Read So Many Books

Read So Many Books

Join the conversation! In So Many Books, Gabriel Zaid offers his observations on the literary condition: a highly original analysis of the predicament that readers, authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and teachers find themselves in today—when there are simply more books than any of us can contemplate.

Generally interesting, two or three essays that felt outdated. He has a refreshing non-preciousness about books while also clearly loving them.

Diversity and uniqueness of reading

The uniqueness of each reader, reflected in the particular nature of his personal library (his intellectual genome), flourishes in diversity.

I like the idea of an intellectual genome, and the phenome is your thoughts from your reading.

There are more books to contemplate than stars in a night on the high seas. In this immensity, how is a reader to find his personal constellation, those books that will put his life in communication with the universe?


RSS Feed Change

Editor note: Anyone following along by RSS, I recently tweaked my main RSS feed to exclude book reviews. If you still want to see my Read posts, you should be able to follow a feed of those at


Writing anyway

Replied to Creative Voices by James (

One such topic I would like to write about but have not yet is on balancing ambition and one’s every day life. I haven’t written about this because I wonder: what unique perspectives do I have to share on this topic? I believe I have something to say, but I wonder whether, in the sea of other pieces of writing in similar veins, my writing is significant enough.

The best way, I find, is just to write and see what comes out.

I’m with you, doing the writing helps you think through things and is so worthwhile — and you can always just not publish it 🤷‍♀️ I write a lot of fiction as well, and have come to the conclusion that uniqueness is overrated, since every storyteller brings their own approach. I think that’s the case too with non-fiction writing, and believe enthusiasm adds a lot of value to a piece of writing. Building on and revisiting existing ideas is also helpful — that’s how science works for testing hypotheses –results must be replicable, and need to be for a conclusion to gain more evidence and validity — why not also for exploring the value of existing ideas?

I do share your desire to contribute meaningfully to “the conversation,” but I still think it’s worth doing the writing at whatever stage of thought since it is so closely tied to thinking — even if what I have to say about something now is not particularly insightful, as I write more I’ll work my way farther into fruitful ideas. Framing writing as learning and thinking reminds me I’m getting as much or more from the experience of writing something as anyone reading it might.

I’m reminded of a metaphor about creative work called the Helsinki Bus Station Theory: when you start your creative career, you’re mimicking and borrowing from others, as if you’ve chosen a particular bus to ride. If you panic that your work is too derivative and start anew with another approach, it’s like you’ve gotten off the bus, returned to your starting point, and switched buses to another derivative style, which will never get you far from your starting point. But if you persevere and stay on the bus you’ll eventually get out of “downtown” — and into creative work that is distinctly your own. (Er, read the article, it’s a better explanation 😉)

I find myself regularly thinking in the mundane and the abstract. I ponder big questions for which I do not have an answer but would like to learn more.

I’m going to take this spirit as a prompt for myself to write about things that might feel random or too insignificant. I’ve framed my site as a digital garden as a mental trick to help me not make posting and writing “precious” but do still find myself waffling over whether it’s the right spot to post something. I’m going to work on treating posting with less consequence.


Watched Photo Posting And Presentation

Watched Photo Posting And Presentation – IndieWebCamp (DUS) (2022) from Internet Archive

Photo posting & presentation was a session at IndieWebCamp Düsseldorf 2022.

My perspective watching: thinking about a new project to post old nature photos

Questions from Tantek:

  • When do you post photos? (real-time / contemporaneously, or retrospective)
    • I think this is my mental hangup for this project idea, because I always post photos within a few days or at most a few weeks — but I feel like that mentality falls into the trap of valuing newness too much
  • What motivates you to put a photo on your website?
    • For this project idea, I’m motivated by sharing photos I like that I haven’t had a chance to share before, rather than being buried on my hard drive — I’ve been thinking lately about my things and creations as a childfree person and it sparked a realization that once I die (hopefully another 30+ years from now 😉) all my content will just be deleted, so the only value they’ll have is now, if I share them

👉 Another benefit of good alt text for IndieWeb – others can use the alt text in their page excerpt/quote rather than duplicating the image itself


  • I like David’s “masonry” style photo page (flex grid?)
  • Also like the Instagram duplicate (I assume) grid by Max Dietrich

Session notes


Desire paths through your website

Liked Building a Digital Homestead, Bit by Brick (

How do you create pathways (and desire paths?) through your site?

This desire paths question gets at what I’ve been trying to make happen on this website. This spring I’ve added an index to make it easier to see topics I post about frequently, and a random post plugin to inspire backwards exploration, but I still don’t feel like that accomplishes the ease of discovery and serendipity I’d like.

I also wonder if I have too many reviews mixed into the stream, disrupting the flow of other material. I might consider excluding them from the main feed — I’d have to do that via post kind, or add a new category for reviews and then exclude the category.


Reading Intentions

Bookmarked Reading by Annie Mueller (

(2022) Explore, escape, and have no patience for anything dreary. Ground myself by sinking deep into familiar words.

I love this big-picture thinking about what type of reading they want to do — and also love this particular reading outlook for this year.


Include emotion in alt text for improved understanding

Bookmarked Writing great alt text: Emotion matters by Jake Archibald (

The relevant parts of an image aren’t limited to the cold hard facts. Images can make you feel a particular way, and that’s something that should be made available to a screen reader user.

A good reminder to not get hung up on the details but focus on the meaning.


Shapes of Reading

Liked Shapes of readers; shapes of reading ⁂ Antilibraries Analects ⁂ (

Prioritizing depth: reading everything there is to read in a focused niche (but: may lack context and variety). Prioritizing breadth: reading widely across many areas (but: may stay on the surface).

A common way to balance the two is what I’ve seen called a “T-shaped” approach.

This is a fun thing to consider when I do my next annual reading reflection.


Website changes to make

I think I’ll add some content and try out some plugins at IndieWeb Create Day this Saturday:

I’d like to make the site more browseable, with more happy accidents and serendipity.

I might change the tags page to only show those used 5+ times rather than 3+. I might also figure out how to show categories and kinds on that page.

Might also be a good time to finally think through a process for reviewing and synthesizing notes from the mind garden.

I might add my resume.

(Thanks to Ray for some suggestions for plugins to try.)

Relationships Websites

Connecting with other readers through our websites

Replied to IndieWeb Pop-Up: Personal Libraries (

Personal Libraries is a IndieWebCamp Pop-ups 2022 session focused on the design and use of personal websites with relation to displaying one’s books online, status updates about reading, and generally talking about books in a Goodreads-like social media manner.

When we log reads and write reviews on our personal websites instead of silos, how can we meet others who’ve read the same books and find out what books our network is reading?

Notes and thoughts from the IndieWeb Pop-Up “Personal Libraries”