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Topic: Discussion Thread: The Statistics and Sociology of PBS

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Subject: Discussion Thread: The Statistics and Sociology of PBS
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 11:47 AM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Hello, all.

Some people besides myself are also possibly interested in the larger aspects of the workings and significance of what goes on here in PBS. I'd like to start a permament discussion thread in this forum about the statistics and sociology of PBS as they appear to each of us. In the following short paragraphs I'll try to give you an idea of what I mean. At the same time, though, please don't take my examples as limitations; everyone should feel free to use whatever their own interpretation of "sociology" or "statistics" may be and share with everyone else whatever insights they've had about stuff they've seen, heard or experienced here on PBS.  Here goes:

Statistics: I'm particularly impressed with the speed with which posted book titles disappear from the daily digest in a few hours after their posting. In my experience about half of all newly posted books disappear from the list of available books by the time I get on my computer at 9:00 or 10:00 o'clock in the morning. I started out wondering whether anyone here in the U.S. stays up late at night specifically to catch new listings (LOL). And then I decided that that was improbable. I turned instead to the idea that there are enough wish lists on PBS (how many I have no idea) with enough requests for books to account for the speed with which books are vacuumed from the new listings. Does anyone know the truth about the actual situation?

More Statistics: It should be easy for anyone at PBS headquarters to calculate the odds that a newly listed book, the first time that particular book is posted, will again be posted thereafter. Obviously headquarters knows all titles and editions that have ever been posted and whether or not those titles and editions have ever been re-posted. It would be very interesting to know, for this reason: people considering adding a particular title to their wishlist should only want to post titles that have some chance of being listed. There are all kinds of truly obscure books that I'd love to have, but wishlist slots are limited and therefore valuable and I don't want to waste any. Accordingly, if the odds of a listed title and edition being re-listed are good, I'd like to take that into account when adding titles to my wishlist. Anyone here have any ideas about that?

Sociology: As everyone here has probably noticed, the large majority of PBS members are women. I'd say offhand that the people to whom I mail my books are around three-quarters or five-sixths female. I already knew that women are greater readers than men, but I hadn't realized to what extent. Do any of you have an idea whether the PBS experience in this regard is greater, similar to or less than the national, all-sources-included, percentage?

More sociology: It's particularly fascinating (for me, at least) to see how many truly sophisticated and weighty tomes are gobbled up by people, male and female alike, in towns and villages across the land that I've never heard of. Now I'm sure I've never heard of lots and lots of minor suburbs surrounding colleges and universities, but is that the true reason? Does anyone know what percentage of PBS members have advanced degrees? Are currently students (at whatever level) in higher education?

My experience related to all these questions may well be skewed by the limited genres I've chosen for my Daily Digest. I'm not into YA, modern fiction, mysteries, science fiction or fantasy stories or role-playing of any kind. Do you think that would distort my perceptions here on PBS? Have any of the rest of you wondered about any of such things? Are there already one (or several) discussions of this kind going on in this or other forums? To anyone's knowledge, has there been an article (or more) published about PBS and its internal workings?

Well, I look forward very much to hearing from anyone else about their experiences here on PBS and the conjectures their experience has given rise to. Do note, however, that I'm not doing this in connection with a writing project, whether an article or a book. I'm just curious, and I do hope we can get a discussion going here. Take care!

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
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A fascinating subject Robert.  IME the 'sociology' varies between different genre, some appear to have their own 'ecosystem' lol.

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
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I already knew that women are greater readers than men, but I hadn't realized to what extent. Do any of you have an idea whether the PBS experience in this regard is greater, similar to or less than the national, all-sources-included, percentage?

I can tell you my experience. I read way more than my husband, although he is a steady reader. (But I read about 300 books a year, where he might read 25). When he wants a book, he asks me if I have one that he would like, or he buys one at the bookstore. He does not have the patience needed for joining a web site like this one and receiving requests and mailing out books. So, if he remembers to tell me what he is looking for, I just order for him.

This holds true for most of my family. The women are all readers (grandmother, aunts, etc. My grandfather  certainly was a reader, but not to the extent of the other women in my family.)

There are all kinds of truly obscure books that I'd love to have, but wishlist slots are limited and therefore valuable and I don't want to waste any. Accordingly, if the odds of a listed title and edition being re-listed are good, I'd like to take that into account when adding titles to my wishlist. Anyone here have any ideas about that?

