THE BLOG
11/29/2012 01:47 pm ET Updated Jan 29, 2013

The Library of Your Life

About the worst thing a frequent traveler and obsessive reader can do is board a plane without a book. Over the years I've devised my own system for making sure this never happens, with complicated rules for balancing short and long works, serious or easy reads, books I want to start or books I'm looking to finish. Because flying and reading are completely tied together for me, and I can't think of doing one without the other.

There was a time in the early 2000s though, when I had a very simple system. And the story behind that is the story behind Collections, a new feature on Small Demons.

I was boarding a plane in Los Angeles, where I worked for Yahoo!, and on my way to our New York office. With nothing to read. I called a friend of mine who'd just recommended I check out Peter Robinson and Michael Connelly, and had raved about one book in particular. For the life of me I couldn't remember the name of the book, beyond a sound: "Po."

Turns out it was Michael Connelly's The Poet, which I bought at LAX, opened as we took off and finished by the time we landed in NY.

I was hooked. From that point on, on every trip from LAX to JFK and back, I'd start and finish a new book by Connelly. That was my system. Along the way I came to know Harry Bosch, Micky Haller, Terry McCaleb and Jack McEvoy, and became sort of crazy into Rachel Walling.

When I think of Michael Connelly, I think as much of the world of his characters as I do my experience of reading the books. I can't separate Harry Bosch from that LAX-JFK loop, from guessing how fast I could finish the last pages as the American Airlines plane I was inevitably flying on was landing, from my years at Yahoo!. Together with Harry Bosch's Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Hong Kong, there's the where and how I entered his world. At 30,000 feet.

And that's a large part of what Collections is about. On Small Demons you'll find a page for just about all of Michael Connelly's books (and thousands of other authors, too). And on those pages you'll find the details of that book's world--things like Parker Center and the LAPD, or the Maglite that always accompanies the excavation of a body, Musso & Frank's or Phillipe's for food and drink, Miles Davis and more. With Collections, you can add any of those details to a group that captures everything Connelly in one place. But if you're like me, "everything" about you and your favorite authors also includes how you relate to them. So you can add that too. Places like Los Angeles and John F. Kennedy International Airports. Or Yahoo!. Or even American Airlines -- because I've almost never read a Connelly novel anywhere else.

It's always been Coast to Coast with Michael Connelly for me, and when I think of Harry Bosch and Micky Haller, I want to remember where and how I first met them.

We think this is how it is for most people and the books that matter to us. That we always read a book in a certain place, and often can't think of that book separate from it. That we've visited places from books we've read, and think of them interchangeably too. That there are certain songs that are inseparable from the authors and characters who introduced us to them. That our guilty pleasure for book club nights is the food and drink we share with friends, pulled from the food and drink of the book. That in the end, a Collection of books is more than a list of works by our favorite authors, it's all the ways we relate to a book and the story inside it. And so at Small Demons we've created a place for book lovers to start collecting and sharing all those different ways we relate to books.

We call it Collections, and you can try it for yourself anytime at smalldemons.com.

Subscribe to the Culture Shift email.
Get your weekly dose of books, film and culture.