Tag Archives: libraries

“Pearls” of Wisdom

I collect books. I don’t mean in the sense of stalking garage sales or funky antique stores in search of rare tomes, though I certainly have and appreciate my signed first editions. I’m talking about collecting books whose titles have randomly caught my eye, reviews that have piqued my interest, or ones that friends have recommended. I have amassed a list — and pile — of books that will keep me occupied for a very long time.

But here’s the problem, and I’m guessing I’m not alone: I anxiously await the moment I can dig into a new book that I’vebook lust been coveting only to discover that I don’t really like it. The “digging in” becomes a chore. Thankfully, I discovered Nancy Pearl, librarian guru, whose 2003 book, Book Lust: Recommended Reading For Every Mood, Moment, And Reason gives permission for us to stop torturing ourselves!

Unlike the mantra we probably all heard—clean your plate, there are children starving in Africa—Nancy offers a formula for reading that relieves me of my guilt. As she explains in the book’s introduction, her “rule of 50” says that those under fifty-years-old need to read 50 pages of a book before calling it quits. Those over 50—who, she gently reminds us, have less time to squander—need only read the number of pages that is their age subtracted from 100.


photo courtesy of Rebecca Wilson, Dec. 2011


She also admits, and I wholeheartedly agree, that while we might not be able to slog through a book now (and can quit according to her formula), we might actually love the book at another time when we are in a different frame of mind. Case in point: I struggled with Cormac McCarthy’s The Road… the first time … and had to put it away. Six months later, I loved it.

With that, I am formally putting a few books on notice. I don’t want to identify them—to avoid hurting “their” feelings, or more importantly, influence anyone who might be swayed by my inability to lovingly devour a book that was rated 5 stars on Amazon or Goodreads. Being the optimist, however, I am hopeful that I will eventually embrace them. And if not, there’s a mountain of reading material to choose from waiting patiently by my bed, on my bookshelf, in the closet …


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Books on the Brain

Maybe a Kindle isn’t such a bad idea.book head

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Unlikely Superheroes

We have become accustomed to ordering our books from Amazon, downloading audio versions from iTunes, or buying our reading material at local brick ‘n mortars, be it a little indie shop-around-the-corner or a big box Costco. We look for a bargain, but still, we pay.

The library, which offers all of the above for free, isn’t as popular, like the last kid picked for dodge ball.

But libraries are no longer just places where out-of-print books, yesterday’s newspapers, party-mix CDs (ah … cassettes), and every National Geographic magazine from its first publication in 1888 live happily ever after. Gone are microfiche readers and card catalogs, and even “library voices.”

If you haven’t been lately, libraries now have state-of-the art technology, wireless access, and online “reservations” for bestsellers just published.

And librarians? Well, they’re no longer just behind the desk checking out books, calculating late fees, or shelving returns and hosting storytime for toddlers. Today’s librarians have become cheerleaders for the library system, dreaming up clever new ways to bring in readers.

Take, for example, Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Public Librarian, Karen, whose book club “kits” have become a book club “hit.” One such kit included several copies of The Home for the Friendless, donated by author Betty Auchard – which I was lucky to have edited – complete with discussion questions.

Karen, and all the other librarians, are my superheroes … busy fighting the crime of obsolescence. Like the original BatGirl, by the way, whose alter ego Barbara Gordon was head librarian for the Gotham City Public Library.

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