Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Personal Library Management

I manage my personal library (currently at over 5,000 books) using a fairly sophisticated MS Access database. I suffer from "Desiderius Erasmus syndrome" to some extent so have a definite need to keep track of my books. For those who might not know, Desiderius Erasmus lived from 1466-1536 and is the one who is often quoted, "When I get a little money, I buy books; if any is left I buy food and clothes." In my case that is a bit of an exageration but I definitely buy more books than I can read. Right now my "to-be-read" pile is over 300 books.

My database keeps track of the title, subtitle, author(s), cover price, copyright date, published date, etc. and how many times I have read it. Generally I do not re-read books. I have nothing against it and would love to have the time to re-read some of my old favorites. I'm just always curious about what else might be out there. Of particular importance in my data base is the number of pages that each book has. This is because at then end of the year I keep track of how many pages I have read and publish that in my "Year in Review". I know...ridiculous isn't it? But it's fun to do that so I do.

For my Year in Review, I list all the books I read during that year by genre. For example, I will list all historical fiction, all mystery, etc. Then the one I enjoyed most in each category is given an award. I also have an honorable mention category where I list all of those books that came very close to being the best but just didn't quite make it. And of course, I give the top prize to the best of all books read during the year. I have listed my winners of the past 20 years or so on the front page of this blog. It's sort of funny looking back at tastes may have changed some since I selected particular books as my overall winners many years ago; had I to make the decisions today, the selections may well be different.

I also use my database in other fun ways, sorting it to see how many books I own of each type, what authors I have read the most, etc. I have all sorts of hot buttons that allow me to instantly run a report telling me whatever I want to know. I even have one report that prints out a listing of all of my books (in tiny print) so that I can have it in case my house ever burns down.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire