Posts Tagged ‘libraries’
I read for fun. I love to drop into a good story or follow a curious argument. Some books I devour fast, like a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and some I savor slowly, like the chocolate cappuccino brownies my sister made lately with my daughter, two nieces and two nephews. The one I ate was rich, smooth, full of careful love, and I can still taste it.
My favorite place to read? The hammock in my front yard by day, my living room couch with a good lamp by evening, and my bed with many pillows by night.
I’m fond of Goodreads, where I can keep a running list of books I’ve read and want to read. It’s fun to see what others are recommending, too, and join conversations about favorite books.
Since I abandon books that don’t interest me, the ones I finish are all books I like. The last ten books I read or reread are:
Julia Quinn, What Happens in London
(Light-hearted romance of spies.)
Trish Doller, Something Like Normal
(A young Marine comes home from war.)
Veronica Roth, Divergent
(A teen girl trains as Dauntless.)
Emmy Laybourne, Monument 14
(Kids hole up in a store to survive disaster.)
Genn Albin, Crewel
(A teen girl learns to spin time and matter.)
Philippa Gregory, The Other Boleyn Girl
(Mary Boleyn serves as mistress to Henry VIII.)
Olivia Goldsmith, The Bestseller
(Dishy, gossipy tale of publishing in the 90′s.)
Jennifer R. Hubbard, Try Not to Breathe
(Teen boy adjusts after discharge from psych residence.)
Julia Glass, The Widower’s Tale
(Cranky, old guy allows preschool in his barn.)
Lois Lowry, The Giver
(Boy starts to see red in colorless dystopia.)
The teens who named their favorite books for this list include athletes, honors students, non-readers, incarcerated girls, a prom queen, loners, computer game players, gay and straight teens, teens from the coasts and in between, teens of many races, artists, and writers. Their choices made the list (alphabetically) regardless if the books were award-winners, banned, popular, controversial, new, or classic. The sole criteria: these books are favorites.
1. Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
2. M.T. Anderson, Feed
3. Anonymous, Go Ask Alice
4. Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler, The Future of Us
5. Isaac Asimov, The Foundation
6. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
7. Emilie Autumn, The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls
8. Paolo Bacigalupi, Ship Breaker
9. Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
10. Misty Bernall, She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall
11. Meredith Blevins, Hummingbird Wizard
12. Anthony Bourke and John Rendall, A Lion Called Christian
13. Libba Bray, Beauty Queens
14. Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
15. Cupcake Brown, A Piece of Cake: A Memoir
16. Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code
17. Meg Cabot, Jinx
18. Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game
19. Kristin Cashore, Graceling
20. P.C. Cast, Destined (House of Night)
21. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
22. Agatha Christie, And Then There Were None
23. Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl
24. Billy Collins, The Trouble with Poetry
25. Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
26. Caroline B. Cooney, The Face on the Milk Carton
27. Chris Crutcher, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes
28. Leah Cypess, Mistwood
29. Sarah Dessen, Keeping the Moon
30. Lauren DeStefano, Wither
31. M. C. Escher, Icons
32. Nancy Farmer, House of the Scorpion
33. Gayle Forman, If I Stay
34. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch
35. William Golding, Lord of the Flies
36. William Goldman, The Princess Bride
37. Lori Gottlieb, Stick Figure
38. John Green, The Fault in our Stars
39. John Grisham, Bleachers
40. Teri Hall, The Line
41. Frank Herbert, Dune
42. Georgette Heyer, Devil’s Cub
43. Michelle Hodkin, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer
44. Alice Hoffman, The Dovekeepers
45. Ellen Hopkins, Impulse
46. Emily Horner, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend
47. Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker (Alex Rider)
48. Khaled Hosseini, Kite Runner
49. Jennifer Hubbard, Try Not to Breathe
50. Brian Jacques, Redwall
51. Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason
52. Stephen King, Night Shift
53. Anthony Kiedis and Larry Sloman, Scar Tissue
54. Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
55. Louis L’Amour, The Daybreakers
56. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
57. C. S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
58. Sarah Darer Littman, Want to Go Private?
59. Lois Lowry, The Giver
60. Gregory Maguire, Wicked
61. Yann Martel, Life of Pi
62. George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
63. Patricia McCormick, Cut
64. Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
65. Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
66. B.J. Myrick and Hazel Hart, The Dark Side of the Rainbow
67. Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
68. Caragh O’Brien, Birthmarked
69. Lauren Oliver, Delirium
70. George Orwell, 1984
71. Christopher Paolini, Eragon
72. Gary Paulsen, Hatchet
73. David Pelzer, A Boy Called It
74. Jodi Picault, My Sister’s Keeper
75. Tamora Pierce, Trickster’s Choice
76. Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar
77. Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass
78. Julia Quinn, The Viscount Who Loved Me
79. Ayn Rand, Anthem
80. Philip Reeve, Mortal Engines (The Hungry City Chronicles)
81. Veronica Roth, Divergent
82. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
83. R. A. Salvatore, Homeland (Forgotten Realms)
84. Elizabeth Scott, The Living Dead Girl
85. Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
86. Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
87. Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl
88. John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men
89. Tupac Shakur, The Rose that Grew from Concrete
90. Art Spiegelman, Maus
91. Todd Strasser, Give A Boy A Gun
92. Jonathan Stroud, The Amulet of Samarkand
93. J.R.R Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
94. Omar Tyree, Flyy Girl
95. Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped
96. Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes
97. Elie Wiesel, Night
98. Jacqueline Woodson, Beneath a Meth Moon
99. Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
List compiled by Caragh M. O’Brien, June 18, 2012. Feel free to distribute. Comments welcome at caraghobrien.com.
