A Year of Reading

A Year of Reading

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.

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Jane Austen and word choice

Jane Austen and word choice

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.

 

 

Thoreau and Walden Pond

Thoreau and Walden Pond

If you’re anywhere in the vicinity of campus, you are not so very far from Walden Pond and the many haunts of the New England transcendentalists. Thoreau in particular is in the limelight this year, as it is the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.

Concord, MA is where most of the movement was centered, the “biggest little place in America,” so Henry James once said. Concord is worth wandering for all manner of reasons, but I wanted to highlight the bicentennial events in case anyone wants to explore Thoreau in more detail this year.

There is, of course, Walden Pond. Its a state park these days, with hiking trails and swimming allowed, along with the requisite guided tours. You can check out more info on the Pond here.

The main event is probably the Concord Museum, one of the main locations to find all things Thoreau. They have several exhibits this year on Thoreau, and they’ve got an event for Thoreau’s birthday (July 12th, just around the corner!). The Museum also has exhibits on the other notable events and residents of Concord, and online exhibits as well for those farther afield.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t link to this article in the Paris Review. I must confess, I didn’t remember that this was the bicentennial on my own. The article popped up in my RSS feed, but I’m glad I did. Its an interesting read, whether you are a fan of Thoreau or not.

Shakespeare 400 and the First Folio

Shakespeare 400 and the First Folio

Forgive the silence of the last week; even I cannot find away to make reorganizing spreadsheets sound fun. Because Excel doesn’t have a native functionality for sorting by call number, it is up to us to sort the sheets for the shelf read. It’s just as charming and delightful as you might imagine.

But! I return with a quick review of “First Folio! The Book that Gave us Shakespeare” We went last Saturday but I decided to hold the write up until today, to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth. For those in New Hampshire (or really anywhere in the Boston area), the place to go is the Currier Museum of Art. The Currier is a great little museum on its own, and New Hampshire residents get in free on Saturday mornings until noon.

When you first enter the museum, the exhibit is to your left (there’s plenty of signage). The Currier is also running an exhibit through their library on potion books from the time of Shakespeare, and that is signed as well.

So I freely admit that I could have elbowed people out of the way to take a picture of the folio, but I didn’t. I thought it was more important to read the exhibit, to actually read the folio, and to explain it to my son. What surprised me was how small it is; the fact is that this volume represents the first time that 18 of Shakespeare’s play appeared in print, but its not that big a book.I grant you, its bigger then a book you’d take on an airplane, but it can be easy to forget that the publisher at the time was just concerned with putting out a book, not a historical artifact. Its immensely cool, nonetheless and well worth a trip.

The Currier’s installation is in their European art wing, so we wandered through those pieces as well:

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Most of the art in there can’t have photos taken, so I only snagged two of the medieval pieces, but they’re quite lovely. The Folio is up until May, but the Potion exhibit the library is running will be up a little longer, and you want to make sure not to miss it either:

 

The exhibit is made up of medical texts and herbologies from the time of Shakespeare. Its also less crowded then the Folio room so you can spend more time looking things over without feeling guilty that you’re blocking others.

You can find a great deal of information on what is out there for celebrating Shakespeare; a quick search of Twitter for #Shakespeare400 will do the trick. For the locals, consider checking out St. Anselm’s marathon reading of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, which takes place Monday.