Our new featured Reviewer for November 2019 is Carrie K.
Carrie has worked for Lincoln City Libraries since the Spring of 2019, at the downtown Bennett Martin Public Library. Reading and books have long been an important part of her life, as she indicates in her answers to our following profile questions:
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 grew up on a farm in southeast Nebraska, the youngest of four children. I can’t remember ever not knowing how to read — I was always surrounded by books and people who loved them. I honestly credit my sister with teaching me to read. My mom was probably too busy chasing my brothers! That said, I know she also loved to read because she made sure we had plenty of books in the house. I have fond memories of going down the road to visit with a special Great Aunt. While she and my mother visited, my brother and I would sprawl on our tummies and elbows, doing our best to get through as much of our Reader’s Digest Condensed books as we could before it was time to go home. Another fond memory was when we were a little older, my sister would take us to A Page In Time to buy paperbacks by the grocery bag full.
My favorite reading material as a child were anthologies of fairy tales from different countries and the whole Childcraft library but especially the Make and Do volume. I also loved pretty much anything put out by Yearling, especially stories like Dancing Shoes and Ballet Shoes (by Noel Streatfeild), A Secret Garden and A Little Princess (by Frances Hodgson Burnett.) It wasn’t long though before I started going down my rabbit holes of reading everything by a certain author. As I was growing up, I devoured cover to cover the likes of Louisa May Alcott, the Bronte sisters, Mark Twain, John Steinbeck, Willa Cather, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and many more. (I keep thinking of more, such as the Summer of James Baldwin, WEB DuBois, and Richard Wright when I was 14?)
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?
As I mentioned in the previous answer, I’ve read a lot of things but occasionally a book will spark an insight that sticks with me — for example, when I read Life of Pi it dawned on me that the grief I’d been carrying after my mother’s death was like the tiger in his boat. It was there, under the blanket, always threatening to get him — later, he built a raft for the tiger which was strung along with a rope. My grief was like that tiger, attached to me, always with me, and while I couldn’t will it away, and didn’t even necessarily want to, I needed to find a way to survive alongside it.
I love books for this, for their insight and their companionship. When I went through a long period of insomnia, I started reading the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith. Precious and Grace came to my rescue and kept me company for weeks.
How important are books and reading to you, currently?
Books are a very big part of my life. As objects to collect, as doorways to new worlds, and guides to the mental geography of our world and inspiration on how to do and make things. Amongst my treasures are a first edition of A Lost Lady by Willa Cather and A Piece of Red Paper, a craft book in a series for Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, autographed by Mister Rogers himself. I have collections of books about the history of world textiles, history of fashion, history of Sesame Street, vintage editions of A Child’s Garden of Verses with different illustrators, folk art from around the world, books by and about Jane Goodall. And so many many more.
I also spend a lot of my reading time nose-deep in academic journals pondering the process of tutoring adults who are learning to read, both English-first-language and English-as-an-additional-language learners. I am especially dedicated to helping adults. And I’d be crazy happy to go on about that to anyone who might be interested.
How do you select what books to read next? What formats do you prefer (book, ebook, audiobook, etc.)?
I’m kind of a random reader. I find a book I like, and let it drag me down a path. A search for biographies written as journals led to the fictional On the Bright Side: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old, led to The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, led to Carrying Albert Home, my latest favorite book. Meanwhile, Where We Find Ourselves, the book of Hugh Mangum portraits, crossed my desk when I was researching ghost stories for Halloween — that led me back to a long standing interest in Civil Rights and the history of the migration of African Americans to cities in the North, which brought me to reading Looking for Lorraine, about Lorraine Hansberry, the author of A Raisin in the Sun. And then meanwhile, a library friend suggested the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger — a YA Steampunk espionage fantasy series which is gloriously fun to read. If you tell me about a book you enjoy, it’s probably only a matter of time before I want to read it too.
What do you enjoy about writing book reviews/recommendations?
Writing a review gives me an opportunity to challenge my old brain and try to remember the vocabulary I used to use with ease back in the day, but the main reason is so many times, there’s a book that’s on my mind so much that I just want to make sure that everyone knows about it!
What is your history with the Lincoln City Libraries – how long have you been a customer, and how long have you worked for LCL? Which locations?
I started coming to Bennett Martin Public Library when I came to Lincoln for college. Our family continued to be patrons at Lincoln City Libraries even after we moved out of county. Thirty years and several moves later, we are still fans of the Lincoln City Libraries. I’m in my first year of working at Bennett Martin (starting in 2019), and I have to admit that nearly every day I have a moment of amazement, thinking, “I work here!”
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?
When I was an exchange student in Costa Rica, when I was homesick, I would go the University library and hunker down in their English language section. It was the first time I read Tolkien and really got it.
Do you have a favorite literary-related website you like to visit or that you’d like to recommend?
No. I have tried to keep a list on LibraryThing of the books I’ve read, but the discipline needed to keep up with documenting is just not my strong suit. . . . although I do enjoy the magic of scanning the ISBN and having the book appear on my “shelf.”
Do you use LibraryThing or GoodReads or any other personal library cataloging software to track your reading and/or share it in social media?
I really have tried at various times to keep of a log of my reading, but I find that I get too busy reading to keep up with the documentation of individual books. The closest I come is having opted in to the list of check outs that can be accessed through my Lincoln City Library account, which I do refer to on occasion to remind myself of titles/authors.
If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:
Today? Homer Hickam. Please see my review about Carrying Albert Home, read the book, and come talk to me! I want to know what you think!
As Albert would say, “yeah, yeah, yeah!”
Booklists from this Reviewer:
The Art of Collage & Hinged Memories (June 2020)
Novels in Verse (February 2021)
What Can You Believe? (February 2022)
Videos this Reviewer participated in:
Kids Summer Reading Program 2020 – Crafternoon: All About Collage (June 2020)
Posted to the BookGuide pages in November 2019 | Last updated in February 2022