readers advisory


This blog isn’t dead, it’s sleeping. Or it has Seasonal Affective Disorder, or is consumed by learning French, or is training for a marathon. In the case of our Leets, she’s a mother to a brand new baby boy, and we’re so proud.

Anyway, in this slow season, I am inclined to draw on time-tested pastimes, namely, leisure reading. Kristy prolifically book-blogs all year-round, but for me the fire comes and goes. I never understand the things about beach reading, because for me in the summer, it’s getting tan, drinking beer and chasing boys, but in the winter, its books, books, books. One of the gestures I wish I had made more as a librarian is trying to engage my colleagues with questions about what they were reading. I mean, I don’t really understand the modern sci-fi/fantasy genre, aside from Octavia Butler, but a lot of librarians love it, and I wish I had gotten someone to passionately explain it to me. Unbashful book-talking is one of the things they teach you in YA and kid lit classes, but it seems like such an innate skill to me, and one that’s so socially conditional. Why do you think Nancy Pearl is so beloved? Like, you can talk to your friends for hours about sneakers, Stevie Nicks, Willa Cather, Herzog movies, and what you want to eat for brunch,  but can you talk to a stranger, on demand about those things?

So, fellow librarians, how do you book-talk sucessfully? And more importantly, what are you reading now? I’m rereading Seduction and Betrayal in memoriam of Elizabeth Hardwick, and am slowly working through Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Summer Will Show. I’ve run through John Cheever’s stories and am halfway through a copy of Falconer  I found on the street in Park Slope a month ago. And last, but not least, have spent the past few nights buried in Ceruzzi’s A History of Modern Computing.


6 Responses to readers advisory

  1. anarchivist says:

    Right now, I’m wading my way through Etienne Wenger’s Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Next up (as soon as my hold arrives at my branch library) is Tracy Kidder’s The Soul of a New Machine. I’ve been picking up and putting down Tom Reiss’s The Orientalist. I really need to dig into some fiction.

  2. Mimi says:

    I read “Soul of a New Machine” this summer and loved it. (And then I realized Jessamyn’s dad is Tom West!) When I read studies of technology, especially of computing, I get kind of mad because I’m like, “How come no one has ever told me about this?! It’s so cool!”

  3. kristy says:

    I’m about halfway through Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex, which I’m really enjoying. I’m also deep into an issue of Harper’s and an issue of The Oxford American, two of my favorite magazines of all.

    I also find it hard to book-talk, and tend to fall back on cliches and vague overviews. And I find the biggest challenge is not giving away too much of the plot for books that I really liked.

    You are so right about winter reading… I’m going to do more of it right now.

  4. alison says:

    I just finished reading Divisadero by Ondaatje. I used to be a youth librarian and those books are much easier to talk about. How would i booktalk Divisadero? It’s the story of a father and his 2 daughters and the boy he has been raising after the boy’s family was murdered. They live isolated lives on a farm in the California hills. As the 3 children grow older a violent event changes the dynamics between them and the father. We then follow each of the characters to see how their lives have changed after this event. See? It’s so much harder to booktalk an adult book – especially one where character development supersedes plot.

  5. Kerri says:

    I’m currently reading The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud. Ive been halfway through for a while now, but I have no desire whatsoever to finish it. I will eventually because I’m stubborn. I feel it can be really hard to book talk an adult book, because sometimes after I finish a book I totally blank on what I just read if it wasn’t anything remarkable. Thank God for I try to write as much down as possible about the book and then when a patron comes up to me to ask what it was about I have a little “cheat sheet” to help me remember.

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