without
  • books shelved out of sequence, three moves past
  • clothes that fit
  • clothes that must fit someone, somewhere
  • clothes that one means to wash
  • clothes that one inherited under dubious circumstances
#213 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 05:32 AM:

211: HPL was basically terrified of pretty much everything (heat, cold, fish, the sea, mist, black people, the night sky, etc, etc), so it's no surprise that penguins gave him the willies.

Clearly this means Morgan Freeman has to narrate "March to the Mountains of Madness"...

#214 ::: Russ ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 06:37 AM:

Marilee @104

I actually rather liked it (and keep coming back to the series), which brings me to:

α) Books of great weight and import which you feel you should read, genuinely want to read, and know you will benefit from having read
β) The short, punchy, trashy and exciting books that skip to the head of the queue and stop you reading &alpha (and which feel like sneaking chocolate when you're supposed to be eating sensibly)
γ) The subset of α) which you've carried around with you for so long that, if only reading could be accomplished by osmosis, you would've finished last year.

#215 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 07:40 AM:

169, Joel, Bimbos is the repudiated one which I like. It made me wince, but the characters resonated with me and reminded me strongly of myself and my friends at a certain age. Her later books, while they are better crafted, made no lasting impression on me and I didn't really care about the characters.

#216 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 07:50 AM:

Ah! Just remembered another category:

books which you are delighted to find that one of your friends has never read, because now you may have the pleasure of introducing said friend to said book.

#217 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 08:06 AM:

Which ties into:

(tsadi) books you wish you could read for the first time all over again.

#218 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:09 AM:

(insert proper number/symbol here) Books where you're completely mystified by what's going on, so you read the Amazon description for a quick clue and realize you wish you were reading *that* book instead.

(I finished it, thinking, "It has to make sense eventually!" Unfortunately, I was wrong.)

#219 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:30 AM:

heresiarch @ #189, that's wonderful!

(I particularly like (i).)

#220 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:42 AM:

Wirelizard @ #108 and Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little @ #151:

There's a filk to the tune of Old Possum's "Macavity" that was written as a teaching song to help people remember the correct spelling of Anne McCaffrey's surname, but unfortunately I can't remember the song.

(I've never been able to remember any of McCaffrey's teaching songs, come to that. On the other hand, I shall never forget the one Dave Langford wrote - try though I might.)

#221 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 09:54 AM:

Paul A.@220 - I'm not sure that 'Never set the cat on fire' counts as a teaching song, but it's certainly memorable, and the instructions are reasonable.

#223 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 10:34 AM:

Paul A. @ 220: The filk about spelling McCaffrey's name is mine. She wrote me a very nice letter about it.

Abi @ 222: "Never Set the Cat on Fire" is a song by Frank Hayes.

#224 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 02:22 PM:

Books you cannot recall a word of afterward.

Books which yield exactly the same reading experience the second time.

Books in which the history of prior editions may be traced via errors in the text.

Books whose black-and-white illustrations you remember as being in color.

Books to which you are literally allergic.

Books of which you own multiple copies, against the need to give one to a friend.

Incomprehensible books that are important to someone you love.

Books kept for the sake of a joke you can no longer remember.

Books which repeatedly escape de-acquisition by falling open at interesting moments in the story.

Books in your collection which you love far more than their legal owners ever did.

Books, redolent of a vanished moment of your youth, which you dare not re-read.

Utterly essential reference works thickly coated with dust.

#225 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 03:46 PM:

@ 224,

Books in another language which you remember in your native tongue.

#226 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Books authored by a committee.

Books written as a joke.

#227 ::: Cosma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:04 PM:

'alif: Those bought for a project which never got off the ground.

ba: Those bought in a fit of enthusiasm for something from which one was distracted.

ta: Those bought in a fit of enthusiasm for something which proved to be boring.

tha: Those bought because one felt obscurely guilty not knowing about their topic.

gim: Those bought because one loved the author's other books, but still have not gotten around to reading after a decade.

ha: Those bought because, while one didn't love the author's other books, they were OK and everybody says he's one of the greats, so maybe these will be better, but which one still hasn't read after a decade.

kha: Those bought in clutches because, while one hasn't read any of the author's other books, everybody says he's one of the greats, but which one still hasn't read after a decade.

