This is What a Librarian Looks Like – Kyle Cassidy (2017)

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When I found this title on the New Releases shelf at our local library, I immediately picked it up as a great fit for me to peruse. It’s a smallish coffee table book with color photographic portraits of librarians from all over the country, taken when the photographer visited a couple of the ALA annual conferences, and although it seems a little lightweight in scope, this was a fun read. A book about people who love books and information – what’s not to like?

What’s not to like is that this book was full of spelling errors and typos which, considering that the topic is literacy and how to access information, was quite ironic when you think about it. (In fact, one of the misspelled words was actually “literacy”…Sigh.)

I can understand one or two errors. That can happen, but page after page of poor writing started to wear on my writer’s soul after a while. All of the mistakes could (and should) have been caught in a careful pre-printing proof, and this was a shame as I loved the book’s concept. Who wouldn’t want to learn more about librarians? 🙂 In the end, the errors ended up being rather distracting for me.

The author is primarily a professional photographer, so the actual photos were pretty good for the most part, although (and I promise I’m not being too picky here) if you are a prof photographer, there’s really very little excuse for some of the actual portraits that were included being out of focus (wrt depth of field). (Or – even more perplexing: why choose them to be in the book in the first place?)

Come on, buddy. You’re not trying to take photos of a herd of cheetahs running at top speed across the savannah in the middle of the night. These photo subjects are folks who probably agreed to have the photo taken between conference sessions in a hotel lobby with  a set of lights and a background, and most of the portrait subjects are either sitting down or standing still. It’s not rocket science, my friend. Why would you include photos that are not quite in focus in a book that revolves around your photographs? (And the depth of field issues are not for an arty creative reason. Or not that I could see.)

Additionally, the book concept was lovely, but was again weakened by the fact that underneath each photo of the various librarians was a short sentence about why libraries are important to the subject, and tbh, after the 23rd person underlining how important libraries are to the community in similar fashion, it was a little tedious.

What kept me going through the pages, though, was looking at the photos of the librarians from across the country, most of whom, both men and women, have a very creative individual fashion sense (which was just lovely). There were very few of the matching cardigan twin set type with pearls, and going by the photos, librarians seem to be a great group with a fun attitude to life.

(And, since it was a book about wonderful librarians, there was naturally a portrait of Nancy Pearl. 🙂 )

So, in the end, although I loved the book’s concept, I am pretty grateful that I used the library for this read. (Thank you, library!)

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FOL Book Sale – Autumn 2017 Update: Nice Haul!

Pile of new titles from the library sale.It was the annual book sale at the local library over the weekend, and, in the spirit of giving and community support, I had to go. (Maybe it was the books… You know how it is… )

I found some good titles, and without much more ado, here are the books:

  • Some Nerve – Patty Chang Anker (NF)
  • The Kingdom by the Sea – Paul Theroux (travel UK)
  • I’m Down – Mishna Wolf (autobio) (NF)
  • The Best American Short Stories 1997 – Annie Proulx (ed.) (F)
  • The Best American Travel Writing 2001 – Paul Theroux (ed.) (NF)
  • Bad Dirt: Wyoming Stories – Annie Proulx (2004) (F)
  • The Party that Lasted 100 Days: The Late Victorian Season – Hilary Evans, Mary Evans (1976) (NF)

Sign of arrow pointing to the library sale.What to choose, what to choose….

I ended up having to sort out my book shelves to make space for the new additions, and, in the process, giving back two big bags of books to the FOL to share the love. (Pats myself on the back for such a noble achievement.)

I decided that if I haven’t read the book (or even pulled it off the shelf) in the last few years, obvs I’m not that interested in reading it, so back to the FOL it goes, which, for some of them, was where I picked them up last time. The endless cycle of life. 🙂

In the meantime, I’m reading The Lizard Cage (Karen Connelly), a really good novel about a political prisoner in confinement in Burma….

May 2017 Reading Review

So May has come and gone, and we’re at the halfway point to the year. Thought I’d do a round-up post to review last month’s read, and see where we are and what we’ve been up to. (Note the royal “we”.)

The reads for May included:

So to the numbers:

Total number of books read in January: 4

Total number of pages read: 1,462 pages (av. 365).

Fiction/Non-Fiction: 2 fiction / 2 non-fiction.

Diversity: 2 POC. 2 books by women.

Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): 3 library books, 1 owned book and 0 e-books.

Plans for June: I’m planning not to plan. [Hollow laugh. We’ll see how that goes…!] 🙂

Library Haul – It’s good to have choices…

library_haul_March2017

So, as tends to happen on the weekend, I visited the library and ended up leaving with quite the stack. I’m not sure if I will actually get to all of these, but it’s fun to have the choices..

