Author Archives: Aimee Owen

Friday Reads: “Pretend I’m Dead” and “Vacuum in the Dark” by Jen Beagin

I read a review for Vacuum in the Dark and discovered that it was the sequel to Jen Beagin’s 2015 debut novel, Pretend I’m Dead. The latter tells the story of Mona, a 24-year-old cleaning woman in Lowell, Massachusetts, who just can’t seem to find her place in the world. Mona volunteers at a clean-needle exchange, collects vintage vacuum cleaners, and has an inner-dialogue with NPR’s Terry Gross (“This is Fresh Air!”). After a doomed relationship with a junkie, she moves to Taos, New Mexico.

The rest of the novel, and the next book, follow Mona as she builds her house cleaning business in Taos (getting to know her clients in person and through their belongings; if you ever thought your cleaning person didn’t snoop, you’d be wrong). She makes poor decisions and weird friends, follows a man to Bakersfield, California, and confronts her past… and her future.

Each book can be read as a stand-alone, but I’d suggest reading them in order. Neither is terribly long – about 240 pages each. If you enjoy gallows humor, quirky characters, and discussions of cleaning products, Mona is the anti-heroine you’ve been waiting for.

Beagin, Jen. Pretend I’m Dead. Northwestern University Press, 2015.
Beagin, Jen. Vacuum in the Dark. Scribner, 2019.

 

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#BookFaceFriday – The Dewey Decimal System of Love

This #BookFaceFriday has love down to a (library) science…

“For questions about love, and more particularly, inappropriate love, go the 306.7s.” If you’re searching your library’s catalog for a quick, funny, and perhaps slightly naughty, summer beach read, look no further than Josephine Carr’s “The Dewey Decimal System of Love” (New American Library, 2003).

“…a most bizarre, unpredictable and thoroughly delightful mess that keeps the pages turning and the laughs coming.” — Tampa Tribune

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Sauers, our Government Information Services Librarian. Mary knows all about love in the library – she married another librarian, former NLC Technology Librarian, and current Director of Technology at Do Space, Michael Sauers.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Prodigal Summer”

It’s a jungle out there, #BookFaceFriday fans!

Can’t you just feel the heat radiating from this rain forest setting? Oh, wait, that’s just the local weather! Set over the course of a particularly humid summer, Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Perennial, 2000) “weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia.” This title is a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, along with several other titles by Kingsolver. It seemed like a perfect choice for this week’s bookface, as our local flora and fauna thrive (while the rest of us wilt) in the current heat and humidity!

A “blend of breathtaking artistry, encyclopedic knowledge of the natural world, attention to detail, and ardent commitment to the supremacy of nature.” San Francisco Chronicle

This week’s #BookFace photo was taken on location in Costa Rica by our staff assistant, Kayla Henzel. Thank you Kayla, for your dedication to the #BookFace cause, even while off the clock!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Black Cherries”

This #BookFace seemed ripe for the picking…

Black Cherries by Grace Stone Coates (Bison Books, 2003) is a reprint of the original 1931 title. “In this series of linked stories the child narrator, Veve, cannot fathom all the mysteries of her family’s life together, but by watching and listening she pieces together a painful past.” This title is published by Bison Books, an imprint of University of Nebraska Press, which we collect from for our state documents program.

Black Cherries is a work of genius, written in vital fluids, illuminated by lightening, quivering with truth.”—Statesman Journal, Salem, OK

This week’s #BookFace model is Tina Walker, director of the Keene Memorial Library in Fremont. She was visiting the Library Commission to present on our weekly NCompass Live webinar series. Check out her episode, Growing Partnerships Where Least Expected.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Beyond To Kill a Mockingbird

PBS recently posted this list of “10 books besides ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that tackle racial injustice” and I couldn’t help but notice that the Nebraska Library Commission has several of these titles in our book club kit collection.

If your class or book club would like to read any of these, click on the title to request the book set. Of course, we have To Kill a Mockingbird too!

Looking for other great book club reads? Check out our entire collection here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub/

 

 

 

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Nebraska Archives Online from the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries

“Archivists from the four University of Nebraska institutions have collaborated to launch
Nebraska Archives Online
, a database that provides access to finding-aids and guides for the university system’s archival and manuscript collections.

