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The Unshelved Book Club began with the idea that a comic strip set in a library ought to mention, you know, books. Or, more specifically, that our characters should be talking about books, because even in this modern day that's still a thing commonly talked about in libraries.

So we made a few efforts to mention books in the daily strip, but they weren't satisfactory. It turns out that 3 or 4 panels isn't enough really enough space to tell a joke and recommend a book without making fun of the book. So in our "Dylan goes electric" moment we decided to inaugurate a full-size color Sunday strip devoted to book recommendations. We made 588 of these, and they were a big hit. We encouraged libraries and book stores to post them, and they reportedly made books fly off the shelves. Check them out.

But then we thought, one a week is not enough. There are too many good books out there. So we decided to also create written book recommendations, and to do them in a way that was fun and interesting and unlike anything else out there. In addition to a short description, we told the real-life story of the reviewer's experience of the book through the medium of three questions:

  • Why I picked it up -- every story about reading a book begins with a decision to pick it up, and it's often an interesting one
  • Why I finished it -- not everyone finishes every book they start, so what was special enough to make this worth the journey?
  • Who I'd give it to -- a recommendation should be for a person, so we put names on ours, and say why

We tapped our friends and family to write these, and over the years we wrote 2813 of them.

Finally, back when Twitter was still Twitter and tweets were still 140 characters, as God intended, we decide to see how many books could be recommended in that space. We called it @bookblrb and it was a great learning exercise to distill a book talk down to its core essentials. You can still still see them at the end of certain of our written recommendations.

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