Our featured Reviewer for October 2008 is Rayma S. Rayma has worked for Lincoln City Libraries for many years, including a lengthy stint in the former Reference Department at the Bennett Martin Public Library downtown. She is currently the Branch Supervisor at the South Branch Library. Her reviews show up with some regularity on our Staff Recommendations displays and on the BookGuide web site. Reading has long been a part of her life, as she indicates in her answers to our questions about books and reading:
Would you care to share any personal info with our readers — such as where you grew up, what you read as a child, etc.?
I was born and raised in Lincoln, NE. I can’t remember when I wasn’t a reader. I more or less taught myself because my grade school insisted on keeping everyone in very easy readers. I forged ahead and soon my teachers didn’t know what to do with me because I could read better than the other kids. My first favorite books were a kid’s series about a character named Cowboy Sam. He wore bright yellow chaps, rode horses, and had marvelous cowboy adventures.
How long have you been an active reader, and were there any particular books or authors or other people that “made you a reader”?
I dearly loved Nancy Drew books because she was smart, fearless, and always figured out the crime. I guess my love of mysteries comes from that. I also loved books by Louisa May Alcott. I was drawn to the independent, rebellious Jo and her fun loving sisters. The Oz books were another favorite. I especially liked the ones where Princess Ozma was a featured character. The Bobbsey twins were also among my favorite characters.
How important are books and reading to you?
Currently, I read about a book a week. It’s not unusal for me to have one book at work, one at home, and one in the car. You never know when you might need to entertain yourself. I love mysteries-the bloodier the better :-). Biographies, especially of old time movie stars or entertainers, are a favorite choice of mine as well as anything historic. I love to read about the Tudor period of English history or any good historical non-fiction work. And of course, absolutely anything about genealogy peaks my interest. Date of publication is no detriment to me. I’ve read some really old titles lately that I think have been unjustly neglected.
How do you select what books to read next?
I select my reading material from reviews. I read several book review magazines a week and I like the book review sections of People and Time magazines. I have also come to rely heavily on our own BookGuide and all the newsletters, lists, reviews,. etc that it provides. Word of mouth is also important. I’m currently reading two books recommended by my customers here at South branch.
What do you enjoy about writing book recommendations?
I like to talk about books I’ve read and I tend to be kind of opinionated, which those who know me can attest to. Staff Recommendations that I make are a good way to get the word out beyond the parameters of my branch. Having to write about them makes me focus on why the book is good and why it would appeal to certain readers.
Are there any interesting book- or reading-related stories or bits of trivia in your past that you’d like to share with our readers?
One of my fondest childhood memories was being allowed to walk by myself to the downtown library which stood where Bennet Martin is now. The old Carnegie library seemed beautiful and mysterious to me and the kids’ area had all kinds of little nooks and crannies where you could curl up and read to your heart’s content. I still have my old summer reading certificates which have to be over 50 years old by now. ( Can I possibly be that Old? ) I was the “flashlight under the covers kid” of our family. I get antsy and out of sorts if I don’t have enough reading time. I’m also a dedicated book buyer and have quite the library of my own.
If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:
Being asked to pick a favorite author is like being asked to pick a favorite child. If I had to choose today, I think I would select James Lee Burke. I have never read an author who can bring you into the sense of a place like he can. In his latest title, Swan Peak, some of his descriptions of his natural surroundings took my breath away. I re-read several because they were so amazing. He also has a unique way of describing his characters and why they think and do the things they do.
Booklists from Book Talks presented by Rayma:
Civil War Mysteries (September 2004)
Genealogical Mysteries (May 2005)
Native American Detectives (April 2006)
Murder by Gaslight: Victorian Mysteries (August 2007)
Cowboys, School Marms and a Good Horse (November 2007)
Books About the 1930s (May 2008)
Oh, Horrors!…Gothic Novels (November 2008)
Mysteries Set in Latin America (April 2011)