Through the work of the University of Nebraska Consortium of Libraries, Nebraska Archives Online meets a longstanding need to provide a one-stop portal to these collections. It’s a resource meant to engage the public’s curiosity and improve the research process for students and others with research needs. The materials in each of the NU archives are available for anyone to use.”

Read more about the database here:
https://news.unl.edu/newsrooms/today/article/university-launches-nebraska-archives-online/

 

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#BookFaceFriday “Stoner”

This week’s #BookFaceFriday is kind of a bummer, man…

Does this #BookFace look familiar? You might recognize this cover from Sam Shaw’s recent Friday Reads post about “Stoner” by John Williams (NYRB Classics, 2006). Sam, our Planning and Data Coordinator, was gracious enough to pose for this week’s photo.

“A beautiful, sad, utterly convincing account of an entire life…I’m amazed a novel this good escaped general attention for so long.” —Ian McEwan

Friday Reads is a weekly book review series posted by Nebraska Library Commission staff. Former NLC staffer Laura Johnson created this series to model the idea of talking about books and to help readers get to know our staff a little better.  We hope that our book reviews will start a conversation about books among our readers and encourage others to share their own reviews and recommendations. Past Friday Reads are archived on the NCompass blog, or you can browse a list of reviews here.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Keiko Furukura realized as a child that she was different from everyone else. Her classmates and teachers were increasingly dismayed by her behavior and her family desperately wanted her to be “cured” and become “normal.” Until Keiko found her job at the Smile Mart convenience store during university, she felt doomed to be the odd one out.

But at Smile Mart, the world makes perfect sense. She can follow the employee behavior manual, mimic the speech and dress of her co-workers, and everyone seems happy with her. Flash-forward 18 years; working part-time at a convenience store is no longer enough to keep her friends and family satisfied, and Keiko finds that it is time for a change.

This story gives some insight into the importance of conformity in Japanese culture; it is more important to Keiko’s friends and family that she meet societal expectations, to get married or find a real career path, than to live a content life as a misfit…even if that marriage is dysfunctional or the career makes her unhappy. Keiko must decide if she will do as others think she should… or be true to herself. A short read, this humorous yet heart-breaking tale may have you wondering who the misfits really are.

Murata, Sayaka. Convenience Store Woman. Translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori, Grove Press, 2018.

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Disaster Planning and Recovery

Taylor Nebraska Damaged BridgeAs the floodwaters begin to recede, many communities in our state are working to assess and repair the damage left behind. Staff at the Nebraska Library Commission and Regional Library Systems have been in contact with Nebraska libraries. With great relief, we have heard that minimal damage has been reported in the public libraries in affected areas; some wet carpet and a few flooded basements. Now those libraries can focus on helping their communities recover.

If your library is looking for information on disaster planning and materials preservation, check out our page of library-specific resources: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/libman/preservation.aspx

If you are helping residents find information on disaster recovery, we have compiled this page of resources on NebraskAccess: http://nebraskaccess.nebraska.gov/emergency.asp

We are always updating our pages, so if you notice that we are missing a crucial resource, please reach out to us.

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#BookFaceFriday “Very Valentine”

If the shoe fits…

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani is the first book in the Valentine trilogy, and was an obvious choice for the week of Valentine’s Day! Love, travel, and shoes… what more could a girl ask for?

“With its vibrant cast of characters, its magical settings, and handmade shoes to die for Very Valentine is a sumptuous feast, a celebration of love and loss filled with Adriana Trigiani’s trademark heart and humour.” – from the back cover.

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is Administrative and Communications Staff Assistant Kayla Henzel.

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available at Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Miracle on 49th Street”

This week’s bookface was nothing but net!

