Libraries have always adapted to the changing world by expanding resources and services, even more so in these Covid times. Celebrate National Library Week, April 4 – 10! Visit your library online or in person (if allowed) to learn how you can check out books, technology, multimedia content, educational programs and so much more to help you be your best self.
I promised myself retirement would be like my favorite summer, 1976, filled with lots of reading and time with friends. That was the only summer after high school where I was not taking college classes or working or both. Nearly four years into this relaxed life, my plan is working although Covid has put the nix (at least for now) on face-to-face time with friends but I am exceeding my reading goals, albeit mostly easy titles that don’t require deep contemplation. Aiding me in the task of diversifying my reading pleasure have been three book clubs and One Book One Minnesota.
The Directors’ – My library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends who, in pre-Covid times enjoyed an outing every 2-3 months but now gather every two weeks via Zoom, decided 2021 was the right time for a book club. While our first two titles have been mysteries with earlier posts, The Thursday Murder Cluband The Bookseller, we are switching genres. Next up – Cicely Tyson’s memoir, Just As I Am.
Knit Camp Reads Club – A new venture for Knit Camp knitters who want to read (or listen) together. The first selection is fiber related, Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson, a nice tie in with the Knit Camp January workshop and group knit, Fiadh.
Like pulling weeds from one’s garden, weeding a collection is often done to make space. But unlike the in-the-dirt activity, weeding books is tough. When you pull that volume off the shelf you are not simply ridding the lettuce patch of all those pesky maple whirly-birds that seem to have taken root over night. Weeding books severs a tactile connection between the written word that once transported the reader to an imaginary realm or conveyed clear instruction or the creative content of any genre in between. There is something special about the art of book collecting. Removing titles is tough. So difficult that librarians will procrastinate for years until bulging shelves, with no room for new purchases, demand attention. So difficult that we dub the work, de-selection, since it requires as much (maybe more) discrimination then demonstrated at the time of acquisition.
I have a small but growing collection of knitting books, a mix of instructional titles and pattern collections authored by well-respected designers. For a number of years, they were stashed on the floor under a Hutton Sculpture bench in our TV room. Not the best location but handy until the quantity outgrew the space available – but where to move them? Our first thought was to buy more shelving but space is at a premium in our 96-year old house with less than 1,000 square feet which generated today’s task – weeding books.
We each contributed to the newly freed shelf space. Gone are eight management titles that I will not re-read in retirement and nine, four-ring Porsche binders. We sold our white 1987 Porsche 944S in 2003 but kept the repair manuals as a visual reminder of the time spent at driver education events when we focused on corner apexes, acceleration points, and tach readings. Photos, trophies and the infrequent scent of brake dust will have to suffice. We even created enough space for new acquisitions as the inches of items weeded exceeded the number of inches needed. Happy reading!
I am old enough that while working my first library job librarians were still debating the efficacy of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. At the time, there were two distinct camps: Those that felt children should only read “quality” literature and those that believed that any reading was good. This dichotomy played out in library selection meetings and at library conferences around the country as the debate waged over spending precious tax dollars for what, by some, were deemed titles just slightly above pulp fiction. (Note: The distinction that books by Carolyn Keene were not pulp was based solely on the hard covers of this series versus the paperbacks of such authors as Philip K. Dick or Edgar Rice Burroughs. Remember – At the time, a similar debate waged over the merits of paperbacks, perceived as ephemeral and not worthy of being in a library collection, regardless of the author!)
I definitely fell into the latter category; after all, I had loved Nancy Drew mysteries. My childhood friend, Julie B., introduced me to this strong female heroine and her two best friends and ever faithful sleuthing partners, Beth and George, when she lent me her copy of The Hidden Staircase. I thought Julie was immensely lucky as she owned a wonderful collection of 10-13 titles which she began lending to me. Her collection consisted of early titles in the series, so, with my allowance and every birthday and Christmas, I acquired the later books in the series. Our goal was to own every Nancy Drew title, that by combining her early titles and my later ones, our collection would meet in the middle.
There are those avid readers who pride themselves on never re-reading a title and those that re-visit well loved books time and again. On this topic I fall in the middle as I generally don’t re-read books simply because, in the words of Frank Zappa, “So many books, so little time.” But I do remember the first book I ever re-read. It was a sunny day during summer vacation and I readThe Clue in the Old Stagecoach three times, cover-to-cover. The magic of the words transported me into Nancy’s search for hidden treasure. Having just re-read The Bookseller for The Directors’ Book Club, my list of re-read titles (not inlcuding library storytime favorites) is now a dozen plus a few:
The Booksellerby Mark Pryor
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
The Clue in the Old Stagecoach by Carolyn Keene (Three times in one day!)
Dune by Frank Herbert
Harry Potter, #1-7 by J.K. Rowling (First as the titles were released & re-read before each movie premiere.)
His Dark Materials, #1-3 by Philip Pullman (For the summer science fiction book club.)
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (Just because what is not to love about a time travel romance between Claire and Jamie aka Sam Heughan with his own blend of whisky.)
