When I don’t have the emotional strength to take on the Next Scene, I catalogue my new books. Basically this mean logging the title, author etc. onto a list and assigning it a reference number. I just hit the number 1000 with:
Riley, Philip F. A Lust for Virtue; Louis XIV’s Attack on Sin in Seventeenth-Century France. Greenwood Press; Westport, Connecticut; 2001.
One thousand! Which means, in essence, that there are around one thousand books in my offices and spilling over into the basement.
In fact, I use many, many more titles because the books I tuck into “My Library” on Google Books I merely (and a bit lazily) reference only with a link to the Net.
But speaking of Google Books, I’ve found it useful when searching for something, to check the title on Google Book, see what page it’s on, then go to my shelves for the book and read the account. In other words: I use Google Book as a giant index.
I’m researching Madame Voisin, for example, and the index in A Lust for Virtue does not mention her at all.* However, checking A Lust for Virtue on Google Books, I’m able to see that Voisin is mentioned five times in the book. Since I’ve got the book in hand, I simply turn to these pages.
This, then, is a great research tool.
One problem is that in snippet view, grrrr, snippet view! Google Books often only shows three references. Yet rarely does a day go by when I’m not astonished at what’s now available on-line. Researchers, rejoice!
* Afternote: I should have checked “La Voisin.”
Author of the Josephine B. Trilogy and Mistress of the Sun
Blog on Writing: http://sandragulland.blogspot.com/
Woops, I think you posted this comment to another post, and I answered it there. (It makes more sense here!)
See my answer here:
Many institutions limit access to their online information. Making this information available will be an asset to all.