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Tag Archives: reading

I Geek Books and Authors

A library promotional campaign is underway–Geek the Library.

It celebrates that streak of nerdiness-curiousity-obsession in who-knows-what that many of us harbor. Of course, your public library is the place to indulge this inner Geek.

I had a Geek spell just the other night when I was researching some authors. For a talk I’m preparing, I was searching for quotes by authors with books on the One Book One Lincoln list, and on this year’s American Library Association Notable Books list.

Lo and behold!  Geraldine Brooks, the author of the One Book One Lincoln finalist, “People of the Book,” is MARRIED to Tony Horwitz, who wrote “A Voyage Long and Strange,” one of this year’s Notable Books, and one that I enjoyed quite a bit.

I can’t tell you how VERY pleased I was to learn this.

I’ve noticed that people feel like they know my husband because they’ve heard his voice on their radio, and they believe that they’ve welcomed him into their kitchens, bedrooms, and even bathrooms. I feel a little like that about authors whose books I’ve enjoyed. I have a sense that they’ve visited my home. In my why-yes-I-did-grow-up-in-a-small-Nebraska-town way, I love learning about the connections between those people. Even though I don’t know them.

So what do you geek? Consider yourself invited to indulge YOUR geek at Lincoln City Libraries!

Do I HAVE to finish it?

My Facebook status today states that I don’t feel compelled to finish books that I don’t find compelling.  Many people seem to agree with me on that.

The book that inspired my status is “American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work” by Nick Taylor.  I was reading it because it’s on this year’s American Library Association Notable Books List.

VERY interesting and timely topic.  The first 100 or pages set the tone for what our nation was facing at the start of the Depression, as FDR was preparing to take on the presidency.  The questions raised at the time, such as the role of the federal government, the effectiveness of massive spending, and the ability to know when the economy was turning around, seemed SO applicable to 2009.

My complaint is that Taylor misses the opportunity to make this book really sing by weaving in the stories of actual people whose lives were impacted by the Works Progress Administration.  I want to be upfront in saying that I usually prefer a book where I care about somebody.  I’m generally interested in the history of this time period, but not interested enough to keep reading, without that connection to people.  “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan, the One Book One Lincoln featured title from 2007, weaves stories throughout the book, and I’d say this is what made it readable despite its brutal topic.

So I’m putting this one down.  Often, I set books aside with the idea that I might return later, thinking that maybe when I’m in a different mood, a book will work for me.  I don’t think that’s going to happen here.

I’ll move along to either the final One Book One Lincoln selection that I haven’t at least sampled, “What Is the What?” by Dave Eggers, or perhaps to another of the thick nonfiction titles on the Notables List–maybe “Defying Dixie: the Radical Roots of Civil Rights, 1919 to 1950” by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore.

How okay are you with putting a book down once you’ve started it?  Is what you’re reading now compelling?  Share!

Discuss this….

The five finalists for this year’s One Book One Lincoln program will be announced Monday.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the selection committee, this year chaired by Donna Marvin and Mary Jane Humphreys.

In addition to reading many nominated titles, the committee discusses whether particular books offer enough in “meat” for discussion and consideration for the whole community.

This leads to an ongoing question about book groups–why are some books so great for promoting discussion, when other perfectly good books fall flat? I ran into my friend, Barb, at Leon’s this week, and this was the question on her mind, too.

A few years ago, as part of my Notable Books reading, I read Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air.”  I loved the story, but put it down and didn’t think much more about it. Then, as I ran into more and more people who’d read the book, I couldn’t believe all of the different ways in which people thought about it, and wanted to talk about it.  And then I had plenty to talk about, too!  My theory is that the people in that book inspired opinion after opinion, and their intense interactions during the blizzard on the mountain kept us talking, and talking, and talking.

So…what books have you found to be great at promoting discussion?  Any books that YOU loved that fizzled when it came to kindling a conversation?

Reading Notable Books

Beginning in the early 1990s, I began an annual project of reading most of the books on the American Library Association Notable Books List.

It all started when I was the supervisor of South Branch Library. Lois, a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church, bopped in to return some books.  As we chatted, she mentioned that she organized a “Booklovers” group at the church.  They used to have an annual presentation on the ALA Notable Books list, but the previous presenter no longer lived in Lincoln.  Lois wondered if I’d be willing to do that.

And I did.  I’ve been doing so ever since, even though “Booklovers” is now a thing of the past.

Each year, I read all of most of the 25 or so books on the list, and read at last some of all of them.  Since I do this reading on my own time, I give myself permission not to finish the ones that just don’t grab me.  I do give all books at least two tries.

I encourage people to take on a discipline like this, whether the Pulitzer Prize winners, the National Book Awards winners, the Newbery books for youth, or whatever.  It has certainly gotten me out of my reading groove (which is sometimes a rut) and reading some fabulous books that I’d not know about otherwise.  I’m also reading much more nonfiction as a result, another Good Thing.

As I read each book on the 2009 list, I’ll keep you posted.