Book wishlists: A real fine place to start?

booksSitting in the living room last night, my sister fixed me with a stare over the textbook she was studying. Feeling her green eyes boring into the side of my face, I eventually glanced up from the novel I was reading.

“If someone wanted to buy you books for Christmas,” Katie asked, “. . . how would they possibly know where to start?”

The question came out of left field, sure, but that’s nothing new with my sister — a woman known for her inquisitive nature, rapid-fire thought processes and huge leaps in conversations. One minute we’re talking about Christmas shopping, and the next? Celebrity gossip. Or reenacting a scene from a movie. Or laughing about something crazy that happened in high school. I guess that’s just how sisters roll; I roll with it.

So the book question? Not taken aback. I got that knowing grin my face — the coy, heart-melting one that seems to coo, “Oh my, presents for me? Really? Well, if you insist.” (Katie has the same one, so don’t go feeling sympathetic that I unleashed that on her, the poor little lamb.)

I started thinking about how I keep track of the books I purchase — and the books I want. I know some folks compile actual wishlists on Amazon and, from what I understand, they can be pretty detailed. At some point or other, I’m sure I started my own; however, I’ve found the absolute best way for me to keep track of the novels I haven’t yet gotten in my hot little hands is through BookMooch. It does double duty: my wishlist on the site obviously tracks whether a book I want becomes available and lets me “mooch” it, but it also serves as a running list of everything I’ve heard about and definitely want to obtain.

Like the supremely helpful and considerate person I am, I told Katie I would send her the link. You know, to my massive wishlist — only 133 books. (Which pales in comparison to other folks’ lists, I’m sure.)

But all of this got me thinking: how do other people keep track of the novels they want to spend time with? Spreadsheets? Notebooks? Journals? Scraps of paper? Tattered napkins covered with scribbles and left at the bottom of purses or wallets? Because I like my BookMooch method, but I’m wondering if there’s something better out there. Or something that will better allow me to put my OCD toward list-making and other organizational tools to better use.

So I’m curious. Tell me if I should change my methods and, if I listen to you, you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing you changed the mind of one of the most hard-headed people on the planet. I could make you a button or something . . . and it might be kind of awesome.

And while I’m on the subject? I should mention how great it would be if we were all buying books for the holidays! Literacy = fun. Novels = exciting. And there’s a whole website dedicated to this movement!

Festival Of The… What?

After finishing Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen last week and reading Garden Spells last year, I’ve been very eager to see what the master of magical realism has in store next! I use BookMooch to manage my general “wishlist,” keeping track of all the fantastic novels I can’t wait to read (someday), so I innocently entered her little name in the database to see what else I could find.

Turns out Ms. Allen does have another novel up her sleeve — due out in March 2010. The title, you ask? Well . . .


That’s right — Festival Of The Naked Lady!

Okay, no — before you panic, this is merely the old, working title that was first released in pre-publication news, according to Allen’s official website. has a listing for the new novel up, and it’s most definitely called The Girl Who Chased The Moon. But for some reason, I can’t help but stare, slack-jawed, at the database return. And honestly, it makes me giggle a bit.

girl_who_chasedHere’s Amazon’s product description of the — ahemreal new novel:

In her latest enchanting novel, New York Times bestelling author Sarah Addison Allen invites you to a quirky little Southern town with more magic than a full Carolina moon. Here two very different women discover how to find their place in the world…no matter how out of place they feel.

Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. For instance, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? Why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life.

Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes.

Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth and in the hope of bringing back the love she fears she’s lost forever. In Julia, Emily may have found a link to her mother’s past. But why is everyone trying to discourage Emily’s growing relationship with the handsome and mysterious son of Mullaby’s most prominent family? Emily came to Mullaby to get answers, but all she’s found so far are more questions.

Sounds awesome, right?

I’m pretty sure Festival Of The Naked Lady would be quite a different tale!

