Monday, January 23, 2006

A little more on book lists and reading

Mark Lindner recently posted "The books I read last year post." He also wrote a reply to my post "The 50 Book Challenge? A little on book lists." As it often happens with a good and interesting idea, what started out as a comment to another post kept getting a bit longer. So I am replying to Mark's post here. When I posted my list post, I had no idea there was a "thing" that went around every year. Then again, I have not been blogging for a year yet, so maybe that was part of my lack of awareness in that regard. Can such ventures be narcissistic? Probably, especially if it becomes a spectator sport, but then again who is anyone who does this to call anyone else narcissistic?

So why did I do it? Make my reading list public that is. For a long time, I've kept some track in my journals of the books I read, but it was nothing shared. In the end, I think I did it for whimsy. I'd liked to think that maybe the FBI or the Department of Homeland Security will see it and get pissed, but I don't think I read anything terribly dangerous last year. Hmm, I may need to work on that this year.

Glad to hear you tagged some books Mark. That's the beauty and the rub of lists. You can always (strive to) get to them later. If you do get to some of them, I would love to read your impressions. And then there are the thousands of books unread. As the saying goes, "so many books, so little time." This means we make choices when it comes to our reading, well, in regards to our pleasure reading at least. Maybe we can look at these reading lists as paths, as the trail that a reader follows in their reading and literacy life. I hinted at this in my previous post but allow me to expand the idea a bit more. Around the time I was headed to do the National Writing Project, I had to write a literacy narrative, which in very simple terms, is an autobiographical story of your literacy. I may some day dig it up, see how I have changed and post a form of it here. Anyhow, I wonder now as I write this if for some people such lists could be a form of literacy narrative: this is where I have been; these are the thoughts and ideas that engaged, interested, challenged me; these are hints of who I am and where I would like to go. Some might say I may be reading a bit much into lists, but what if. . .? What if we asked some of those readers about their lists, about their choices, about what they remember? What if, for instance, we looked at the reading choices of librarians, or other people? Just a thought, but maybe one worth exploring. Another way to look at it can be the rise of social booklists sites. Maybe some of those could be a primary source to begin asking and answering such questions.

Is about the inner readers' advisor? I don't know. While I can certainly see myself doing RA in a public library, I would need to read more in the genres of fiction. Reading The Very Virile Viking is not necessarily my idea of fun. Although this particular title seems like fun. One of my classmates read it for our Adult RA class during our discussion of romance novels. We all giggled about it, but she gave it a good booktalk. Overall, what I find neat about RA is bringing readers together, like helping someone on their journey. If I did not do what I do now, RA and reference work in a public library might have been my next choice for a vocation. At any rate Mark, you might have a little RA in you, if the way you write about books and some articles is any indication. In the end though, as Joseph Campbell would say, you have to follow your own bliss. Or, if you prefer pop culture, as Mr. Spock told Captain Kirk, "Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny. Anything else is a waste of material" (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, see this and other Star Trek quotes here). When that librarian told me, "you know, I think you'd make a good librarian," I knew I was on my way to my best destiny, but that is another story.

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