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I love lists. I love lists of lists. I would probably love lists of lists of lists, but I cut myself off there because it seems like straying into the territory of dangerous obsession. Since books are one of the few things I love more than lists, I of course have endless lists of books. To read, have read, loaned out, borrowed, you name it.

So obviously creating an online catalog of all of the books I own is something I did a loooong time ago, with great delight. To some, this in itself probably already seems obsessive, but there are some practical reasons for cataloging your personal library:

  1. Makes book shopping easier. Was it book 3 or book 4 I was missing from that series? Do I already own this particular Agatha Christie novel? Is this author I ran across at the shop the same one who wrote that one book I liked so much? Do I already own too many Louis L’Amour novels? (Of course not.) Bring up my library on my phone, and I have my answers.
  2. Makes it easier for family to buy books for each other. My husband has access to and updates our online library as well, which makes buying books for each other MUCH simpler.
  3. Helps rein in your book-buying. We can comfortable fit around 1500 books in our house, and having an online library keeps us accountable, both financially and in terms of space. We have a rule (at least for now) that for every book we buy, we have to give away or sell one, and we can track how often we buy books, and how many.
  4. Keeps your books organized. On the shelves, our books are organized by genre, then alphabetically by author’s surname (with the exception of history books, which are organized chronologically by time period that they cover). Because my online catalog has columns for these genres and is sortable by author surname, I can look on the catalog and instantly know where any book is in the house.
  5. Helps to rebuild your collection. Heaven forbid, if I lost books due to fire or flood or some other disaster, I’d know which books to replace.

So how do you set up an online library catalog? There are a slew of options:

  • Goodreads. Goodreads already has an option to check the “owned” box for books, and I tried using this for a bit. I love using Goodreads for managing my read and to-read lists, but for me, it turned out to be impractical for a catalog. Searching for the particular edition I owned on Goodreads took too much time, and a lot of my very old books weren’t on Goodreads anyway.

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Yeah, pretty much none of these bad boys showed up.

  • LibraryThing. This one was super tempting, and I almost went with it. At the time, though, my phone was sketchy and wasn’t reliably scanning barcodes on books. Entering them manually had the same issue as Goodreads; finding my specific edition could be tricky, and really old books weren’t always on the site.
  • Libib. Very similar to LibraryThing, but wasn’t around when I was building my library.
  • Shelves, Home Library, Delicious Library, and BookBuddy are similar apps, so if you don’t mind scanning books, one of these may be your ticket.

Ultimately, I went a pretty clunky and labor-intensive route, but I have to admit, it works flawlessly for me because it’s so customizable. My books were already organized on their shelves, which made things pretty easy. I created a Google Spreadsheet and manually typed in every single book I owned. Ha. Yes. That did take awhile, though not as long as you’d think. Here are the column headings I use most often (click here to see larger image):

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This works best for me since I can sort by author, title, category, whether I’ve read it or not, etc., and if I want to add additional columns (whether I’ve loaned a book out, for example, or to track book-buying), it’s easy to do so and to remove them when I’m done. I can search for particular words, and I can make specific notes on editions when I care to do so. For example, I have two copies of Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint Exupery, and I have a note in the library that one specific copy includes hand-written notes in the margins from a particular philosophy discussion group. But if the particular edition doesn’t matter to me, I can just leave it blank instead of having to select an edition in an app. Also, when I’m out and about, I can browse this quickly on my phone without using a lot of data, and since this is a Google Sheet, I can share it with whomever I wish.

Before I got married, I had read all but 20 or so of the books I owned. Then Ross’s massive book collection got added to the mix, so there are a lot that we own now that I haven’t read (and to be honest, probably won’t read since he and I don’t have all interests in common). I did convert him to my library idea, though; he ended up cataloging all of his comic books in a similar way, and we created a tab for our movies as well.

Warms my organized little heart. 😉

I’m normally a pretty chill, emotionally even-keeled kind of person, but I’ve been squealing like a little girl A LOT lately. Why?

Ross and I are going to Iceland in June of 2020 for our fifth anniversary!!!

