09 May 2011

the library reading list

Because I'm me, I bought a condo just down the street from the library.

Well, that's a simplification, isn't it? {But sometimes, broad strokes of generalities work better for getting a point across. From that one swath, you know that I love reading.}

I bought my condo for many reasons, but a major selling point was that it's so close to the library. We're talking pretty much closer than walking distance; it's like trip and roll a little bit distance.

And I trip my way over there quite a bit, but do you ever feel like you're in a reading rut?

I do sometimes.

I have shelves and shelves full of books. I even have a special section for books I bought {at book sales or used book stores or wherever they happened to cross my path} but have yet to read.

You would think this would give me ample rutless roads for reading, but no, it doesn't. Sometimes, I look at books upon books in the library and think, 'I don't even know where to begin. I'm going home.'

And when I get home, I watch TV.

I probably shouldn't admit this—me the English major—but there you go. Now you know one of my secrets, if watching TV can be considered a secret, which I don't think it can.

Because I'm me, I don't like to stay in a rut for long and so when I saw that my library offered a program called BookMatch, I jumped at it.

You get to take a quiz! It's like the Myers-Briggs of reading!

A librarian takes time to review your answers! It's like being graded!

You get suggestions of what books to check out! It's like eHarmony, but with books!

Clearly, this BookMatch idea resonated with my soul: my quiz-loving, grade-loving soul.

Please note that I left out "eHarmony-loving" soul. Not that I don't like it—it just seems a little odd to have your soul love a computer algorithm with really slick commercials.

I got my BookMatch results just a few days ago, and let me tell you, I opened that email as if I were a presenter opening the Oscar envelope, or some other over-used example of opening an envelope.

Suffice it to say: there was a lot of excitement, and when I read through my list, I felt that I had won Best Actress.

When a reading list can make you feel like Meryl Streep, a librarian has clearly done his or her job well.

Because I'm me, I've turned this BookMatch list into a personal challenge: I will read all these books this summer. And you know, if I'm inspired, I'll write about them, too.

Should you be interested, I'm starting with Let the Great World Spin.

Oh, hey, you could read along with me and then we could turn this blog into a book blog {with random forays into wherever else my mind goes}.

Actually, I don't know about that idea. But I do know this: reading is fun and getting out of a rut is even better.

The Library Reading List

Too Much Happiness
{Alice Munro}

Let the Great World Spin
{Colum McCann}

The Surrendered
{Chang-Rae Lee}

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China

{Jung Chang}

The Hand that First Held Mine

{Maggie O’Farrell}

The Women
{T. Coraghessan Boyle}

Your Oasis on Flame Lake

{Lorna Landvik}


  1. Oh, I read Let the Great World Spin not long ago. It will make you want to watch Man on Wire when you're done. That's a documentary, so it only halfway counts as TV.

  2. Excited to hear about the books and read what you are inspired to write. Way to go book match!

  3. I am hooked on shelfari.com. A great way to track what you want to read and browse your book "to-do list." P.S. We are also less than a block away from the library. I'm afraid we can never move.

  4. Can anyone--perhaps Valerie--compare shelfari.com to goodreads.com? I'm on goodreads, but I'm wondering if shelfari might be better. If you're on both sites, I'd love to know which one you think is better and why.

  5. Andrew, I was on goodreads.com first, but pretty quickly discontinued using it. I prefer shelfari's visual interface. Also, I use it primarily for tracking books I want to read (like a Netflix queue) and it works well in that respect. I was not really interested in seeing everyone's comments and feeds - and got tired of receiving emails. You do see what your friends are currently reading on shelfari, but it is secondary. Check it out - you might like it.

  6. If you love libraries, you will appreciate the New York Review of Books (NYRB) blog entry for May 18 called "A Country Without Libraries." It's written by NYRB writer Charles Simic, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry (1990) and former U.S. Poet Laureate (2007-2008). Just cut-and-paste the following URL into your browser's address field, and when the print window pops up, just click "cancel."




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