Our featured Reviewer for October 2006 was Peter J., the webmaster for the Lincoln City Libraries web site, and a member of the Virtual Services Department at the downtown Bennett Martin Public Library. Peter has worked for the library in a number of different capacities, starting as a shelver in the 1970s, and has been a regular contributor to the Staff Recommendations displays in the library and on the BookGuide site. His first online review appeared on our site in April 2004. Reading for pleasure has long been a part of his life, as he indicates in his responses 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, how long you've been with the libraries, etc.?
"I grew up in Lincoln, except that when I was in 2nd through 4th grades, my family lived in Frankfurt, Germany. Since I was reading well before kindergarten, I don't really remember "learning" to read; it was just something I picked up along with other language skills, no doubt as a result of being read to. I remember my father reading the newspaper comics to me, and my oldest sister reading The Wizard of Oz. My mother was a regular library patron, and would usually bring home some books for me along with her own stack of mysteries. I always had a book for personal reading with me for the occasional moments of free time at school - often two books, one fiction and one non-fiction.
How long have you been an active reader, and were there any particular books or authors or other people that "made you a reader"? Has there been any book or author that "changed your life" or strongly influenced you?
Various books that were read aloud by my teachers in grade school made a big impression on me: The Borrowers, The Hobbit, and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe come to mind. My teen years were dominated by science fiction and fantasy books; I particularly enjoyed Tolkien, Larry Niven, and Frank Herbert for the vast imaginary worlds that they created.
How important are books and reading to you?
I can't imagine not reading for pleasure. While I no longer have the time to read for hours on end as I used to, I still try to ensure that I always have a book available for personal reading at all times, and I'm pleased to see my own children developing a similar love for books. The physical book format is also important to me - I don't find audiobooks appealing, since I frequently flip back to check earlier passages while reading.
How do you select what book to read next?
As an adult I've turned more to "classic" literature, especially 19th-century English authors such as Austen, Dickens, Eliot, and Trollope. But I also enjoy many young people's books, especially if there's something quirky or unusual about them (the "Mennyms" series by Sylvia Waugh, for example), and certain kinds of non-fiction. And of course, sometimes a book I see at the library will just happen to capture my attention. Choosing what to read next with so many options can be a challenge. The only "rule" I follow is to try to read something that is different from other things I've read recently. Since 1990, I've kept a log of all the books I read, so I can look back to see what sort of book I haven't read in a while, which helps me to get a variety of different kinds of material.
Wnat do you enjoy about writing book reviews or recommendations?
It's nice to let other readers know about books they might otherwise overlook.
If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:
Walter Wangerin, Jr. I think he's been unjustly neglected (after his initial success with The Book of the Dun Cow) by being categorized as an "inspirational" writer, when his appeal should be much broader than that. His use of language is unique and remarkable.
Podcasts that Peter participated in:
'Casting About, Program 9 [July 2008]
'Casting About, Program 33 [February 2009]
Posted to the BookGuide site in October 2006 -- Last Updated May 2008