It really depends on what you are looking for. If I am really curious, I take a look at Amazon. I find that books where there are a lot of copies available for a cheap amount of money ... will probably get posted here more quickly. Books that are hard to find used or sell for more than a few dollars are posted here also, but those lines will move much more slowly (more like glacially). Most non-fiction starts out with smaller print runs, people tend to keep it longer to reference, etc, so if you are interested in non-fiction you will find that it takes a lot longer to be posted here than new fiction does.

PBS does have some estimates for books that are on your Wish List, if you look a tthe Wish List view it will tell you things like the date that the last copy of te book was posted. For books where they have many mailing records, they can also estimate how many weeks it might take you to receive the book.

I turned instead to the idea that there are enough wish lists on PBS (how many I have no idea) with enough requests for books to account for the speed with which books are vacuumed from the new listings. Does anyone know the truth about the actual situation?

I believe you have hit the nail on the head. The books you see being posted are not available to order, necessarily. They might be, but if they already have a Wish List, they are being offered to those Wish Lists. So, you are seeing all books coming into the system, not the ones that are available on bookshelves to order.

In general, PBS doesn't really come onto the forums and give us curious people insight into the business rationale for the decisions that they make and the way the site works and so forth. We do make a lot of conjecture up for ourselves., though ....

You may be interested in the PBS heartbeat ... http://www.paperbackswap.com/pulse/index.php

It has some statistics that I find interesting.

 

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 4:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
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I order books for my husband, too.  But I don't wait for him to mention them, I know what he likes.  :)

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
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Pretty heavy, Robert!

Regarding the male-female reading schism, I can say that in my biological family, at least, there is no such disparity: All of us - male and female alike - are truly avid readers; if I had to pick, though, I do think that the males probably have an edge over the females. OTOH, on my wife's side of the family, none of them - again, male or female - would ever be considered "readers". (I have been trying really, REALLY hard to reverse this trend with my grand-daughters.)

I've mentally speculated for years as to why there is such a split between the two sides of my immediate family, but cannot figure it out. The only thing I've come up with (and, this has been rather heatedly discussed in a thread in the Club Members' Thoughts forum) is that my wife and her two children contend that dyslexia makes reading a major chore for them, and it's become something that they just choose not to do "for pleasure". In an interesting "like-attracts-like" situation, both my step-daughter's ex-husband and her new husband also fall into the non-reader category. I do not know if either (or both) of them claims a diagnosis of dyslexia.

zeke68 -
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 5:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
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In my experiences on three different trading sites, I send way more books to females than males.  One genre that I read (erotica) lends itself to females, obviously, but I am also a big fan of post-apocalyptic/end of the world fiction and even those tend to go more to women than men.  Are they getting the books for their spouses/brothers/husbands/sons?  I don't know.  I know I order stuff for my son and my brother, but not that many books.  I think, like Sara said, many men don't have the patience required to join and maintain lists, AND wait for their books to become available on a site such as this.  I know my husband doesn't.  

My father spurred my love for reading.  He was an avid reader, despite having only one eye and a grade school education, until his glaucoma forced him to quit reading.  

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 8:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Denise L said: "A fascinating subject Robert.  IME the 'sociology' varies between different genre, some appear to have their own 'ecosystem' lol."

I'll bet you're right about genres, Denise. I follow non-fiction, mainly. Really don't know anything about modern fiction. History, travel books (only old ones, though), essays, memoirs, that kind of thing. I'd suppose that there are all kinds of modern genre fiction that attracts younger people than I. As for "ecosystems" within genres, that sounds interesting! Would you expand on that?
 
Take care!
Subject: Readers and Non-Readers; PBS Wish Lists and Amazon
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 9:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Sara P. said: "The women [of my family] are all readers (grandmother, aunts, etc. My grandfather  certainly was a reader, but not to the extent of the other women in my family)."

Well, both my parents were avid readers throughout their lives. They really only passed that down to two of us kids. There were two others who didn't turn out to be readers at all. It's interesting how some people exposed to books pick up on that exposure and some don't.

Sara P. also said: "If I am really curious, I take a look at Amazon. I find that books where there are a lot of copies available for a cheap amount of money ... will probably get posted here more quickly. Books that are hard to find used or sell for more than a few dollars are posted here also, but those lines will move much more slowly (more like glacially)."

I pick PBS books only from within those that have already been posted, figuring that they have greater odds of re-appearing. I keep my 300-item wish list full at all times. Then I go through each day's Daily Digest (with all books listed, not just those available) and put all interesting books on my Reminder List. When I have time, I research the reminder list books, dumping those I decide I'm not really interested in and tagging any that Amazon sells for less than a dollar. When a spot opens up on my wish list, I insert only books that aren't less than a dollar at Amazon. I buy the cheap ones from Amazon or their allied sellers when money is available and wait for the more expensive ones to become available on PBS.