Miracle on 49th Street by Mike Lupica is the story of professional basketball player Josh Cameron, who is suddenly confronted by 12-year-old Molly, the daughter he never knew he had. Molly has just lost her mother to cancer, and is shocked to discover that her father is none other than her favorite Celtics’ MVP. Now all she has to do is convince Josh that she’s telling him the truth…

“This novel is . . . an enjoyable read with interesting peeks into the world of professional basketball. It will appeal to young teen sports enthusiasts as well as kids just looking for a good story.” –VOYA

Today’s #BookFace model is an “oldie but a goodie!” Sue Biltoft is back with the NLC as our accountant. Sue returned to us in December after a few years off, and we are very happy she did!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist”

To #BookFace, perchance to dream…

“Poetry is all I have to give. I don’t know any other way to help.” Based on real-life abolitionist Gertrudis Gomez de Avellanda (Tula), Margarita Engle’s book of verse tells the story of a brave young woman who fought against her family’s expectations and spoke out against her country’s treatment of women and the practice of slavery. The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionistis a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and is one of many YA selections that we have available. Reserve it for your book club today!

“An inspiring fictionalized verse biography of one of Cuba’s most influential writers… Fiery and engaging, a powerful portrait of the liberating power of art.” – Kirkus Reviews

Today’s #BookFace model is one of our Talking Book & Braille Service reader advisors, Holly!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of ’80s and ’90s Teen Fiction by Gabrielle Moss

My most vivid memory of second grade was trying to read a Sweet Valley Twins book under my desk during class, only to get caught and kept in from recess. This may have happened multiple times (sorry, Mrs. Wade). From the ages 8 to 12, I heavily favored the sort of books that Gabrielle Moss revisits in her new history of tween and teen fiction from the 1980s and ’90s, Paperback Crush.

Flipping through this book was a fun trip down memory lane, with stops along the way in Stoneybrook, CT, Sweet Valley, CA, and Shadyside, OH. Was it classic literature? Not in the slightest. But I would stalk the shelves of my local library or mall bookstore, just waiting for the latest installment of my series-du-jour.

I was surprised at how many titles/series I had forgotten about over the years. Sleepover Friends and Girl Talk, The Face on the Milk Carton, 2 Young 2 Go 4 Boys; their plots had obviously wormed their way into my subconscious, judging by how many clubs I convinced friends to form and how fascinating the idea of having a twin was to tween-age me.

Moss has broken down the 80s/90s teen fiction genre into 7 broad themes (love, friends, family, school, jobs, danger, and terror) and covers the most popular books for each theme, and the knockoffs they inspired. Teen fiction during this time period certainly had its flaws: lack of diversity, corny plot-lines and cheesy cover art, neatly wrapped up endings, but it also fueled the girl-power movement and sparked a lifelong love of reading for many of us. These girls could do anything – take on the school bully, run for class president, deal with an annoying brother or divorcing parents, fight vampires… Interspersed throughout are interviews with authors such as Rhys Bowen, Caroline Cooney, and Christoper Pike, as well as a timeline of teen lit from the turn of the 20th century until more modern times.

If you ever started your own babysitter’s club, or asked yourself if you were an Elizabeth or a Jessica, I would recommend spending a couple of nostalgia-filled hours with this “totally radical” history book.

Moss, Gabrielle. Paperback Crush. Philadelphia, PA : Quirk Books. 2018.

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Friday Reads: (Another) Year in Review

As we begin the countdown to 2019, the Nebraska Library Commission is looking back at all the great books we’ve reviewed in 2018!

In our weekly blog series Friday Reads, a staff member at the Nebraska Library Commission posts a review of a book every Friday. Spanning all genres, from short stories to celebrity memoirs, young adult to crime fiction, we’ve shared what we’ve read and why we’ve read it.

Former NLC staffer Laura Johnson created this series to model the idea of talking about books and to help readers get to know our staff a little better. Readers advisory and book-talking are valuable skills for librarians to develop, but they are ones that take practice. We hope that our book reviews will start a conversation about books among our readers and encourage others to share their own reviews and recommendations.

The series has been going strong for 4 1/2 years and has produced over 200 reviews, which are archived on the NCompass blog, or you can browse a list of reviews here.

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Friday Reads: Short Story Binge

The Booklist Reader recently had a blog post about short stories that have been turned into feature films, leading with the announcement of a new film adaptation of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. My first thought was that it would be difficult to create a full-length movie out of such a  short story, but the more I sat with it, the more it made sense. After all, most movies based on books have to trim the story considerably to fit within the allotted time. With a short story, you can capture the entire plot, or even expand as needed, playing with pacing and visual and sound effects.

