Our featured Reviewer for September 2013 was Wyatt P., of the Gere Branch Library. In April 2020, he took advantage of the opportunity to update his responses to our profile questions.
Although he’s only been a paid employee of the libraries for a year (as of 2013), Wyatt has a much longer history with the Gere Branch Library, as you’ll see from his comments below. His reviews first appeared on our Customer Reviews page(s), and since April 2013, his reviews have been showing up regularly on the Staff Recommendations pages of the BookGuide web site, and on the Staff Recommendations display at Bennett Martin Public Library. Meet Wyatt P., in his 2020 updated answers to our 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, how long you’ve been with the libraries, etc.?
I was born and raised in Lincoln, NE and have been thrilled to continue to live in my home city. As a child I loved mythology and aspired to be an Egyptologist when I grew up. There is just something about exploring and learning about different cultures that is exciting to me. In addition to reading collections of myths I always loved fantasy and adventure stories. Some of my favorites were The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and fantastically illustrated by Chris Riddell, which is a steampunk and fantasy adventure series, the series of Alex Rider spy novels by Anthony Horowitz, and the young adult dark fantasy series The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney
How long have you been an active reader, and were there any particular books or authors or other people that “made you a reader”?
Stories have always been important to me, but as a young child I struggled with reading. There was just something about the phonics books with their simplistic stories which just never made me want to be a reader. It wasn’t until third or fourth grade that I connected that history is just stories and I started to read more fictional works with strong historical themes, like the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ben & Me by Robert Lawson, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. In thinking of the authors that make me a reader today, I find again that those who call upon classic storytelling really are some of my favorites. Kelly Link, Stephen King, and Terry Pratchett are all some of my favorites. I know that I am not the only library worker who considers Neil Gaiman to be their patron saint.
How important are books and reading to you, currently?
I think that books and reading are critical. For me I have found that with technology we can always be going and going and rarely do we allow ourselves to just let go. I have a hard time with meditation because my brain always wants to be thinking about the next thing that needs to be accomplished, but with reading I am able to let that go, even for just a little while. I first heard Lincoln City Libraries Director Pat Leach talk about the joys of slow reading, which I love and have borrowed as the name for what I consider to be that quite time in which you can meditate in the words and art of another.
How do you select what books to read next?
Between the massive stack of library books I always end up having at home (even when I try not to, I can’t seem to help myself when they come in through the bookdrop), my expanding personal collection, and my Kindle, I am never at a loss for what to read next. Typically, I end up with two or three books going at once – one on my Kindle that I take with me and one paper that lives at home (which are always a different genre). Recommendations from library staff and customers generally get things moved to the top of the list and I often rely on the Staff Recommendations section of the Lincoln City Libraries’ BookGuide resource pages. I also consult Goodreads and Book Riot regularly.
What do you enjoy about writing book recommendations?
What I enjoy most about writing reviews and making recommendations is helping to match people with their next great experience. Writing reviews is often about explaining what the book is about and sharing my personal experience, while making recommendations and presenting BooksTalks are more of a participatory experience where there is more back and forth which serves to “match” the item to the perso.
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 grew up going to the Charles H. Gere Branch with my family as a kid. As a teen I started as a Summer Reading volunteer and then served as a Teen Advisory Board member. I was later hired as a Library Aide and served as a Summer Temporary Professional Worker for several years. I became a Library Service Associate in 2018 and August 2020 will mark eight years of working for Lincoln City Libraries. I’ve been fortunate to have worked at the Gere, South, and Walt Branches, and currently call Gere home.
Do you have a favorite literary-related website you like to visit or that you’d like to recommend?
Book Riot is a great website for book recommendations, articles, and deals. I also use Goodreads and Fantastic Fiction regularly for information about authors and series. Although tailored to librarians and book sellers, Edelweiss+ is another valuable resource as publishers post their catalogs for easy browsing with publishing information.
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?
Probably my best reading-related story is that I have met Nebraskan author Rainbow Rowell. She was doing a book signing in Lincoln and I had the opportunity to share that I had enjoyed her soon to be released book Fangirl. After she asked where I had gotten a copy (I had received an advanced review copy) she thanked me and said that she hadn’t heard many things about it yet from people who weren’t family or her editor.
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 use Goodreads for recommendations and to track what is popular, but find that I just don’t enjoy tracking my own reading that closely. I am glad that other people find value in it, but I have found that it just isn’t for me.
If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:
Tim Gautreaux. I found his most recent story collection Signals: New and Selected Stories on the new books shelf at Gere and was immediately taken with Gautreaux’s prose. The twelve stories in this collection, the majority of which are set in the South, explore themes of loss, struggle, and community all to showcase the beauty and pain of the human experience. Truly, I have never experienced stories that left me feeling more connected and emotionally aware. Gautreaux’s novels are also wonderful, but this is the book I would recommend starting with.
Booklists from Book Talks presented by Wyatt:
Fiction With a Twist (October 2013)
The Alex Awards – 2015 (December 2015, with Mindy P.)
The Alex Awards Winners – 2021 (September 2021, with Aubrey S.)
Once Upon a Crime: Don’t Be Yourself: Identity Crimes (November 2021)
Posted to the BookGuide site in September 2013 sdc | Last updated in November 2021 sdc