Thanks, Sara! Take care.

 

 

Subject: Husbands and Wives and Books
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Diane L. said: "I order books for my husband, too.  But I don't wait for him to mention them, I know what he likes.  :)"

I do the same for my wife, Diane. She's a pre-computer person and has no interest in entering the 21st Century if she doesn't have to.

Take care!

Subject: Heavy? Horse Races?
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Ed said: "Pretty heavy, Robert!"
 

Do you really think so, Ed? These are just the thoughts and questions that run through my mind as I'm picking books from the Daily Digest or going over my reminder list to find new listings for my wish list. And if there are any neat techniques for maximizing my take of books I really want, well, I'm really interested in knowing about those techniques!

It's rather like my grandpa on my father's side. He would study the Daily Mirror (three cents at the time) all week to decide on which horse in which race he should put his two dollars (always and only two dollars) on Saturday. I like to think I'm not being silly in my wish list picks. In other words, I have a real shot at getting what I want in a reasonable time (so no picking books with waiting lists over ten people). And I'm continually amazed at the rather obscure books that must be on other peoples' wish lists (otherwise they wouldn't be taken so fast after I list them, or at least I guess so).

Take care, Ed!

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Zeke68 said: "I am also a big fan of post-apocalyptic/end of the world fiction and even those tend to go more to women than men."

Hi, Zeke. I'm glad you raised the subject of "post-apocalyptic/end of the world fiction." Could you tell me what the attraction of such fiction is? I have a hard time understanding what might make readers read book after book about such depressing things. I read depressing history books all the time, it's true. But there I have the satisfaction that it's all dead and gone. Could you explain?

Zeke68 also said: "[M]any men don't have the patience required to join and maintain lists, AND wait for their books to become available on a site such as this."

Hmmmm. My father told me (many, many years ago) that a real man had to be patient and put up with impatient women who always want things NOW. I guess things have changed in fifty-five years.

Take care, Zeke!

 

Date Posted: 4/30/2013 10:33 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
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Having trained as a behaviorist in psychology and counseling, I too am interested in the sociology and statistics of PBS, but most of my questions aren't related to Robert's areas of interest.

I have noticed that femaie membership seems to far outnumber the male, but several observations I have made--- some of my female acquaintances here are registered under male names, and, as noted by others, perhaps most families have a female member manage the family's PBS account (much like in many households the mother/wife runs most of the family errands and does the shopping).  But I never translated that to mean that women necessarily read more than men.........

Growing up my father was an avid reader though he seemed to read many more magazines than books; he was a secondary school principal with graduate classes towards a doctorate. Mom stayed at home with us 5 kids and read for leisure, but didn't seem to have much time for reading. Though in her senior years, she has become an avid reader, especially since she doesn't sleep much. Dad has continued reading the entire newspaper daily along with magazines despite having macular degeneration that caused him to give up driving about 10 years ago while in his early 70's. I was one of those kids who read with a flashlight under the covers from the time I was in 2nd grade, teachers said I was "too serious" cause I always had my nose in a book, and when my mom tried to separate me from a book and send me outside to get some fresh air, I would take a blanket outside with my book and sit under a tree to read!  My only brother was an avid reader in HS though he was in 2 sports.

My hubby was an avid reader of sci-fi  & fantasy in HS and college, but now only reads about 5 books a year whereas I read 50-80 per year now that I don't work. He does a lot of tech reading and website surfing now. All 3 of our girls were avid readers starting in elementary school. 17 yo actually read 4 books a WEEK during her summer break 2 years ago, but has now turned to writing online so her book consumption has greatly decreased though her list of desired YA books is as long as ever (which explains why almost half my WL is YA).

I have NOT noticed a large number of members here with advanced degrees. I think perhaps that's a fallacy based on a small sample size in the special genre you're are interested in. And remember, a very small percentage of the members participate in the forums, so making assumptions from the folks who post here will give you false results.

 



Last Edited on: 5/1/13 10:52 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/30/2013 11:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
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Robert sez:
<<I pick PBS books only from within those that have already been posted, figuring that they have greater odds of re-appearing. >>
 
How, exactly, are you determining that a particular book edition / ISBN has been swapped within the PBS System?
 
