My Favorite Web Sites: Overbooked

The Internet is a fickle place, with this month’s regular stop often succumbing to a new favorite. Sites find a sweet spot and then fade away, capture our attention and then wither as we work through their best content or become tired of the format. As a writer on two blogs, I’ve come to appreciate both the difficulty and importance of consistency, of maintaining a theme over time but continuing to find good content and put out a quality browsing experience.

This morning (casting about, I’ll admit, for a good topic for Book Group Buzz), I found myself back on one of my favorite websites, Overbooked. Every reader should know it. Overbooked is the bright idea and long term effort of Ann Chambers Theis, a marvelous librarian at Chesterfield County Public Library in Virginia, who has been maintaining the site since 1994. The site won the Louis Shores-Greenwood Publishing Award in 2008 for excellence in book reviewing.

Overbooked is my favorite single stop on the Internet when I want a quick update on the best reviewed new and forthcoming books. My favorite features are the Stars lists, which compile all of the starred reviews in Booklist, Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews into a single list. Organized by month (and in a few cases also by genre), these list provide the fastest way I know to identify new books that are receiving universal acclaim. If you’re in a retrospective mood, you can trace these lists back to 1997 when they became a regular feature on the site.

The site also features hotlists, thematic book lists, and featured books. I never leave it without adding books to the list of what I would like to read. Today’s visit, for instance, led me to add three interesting historical fiction works: Peter Carey’s Parrot and Olivier in America, which is a fictional take on de Tocqueville’s landmark exploration of America; a barnstorming look at a female baseball player in the roaring twenties by Joseph Wallace called Diamond Ruby; and David Mitchell’s latest, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which follows a junior clerk of the Dutch East India Company to the Japanese island of Dejima in 1799. All three look like promising choices for book groups.

So cheers Ann! You’ve created a site that has enriched my reading life regularly ever since I discovered it back in library school. I hope the readers of Book Group Buzz are all making Overbooked another regular stop when they go looking for book information online.



About the Author:

Neil Hollands is an Adult Services Librarian at Williamsburg Regional Library in Virginia, where he specializes in readers’ advisory and collection development. He is the author of Read On . . . Fantasy Fiction (2007) and Fellowship in a Ring: a Guide for Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Groups (2009).

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