So many books, so little time.
― Frank Zappa
There are a lot of great things about working in a library, but one of the best is having someone recommend a book. There’s nothing like the expression on someone’s face when they hand you a book and open the conversation with: “You have to read this!” The one thing that’s better than reading a good book is talking with someone about a good book, and the conversation only gets better when you don’t have to worry about spoilers.
For the past couple of years there has been an annual Reader’s Salon blog post with submissions by library staff for the best book they’ve read that year. While I always enjoy reading the blogs my co-workers write, I look forward to this particular post with special anticipation. I make a point of prioritizing reading as many of the titles as I can, and I find that reading just one book from that list leads me into all sorts of intriguing directions. With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of the books I’ve discovered after reading some of the selections from the post Our Gift to Readers, posted December 7 2016.
After reading All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr I picked up The Cellist of Sarajevo by Stephen Galloway. This book also personalizes the tragedy of war by telling the story of civilians that must try to survive in a war zone. Don’t make the mistake that I did of reading this book in a public place. I had a very kind and concerned stranger ask me why I was crying, and in response all I could do was hold up the book.
Many of you know Katherena Vermette through her book of poems, North End Love Songs. I loved her novel The Break, as well, but did you know that she’s also written some terrific books for children? Each one has a unique message for young and not so young readers alike. The one that is the mostly timely for this time of year is The First Day. It’s part of the Seven teaching stories series, and tells the story of Makwa, a little boy who who is frightened about starting a new school. Not all of us have to worry about facing the first day of school anymore, but all of us need to find courage in dealing with scary situations.
As an Ethan Hawke fan from way back I was so pleased to discover that in addition to his many other talents he can also write. Rules for a Knight led me to try and find other books about leading a more examined, mindful life. I found How to Walk and other books by Thich Nhất Hạnh to be tremendously helpful in this endeavour. As in Ethan Hawke’s book, the principles are stated and illustrated in a way that stays in your mind and gets into your heart.
I did my best to read Every Heart a Doorway slowly, to make the magic last as long as possible, but like all stories it did eventually come to an end. However, after finishing it I was delighted to discover that Seanan McGuire has written a number of other books, and that there’s a sequel to Every Heart a Doorway, Down Among the Sticks and Bones. Seanan McGuire also publishes under the name Mira Grant, but that’s a topic for another blog.
This isn’t a complete list by any means, as I’m still in the midst of reading and waiting to read a number of the other titles from that post. As always, I’m very curious as to where that will lead me. To paraphrase Bilbo Baggins, it’s a dangerous business to open a book, there’s no telling where you’ll end up.