Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Research Tools

I'm in the process of going through bookshelves at home and deciding what I really have to keep. There are books in every room (yes, even the bathroom). I keep thinking that certain books would be good for research whenever I get back into writing my own fiction. Then there's that growing pile of books I should read just to "stay in the know" and be entertained. But it is very likely that I'll never touch some of them.

I've got books on crafting plots and on crafting crafts, cookbooks for both modern and historic kitchens, name reference books, books on states' wildlife, and even several antique novels and biographies for inspiration.

I was reading a blog post by Kristin Billerbeck (Girls Write Out) about not liking libraries that much, and I can certainly relate. If I find a book of value, I want to own the book and have it available whenever I want it. I want to be able to highlight and flag the book to meet my needs. So. . .I have too many books.

My home library issue has led me to ask what tools of research you use? How are you making sure you have enough resources to verify the facts you want to use in your stories? Are all writers' homes doomed to be overflowing with books? I'd be interested to hear your responses. Tell me what books I can part with.

(another 3 pounds lighter)


eileen said...

Part with a book? Surely not! Sigh. I fear it's the bane of our existence to have stacks of books to stumble over. Be cheered... There are many of us out here with the same problem. (altho not another 3 lbs lighter! Congrats.)

Kim S. said...

Most of my "keepers" are books about Kansas and Mennonites--my two favorite topics. But I do utilize our library--the ladies there are so helpful, and I just don't have space for everything I wish I could keep.

As for those three pounds you lost. I think I found them. So cut it out! lol (Just kidding--way to be healthy!)

Linda Ford said...

My house overflows with books. I've warned my kids not to give them away when I die as some are real collector's items--wonderful research books I've picked up at garage sales or used book stores. I love books about whatever era I'm writing in. As it's usually post 1900 there are lots of books. I find really great local history ones at museums I visit (another weakness.) I love books. I love their smell, their feel. I love looking at their spines. I can't imagine living without books. I love libraries too. Great research tool but just seeing all those books.... wandering among the stacks. Yes, I am addicted.

Mary Connealy said...

I don't MEAN to keep all these books. I need to get tough. Throw away (or better...give away) about one thousand of them. And just keep the other thousand, the really good ones I can't live without.
Keep up the Incredible Shrinking Women lifestyle, Becky.

The Write Life said... can never have too many. I have a hard time parting with books, even if I've already read them. I never part with research books, anything that helps my writing.

Oh...and I homeschool, too, so there are all those wonderful books for the kids!

Congrats on those lost pounds!


Lynette Sowell said...

Besides books, I use the Internet for research...carefully. I think it's important to verify the type of web site where I get my information. My computer desktop has folders and folders of bookmarks for different projects. I tend to be a research junkie--both with books and with electronic files, so I have to be careful not to go overboard and have too much to wade through. Otherwise I won't get much done.

Sometimes a children's nonfiction book is just the thing if you're looking for basic research to get started, especially in historicals.

I'm expecting several reference books in the mail any day, and I'm hoping I'll find the information I need inside.

Congrats on the 3 pounds! :)

Kristy Dykes said...

My house, too, overflows with books. But somehow, I make myself give them away so I can manage. Doesn't Liz Curtiss Higgs have something like 700 or 800 books ALONE on Scotland? Wow.

Three pounds lighter. I'm sooo jealous. And so proud for you. You give me inspiration. I'll keep trying to deny myself and lose some pounds. Thanks.

christa said...

Hmmm--books I can part with...if I have two of the same title, I can give up one of them. Any book that discourages me from drinking coffee or eating chocolate.
I'm certain I need a 12-step program, "Hello. My name is Christa, and I'm addicted to books." But I doubt if I'd ever go into recovery.

My primary research tool is the Internet, though I do my best to make sure the source I'm using is credible. I'm a google-girl.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

I usually keep most of my research books. However, fiction novels that I've read, I always give those away. I read too many books to keep. If I kept them, I wouldn't have a house left!