The BookMooch Journals

img_5964While perusing Korianne’s blog a few weeks ago, I came across an exciting and curious link — for something called The BookMooch Journals. I know I’m constantly extolling the virtues of BookMooch, a community of literature lovers who swap books. I’ve gotten so many awesome titles over there, many of them in like-new condition. And all for my cost of mailing one of my own books to another member — around $2.23 in shipping, via media mail. I joined BookMooch last October and have, to date, sent out more than 50 novels — and gotten 50 in return. Sometimes it’s tough to find first-run books there, but I’ve managed to claim titles as varied as Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies, Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girl And the Flaming Tantrum of Death and Geraldine Brooks’ March, all of which I’ve reviewed here at write meg! So it’s not impossible to get new books — just a little tougher. But I’m persistent.

Well, I have new BookMooch obsession to start taking up my time and energy — the aforementioned Journals. According to the project website, more than 400 of these art projects are currently in circulation, via BookMooch, around the world.

So how does it work? From their page:

The rules are simple: Begin one or more BookMooch-only journals, created out of a hardcover blank journal, a used hardcover book, or a sturdy softcover book, and create a theme and name for your journal. After you’ve made the first art entry in your journal, set it loose into the BookMooch world.

Participants can mooch your journal just like any other book listed on BookMooch. Each person that mooches a journal adds their art entry, and within two weeks re-posts it into the BookMooch system to be mooched by another member, who adds their art entry to the journal and again adds it back to BookMooch for the next moocher, and so on. When the journal is completed, it is sent back to its owner.

I love, love, love projects like this — and I just contributed to my very first journal! It’s called “A Year Of Poetry,” started by Milano in Florida, and is a recycled, hardback calendar. Since it began circulating in May 2008, it’s made stops in Oklahoma, Georgia, New York, Utah, Alabama, Virginia and, most recently, Maryland. In the future, it’s heading to the Phillippines, England, Australia and lots of other places here in the States.


I contributed three poems — two by me and one of my favorite poems ever by Kim Addonizio. I had a tough time choosing the “dates” on which to paste them. In the end, I went with the most personal ones available, but I’m really happy with my pages. To maintain a bit of an air of mystery, here’s just one of them — with Addonizio’s poem:


And, since it’s tiny, here’s one of my poems — added on the date I graduated from college! Despite actually graduating from the creative writing program, I think I’ve only written a handful of poems over the past few years. That pretty much broke my creative spirit! Ha. But I’m getting it back!

the english major
by megan

Your grammar enraged me
far more than
your cheating ever did,

And I’ll always love language
far more than
I ever loved you.

Tuesday Thingers: Swap this book

Today’s question: Have you ever used the Swap This Book function [on LibraryThing] which can be found on the main page of any book? If so, what do you think about it? If not, are there any other swap sites you utilize to exchange books once you are done? What do you do with your books if you no longer want them anymore?

My answer: Programs like BookMooch were initially brought to my attention because of LibraryThing’s “Swap This Book” feature! When browsing through titles that sounded interesting, I noticed that some of those swap sites would show they had 12 copies of a book in the inventories of members. I think that’s a great assest for the LT community, and I’m pretty sure it helps LT out financially, too — the swap sites must pay a premium to be included.

As I blog about often, I use BookMooch pretty faithfully and have received more than 30 books that way (and sent 41 out myself). They’re a great tool for frequent readers who don’t want to rely on either purchasing the books through regular retailers or hoping a title they want appears at the library or used bookstore. BookMooch can be pretty time-consuming — you have to find your books; list your books; check to see if someone requested it; approve the request; get it packaged and go to the Post Office — it’s still fun to share and be part of a community of book swappers. I haven’t been sending out many of my books via BookMooch lately, mostly because I’ve racked up a ton of points and haven’t spent them yet. Many of the books on my wishlist haven’t been available as of late.

When I’m finished with a book and don’t have the space to shove it on my overflowing bookshelf full of my favorites, I almost always pass them on to my sister, at least to see if she’s interested in them. Once she’s read it or she doesn’t think she’ll ever crack that spine, I’ll donate them to the local library, the Salvation Army or trade them in at our local used bookstore. Or I pass them along to friends!

Tuesday Thingers is hosted by Wendi at Wendi’s Book Corner!