Does A Christian Have a Brain?

I’ve just read an interesting Sunday Salon post from Death by Novel. In it, he talks about the fascinating feature on LibraryThing known as the “unsuggester”, an algorithm that determines which books you would least like based on your library.

As I had never heard of this feature, I had to run right over and check out what my least likely to like books are.

Here is a random list of 10 books LT thinks I won’t like:

The number one book I will hate with a passion: Basics of Biblical Greek Grammar by William D. Mounce
You know, I could say this book would be Greek to me, but I might get boo-ed off the net for bad jokes. But the truths it I would definately have to agree with this one. The closest I want to know about biblical Greek grammar is my Strong’s Concordance.

Second on the list is The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper. Considering I have no intention of becoming a preacher, I’ll agree with LT on this. The thing that bothers me, though. is when I clicked ‘why?” it list several of my 1001 books, as well as The Giver, A Wrinkle in Time, and The Godfather (okay, I’ll give it to them on the last one). Is the Unsuggester suggesting if I have a brain and read thought provoking books, I couldn’t possible want to be a preacher? This puzzles me…

The third of my would-be most-hated books is The New ‘Mayflower’ by Alan Villiers. Given the fact it’s only owned by one other LTer (who gave it 2 stars, I might add), and the tags suggest it is a book for avid sailors, I’d say this one should be on most people’s unsuggested list.

The fourth dead fish in my net is Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. I ACTUALLY HAD THIS ONE! and I gave it away on BookMooch… I had barely cracked the binding! It was like a technical manual (“like reading stereo instructions!” as Beetlejuice might say).

The fifth ill-fated fare is The Bible History Old Testament In Two Volumes, Complete and Unabridged by Alfred Edersheim. Okay, now I like history and I like biblial history… but the “Two Volumes, Complete and Unabridged” part says “Library dungeon geek” to me.

The sixth stinker is The Ramabai Reader: Selections from “The High Caste Hindu Woman”, “Testimony”, Letters, “Stree Dharma Neeti” and Other Hindu Women by Pandita Ramabai Saraswati. The title’s so long it doesn’t even fit on the book page. I don’t know why it says I won’t like this, I have The Namesake, and I’m going to get Interpreter of Maladies next week at Waldenbooks (I made this book and Dreams of My Father a promise I’d be back to save them from the cold, lonely shelf). Is LT telling me I wouldn’t like Indian Women’s Lit?

The seventh awful offering is Brothers, we are not professionals : a plea to pastors for radical ministry by John Piper. A second book I should never read from John Piper. Again, I have no interest in the pastoral arts.

The eighth rotten egg is Who Made God? : And Answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith by Ravi Zacharias. Actually, this one sounds interesting. I think I’ll rebel on this one and mooch it.

The Ninth nixer is Insensitive Semantics: A Defense of Semantic Minimalism and Speech Act Pluralism by Herman Cappelen…… HUH?????… Is this random words strung together? or does this title actually make sense?

And to round things off, number ten to turn away is The Passion of Jesus Christ: Fifty Reasons Why He Came to Die by John Piper. Hey, haven’t I seen his name before?

Now, I haven’t put all my books in LibraryThing library. All of my Christian books are in the shelf next to me, but I’ve just never gotten around to them. Some of them are from college (I have a Bachelor’s in Christian Ministry, are you surprised?) Four years of reading text books and non-fiction, and all the years before when I only read classics, have now given me a serious thirst for contemporary fiction. But is LibraryThing’s unsuggesting algorithm saying I can’t be a Christian AND have a brain? Hmmm….

I’ll just leave you with my number eleven “don’t ever read this, you’ll hate it” unsuggestion: The Sandman Vol. 3: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman. What reason does it give? Because I have Christian books! I’ve got The Purpose Driven Life, Purpose Driven Church, Purpose Driven Youth, Darwin’s Black Box, The Darwin Conspiracy. I’ve got Bentley Little, Harlan Coben, and conservative books like Black Rednecks and White Liberals. BUT wait, LT Al! I also have Stardust and Neverwhere, both by Gaiman. I also have several Palahniuk’s, Steven King’s and Mieville’s.

Am I schizophrenic? or is the Unsuggester the Anti-Christ?


9 Responses

  1. You know, LT unsuggested The English Patient for me, which is odd considering it’s actually in my library on LT. Go figure. I also had The Supremacy of God on my list, due to my Anne Rices, James Pattersons, Dean Koontzes, and all the other heathens, and several Gaimans(even though, like you, I have him in my library) due to my Tim LaHayes, Jan Karons, homeschooling books, oh and my ‘Traveling Pants’ books…huh?

  2. This is funny! I never noticed the “unsuggester” before and went and tried it. I got a very odd assortment of anti-suggestions; they seem to think I wouldn’t like the Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella, books ABOUT J.R.R. Tolkien, and also several books by John Piper (and the Mayflower book). Huh? They also think that I wouldn’t like a book by one of the Iron Chef judges – because I own Jan Karon, classical history and Star Trek books??!

  3. lol, I am going to have to go give this a try to see what mine come up as. I never knew this feature existed! This is Rarcar1 from LT by the way.

  4. I’ll have to give it a try also. It sounds really fun.

    The “suggestor” on Amazon actually works very well for me thesedays. It comes up with lots of books and music I’ve not heard of that intrigue me.

    That was not always the case.

    Maybe LibraryThings “unsuggestor” will improve over time.

  5. I love John Piper. (That doesn’t mean that you would though.) And for the record, I think the supremacy of God in preaching is not for those wanting to be preachers exactly but in what kinds of sermons preachers should be preaching and what kinds of sermons Christians should be listening to! Meaning that it is of more general in interest than LibraryThing might suppose.

  6. I believe the Unsuggester is the Anti-Christ and definitely has a strong anti-John Piper stance. 🙂 or is that :(? I have plenty of Christian books on my LibraryThing, yet still my top 10 “unsuggestions” are Christian books. Huh?

  7. Hey, I’m glad you gave it a try!

    Yes, I wonder if those books at the top are just very rare within LibraryThing…. so they are kind of universally “unsuggested” across librarything, if that makes any sense.

    I, too, have several Christian books in my library and have even read some of the books LT unsuggested for me. I explained away my unsuggestions because of the evolution-type books I have in my collection… but since so many people I’ve talked to, with wide varieties of libraries, have religious books in their top 10, I wonder if there isn’t something else at work there.

    Either way, I think it’s a very interesting feature…. a glimpse into the buying habits of LT-users in any case!

  8. Oops. Forgot to mention that I’m actually a woman with a man’s name. This often makes things very difficult when applying for jobs and such and I shop up in a skirt and heels instead of slacks and wingtips. Interviewers are surprised to say the least!

    Normally wouldn’t mention it, but sometimes I leave fawning comments on many a gal’s blog and I’d hate to be mistaken for a cyber-flirter!

  9. I had to comment on this because I really thought it was just me. Piper, Mounce, and Ravi Zacharias were also at the top of my Unsuggestions; this despite the fact that I’m getting a master’s in theology. I made a point last night of entering all my church history and theology books to LT, and Piper was still on the list. (Mounce’s Greek books shifted over to my recommendations, however, because I have lots of Greek materials.)

    Maybe LT isn’t so much the AntiChrist, but just not Reformed, since it’s Piper in particular that it wants to steer everyone away from. But then again it also has not one, but two versions of The Purpose-Driven Life on my unrecommender and several books on Benedictine prayer–I don’t know what that says about LT’s Theology.

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