Monday, November 23, 2009

Reading Notes

"The Future of Reading," by Tom Peters in Library Journal (11/1/2009).

- Don't fight the brand identity that libraries are about books/reading
- Reading is evolving (listening, digital reading, interactive like Amanda Project), but he doesn't think it's dying out
- "Because readers are atomized and disorganized as a power bloc, librarians must continue serving as clear, organized, professional advocates for them." (p. 19)
- Will need to know how to balance rights of content creators and those of readers' in increasingly complex situations
- Books may become "fleeting communal experiences" ; we may have to give up "the archival impulse" (p. 22) [See also this USA Today article, and note what an adult readers says about enjoying the Twilight reading community.]
- Proposes a" reader bill of rights for the digital era" with points like "When a reader purchases a book, he or she owns access to that text in all modes and instances and on all devices, for the duration of the ownership agreement." (p. 22)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Covers, Judging by

Publisher's Weekly has nice coverage of a recent survey on teen reading habits. Teens are influenced by their peers when it comes to choosing books; 81% of surveyed teens used the library once a month or more; at bookstores, they wish there was more to choose from (for real? Have you seen how huge the teen sections in big box bookstores has gotten?!).

Most importantly, 91% of them indicated that the copy on the book jacket "was the most important factor" when picking a book! And I'm pretty sure that phrases like "award winning" or "important bildungsroman" are not the winning phrases. I am always so embarrassed to hand books like that to a kid -- especially when it really is an awesome book. I hope more publishers will take note of this. From the repackaging of classics to look like the Twilight books, I can tell some publishing houses get it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


This morning I finished reading When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present, by Gail Collins. Like The Feminine Mystique, it's journalistic, replete with stories of individual women that mark the changes. It's a solid synthesis of recent (women's) history.

Inevitably, it made me sad. Early on, we meet the woman thrown out of traffic court because her apparel -- slacks she had worn to her office job -- affronted the magistrate. ERA was not ratified. At the end, a bus driver whose faith tells her to wear dresses and skirts is fired for not wearing pants to work. Collins spends just a few pages on troubling social issues of the present, such as the increasingly sexy way little girls dress and the casual, unfulfilling sexual activities of young teens and 20-somethings. In that section, she does give us author Jessica Valenti's concise summation of the stain between conservative impulses (past or present) and contemporary Girls Gone Wild thinking: "'The message is still the same -- that women's sexuality doesn't belong to them.'" (p. 369)

Also inevitably, there's the personal. I've become a little fixated on Collins's summary of Lisa Belkin's article on shared housework. When husbands and wives "were seriously trying to divide housework and chores evenly ... it seemed like a tortuous process -- full of lists and negotiations and struggles on the part of the woman to jettison her higher standards for cleanliness, social niceties such as thank-you notes, and the way the children looked when they were dressed for school." (p. 360) Really?! Women are always the ones with the higher standard? I am certain I have known messy women, and women who didn't dress themselves in matching socks (so I'd imagine they wouldn't mind stripes and plaids on the kid). Surely not all men are slobs -- I think I know some who are very neat. But most off all, this of course, stabs at a sore spot of mine: I have done in the past, and do now, nearly all the housework because my expectations are "too high." And it drives me crazy. I read The Feminine Mystique; I followed recent articles on women needing to let go of the superwoman image as goal; I knew how not to be a victim of nonsense -- yet the sight of milk spilled all over the sink, cabinet, and floor this morning literally, truly made me cry this morning. Well, at least I can go to work in pants and expect to be treated with respect.

Friday, November 13, 2009

House (Not Mine)

My friend Kelly has started a blog about renovating a ranch house in Bon Air. Today's post involves a well-told, edge-of-your-seat, harrowing adventure to Ikea (about 75 miles north of Capital City).

Monday, November 09, 2009

In the Arts Section

Nice T-D article about local man, and sometime patron of my lib, honored in the National Portrait Gallery’s Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition. The portrait of his father gives us a little more of a regular patron than we like to see, but it is powerful.

I found Blake Gopnik's article in the Sunday Washington Post interesting, too. In short: yeah, nudes in art are meant to, um, arouse the passions.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Reading: Where Did it All Come From?

My reading of late has been eclectic. I diligently keep up with a variety of print and online resources that can tip me to cool books coming out, books patrons at my lib will like. Friends and colleagues make suggestions, of course. I try to read across genres, of course: just reading what would appeal to me won't help me "sell" books. With all of this going on, I always have a list (formerly paper, increasingly Shelfari) of To Read titles. Or, I have a stack: I'm looking at you, right-hand side of my cubicle!

Off said stack, I grabbed Children of the Waters by Carleen Brice to read on my dinner break. I give it several pages, and find it fragmented. "Why did I want to read this? What made me think I would like it?"

From there, I wonder why it matters. Here it is: read it on its own merits. See what happens. (You can always give up - like Jurgen which you know you must owe Capital City Library fines on.) Will it change the way I read it if I know why I thought I should read it, why I put it on a list, why I put a hold on it to get it from another branch? Maybe. I might not have finished Terry Pratchett's Nation if a friend hadn't said "it picks up; it's worth it."

I flipped over Children of the Waters - race, estranged family members; "insightful" and "resonate[s]." Hunh. Sounds like I may well like it and that some of our patrons might, too. I still wonder where I heard about it. Someone connected it to Big Machine maybe?