dal: Those from which one extracted everything important by browsing, but are keeping around because one hasn't read them cover-to-cover yet.

dhal: Those from which one extracted everything important by reading a review, but are keeping around because one hasn't read them cover-to-cover yet.

ra: Those which have defeated multiple attempts at reading.

zai: Those one is intimidated even to open.

sin: Those one is saving for a rainy day.

shin: Those one is saving for a prolonged illness.

sad: Those one will not re-read, for fear they will not be as good any more.

dad: Those one will not re-read, because one knows they will not be any good any more.

ta: Those obtained because one forgot to send the reply card to the book-club in time.

za: Those bought to fill up the bag.

'ayn: F/SF with invented orthographies.

#228 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:08 PM:

Books which you originally gave to another person as presents, only to realise that they didn't appreciate them, and which you therefore covertly confiscated.

#229 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:20 PM:

Books that you take along after the culling has been done, no matter where you move.

Books you don't think you'll read again, but keep anyway, because, well, you don't throw a friend away.

#230 ::: Cosma ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:22 PM:

gayn: Books one would have benefitted from if one had read them when purchased a decade ago.

fa;': Books one is holding on to so as to re-read when the sequel comes out.

qaf: Books one actually does re-read when the sequel comes out.

kaf: Unpleasant books which are too compelling to put down.

lal: Unpleasant books which are too compelling to fade from memory.

mim: Books which undermine a friend's carefully-contrived reputation for twistedness by being too wholesome.

nun: Books which are surprisingly twisted and kinky to be recommended by elderly relatives.

ha': Those kept so that they may be comprehensively refuted someday.

waw: Those where one's mate can't begin to understand what the appeal is, but they buy them for you anyway.

ya': Those which are beautiful and invincible.

#231 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2008, 04:23 PM:

Books bound by Abi - in this case, a copy of the Constitution.

#232 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 10:32 AM:

Caroline @ 225:

Books in another language which you remember in your native tongue.

Books in your native tongue which, as you are reading them, you find yourself mentally translating out of your native tongue and into another language, with exactly the feel one gets reading a foreign language and mentally translating back into one's native tongue.

(This was a truly disturbing experience, although rather enjoyable; I've never before been so utterly convinced a book should have been written in French, though the text was plain English, not written by someone French or Quebecois, and not distinctly different in prose style from the author's other works. I'm a litle afraid to reread the book because A) I'm afraid the experience won't happen again, and I'll be disappointed for the wrong reasons, and B) my French has deteriorated too far to do a running translation.)

#233 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 01:09 PM:

Lenora Rose #232:

What was the book in question?

#234 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 01:20 PM:

"Never set a cat on fire" bears a striking resemblance to "The Children's 'Don't'" from Ruthless Rhymes For Heartless Homes.

#235 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 01:28 PM:

Cosma (230), re mim:

I think I know that one. Afterward he bribed Bill Shunn to swear to me that he's a wicked fellow, but I knew better than to believe him.

#236 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 08:28 PM:

[Omega] The Bible, which will be classified into every last one of the above categories by at least one classifier.

#237 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 15, 2008, 08:42 PM:

þ Books of no great import that you are reading as a way to buffer yourself from the book that you know you Need to Read but are dreading
þ_sub_1 Those of this class that you are nonetheless discussing by email with someone you love

#238 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 17, 2008, 04:42 AM:

G D Townshende, #179 & Debbie, #180, even doing things with my hands doesn't keep me attentive during audio things. I mostly watch TV when I do handwork. Also, G D, everybody in the bookgroup but me really liked Storm Front.

#239 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 03:18 AM:

JOann @ 233:

Lisa Goldstein, The Dream Years. You could theoretically blame the French names and places, but I've read no end of books with those that do not want to be in French, before and since.

#240 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 18, 2008, 03:11 PM:

Lenora Rose #239:

Oh, thanks, you may have just explained why I had trouble getting into it. Forearmed for a second reading now, but I think I just packed it away on Thursday, alas.

#241 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2011, 06:18 AM:

Books which are novelizations of movies which are adaptations of novels.

Books which look like novelizations of movies which are adaptations of novels, but are actually the original novel in disguise.

Choose:
Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

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