What are you reading?

By Anne Quinn - Guest Columnist

For as long as I can remember, the gift of books has been a part of every birthday and Christmas celebration. As a librarian, I have access to almost any book that I could ever want to read for free. However, there are books that beg to be owned. It is as necessary as oxygen for me to own books. I have books in every room in my home, including my closets. My collection is part decoration and part covetous desire to possess my own library.

I’ve already given my husband my list of “must have” books for Christmas this year. I like variety in books, and my list includes something funny to read, so anything from Bill Bryson, Amy or David Sedaris would be great. A book that can make me laugh uproariously is always a treat and these authors take me there! I also enjoy non-fiction, so I would be pleased to own “Blowout: Corrupted Democracy,” “Rogue State Russia,” and the “Richest, Most Destructive Industry on Earth” by Rachel Maddow. I’ve already read this as an ebook but this is a book, that I must own in hardcover. “The Accidental President: Harry S Truman and the Four Months That Changed the World” by A.J. Baime also made the “must have” list.

Beautiful decorating books by Carolyn Roehm and Bunny Williams are also part of by book obsession. These are my version of “picture books,” and I find it relaxing to sit in front of the fireplace browsing through gorgeous photographs of exquisite homes, gardens and getaways. I own most of their collections, but I’m hopeful to find one or two under the tree this year.

Currently, I’m reading the library copy of “The Library of the Unwritten” by A.J. Hackwith and it’s so deliciously entertaining that I must have a hard copy to own and reread at leisure. At the holidays, I like to reread my favorites. So I’ll be rereading soon, “A Christmas Memory” by Truman Capote and “Letters from Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I also love to give books as presents. In fact, all my friends know without a doubt they will receive a specially chosen book for their special occasions. If I’m not sure of their reading tastes, the next best thing is to give a Barnes & Nobel gift card. It is wildly thrilling when I’m the recipient of a B&N gift card; it takes forever to winnow my wish list. Half the fun is reading through all the reviews and considering each possible purchase.

For readers like myself, working at the library is a fabulous opportunity to visit with our patrons to hear their reviews on favorite books. There are three friends, one from Cincinnati, and two from Columbus that meet at the library once a month to discuss books. They enjoy lunch at one of our local eateries and then meet at the library to discuss what they are currently reading. I’m delighted when they come in and we swap reading lists.

They recently informed me that I must read, “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” by Kim Michele Richardson. The blurb on the back cover says, “Inspired by the people of Kentucky and the Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930’s, this is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere – even back home.” After reading the write-up, I ordered this book immediately. Tonight I’ll delve into the world of 1930’s Pack Horse librarians. This might not sound exciting to many, but I know I’ll adore this. Before book mobiles there were pack horses! For something a bit more exciting, with tons of action and adventure, I enjoy reading anything by Daniel Silva, Lee Childs, Nelson DeMille and Michael Crichton.

Chatting with kids to discuss their favorite books is always an eye opener! Currently, anything by Jeff Kinney, the author of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series and Dave Pilkey and his “Dog Man” series are incredibly popular. Margaret Peterson Haddix books are always popular and circulate well. Her audience is intended for upper elementary, middle school and teen readers, but I enjoy reading her books, too! I was thrilled to learn that Ms. Haddix used my name as a librarian character in her recent book, “The Strangers.” Classics like “Little Women” or “Treasure Island” rarely circulate, yet, I can’t bring myself to remove these from our collection. I remain hopeful that someone will check these out. I’m mulling over the possibility of starting a “classics book club for kids,” but I’m dubious there will be any interest. I’m happy though whenever kids inform me they love reading and check-out books, keeping in mind that reading tastes change and evolve.

So what book are you reading? Stop by the library and bend the ear of one of the librarians and give us a quick review of your favorite reads! I’m endlessly curious about what others are reading, and if I should ever be in your home, you can bet I’ll be checking out your book shelves!

Anne Quinn is the head of Children’s Services at Carnegie Public Library.

By Anne Quinn

Guest Columnist