Jeanne sez:
<<I have NOT noticed a large number of members here with advanced degrees. I think perhaps that's a fallacy>>
 
Actually, it isn't a fallacy at all.  I personally know members who are veterinarians, MDs, RN/NPs, pharmacists, and quite a few librarians, who all should have advanced degrees in their field, not to mention the members currently working toward a advanced degree.  You don't need any fancy education to enjoy PBS, and we do attract members from a wide variety of backgrounds.
 
With regard to articles written about PBS, there are a truckload here:
 
I know you're just curious and not looking to write an expose, Robert, but learning anything will be difficult through these discussion forums.  The in-house staff, who likely have the information you seek, do not generally participate in the chat forums with other memebrs, except in specified topics and situations.  Even most of the member volunteers here, those who work on Data and Image Teams, moderate Games and serve as Tour Guides, are largely left in the dark on corporate insight. So, we can speculate all we want, but without the input of those who actually know, it will remain pure speculation.
zeke68 -
Date Posted: 5/1/2013 11:14 AM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
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I'm glad you raised the subject of "post-apocalyptic/end of the world fiction." Could you tell me what the attraction of such fiction is?

You're not the first person to ask me that question, Robert.  I like to read (and watch) post-apocalyptic (PA) fiction because I like to see what people do in extraordinary situations, and there's nothing more extraordinary in my mind than the end of the world as we know it.  It's always been interesting to me to see how humans function when faced with no law, no shortage of food, practically no ramifications for whatever behavior.  And yet, in the majority of these tales, there is redemption in the end.  A chance to start over, to make things better than they were.  It's the ultimate in escapism, I think.

Of course, there have been studies shown that the PA genre thrives during recession & such.  I've read tons of articles, including this one from the Wall Street Journal, which primarily references zombies, one of my absolute favorites.  This article talks about the resurgence of the PA genre in television.  It's never been like that for me.  I've been a fan of the genre since I first read Alas, Babylon back in grade school, and I haven't spent my whole life in a recession.  

I do not like PA that leaves no hope at the end, a virus that kills 95% of the population and leaves the rest sterile, zombie animals, etc.  I need that little bit of hope or it is just bleak and depressing.

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 1:52 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
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Yes, exactly. Good zombie novels are not about zombies at all ....

zeke68 -
Date Posted: 5/1/2013 2:17 PM ET
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Yes, exactly. Good zombie novels are not about zombies at all ....

Thank you for understanding that.  Seems that so many people just think blood & guts & gore and don't realize there are many layers to a good zombie story.  

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 5:43 PM ET
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Zeke68 said (among other things): "I'm glad you raised the subject of "post-apocalyptic/end of the world fiction." Could you tell me what the attraction of such fiction is?

"You're not the first person to ask me that question, Robert.  I like to read (and watch) post-apocalyptic (PA) fiction because I like to see what people do in extraordinary situations, and there's nothing more extraordinary in my mind than the end of the world as we know it.  It's always been interesting to me to see how humans function when faced with no law, no shortage of food, practically no ramifications for whatever behavior.  And yet, in the majority of these tales, there is redemption in the end.  A chance to start over, to make things better than they were.  It's the ultimate in escapism, I think."

Well, I know very little about this but I wonder whether it all started with Golding's "Lord of the Flies." That came along when I was already an adult and I proceeded to read every single thing Golding ever wrote, on which I followed up until he died. He was (to me) a very strange person in a number of respects as reflected in his writing and not least in "Lord of the Flies." I think he was a very, very angry man with a very dark take on human existence with which I disagree. And I believe that's reflected in "Lord of the Flies" and in all of the apocalyptic lit of which I've heard. Of course, I've only heard about it and never read it. I find it very improbable that any of us, certainly myself included, could in any realistic way, in any way in which others could have confidence, construct credible designs of what we or others might do under almost incomprehensible conditions. 

Take care!

Robert

 

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 5:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2012
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Elizabeth B. said: "Robert sez:

<<I pick PBS books only from within those that have already been posted, figuring that they have greater odds of re-appearing. >>
 
How, exactly, are you determining that a particular book edition / ISBN has been swapped within the PBS System?"
 
Me: Simply by looking at what is listed every day in the Daily Digest list of genres to which I've subscribed.
 
"Jeanne sez:
<<I have NOT noticed a large number of members here with advanced degrees. I think perhaps that's a fallacy>>
 
Actually, it isn't a fallacy at all.  I personally know members who are veterinarians, MDs, RN/NPs, pharmacists, and quite a few librarians, who all should have advanced degrees in their field, not to mention the members currently working toward a advanced degree.  You don't need any fancy education to enjoy PBS, and we do attract members from a wide variety of backgrounds."
 
