Kate Ray’s new website, bookshelf.website is simple enough. It allows users to create a sort of playlist for books. In the same way you might make a playlist for a party or for Sunday mornings, users make ones for specific times of life or feelings.
On a minimalist-designed, nearly text-only website, users’ lists are shown in no particular order. There’s Books You Could Recommend to More Than Half the People You Know, which includes The Martian by Andy Weir, and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. There’s Women Saying It Loud AF, which includes The Color Purple by Alice Walker and The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende.
The idea for curated reading lists came to Ray from a familiar source of inspiration.
“I first started this project years ago when I was falling in love with someone, and wanted to communicate to him who I was, which to me means the series of books that made me who I am,” Ray wrote in an email. “I wrote out some ‘book-mixtapes’ for him, and started building this app to make the lists more visible, but I never finished. Then, last week I was going to a speculative fiction conference and I knew everyone would have good book recommendations, so I wanted a place for us to keep track of them.”
Ray is a Greenpoint-based programmer who worked most recently for Experiment. We wrote about Ray’s last project, Where Is Williamsburg?, last year. It’s a delightfully clever app that allows you to find and vote on which neighborhood is the Williamsburg of every city.
“My favorite way of getting to know somebody is going to their apartment and leafing through their books,” Ray wrote. “This app doesn’t do justice to the smell of books or the different feels of well-handled vs barely touched pages, but it’s an okay way to see what occupies a person’s mind. I love the wonderfully personal ways people have of categorizing books. Some of these, like Mean Girls You Want to Emulate, Techno-Utopianism and Its Discontents, queer women in space, doing the space thing, ⚪ reading for a sense of self ⚫ are just so good and so weird and would give me context for reading them that I would never get anywhere else.”
lite summer scifi ?✌? pic.twitter.com/Nv2hMUEks7
— Kate Ray (@kraykray) July 16, 2017
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