Hello friends! The year is winding down, and I know I’m starting to turn toward the New Year, as I’m sure you are as well. There will be another post reflecting on how the year went for the library, but of course reading goes hand in hand with the library and so that’s what we’re looking at here.
Even your friendly neighborhood librarian has not read *all the things*, and the to be read list is an ever growing, lovely, maddening problem. One of the podcasts I usually listen to while shelving is “What Should I read next?” which is a delight. The host, Anne, puts together a reading challenge every year and I’ve decided to take it on to allow for a bit more structure to reading for me. You can find the details here, but here are the 12 categories we’re trying to fill:
- A classic you’ve been meaning to read
- A book recommended by someone with great taste
- A book in translation
- A book nominated for an award in 2018
- A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection
- A book you can read in a day
- A book that’s more than 500 pages
- A book by a favorite author
- A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller
- A banned book
- A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction
- A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own
Essentially, this is a way for me to identify those books on the shelves that have sat in my to be read pile. So my plan is to read one of these a month and post about it here, along with some other recommendations for the category based on our library’s collection. Should be fun! I’ll be back mid January with the first pick.
December 10th marks the birthday of Melvil Dewey, best known for the organizational system named after him. Dewey was also a founder of the American Library Association.
Librarian confession time: I am less familiar with Dewey than with Library of Congress. I cut my teeth in academic and museum libraries, and they all use LoC, not Dewey. I know most librarian have Dewey committed to memory, they know their 500s from their 900s whereas I… have not a clue what those are. And that’s ok! You don’t have to have Dewey committed to memory to appreciate the impact he and his system have had.
There’s plenty of material out on the internet and in library publication around the history and development of the DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification). I’m not wading into philosophies on this one– its a living classification system, and one I don’t use every day. What I will note is that this system predates LoC by several decades, and it was a step forward from fixed locations for books based on accession date. That way lies biology next to Dickens next to Freud next to an Encyclopedia. Easy to find when things were added, less easy to research, oh, any given thing. If you’ve walked into a library– pretty much any library– you have benefited from relative location, whether the spine labels are DDC or LoC.
For the record, I did go find the table of Dewey numbers, and I’ll share it in case you need it (though any public library I’ve been in tends to have signage that says what the numbers mean, bless the librarian who came up with that.)
000 – Computer science, information & general works
100 – Philosophy and psychology
200 – Religion
300 – Social sciences
400 – Language
500 – Pure Science
600 – Technology
700 – Arts & recreation
800 – Literature
900 – History & geography
Finally, a bit of fun: Geek and Sundry has a list of Bookish games! The first one sounds amazing
Happy Sherlock Holmes day! Did you know there was a Sherlock Holmes day? Apparently, those this is somewhat disputed, December 1 is considered the publication date for A Study in Scarlet, which is the first published Sherlock Holmes mystery (and one of the handful that I’ve read). I find Holmes fascinating– the mysteries are intriguing, and you don’t feel like you’ve solved them within the first few pages, which is nice.
Holmes also has remarkable staying power: 32 different actors have portrayed him in English film alone, and there are TV adaptations as well as radio. Basil Rathbone is quintessential for some, but others who have worn the deerstalker include: Peter Cushing, Roger Moore, Christopher Plummer, John Barrymore (yes, those Barrymores), Christopher Lee (yes, that Christopher Lee), George C Scott, John Cleese (yes, of Monty Python), Michael Caine, and Orson Wells. Currently, you have Benedict Cumberbatch in England, Jonny Lee Miller in America, and Will Ferrel has a movie coming out next year. That’s a heck of a list. Its also a heck of a time frame: adaptations of Homles stretch from stage plays in 1899 to a movie that hasn’t been released yet and TV shows still in production. There’s something about the character. What intrigues me is that, as I was typing that list, I couldn’t spot a single miscasting. It makes sense for all of those men to have played that character– since the Cleese role was in a parody, and that makes a certain sense too. How do you create a character that can be played by so many different actors, with different styles?
We have a small collection of Holmes at the library– look in the Newman Room in the PR section and you will spot the Conan Doyle. The stories are also, for the most part, in the public domain so you can find digital copies through Project Gutenberg and DPLA, as well as radio plays on Spotify. I’ve listened to those before– the quality is good, and they feature Basil Rathbone in the Holmes role.
Thursday was Hobbit Day, for those who are fans of Tolkien. This year, it struck me as somehow fitting that Hobbit Day falls on the last day of summer– the final hurrah before the world slowly spins down into winter hibernation. A fine day for a party, but usually cool enough to allow a feast fit for a hobbit’s appetite.
I mean, it should be. It was gray and rainy most of the week, though not cool– tropical storms will do that to a person. Fortunately it cleared up and was bright and warm for the Tea and Shoot today. In the meantime, we have finally started to process our acquisitions! I believe we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 cataloged so far, with many more to go, but its a start. Its nice to see those books lined up with spine labels and shiny new bar codes, with shiny new MARC records in the catalog to go with them.
I’ll leave you with a fun Tolkien fact for the day: last Friday was the 40th anniversary of the publication of The Silmarillion. I wish I could find it, but I remember reading somewhere that it represented one of the top ranking pre-orders the industry had seen at the time. Certainly it sold over a million copies that year. We have one:
This article has been making the rounds in Libraryland, and I’m sure some of you may have come across it as well. If not, take a peek!
For me, what’s interesting is the way that folks try to explain “Why Austen.” I’ve never been hugely influenced by Austen– I’ve read 3 of her novels, certainly seen more then a few cinematic adaptations, and even read a few Austen inspired pieces– but she was never a go to for me. To borrow a concept from The Little Paris Bookshop, Austen was never a medicine or tonic that squared with my life (mental, emotional, spiritual), and she’s not in my reading apothecary. At the same time, Lucy Maud Montgomery is, and I think there’s a development in English language novels following Austen, and LMM follows on. So I can’t hate on Austen, to be sure. I think Austen is also easier to appreciate the older you get, because you realize how insightfully she can write about humanity, and you have to see a certain amount of it before you can really get that.