Top to bottom in above image:

        • This Side of Paradise – Scott Fitzgerald 1920 (F)
        • The Crofter and the Laird: Life on an Hebridean Island – John McPhee 1969 (NF)
        • The Endless Steppe – Esther Hautzig 1968 (NF)
        • Bedknob and Broomstick – Mary Norton 1943 (F)
        • Roads: Driving America’s Great Highways – Larry McMurtry 2000 (NF travel)
        • Dreams from My Father – Barack Obama 1995 (NF – autobiography)
        • As Texas Goes: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda – Gail Collins (2012) (NF – political)
        • Eyewitness Books: Sports – Tim Hammond 1988 (NF)
        • Eyewitness Books: Building – Philip Wilkinson 1995 (NF)
        • Eyewitness Books: Castle – Christopher Gravett 1994 (NF)

I was interested to see that the U.S. title for the kidlit book, Bedknob and Broomstick was singular. In my mind and growing up in England, I had always heard it as plural (i.e. Bedknobs and Broomsticks), but that could easily have been a faulty memory on my part. I’m going to read this as part of my ongoing Century of Books project – it fills out 1947 rather nicely.

I am deep into Obama’s autobiography. I miss that guy…

Library Haul Update

I seem to have a little more time with job projects now that I’ve got some more experience under my belt, and as I love going to the library and looking at the shelves, I did just that on Saturday. I don’t know if I’m going to have all the time to read these titles, but I had fun choosing them. No matter – it’s the fun that counts in this case!

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Top to bottom:

  • The Witness to Prosecution – Agatha Christie (F mystery)
  • The Lake of Darkness – Ruth Rendell (F mystery)
  • Here is Where: Discovering America’s Forgotten History – Andrew Carroll (NF travel)
  • Our Hearts Young and Gay – Cornelia Otis Skinner (F) – giant large print as that’s all the library had… at least I won’t need my reading glasses!
  • The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison (NF personal essays)
  • MaddAdam – Margaret Atwood (F – speculative)
  • Chinatown: A Portrait of an Unseen Society – Gwen Kinkead (NF-travel/sociological)

Any suggestions to start with?

And I’ve just finished a couple of crackin’ good novels – reviews to come!

Aaah. It’s good to be a reader.

Fridays are more fun with this…

john-lydon

(John Lydon was a key figure in the punk movement. Also known as Johnny Rotten of the incomparable Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd in a later time, he was a staple of my teen years in that he (and the band) were an influence on almost everything at that time in musical history.

I didn’t really appreciate his influence until later in the day, but looking back – he was a genius in some ways and rocked the music world boat in an enormous way that continues to this day.)
 

Reading, Reading, Reading….

readathon

I engaged in my first ever Readathon the other day. I had seen a sign at the library recently and had been intrigued — intrigued enough to sign up for the event, and so that is where I spent most of Saturday afternoon – at what our library very sweetly called a “reading party”.

From 1p-4p, there we were (rather a small group) at the library in a quiet community room just reading away (silently) and being provided with lavish snacks and drinks. This event was part of National Readathon Day (which was new to me), and we were asked to tweet every now and then and just # tag it so that our event could be counted in the national figures. What fun. (Seriously.)

I don’t know why, but I really enjoyed this community of silent reading. In the past, I had always been puzzled by those who do 24-hour readathons in the blogging world, but now I understand that idea and although it would be unlikely for me to be able block off 24 solid hours, I do know that I could block off a significant part of the day to dedicate to reading. I just need to schedule a day and time, and bingo — off to my own personal Readathon. It’s a fabulous idea, and if you ever get the chance to participate in a community-based one, jump at the opportunity. It’s a very perfect reading set-up (or at least mine was!).

So – who wants to come to a reading party?

(Thanks to the City of Lubbock Public Libraries for hosting.)

Little Free Library in Town… Or Not.

A churchified Little Free Library. Close, but not quite there.

A churchified Little Free Library. Close, but not quite there.

Having read about the Little Free Library project (see here for more details), I was all excited to spot one downtown the other day. AND it looked empty and primed for donations…

So I collected a varied selection of titles of books from my shelves, put them in a bag in the back of my car for next time I was that way, and looked forward to that moment of contributing to this great community-focused project.

And then I happened to drive by it on Sunday, and found that it wasn’t actually a Little Free Library. (I had understood LFLs to be community-driven, a place where you pick up and donate titles for others to enjoy.) It was not to be…

As I walked up to it, I saw that the little box was actually shaped like a church with a spire etc. That didn’t bode well, but I investigated further. On the little window was a sign that read: “Please feel free to take one. Please – no donations accepted.”

Hmmmmm.

And then I looked more closely at the surroundings and finally saw that there was a religious mission type organization there just a few doors up. Darn it. It was just a method of passing their message, it seems, although they had a sign that said “Little Free Library” which is false advertising to me in some ways.

I was so disappointed. I ended up taking my books to the FoL book site after that, but it was with a heavy heart as I had been thrilled that our town was taking part in this. It was, but not in the usual way.

Positive side: People in Texas have heard of this project at least and implemented a version of it. Positive side: People are hoping other people will read. That’s two good things at least.