LibraryThing Deep Dive: The Best of Tags

LibraryThing is a book cataloguing/social networking site for nerdy lovers of data. If you’re the kind of person who likes to record all the individual books you own, where you bought them, where they’re stored, how much each one weighs (not joking), their exact covers, what percentage of authors you read are dead/alive, male/female, etc., you’ll love this place. It is your home.

One of my favorite aspects of the site is the ability to tag a book once you add it to your virtual collection. Tags can be anything you want, from the year you purchased the book to descriptive metaphors of exactly how painful the book was to read. I generally stick to tagging books by their genres, but I can lose ridiculous amounts of time exploring how other users have tagged some of my favorite books. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the minds of other readers, and can be an effective starting point for conversations about the work. Let’s take a look at five examples:

rise and fall of the third reich coverThe Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

My Boring Tags: history, world war two, germany, audiobook

Tags by people who are obviously more interesting/honest/opinionated than I am, with some commentary:

  • I’ve used it to fall asleep for 17 years (this worries me)
  • treadmill-to-oblivion
  • been-reading-for-years-now (uh-oh)
  • disturbing
  • Definitive work on the subject: all you need to know
  • DONE (in all caps, just like that, this person is obviously very happy to have finished)
  • the rise and fall of tony danza
  • unfinishedbasementshelf (you better believe I clicked to see what else was on this person’s unfinished basement shelf)


jane eyre coverJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

My Boring Tags: special editions, classics, victorian, romance, 19th century

Tags by people who are obviously more interesting/honest/opinionated than I am, with some commentary:

  • don’t you judge me (who judges someone for reading Jane Eyre, I mean honestly)
  • 6th grade classroom library (I want to be friends with whatever 6th grader picks this book up and reads it)
  • Abuse (Huh)
  • Age differences (Yes, clicking this tag DOES in fact take you to a list of books about romances with big age differences…what’s the motivation behind constructing this tag, I wonder?)
  • Boring. Warning: Unless you are a girl or a weirdo do not read (I just can’t)
  • Dad’s required reading (perusal of this tag reveals that Dad also requires Robert Frost and Les Mis, and is therefore a super cool dad)
  • desperation, destruction, determination, devotion- these are all separate tags, but further proof that the tag section can be oddly poetic


the old man and the sea coverThe Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

My Boring Tags: classics, novella, 20th century

Tags by people who are obviously more interesting/honest/opinionated than I am, with some commentary:

  • Books I Should Have But Don’t Know Where The Hell They Went (well that’s frustrating)
  • bittersweet (scrolling through this tag reveals some truly depressing books)
  • Drama in a single event
  • Hemingway wrote in such beautiful details about everything (RIGHT?)
  • I wanna go fishing
  • interesting nonetheless (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN)
  • Jesus symbolism (Oddly, there’s nothing else listed under this tag- surely there are more books with obvious Jesus symbolism out there?)
  • love-the-writing-hate-the-character (I assume we’re talking about the fish)
  • personal library, personal struggles, personal triumph (again with the oddly poetic grouping of separate tags)


the handmaid's tale coverThe Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

My Boring Tags: sci-fi, dystopia, women, signed copy

Tags by people who are obviously more interesting/honest/opinionated than I am, with some commentary:

  • “adult (mind not body)” (That’s actually an interesting distinction)
  • and all the freedoms we take for granted
  • bleak, bleak fiction, bleak future
  • contains notes and highlights (I love that someone made a tag for this, it’s so nerdy)
  • declining population, defiled, dehumanising
  • Econowives
  • fundamentalist theocracy, fundamentalists, fundamentals of liberal arts
  • gave-me-an-ick-feeling (me too, buddy, me too)
  • as good as soft SF gets
  • if-this-goes-on (amen)
  • ladyproblems (I seriously hope it’s a lady doing this tag here)
  • Pat Robertson, paternalism, patriarchy


beloved coverBeloved by Toni Morrison

My Boring Tags: owned in high school, lost

Tags by people who are obviously more interesting/honest/opinionated than I am, with some commentary:

  • chick lit (I’m sorry WUT)
  • consequences of slavery, constructs of identity
  • difficult but oh so rewarding
  • gimme another chance (…are you talking in the voice of the book?)
  • gut-wrenchingly sad
  • haunted house, haunting literature, hauntingly sad
  • I really believed that I understood the themes and plots of her books (I just want to sit down and gab with this person)
  • What can I say? I’ve read the book maybe 6 times
  • whoa! we’ve got color


I’m definitely going to do some more digging into the tag section. Wonder what LibraryThingers have to say about, say, The Bible


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