Book Discussions

Discussing a book at the library – what a novel idea. Children’s story time has long been popular at local libraries, but adults – sometimes strangers – gathering to dissect a popular book is the anomaly rather than the rule. Yet, what better place to talk about books – among books – provided you can find a corner where the librarian will not shush the voices.

In my travels through California, I found an article in the local newspaper announcing two library venues for book discussions – both midweek and in the morning, so readers must not be among the working group. The local calendar in the newspaper included a discussion of “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson and another of “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. I haven’t read either book yet, but I have been to book club discussions where that doesn’t matter so much. Somehow, one in the library seems to require some preparation, but maybe I’ll just stop by to listen.

Have you been to a book club discussion at a library?

New Books Published in April

Whenever I read a promising review – usually in the New York Times or Washington Post – I immediately log onto my library site to order the book.  Inevitably, the library system does not yet have the book catalogued – or maybe even purchased.  So, I add the book to my list and promptly forget about it.

I have a friend who places his list next to his computer and checks into the library every day until he captures a place – usually the first or second in the queue.  By the time I remember to check, I am usually 50 or 60 on the waiting list;  popular “hot picks” sometimes place me at 273.  Of course, I could always buy the book, but what fun is there in that?

April has 4 new books I want to read.  And the library has yet to list them.  Maybe this will help me remember to keep checking.  If you get there first, please read fast and return the book for me.


National Library Week

Celebrate National Library Week  – visit a library.  USA Today’s travel section includes 10 great places where libraries turn a page from Seattle to Boston.

My favorite library is the Trinity College Library in Dublin – it looks like a movie set, and smells old and musty.

But the library that still impresses me the most is the Library of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  It’s not just for Congress; I have a Library of Congress library card in my wallet – although it’s been awhile since I’ve been in its hallowed halls, waiting for my slip of paper request to become a book traveling down from the stacks.

These days I am a regular visitor to my community library, usually picking up the books I pre-ordered on line – no more lingering for me.

Books to Read:

  • I Took My Frog to the Library
  • This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cyberians Can Save Us All – check out the Review Here

This Book Is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All

Did Marilyn Johnson know about the library closings in the UK, or about Borders biting the dust in the USA when she wrote This Book is Overdue! ?  Did she know Watson, the super computer was going to win an information battle over humans?  Even without a sense of foreboding, Johnson’s book is timely and reassuring.

As she wanders the stacks in assorted libraries everywhere – even cyberspace and Rome, Johnson forever quashes the stereotype of the librarian.  “Miss Marian” in now savvy and hip, possibly tattooed,  politically tuned in, and, of course, knowledgeable.  I once heard that the true mark of intelligence is not necessarily knowing the answer, but knowing where to look for it.  If you’ve been frustrated by the lack of the appropriate word to trigger a google search for what you really want, you may identify with Johnson’s mantra – we need human help – librarians, “who won’t try to sell us anything, or roll their eyes at our questions.”

Starting with her search for a childhood favorite, Easy Travel to Other Planets – (I checked, and it is in my library) – Johnson moves through libraries on the East Coast, but her banter and philosophy apply everywhere.   Johnson talks about librarians blogging – The Happy Villain (no longer active, so don’t try to find her) who disclosed all the secret horrible actions of library patrons when they think no one is looking –

“While waiting for your ride home, do not set fire to your homework to keep warm.”

and the rare librarian who was moving her relatives to the top of the reserve list for a popular DVD.  But when she mentions that her “librarians’ faces light up when {she} walks in; they’re My librarians” – I could relate.  My librarians have a special shelf for my reserved books – and are so grateful to have the space back when I pick them all up.

In her table of contents, Johnson succinctly summarizes each of her twelve chapters, so you can decide what you want to read.  After studiously reading through the first four, I decided to skip to Chapter 8, with the alluring title “Follow That Tattooed Librarian” that turned out to be a funny exposé on the other side of the serious librarian, usually reserved for conventions – not to be seen in public.  Eventually, I read the other chapters – in no particular order.

If you have been taking your librarian for granted, Johnson will change all that. Hail the librarian…

“Civil servants and servants of civility…information professionals, teachers, police, community organizers, computer technicians, historians, confidantes… guardians of my peace.”