Me: There seem to be quite a number of PBS members instantly grabbing for very sophisticated books indeed. Yesterday I listed a three-volume set IN LATIN that was gone in twenty minutes after posting. And there are post-structuralist French authors in the outer space of psychoanalytic/cultural/sociological theorizing that disappear in less time than that. It's impressive (to me).
 
"With regard to articles written about PBS, there are a truckload here:
 
Me: Thanks for the reference!
 
"I know you're just curious and not looking to write an expose, Robert, but learning anything will be difficult through these discussion forums.  The in-house staff, who likely have the information you seek, do not generally participate in the chat forums with other memebrs, except in specified topics and situations.  Even most of the member volunteers here, those who work on Data and Image Teams, moderate Games and serve as Tour Guides, are largely left in the dark on corporate insight. So, we can speculate all we want, but without the input of those who actually know, it will remain pure speculation."
 
Me: I'm really just another member looking to acquire books and find out the best ways of doing so on PBS. If the management want to keep to themselves that's fine with me. They're running a business, after all. I'm happy with whatever enlightenment I can glean from you folk in these forums. And, yes, it may well be speculation but I myself really don't need much more than speculation.  
 
Take care!
 
Robert
zeke68 -
Date Posted: 5/1/2013 6:14 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
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I find it very improbable that any of us, certainly myself included, could in any realistic way, in any way in which others could have confidence, construct credible designs of what we or others might do under almost incomprehensible conditions. 

Isn't this the very premise of fiction though?  What would anyone do under almost incomprensible circumstances?  I'm pretty sure I'll never be pursued by a serial killer, I'm also pretty sure that the authors of such books haven't been pursued by serial killers.  But someone has to have the desire and incentive to imagine what it would be like to be pursued by serial killers.  Same thing with PA.  Any good writer can take me out of my everyday world and put me into a different world where such things are possible.

Do I believe that the zombie apocalypse will happen?  Do I believe that a strain of superflu will wipe out 94.6% of the world's population?  Do I believe that the rabies virus will mutate and cause 95% of the population to go mad?  No.  But it doesn't stop me from reading it, enjoying it, and writing it.  I don't think I'm a very angry person with a dark take on human existence.  I just happen to be someone who enjoys reading about the darker side of humanity.

 

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 6:58 PM ET
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I know you don't really dig this kinda stuff, zeke, but yes *L*



Last Edited on: 5/1/13 6:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/1/2013 7:32 PM ET
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Although I will admit that I don't read much PA fiction, I have to say that for me, how an author deals with what others might do under almost incomprehensible conditions is *precisely* the attraction of that genre.

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 8:10 PM ET
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I don't read a lot of it either, Ed, and in fact can only recall two at the moment: World War Z and Swan Song.  The former was kinda tedious and boring in a lot of parts (the integration of world politics into the story causing most of those two things), but the latter is easily one of my top 5 favorite books, maybe even top two, depending on what mood I'm in.

Then, if you want a funny take on the genre, there's Apocalypse Cow, a damn good book I was lucky enough to win in a Goodreads giveaway.  That book was insane...  :)

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 8:26 PM ET
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My nephew, (who is probably the ultimate connoisseur of the genre), had a similar take on "World War Z". He's actually convinced me of the value in back-tracking and reading the "Walking Dead" graphic novels. (I'm hooked on the series and need something to hold me over until the Fall.)

I think one of the best PA novels I've read was King's "Cell". Although it wasn't his best novel, I enjoyed the entire thing - especially the idea that the "phoners" were actually evolving new abilities and weren't just a static part of the new world order.

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 8:40 PM ET
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Cell was good, though I go back and forth whether it was really PA or not.  I've got to read The Stand, it's one of the few of King's I haven't, and generally considered his best book (though I still dig The Talisman best).  Another one I have but haven't read is Lucifer's Hammer, a PA book my best friend sent me (she's also the one who sent me WWZ, and recommended Swan Song).  Right now, I'm having a time getting ANY reading done, and that sucks, because I'm working on Under The Dome, and have three (Inferno, NOS4A2, and Joyland) due into the library in the next couple of weeks to a month).

Date Posted: 5/1/2013 8:54 PM ET
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Oh, yeah - I forgot about "Lucifer's Hammer". (Probably because I read it a couple of decades ago.) I may have to just put it back on my TBR list...

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