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I’ve been dreaming of going to Iceland for years and years, for a plethora of reasons:

  1. Have you seen the place?? It’s flipping gorgeous. The scenery has to be seen to be believed. Iceland has a bleak type of beauty that makes my heart hurt in a really good way. Browse the When in Iceland Instagram for more photographs too lovely to seem possible.
  2. I grew up reading and loving the Poetic Edda and the Icelandic sagas translated into English and turning the Old Norse words over in my head even if I didn’t know what they meant because they sounded magical. Seeing the place where they were written will be a dream come true.
  3. Icelandic book culture is a reader and writer’s dream. Iceland publishes more books per capita than any other nation in the world (although some say the UK may be taking that title in recent years), and Icelanders have a massive love for the written word. Storytelling is a national pastime. During the annual Jolabokaflod, or Christmas Book Flood, Icelanders buy thousands of books to give as gifts and to read themselves.
  4. Icelandic culture in general is utterly fascinating. Crime is astonishingly low, averaging 1.8 murders per year (some sources say 1.6) in a country of over 300,000 people. There isn’t a single McDonalds or Starbucks in the entire country, and most of the global chains that have taken over elsewhere aren’t present in Iceland. 85% of its energy is from renewable resources (much of it geothermal). It’s one of the oldest democracies in the world, formed in 930 AD. Mosquitoes do not exist in Iceland.
  5. Icelandic horses, whale watching, glacier hiking, geysers, puffins, turf houses…I could go on.

You’re may be thinking, well, that sounds fantastic, but the trip is more than a year away. Why all the hysterics now?

Let me preface this by saying that I hate surprises. I loathe them. Especially good surprises. If Ross had somehow managed to surprise me with a trip to Iceland in a month, I would be thinking, “Oh… Um. Yay?” Easily half of the fun of an exciting event is anticipating it, planning for it, and hugging the idea of it to my chest and making happy sounds while I daydream about how it might be (or might not be, I’m not picky and don’t usually mind if things turn out differently from how I imagined).

So here’s what I get to enjoy for the next year:

  • Learning as much Icelandic as I can. Icelandic isn’t on Duolingo, more’s the pity, so I’m currently using a combo of this Icelandic course on Memrise, and various Icelandic videos on Youtube, especially this channel. I’m looking forward to getting an Icelandic dictionary.
  • Planning every detail of the trip. Yes, a good chunk of that planning will go out the window on the first day with bad weather, but the planning is so much FUN. Because I’ve been dreaming of going to Iceland for so long, I have a list of natural wonders, historical sites, and attractions a mile long I’d like to visit, and I’m researching each one. I’m also researching different travel options, like renting a car and staying in Airbnbs versus renting a campervan and camping our way around the Ring Road. Iceland is VERY expensive, so making reservations early will save money.
  • Rereading the Icelandic sagas and the Poetic and Prose Eddas. This literature was formative for me when I was growing up, but it’s been awhile since I’ve read a lot of it now. Rereading it with an eye for places I might be able to visit will be a new experience.
  • Reading up on Icelandic history, some modern Icelandic literature, and Icelandic travel guides. You better believe I already have a Goodreads shelf going.
  • Relistening to some of my favorite Icelandic music and building a roadtrip playlist. Tons of my favorite musical artists are from Iceland: Sigur RósOf Monsters and Men, Björk, Emiliana Torrini, just to name a few. I also want to explore new-to-me Icelandic artists.
  • Buying an Icelandic sweater. This one may seem trivial, but I always wanted to get a traditional Icelandic sweater while in Iceland. Unfortunately, I learned that they’re pretty far outside of my price range, especially for an item of clothing I’ll almost never be able to wear at home in North Carolina without boiling alive. My compromise is to buy a used Icelandic wool sweater from Ebay or Etsy ahead of time (they cost about 1/5 as much used) and bring it with me to Iceland.

That’s a lot to look forward to in a year! Stay tuned for more Icelandic fangirling, if you’re into that. I’m sure I’ll be posting about the trip a lot in the next year.

In unrelated news, I finally got an Instagram, which is full mainly of dog pictures. If that’s your thing, check it out. And yes, there will eventually be a lot of Iceland pictures there too. 😉

You seem to have stumbled upon a storytelling of ravens. Watch for falling collective nouns; you may find a wing of dragons or a charm of hummingbirds caught in your hair. Hardhats are recommended.

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