A well written mystery, with a story that evolves from an interest in antique books, to the kidnapping of a bouquiniste (a bookseller with a stall along the Seine), plus historic WWII intrigue, and, of course, murder. There is even a little love interest scribed by Mark Pryor in The Bookseller, the first title in the Hugo Marston series.
After enjoying our first book club title, The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends – moved literary settings from the English countryside to Paris for our second book club choice. The Bookseller introduced us to Hugo Marston, a former FBI profiler now head of embassy security in Paris. The tall Texan, who is fluent in French, loves well brewed coffee and walking Paris streets, possesses a strong sense of justice but will diplomatically step out of the limelight and let the French police claim the glory after catching the bad guys. The Directors all agreed we will be exploring the other titles in Pryor’s Hugo Marston series.
Usually Earth Day arrives, as it does every April 22, and catches me unaware. I go oops I should have [fill in the blank – read or investigated or donated or something] before now. So this year, still living in these Covid times, I am starting early and Gum Trees and Galaxies provided just the right incentive. The blog’s co-authors, who self describe as “…a couple of Australian empty nesters (not grey nomads, at least not yet), exploring, experimenting and recording life,” invite their readers to a nature reading challenge. Yes, I am still exploring reading challenges for 2021. They even provide a downloadable Gaia Book Bingo card to enhance your Gaia/Nature reading adventure.
Join me in reading and celebrating Earth Day 2021! You can start early too. Reduce. Recycle. Reuse.
When launched as a Covid coping tool, Knit+ Librarian was intended to highlight my current reading without being too book-reportish. However, a quick review of recent posts reveals a dearth of titles and lest you think this librarian has given up on books – not to worry. I have simply opted not to report each book title-by-title. My Goodreads account is a finely-tuned tool that provides titles, dates and ratings on a five-star scale, as well as a list of what I am reading and an ever-growing want-to-read list. At the moment I have six titles open:
Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare – a YA paranormal fantasy audio book for multitasking while I knit
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and A Good Time for the Truth, an anthology edited by Sun Yung Shin – for upcoming book discussions I am leading at church (reported on earlier)
The Bookseller by Mark Pryor – the first in the Hugo Marston murder series for the upcoming The Directors’ bookclub
The Art of the Wasted Day by St. Paul author Patricia Hampl – a recent gift from a friend
Knitlandia by Clara Parkes – another gift from a friend that I come back to chapter by chapter.
Let me recommend – – – For light reading with a knitting tie-in, author Penny Reid, provides the right combination of good things – character development, dialogue, humor, all set against a Chicago backdrop – in her Knitting in the City series. I have finished Book 5: Happily Ever Ninja and downloaded book 6 to my iPad. These contemporary romances can be read as stand-alone titles but there is a nice flow between the books as we meet seven good friends who gather every Tuesday night to knit or crochet all the while enjoying adult beverages and offering great worldly advice. As with every title within this genre, the expected occurs – girl meets boy, attraction, romance and love happen albeit with some challenges. Unlike some series where the characters are so interchangeable so as to be cardboard cutouts from one title to the next, the women of Knitting in the City are as unique as any collection of your friends. Reid uses knitting as a connecting thread week-to-week as the story and relationships develop sufficient to keep any fiber lover happy but without overwhelming the non-knitter. Sometimes she even slips in references to Ravelry patterns. And, for the really knit-nerdy, Reid offers a companion title that includes 27 patterns based on her characters’ knitting creations.
For over 20 years, the Minnesota Book Awards have celebrated Minnesota authors connecting readers and writers of all genres. The 36 finalists for the 2021 award were just announced and include some favorite authors and new names too. Check out the list for your reading pleasure and then check back April 29 when the winners will be announced. Or, even better, join the free virtual festivities.
After decades of librarianship and managing countless summer reading programs for children and winter reading programs for adults – all encouraging the pure enjoyment of reading (whatever form: paper page or tablet or headphones), I have discovered the phenomenon of reading challenges. While I have participated in any number of knitting challenges: 52 hats in one year, 12 shawls, themed cowls, etc., I never thought about reading challenges other than to set an annual Goodreads goal along with 2.6 million other Goodreads participants. But trust me they abound! I’ve listed a few resources I found inspiring but, if these are not to your liking, a simple Google search will yield 700 million more. Thanks to Swedish school librarian, Elin, for my introduction to 2021 reading challenges.
Just like “rain drops on roses…and warm woolen mittens”, good whisky should be added to Julie Andrews’s My Favorite Things. My special bottle of The Sassenach Blended Scotch Whisky Spirit of Home (not available in Minnesota) was shipped by boat from Scotland to New Jersey where USPS took up the task of delivering it safely to my Mother’s house in Wisconsin and I picked it up today for our tasting delight. They say whisky is an acquired taste and retirement is certainly allowing this acquisition. We have already enjoyed a “wee sip” necessitating the late evening, poorly light photo with the seal still intact. Thank you Sam Heughan aka Jamie Fraser.