The list of short stories and their corresponding big screen treatment inspired me to pick up a few of the suggested titles, so I’ve been having my own “short-story-athon” this past month. Here are some of the collections I chose from Booklist Reader’s list that I would recommend for anyone looking for a break from 300+ page novels:

Stories Of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. A collection of science fiction and fantasy tales, the title story was the basis for the 2016 movie Arrival.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro. The title story was adapted into Hateship Loveship with Kristen Wiig of SNL fame and is currently streaming on Netflix.

Short Cuts by Raymond Carver. Robert Altman adapted this collection for the screen, and he writes the introduction.

The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes. Tales of suburban life and how you never know what is happening behind closed doors. The movie didn’t get rave reviews, but don’t let that dissuade you from reading it.

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx. My library didn’t have the collection that this story is in (Close Range, one of three collections she wrote set in Wyoming), but I was able to listen to just Brokeback Mountain as an audio download during my commute one day. The movie stays very true to the story, and is a great example of why short stories make good films.

Love movies based on books? (Or hate ’em?). If you missed our recent NCompass Live discussion on the topic, you can catch it in the archives: Book Vs Movie: The Ultimate Showdown!

Chiang, Ted. Stories Of Your Life and Others. 2014. Audio.
Munro, Alice. Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. 2001. Print.
Carver, Raymond. Short Cuts. 1993. Print.
Homes, A.M. The Safety Of Objects. 1990. Print.
Proulx, Annie. Brokeback Mountain. 2005. Audio.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Pope Joan”

#BookFace– the woman, the myth, the legend!

“For a thousand years her existence has been denied. She is the legend that will not die–Pope Joan, the ninth-century woman who disguised herself as a man and rose to become the only female ever to sit on the throne of St. Peter…in this riveting novel, Donna Woolfolk Cross paints a sweeping portrait of an unforgettable heroine who struggles against restrictions her soul cannot accept.”

Pope Joan” by Donna Woolfolk Cross (Ballentine Books, 2009) is this week’s #BookFaceFriday selection. Based on the legend of the only women to hold the papal throne, it is the “dramatic story of a woman whose strength of vision led her to defy the social restrictions of her day”.   This novel a part of our NLC Book Club Kit collection, and it’s the perfect choice for book clubs that like historical fiction.

Pope Joan has all the elements one wants in a historical drama–love, sex, violence, duplicity, and long-buried secrets. Cross has written an engaging book.”–Los Angeles Times Book Review

This week’s #BookFaceFriday model is our interim director of the Western Library System, Kathy Terrell!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available for book clubs at http://nlc.nebraska.gov/ref/bookclub. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Lawn Boy by Jonathan Evison

All 5-year-old Mike wanted from life was to go to Disney World. One day, his dad packed him in the car, drove him to an abandoned shipyard, and told him that The Happiest Place on Earth must have closed. That was the day that ol’ Mike Muñoz realizes that life will be a constant disappointment, and just when you think you’re going to get what you want, it will all be taken away.

Today, Mike is a 22-year-old landscaper (although he prefers the title “topiary artist” for his skills with the hedge-trimmers). He still lives with his mom and his developmentally disabled brother, their dad long gone to parts unknown. He drives a junky car, always one step away from engine failure, and still hangs out with his high school buddy, neither of them with any romantic prospects on the horizon.

When Mike loses his landscaping job for refusing to pick up dog poo, he is determined to do whatever it takes to break free of his hand-to-mouth existence and chase the American Dream, perhaps writing “the great American landscaping novel” along the way. And so begins a series of unfortunate events that will be all too familiar to anyone who has ever tried to escape from the cycle of poverty that holds down a good portion of our society. Though angry and resentful about his lot in life, Mike keeps his sense of humor, even as “The Man” takes everything else away.

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Behind the Scenes of #BookFaceFriday

BookFace How To GifCrafting our weekly #BookFaceFriday series this past year has been a blast! We’ve posted before about our bookface photos highlighting the Nebraska 150 book list, and we’ve since expanded into our book club kit and University Press collections. Today, we’ll take you behind the scenes to show you how we construct a bookface photo.

We start by judging books by their covers, so to speak. (We know librarians are not supposed to do that, but we like to bend the rules sometimes. Shhhh, don’t tell!) Books with faces on them are obvious choices, of course, but sometimes we mix things up with a body part or even holiday decor. On occasion, we use the photo to promote an event or award, but for the most part, we just like to share fun covers in our collections.

