December 04, 2012

Small Demons: A New Site for Book Lovers to Enhance the Reading Experience


I know movie and TV lovers that have spent hours lost in the labyrinth of IMDB.com, playing their own versions of “Six Degrees,” connecting movies and actors and concepts. The same holds true for the Comic Book Data Base, where fans of that medium can peruse connections between writers and artists and characters. But what about devotees of novels?

How do we know which books mention Billy Joel, or which ones are set in Sleepy Hollow or New York, or which characters drink IPA or smoke cigars? Thanks to a legion of small demons, we now have a way to learn this valuable information – and spend countless hours putzing around on a literary website.

The site, smalldemons.com, welcomes you to the Storyverse, and is an interactive, wiki-style search engine that allows you to search thousands of books for titles, products, places and more. It is a site that no one was clamoring for, yet it is a destination that most book geeks will seek out in order to see the fabric beneath the stories, the ties that connect fictional worlds.

It’s like the Bookworld of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series but real, on the Internet, and with fewer talking cats.

The founder of the site, Valla Vakili, came up with the idea while he was reading a book that was set in Europe. He wondered what books had to say about his vacation destination of choice. "I had a vacation planned to Madrid and Paris, and I changed my Paris leg to go to Marseilles instead," Vakili said. "I spent a week in Marseilles drinking the drinks, eating the food, and roaming the streets described in the book. I came back from that trip convinced that many of the best experiences we can find are within books.”

“And that if we could gather them all up and put them in one place, we could unlock a world of pretty incredible discovery."

I chose to start my trip down the rabbit hole by clicking on Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs. I found that the book had several mentions of Bob Dylan, so I clicked on one of his albums, The Times They Are a Changin’, and I see the passage from the Jobs book. I then learn that this album is mentioned in 10 other books, including Dangerously Funny.

I also learn that Thriller is the most mentioned album and that Elvis is the most mentioned author. If I have plenty of coffee and lots of strength in my clicking fingers, I could spend all night looking at this.

Note that the site continues to grow as more and more authors and books are added, so these figures may change. Check the site out and add some of your favorite authors and spend the time you would use to read or write to explore the Storyverse.




Edited by Braden Becker



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