Why do I have more books than can fit on my shelves? If I want to locate Fahrenheit 451, (which surely I must own), after I look through the main shelves in our library and living room, I also have to check the shelf in my upstairs office, the shelves in my son’s and daughter’s rooms, another bookshelf and three more boxes in the attic, and one box in the basement. Then I check my Kindle, too.
This is not a system. This is a happy meandering through my collection or a bothersome, fruitless task, depending on how urgently I want the book and whether I find it. Include the toss-up of whether I’ll still remember what I’m looking for by the time I find everything else, and it’s quite the party here.
We have a very nice public library in our town that accepts books for its book sales. Knowing this, I occasionally cull books from my shelves and drop them in a box in my closet until it gets too full, and then I move the books in shopping bags to my garage to let them attract leaves for a few weeks before I haul them off.
It tends to be raining each time I take books to the library. Don’t ask me why. Recall that bags disintegrate when wet. I try to scamper with my arms loaded, in a great hurry because my next errand invariably involves meeting someone at the airport or getting to the dump before it closes. It’s a soggy, immodest, pathetic business, especially when I end up pulling certain choice titles out of my donation pile because I can’t bear, after all, to let them go.
Naturally, I have started dreaming of more shelves, but I don’t know where to put them. I also yearn paradoxically for simplicity and self-restraint, as it would please me to have only my very favorite books ready to hand. I want more books, but I also want fewer books. I don’t see a solution, frankly. It is one of the great, unsolvable problems of our time.
Now and then, when I’m taking a quick break from writing, I go to WorldCat.org, the free website that catalogues books in libraries worldwide, to see if anybody’s reading my book. Birthmarked is listed in 720 libraries. That seems like a lot to me. For a frame of reference, Harry Potter I (1998) is in 5,021 libraries, and Printz-winning Paolo Bacigalupi’s Ship Breaker (2010) is in 1625.
One amusing thing about the site is that it organizes the libraries by distance from my own zip code, so the system farthest away that carries my book is, at 10,400 miles, the Sutherland Shire Libraries in Australia. I get a kick out of that.
For no particularly logical reason, I’ve picked one library system to be my litmus test of whether anyone’s reading my book, and that’s the New York Public Library, which lists fourteen copies in eleven different locations, from Battery Park YA Fiction to Yorkville YA Fiction. If even one copy of Birthmarked is checked out, I feel like I’ve scored. Sometimes it’s as many as six.
This weekend, I found something new when I checked the site. A copy has gone missing. MISSING! Maybe it’s just sincerely lost, but maybe MISSING is a euphemism for STOLEN! I’m imagining some reader liked Gaia’s story so much she stole it, hiding the hardcover furtively under her black jacket as she slunk out of the library and down the marble steps into the rain.
It’s sort of a compliment, but only sort of. The problem is, now that my book is stolen, nobody else gets to read it. The poor frazzled librarians with their dismal budgets can’t replace it, so the book will remain listed forever as missing, or maybe the entry will end up deleted. In the meantime, once read, the book will molder under the thief’s bed, with cookie crumbs and other stolen books, sadly wishing it were back on its old shelf beside Day of the Assassins by O’Brien, Johnny (unless that’s gone missing, too).
My friend Kay Cassidy, who runs the Great Scavenger Hunt Contest™ for over 700 libraries nationwide, recently advised me not to sign the copy of Birthmarked I sent along for one of the prize packs that she awards to librarians. Kay said that signed copies are more likely to walk. In short, making a book special defeats the purpose of donating it. Sad, right?
Now I’m imagining the scope of hundreds of books all stolen away. The police blotter from Shaker Heights, OH recently posted that $12,000 worth of books were stolen over a seven-year period from two libraries there. We can start multiplying.
It’s too awful to bear, frankly. So instead, I’m hoping MISSING really just means “momentarily misplaced,” like what happens with my keys upon occasion, and the book will show up soon, abashed perhaps for having let itself fall down a crack behind some other book for a day or two. I’m picturing it getting a little dusting off and a quick shove back into place, ready for the next hungry patron.
Sometimes optimism is all we have. Optimism and libraries.
*Edited to Add: As of today, 4/21, the MISSING listing has been changed to DUE 5-11-11, so the book has been found!