Kincer, a reading and writing specialist, reads based on her
mood. When she needs a “palate cleanser,” she says, she picks
something radically different from her last read. And recommendations from friends or a favorite podcast will often jump
over anything on her to-read pile. She might take a reading
“mini vacation”—a reading day—but that’s a luxury.
Wendy Bartlett, CCPL’s collection development and acquisition manager, will take a reading vacation if she’s preparing for
a radio or television interview. But her “best vacations ever,” she
says, are her planned “theme reading” weeks each year, during
which she might go for Irish authors, or classic noir, or Melville
and Hawthorne, and take time to immerse herself deeply in the
genre. She resists playing catch-up by going back and pulling
from the many year-end lists. There are too many wonderful and
fresh books being published, she says; she just can’t back up.
My constant reading companion is Bill Kelly, adult programming manager. Bill and I select the authors for our annual
William N. Skirball Writers Center Stage Series, events that
raise money for our CCPL Foundation. Bill was on the Notables
committee when Ike was chair, and later served as chair himself.
After a stint on the ALA Carnegie Awards Committee, Bill is
now back on Notables, and he is one of a very few people whose
recommendations I will always read. In fact, Bill’s December
pick for me, Solar Bones by Mike McCormack, went on my 2017
Bill shared his reading planning with me—a strategy that has
been part of his life for 30 years. He has a to-be-read journal
divided into categories, and a journal for books he’s read. He
says he plans about 90% of his reading and will take a reading
vacation to catch up on the Notables or the to-be-read list.
When not serving on the Notables committee, he still follows
a very specific plan. For example, he might pick three authors
who have last names that all begin with the same letter, such as
Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and Flaubert, and try to read all of their
books in one year.
So, what’s my fascination with the reading vacations or
reading plans? I think it’s that the readers I know and most
admire are always so intentional about the books they read, the
books they recommend, and the books they choose to keep on
their shelves or devices. Among great readers, there is a continual eagerness to share the pleasure (and sometimes the disappointment) of a book as a way to connect with others.
If you don’t have a reading plan, maybe the beginning of the
new year is a good opportunity to start one. Finding a way to
read more books in 2018 certainly can’t hurt. To quote the
great educational philosopher Robert Maynard Hutchins, “I
am not saying that reading and discussing the Great Books
will save humanity from itself, but I don’t know anything else
that will.” ■
Column | LIBRARY NEWS
MARCH 6, 2018
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