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Reviewer Profile – Sarah J.


RevProSarahJu-largeOur featured Reviewer for March 2016 is Sarah J.

Sarah has worked for Lincoln City Libraries for over a dozen years, at both Eiseley Branch and South Branch. Her reviews show up regularly on our Staff Recommendations displays and on the BookGuide web pages. 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 grew up on a farm in a rural small town called Polk,  Nebraska – a town of 330. Sports were the thing people in our community revolved around. I quickly figured out that wasn’t my forte so, when I wasn’t taming feral cats, I could be found up a tree or in the loft of the barn (with the cats) reading. When reading was first introduced to me as something I had to learn, I hated it – very much. The summer of first grade, my Mom got me a ‘Sunshine Reader’ learning pack with some starter books and after some grueling hard work every morning at the dining room table, something clicked! I became a voracious reader! I would beg my parents to take me to our small town library and spent a ton of time checking out books and reading them in the giant padded clawfoot bathtub they had placed in the children’s section. I read everything I could get my hands on. For the record, it was much more fun than dusty old t-ball.

janeeyreHow 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?

Jane Eyre is the book that has fascinated me for at least a decade. I didn’t read it first until I was an English: Literature major in college – and then in an elective British Literature class. I read my own feminist theory into it – which I expounded into papers as well as my senior project for my professors. I like reading other people’s impressions and things they took from the text and re-read it myself while trying to “validate” their theories. My “original” copy from the campus bookstore is full of notes & sticky notes and underlining. I also have a few “clean” copies that I am willing to loan out if I find out there is someone on this Earth that has not yet read it. I HATE the movies by the way…no one has gotten it exactly right yet!

How important are books and reading to you?

Books are very important to me. My bookshelves are down and most books packed away (so my small and mischievous children don’t try to climb them) – but we always have our special books and our library pile. It is important to me that we read to the kids and that they see us reading on our own. Of course, my job revolves around books and I am always adding to my “to read” and “checked out” list every time something interesting comes across the desk. They are a great escape and a wonderful learning tool.

How do you select what books to read next? What formats do you prefer (book, ebook, audiobook, etc.)?

 I read physical books now. I briefly read on an eReader when my son was a newborn until about 3 months old during his middle of the night feeding/cuddling sessions because it kept the light low and was very relaxing. If he needed soothing, I would sometimes read aloud to him from my own books. I’m pretty sure he understood what I was saying. 🙂 I usually keep a list of things on Goodreads for things that I see come across the desk that I want but have followed countless blogs for years and many of those authors have started churning out books! The best of both worlds!

What do you enjoy about writing book reviews/recommendations?

I just like to let people know that there are some great books out there with potential. As I have gotten a decade older my reviews went from chic lit to humorous fiction to almost all memoirs and biographies now (with an few favorite fiction authors thrown in). I find I really like to “take away” from a book something (like a life lesson) that someone else has already learned or an experience they have already been through. Sometimes, it is a surprise to find myself in a similar situation and am grateful to have a little knowledge to help me along a bumpy road!

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 working at LCL straight out of college in January 2002 about a month before the opening of the “brand new” Loren Corey Eiseley Branch Library. I still remember just opening boxes and boxes of brand new books and how we worked to fill all those empty shelves and bring it to life! I worked there for about three years and then transferred to South Branch where I have been for about eleven-or-so odd years since. I love meeting families and regulars and watching them grow up year-by-year and really getting to know the patrons on a first name basis.

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?

In first grade, I worked hard to fill my Book-It badge with stars. It wasn’t for the personal pizza, it was for our entire class (small school – about 10 of us) to get to have a party at Pizza Hut and celebrate with (I’m aging myself) a “Bigfoot” pizza! I got my stars, read extra books, and wound up sick on the day of my party. I struggled valiantly to convince my parents that I was not ill, but they promised to take me. They followed through a few weeks later and I went and got my dinky pizza and mini-basketball (no Bigfoot in sight) but found it hard to swallow that night. A day or so later I found out I had strep throat! The Book-It program became the bane of my existence. Now, I accompany my daughter as she orders her personal pan (“no sauce”) and pray she doesn’t fall ill on a pizza party day.

goodreads.Do you have a favorite literary-related website you like to visit or that you’d like to recommend?

I utilize Goodreads on at least an every-other-day basis to track my reading progress and keep track of those awesome titles that keep coming across the desk.

and finally…

tothelighthouseIf there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:

I hate to sound like a broken record, but it would have to be Charlotte Bronte. Or try any of the Bronte sisters, or Virginia Woolf, Plath maybe, don’t forget Atwood, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kate Chopin – I will stop now but there are so many great things out there….and those are just classics – we haven’t hit the contemporary!

Read Sarah J.’s Reviews

Posted to the BookGuide pages in March 2016