As a long-time lover of books, I’m sure to most it’s no shock that I became a Librarian. For as long as I can remember I have always enjoyed reading, but … to confess, I didn’t fall in love with reading right away! I know shocking right?! Once people hear that I am a Librarian most assume I was born with a tight bun in my hair, a book in one hand and mug of tea in the other. That may be the case now, but it wasn’t always. As a child I was taken to the West Kildonan Library on a regular basis, so my ambivalence towards books was not for a lack of access. Or even interest; I liked Goosebumps and Stuart Little as much as the next kid. I liked reading, but I didn’t LOVE reading. It took a little time, and the right book, for the written word to totally win me over and for me to truly fall head over heels in love with reading.
And I mean reading! All aspects of reading; the cozy, can’t wait, won’t put it down until I finish the next chapter reading. The up all night, I need to talk to someone about this, my life is changed kind of reading. The, I cannot believe it ended that way, can’t wait for the next one type of reading. Yeah THAT kind of reading!
One of the best parts about being a Librarian, is knowing that I am not alone in my love of reading, and all things book related, in fact I am the furthest thing from being alone. There is a wide variety of books published every year about … well…books! From Public Libraries, to independent book stores, to illustrated anthologies, there is definitive proof that there are bibliophiles everywhere and we really love books. Recently there have been several that have come across my desk that I thought were just too good to not share. Published within the last year these books are sure to delight anyone who loves a good read.
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
In this fascinating investigative piece, author Susan Orlean explores the infamous fire at the Los Angeles Public Library that occurred on April 29, 1986. She thoroughly examines one of the largest library fires in history, from its long suspected cause of arson to chronicling the loss, damage (over four hundred thousand books were completely destroyed) and personal stories of librarians that picked up the pieces. Orlean delves deep into the mystery of the fire and the life of its only suspect, aspiring actor Harry Peak, in great detail.
But, what this book really turns into is a love story about libraries and not just their contents. She describes the inner workings of Los Angeles Public Library with poetic ease, having totally immersed herself in understanding how public libraries function. The importance of libraries in today’s culture is emphasized, especially in light of the “fake news” era, but what Orlean captures so perfectly in my opinion, is how libraries make us feel; connected to something greater than ourselves. For anyone who has an interest in learning more about libraries, or just LOVES them in general, this book is for you.
Bibliophile: An Illustrated Miscellany by Jane Mount
For those of us that never outgrew picture books, Bibliophile, is a fascinating feast for the eyes. The book itself is organized into a vast collection of booklists upon booklists, but instead of using just … well… words, there is a beautifully detailed drawing of each spine label stacked up on top of one another. These illustrated pillars of books are perfectly detailed to look exactly like their covers and serve as wonderful recommendations for those looking for their next great read. The types of booklists are equally unique representing categories like “Book Club Darlings” and “Technothrills & Cyberpunks.” But, what makes this even better, are the illustrated lists of “Beloved Bookstores” or “Beautiful Contemporary Covers” or “Writer’s Pets” that are cleverly mixed in among the stacks of books. There are even short quizzes scattered throughout that only add to the fun of this book.
Books and Mortar: A Celebration of the local bookstore by Gibbs M. Smith
This charming little book is a tribute to independent and local books stores, some more well-known than others. Roughly 60 different stores are featured from San Francisco to Buenos Aires, including my personal favourite The Strand in New York City. Though, it really doesn’t matter if you’ve frequented these book sellers in the past, a short history is provided for each along with enticing anecdotes and accompanied by beautifully detailed oil paintings of the store fronts. The late Author/Illustrator Gibbs M. Smith was a passionate advocate for the independent book publishing and selling industry. His last published piece is truly a celebration of his and his wife Catherine’s, life’s work. Admittedly, this book makes it hard to resist planning the trip of a lifetime visiting all of these bookstores; there is even a check list at the back.
More than Books by Eve Dunton and Kathleen Williams
I might be a little biased, but the Winnipeg Public Library’s publication, More Than Books, is a real treat for any local history buffs, and for anyone wanting to learn a little more about Winnipeg.
This book is a comprehensive overview of library services in Winnipeg and chronicles early beginnings with the development of the Red River Library in 1848, all the way to the Millennium Library opening in 2005.
One of my favourite parts of this book is a short feature in almost every chapter called “What Were We Reading” that highlights exactly that. Organized by time frame, it’s fascinating to know that in the 1930’s Winnipeggers loved reading westerns and mysteries, with Gone With the Wind being the most popular book of 1937. But by the 1980’s Winnipeggers were way more interested in the “how to” genre checking out books on auto repair and resume writing. Though, the best part of this book is that it truly gives you the sense of how much Winnipeg loves its library services, and how many avid readers really are out there.
Even more books about books, or libraries or reading …
If any of the above titles caught your attention, why not check these out too!
The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders by Stuart Kells
I’d Rather be Reading: A Library of Art for Book Lovers by Guinevere De La Mare
The Art of Reading: An Illustrated History of Books by Jamie Camplin
Oh! And the book that totally won me over was the Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. Thirteen year old me LOVED it.