After we have the book, we choose our victim, er, model. Library Commission staff are regularly featured, but we also like to snag visitors when we can. Please don’t let that discourage you from visiting us.

Then comes the real “work” of posing the model and lining up the shot. Our photographer, Tessa Terry, goes to great lengths to get model and book aligned just so. I mainly just stand there with my arm out, trying not to let the book shake too much.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Want to check out all of our past #BookFaceFriday photos?  Follow us on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page or subscribe to the NLC blog!

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Friday Reads: Greetings From Witness Protection by Jake Burt

Do you ever dream about starting over? Leaving your old life behind, assuming a new identity and becoming a whole other person?

Elena Sicurezza was a lawyer for a notorious crime family, the Cercatores. After testifying against the mob, she and her husband and son are placed into witness protection. The U.S. Marshals decide adding a daughter to the family will make them harder to find – after all, the mob is looking for 3 people, not 4. Enter Nicki Demure.

13 year old Nicki is in-between foster families, a ward of the state after her father went to prison and her grandmother passed away. As hard as she tries, she just can’t seem to stick with any one foster placement – partially because she has a smart mouth and a bad habit of picking pockets, and also because she just knows her father will come for her as soon as he is paroled. But… Nicki learns that he has been released from prison and still hasn’t shown up… two years later. So when a federal marshal offers her the chance to join a family going into hiding, she takes the plunge.

So the Sicurezza family of New York become the Trevors of Ohio, and Nicki is transformed into their daughter Charlotte. The family is placed in North Carolina, where they try to lay low.

Pick up this middle grade novel to see how Nicki/Charlotte handles Southern-belle mean girls, visits from gangster henchmen, and a new brother who is loathe to give up his only-child status. If you enjoy humorous realistic fiction, you’ll love this story as much as I did!

Burt, Jake. Greetings From Witness Protection. Feiwel & Friends, 2017. Print.

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Tracking our reading: a conversation

Here at the Nebraska Library Commission, we talk about books A LOT. Surprised? Nah, we aren’t either.

Last week, Lisa Kelly and I chatted with our Online Services Librarian, Susan Kniseley, about our respective habits of tracking our books read, how we got started, and why we continue to do it.

SK: So both of you have indicated that you track the books you read each year. How long ago did you start keeping track of your reading? Also, can you share a bit about the mechanism you use? (I feel so NPR!)

LK: I started about 15 years ago when I made a new year’s resolution to read a book a week, because I wanted to be more intentional about my reading habits and to note my accomplishment when I finished. I use an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of my books. You are SO NPR Susan!

AO: I track primarily through Goodreads because it was used by a reading group I was in. I’ve been doing it for about 6 years. I am sure I used to keep paper lists earlier in life, but only sporadically. This year I am also going to track in my bullet journal (a customizable planner/diary/to-do list).

SK: What sort of information do each of you track about the books you read? Do you just list title/author, or do you include more information, like number of pages? Do you rate it?

LK: Over the years, I’ve definitely increased the number of audio books I consume – so I note when I read text vs listen, when I finish,if it was for a book club assignment and if it was part of series. No page numbers, no ratings, but I do include if someone recommended it – or other facts I think are important – like if my co-worker Susan and I read it together.

AO: I keep track of why I’m reading them on Goodreads, through the various “shelves” you can designate – if it’s for Golden Sower, reading aloud to my kids, something I need to know more about for reader advisory purposes, books on parenting, etc. Also the date I finished. I don’t designate audio versus print – I can’t tell the difference in my mind once I’m done. I do rate books, but I don’t worry about page numbers. And I’m a generous book-rater – I like most!

SK: So Lisa, since you are using Excel, do you ever play around with sorting, assuming you track information in different cells? (Awww, that’s so sweet Lisa. I’m part of your system!)

LK: No data collection of any sort- I just list the books so I can keep track, and note if I’m running behind and need to crack the whip to hit 52 before 12/31.

SK: And Aimee, is there a rating system you use in Goodreads, or do you make up your own? Do you write comments?

