I occasionally peek at Library Thing, a fantastic idea which links people’s libraries up with each other (via Phantom Scribbler and Raising WEG). The great thing about it is that you can have a look at similarities between your library and other people’s to help you figure out what book you might like to read next. It’s like Amazon‘s “if you like this, you might also like…” but with more power, because it has all the books someone owns, not just the ones they bought recently from an internet service.
After I get over my admiration at people who have managed to enter more than 1,000 books in a database, I wander the authors in search of inspiration.
I’ve been rereading my Christopher Brookmyre, so I had a look at other authors also owned by Brookmyre owners. I was astonished to find that Carl Hiassen wasn’t on the top 10 list of any Brookmyre book I tried. So I did the same with him, and sure enough Christopher Brookmyre wasn’t either.
So given that experience, I imagine few of the readers of this blog will have any idea why I’m astonished. Basically, they are the only two authors I know (except perhaps Dave Barry) in their genre: politically biting, hilariously satirical thrillers. But Carl Hiassen’s books are set in Florida, and Christopher Brookmyre’s are set in Scotland. Even more than that, I read somewhere that Christopher Brookmyre consciously modelled himself on Carl Hiassen (different causes, very different peculiarities in his characters, and good enough writing that it doesn’t matter anyway, but it’s quite recognisable).
If that wasn’t enough, the global publishing industry has basically carved up the english speaking world into the US, Canada and Mexico, and everywhere else. It’s improved in the last 10 years (at least here in Australia), but it’s not always that easy to get books from the other side.
It makes me wonder what other great authors (more likely from the US side of the divide) I’m missing out on by only getting the best-sellers on my bookshelves.
I once gave my parents a prospective present (I think it was a wedding anniversary) that I would catalogue their entire book collection for them. I think I got through one shelf – about a hundred books – before I realised that I was kidding myself. Even with a laptop and easy searching, I can’t imagine how long it would take to catalogue our more than a thousand books.