There’s nothing more dulling than the same-old, same-old. It’s good to shake things up. No, I’m not doing anything radically different on this here blog (other than hopefully getting back to, er, updating it again.
I’m talking about my book club.
When I started my current job almost two years ago, I inherited a book club. A flagging book club, but a book club nonetheless, and it has become one of my favorite parts of my job. Oh, and it’s not flagging anymore. Continue reading
Every year, I eyeball the various reading challenge lists that go around. They should absolutely be my catnip since I live a life surrounded by books. Fundamentally, I think they serve a valuable purpose in providing a structured framework for people who want to read outside their normal boundaries. And can I say, for the record, that Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge for 2017 is woke, and I love it?! But I’m not doing it, or any other pre-specified challenge this year. Not exactly.
I work in a library. I am surrounded by books every day, and to the lament of my to-read list, new books that I want to read constantly cross my path, so my to-reads are in a constant state of flux. I’m also notoriously stubborn, and the moment a task feels like homework, I’m checked out (yes, librarian pun intentional. You’re welcome). Because of these things, I’ve determined three flexible categories intended to serve my own specific needs.
With a to-read goal in 2017 of 110 books, averaging about 8 books a month, I have figured out that three “challenge” categories a month will give me structure, built-in-deadlines, and enough room to read whatever else crosses my path without feeling like my reading is dictated by external parameters.
- Read at least one book per month of #OwnVoices, because we need diverse books. I am uniquely positioned to signal boost great books or underappreciated books from underrepresented perspectives, but I’m not doing anyone any favors if I’m not aware of what’s out there. My Twitter feed is a great way to follow the conversation, but I can do so much more if I’ve read things and can sell them that way. I also want to be conscientious about how I talk about these titles, too. I don’t want to fall into the trap of making diversity sound like something that should be consumed, like vegetables, because it’s good for you–I want to signal boost stories because they’re beautiful, heartpounding magical journeys with the strength of family love at the heart of it, or sweet YA stories of friendship and first romantic love.
- Read at least one new or forthcoming book a month. I actually did much better last year than I’ve done in the past, but this is also an area that needs conscientious work since it’s so easy to get caught up in, well, getting caught up with all the things that have already been published that I haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I was finally able to participate in LibraryReads‘ year-end best of list last year, and I’d like to do so again this year, with the hope of helping bring more attention to the speculative fiction that I adore. I also have a veritable cache of delicious books waiting on my Kindle from Netgalley and Eidelweiss, but e-books are a format that is not my primary way of consuming books, so I need a bit of a nudge there. This also includes reading more of the “it books” that take library hold lists by storm, just to better know what the fuss is about.
- Finally, I vow to read at least one book a month that is not in my usual reading genres because it’s important for a librarian to be widely read, and I tend to read deep in several genres without branching out much, left to my own devices. I’m trying to decide if it’s cheating to allow myself to use book club books for this category since they’re titles I’ve already committed to reading and what I choose for them is rarely what I would choose for myself. I think, in the spirit of this challenge, it would be cheating, but I’m leaving myself a little wiggle room in the event of the occasional hectic month.
And that’s what I’ve got. I’ve knocked out two categories this month already and the only thing holding me back from the third is waiting for my library’s adult winter reading challenge to start since the book I want to read is on theme but can’t be read before January 15. I’m going to try and do end-of-month reading wrap-ups, both to keep me accountable and, honestly, to have ready-made blog content. Here goes, 2017.
A lot can happen in a year. Time brings changes, good and bad. 2012 was a good year, between getting married to The Mathematician, adopting the Furry Orange Yarn Menace (to keep The Queen company), and what was that other change…?
Oh yes. Beginning at the library, or more accurately, beginning to get paid for the work I was happily doing for free on a volunteer basis. Today marks the anniversary of my first day on the job, the first day of the best job I’ve had so far.
I love my work at the library. I love being surrounded by books. I love seeing that children still adore a certain big red dog, still seek out a certain mischievous cat, and see the library as a fun place to go. I love that when someone asks me to help them find, for example, poetry, I can show them exactly where to find it, and if I go back a few minutes later, I’ll see them thumbing through books, lost in the words. I love the click of recognition when a patron asks for a specific book, seeing their delight when they realize you’ve read it too. I love that I have a shelf of my own staff picks; you must understand, that had been a life goal. I love seeing evidence around me, every day, that leisure reading is most emphatically not dead. I love working in a place that serves such a vital role in the community. I even love the hectic mornings when everyone is trying to get on top of the workload, and even working as a team, we can’t quite get ahead, but it’s still an adrenaline rush to try. And here’s another secret confession: I love alphabetizing and putting things in their places.
This is where I was meant to be.