AO: They have a 5 star rating system, with 3 being “liked it”, 4 “really liked it”, 5 “loved it”. I am not even sure what 1-2 are because I don’t use them. If I’ve finished a book, I like it well enough to read to the end. I don’t write comments often, but I love to read them!

LK: Are you two aware of other folks who keep book lists?

AO: I have a lot of friends (real-life friends) that are also on Goodreads, so it’s nice to see what other people are reading at the same time.

LK: Does that affect your reading selections?

AO: Reading selections, no – I will note if they’ve read something I’ve already read, but I don’t usually get my ideas from there.

LK: Do you think it’s a boastful activity? The list keeping? Or do others view it that way?

AO: Sometimes, sure, but it’s generally just like everything else on social networking these days – we just overshare. And I think anything that encourages reading in our over-scheduled world is good – even boasting!

SK: Not necessarily boastful. And I knew Lisa kept a list, but I don’t recall her ever saying anything about it in terms of number of titles read.

LK: LOL — I don’t tell many people that I keep track. When I asked my book group if they kept lists, they said no – but concluded it would have been helpful when they started reading a book they’d already read (or already purchased). I do consult my lists when I’ve had to (gasp) skip over series titles (Jack Reacher) and need to fill in the blanks.

SK: I follow a vegan cooking person who I don’t know personally. She never talks about much except vegan cooking, but every year she posts a list of books she’s read. It’s neat to see this different aspect of her life.

LK: I like that Susan – it is a bit of a thumbprint of sorts, don’t you think?

AO: Agreed – it’s not why you follow them, but it does make them more human in your mind.

SK: It’s nice to know people read in their private life.

LK: It’s a bit like looking at someone’s books on their shelves when you visit their house.

SK: So Lisa mentioned keeping on track to reach 52 books by 12/31. Do you both have reading goals? If so, how have they changed?

AO: I did a Goodreads annual challenge several years ago, and have done one ever since. It used to be 100-120 books a year, but the last two years I’ve dropped back to 52-60.

SK: So here’s another thing I wondered about. Has the act of keeping a list had any impact on your reading life? Has it changed how or what you read in any way?

AO: Well, other than reading an occasional poetry book just for a quick score on my tally, I don’t think it has. I started keeping track because I needed to read certain books for the Golden Sower committee, but I would have been reading those regardless, and my “adult” book preferences haven’t changed.

LK: I can’t say the list has changed me – being in a book group has pulled me in different reading directions – but I feel satisfaction in looking at old lists and one one book can often naturally lead to another, i.e. Ruth Bader Ginsberg lead to Gloria Steinem. Richard Miller and I both said this last night at book group, age has lead us to read more bios, more nonfiction, and I’d say that’s true for me. But, I still adore my series authors.

SK: So when you look back over your entire list, stretching back several years, do you find anything noteworthy? Do you notice trends or changes? Does it seem to reflect anything in your life?

LK: Probably nothing worth putting into a paragraph other than the satisfaction of keeping a goal for many years – and that feels a bit like getting an A on your report card.

AO: My interests have changed – more books about parenting now (or complaining about parenting might be more accurate? Mommy-lit rather than chick-lit).

SK: So Aimee, do you feel the same satisfaction with hitting a goal that Lisa feels? In terms of number of title read in a year?

AO: I did when I read 100-120. I felt rather lazy last year with only 52 (I think I actually read 60 or so).

SK: So do you both record every single book you read? Or do you occasionally leave something off your list? If so, why?

LK: Since my lists are private – I don’t leave anything off. I think the act of the list is rather like a report card, showing progress, and a type A person like me gets enjoyment out of the process of tracking something.

AO: I can’t think of the last one I left off the list; I am pretty sure I list them all. Sometimes there is a book that I feel self-conscious about reading for whatever reason, but I figure no one is paying any more attention to what I’m reading than I am to their lists.

SK: That’s one of the reasons I stopped using Goodreads – I’m sure I could have figured out privacy settings, but I didn’t want to take the time, and I wasn’t sure I wanted all my books showing up to “friends” that I might not know well.

LK: Aimee – do you think you’ll always keep book lists?

AO: In one way or another – I enjoy having the history to look back on.

Thanks for reading through our ramblings! Do you keep track of your reading, online or elsewhere? Feel free to leave us a comment and join in the conversation.

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