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January 23, 2009

thinking about lists of books

I would like to try to organize book recommendations around emotions. This already happens at some level - horror, romance, inspirational, but I'd like to try more complicated categories. First I need help identifying some categories. Let's use a maximum of three words. Try and get at the way that the book (or the memory of the book) makes you feel :: For example: Under "Lovingly Sad Happy" I nominate The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao :: Could you either recommend more in that category or create a new one? ...and eventually i will try and make some lists.
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Comments (26)

I would put Cry the Beloved Country into "Lovingly Sad Happy," too.

Posted by: Leah at January 23, 2009 3:14 PM

Under the same category, I'd put "The Time Traveller's Wife". Though that may be a case of personal impression, I'm not sure.

Does the order of the words in the category matter? Or... are the words we pick actually columns in a table that helps categorize things? Should we be picking and refining a list of emotions, and then selecting the three best emotions for each book, weighing all the options? What if I say "joy" and someone else says "elation", but we're really aiming at the same thing?

Imagine the possibilities... if you define the relationship between certain emotions, you could say "I just finished reading the gut-wrenching book X, and now I want something light and fluffy, and you could have a system that would pull the books that show the opposite tags to the one you read.

Just say the word and I'll write up the code for this. Sounds like fun :D

Posted by: MCM at January 23, 2009 3:15 PM

Sounds like fun.. I'll get back to you when I have a few books I'd like to categorize.

Posted by: Josh T at January 23, 2009 3:26 PM

Do you know about Library Thing? Members can tag books any way they want. If you haven't checked it out you might want to poke around a bit. Here's the page for the book you mentioned: http://www.librarything.com/work/3165787

You can also search by a single tag or several tags:

Posted by: Molly at January 23, 2009 3:44 PM

Bittersweet Nostalgic Introspection - Coming Up for Air by George Orwell

Posted by: Anthony Badami at January 23, 2009 3:59 PM

great idea :) I'll have to think about this.. I *used* to read a lot :O

Posted by: Marianne at January 23, 2009 5:06 PM

Not sure if the three words define the books 'emotional' recommendation..

But under "metaphysical simple profound" I would put the following books:

Tao of Pooh
Road Less Traveled
Man's Search for Meaning

I will probably add some more books and categories later.

Posted by: Greg at January 23, 2009 5:32 PM

How would you categorize books that rather have a lack of emotion, or are about the lack thereof? Are the books categorized in acordance to the emotions inspired in the reader, or about the emotions contained therein?

I immediately think of both The Stranger and No Country for Old Men, both of which deal with passive acceptance and contain central characters devoid of 'emotions'.

(From Ze: I am interested in how the book made you feel. For the above I personally would use "Lonely WiseTense")

Posted by: Jack Jennings at January 23, 2009 5:49 PM

inspired confused romantic - One Hundred Years of Solitude

Posted by: Nick at January 23, 2009 7:21 PM

delighted, seductive, beautiful - Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins;
rapturous, stimulated, satiated - Small Gods, Thief of Time and The Last Continent all by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Posted by: jaz at January 23, 2009 9:40 PM

Lovingly Sad Happy is my most favorite emotional genre of book. I definitely put: God Of Small Things, Bel Canto, and Good Benito in that category.

Posted by: Sandy at January 23, 2009 10:10 PM

the miracle life of edgar mint - best opening sentence (that compels you to read the entire book - and wind up happy you went on the journey)

Posted by: Judi at January 23, 2009 10:35 PM

"happy, young, inspired" Come and tell me some lies. Raffaella Barker.

"bohemian, happy, peaceful" The colour of memory. Geoff Dyer.

"delighted, perverse, engaged" Straight man. Richard Russo.

"heartbroken, inspired, pensive" The diaries of Jane Somers. Doris Lessing.

"bitter, sad" In the drink. Kate Christensen.

Posted by: ingrid at January 24, 2009 6:18 AM

How about: History, Intrigue, Discoveries.
¨Devil in the White City¨
It Just won the National Book Award.

Posted by: Jason Pickens at January 24, 2009 10:39 AM

"appreciative, nostalgic, loved"
The Brief History of The Dead by Kevin Brockmeier

Posted by: consumatron at January 24, 2009 2:36 PM

sinister, sad, stunning:
Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go
Michel Faber: Under the Skin

Posted by: Ysa at January 24, 2009 2:39 PM

In "Lovingly Sad Happy" I would add Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Posted by: Ananda at January 24, 2009 3:16 PM

Love that Dog by Sharon Creech makes me feel soulfully tenderly sweetened.

Posted by: jeano at January 24, 2009 4:39 PM

"existentially sad/grateful": Johnny Got His Gun

Posted by: Kendra at January 24, 2009 8:43 PM

For lovingly sad happy I think of Charles Baxter's 'Feast of Love'.

Life of Pi (Yann Martel)- curious, fearless, amused

Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell) - inspired, enthralled, critical (for some reason I wanted to pick it apart afterward %P)

A. S. Byatt's Frederica Quartet (The Virgin in the Garden, Still Life, Babel Tower, A Whistling Woman - but especially Babel Tower) - ravished, experienced, enriched

Michael Cunningham's The Hours - heartbroken, sympathetic, hopeful

Posted by: Marianne at January 24, 2009 9:23 PM

perks of being a wallflower!

Posted by: ali baba at January 25, 2009 4:58 PM

"Confused, mournful, awed" - Notable American Women - Ben Marcus

Posted by: Ulan Bator III at January 26, 2009 1:29 AM

I'm with Ysa - Kazuo Ishiguro: Never Let Me Go. Wonderful book!

Posted by: Russ at January 26, 2009 4:03 PM


The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera

Postfeminist Rage:

The Education of a French Model by Kiki
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Lovingly Sad Happy:

The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer

Posted by: Notorious at January 28, 2009 8:05 PM

lovingly sad-happy: summer book by tove jansson


exhaustingly life-enriched: any human heart, william boyd

and i'd amend cloud atlas to pleasingly literarily intelligent :)

Posted by: han at January 30, 2009 7:22 PM

Furiously Frustrated and Overwhelmed:
"Under a Cruel Star: A Life in Prague, 1941-1968"
by Heda Margolius Kovaly

An amazing book... Kovaly's description of memory as an accordion-fold of photos - once you pick one up you can't stop the rest from coming with it - is one of the most beautifully painful lines of prose I've ever read.

Posted by: Catherine at February 3, 2009 4:23 PM

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