Reading Matters: What the Research Reveals About Reading, Libraries, and Community by Catherine Sheldrick Ross
rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a very good overview of the research available in the area of reading for pleasure. The organization of the book is very good looking at history of reading and what we know from the research. This is followed by specific chapters focusing on what is known about children, about young adults, and about adults. In addition, the book contains small sections at the end of the chapters for what can libraries do to apply the lessons of the chapter. This is very useful and practical advice. Also, there are small segments, in gray boxes, that look at small case studies or other interesting details. A reader can easily read the whole book, or he can choose to browse the parts of interest. Some of the material I read here I had seen in other books about reading I have read. The strength of this book is not so much on novelty, though there are some new things, but on the excellent synthesis of various sources. The book is well written; it is engaging, and it makes some very good points about the need and desire of reading for pleasure. I think that librarians and educators alike should be reading it as well as anyone with an interest in reading.
Finally, as a small exercise for myself, this is a partial list of books mentioned in Reading Matters that I have read. By the way, the book provides a convenient title index in the back, which made it easy for me to go back and have a look. The list then:
- Janice Radway, A Feeling for Books: The Book-of-the-Month Club, Literary Taste, and Middle Class Desire. I don't quite recall when I read it, but it was a few years ago. It is not listed here in GR.
- Diana Herald, Genreflecting: A Guide to Reading Interests in Genre Fiction,. I read it in library school, and I still consult it on occasion. I keep my copy in my office. One of these days I have to list it here on GR.
- Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading. I read this one years ago, so it is not listed in GR. I have to reread it one of these days.
- Jim Burke, I Hear America Reading: Why We Read, What We Read,. This one is listed in my GR list.
- Jonathan Kozol, Illiterate America. This book came out in 1985. I remember being very moved by it when I read it during my undergraduate days. Since it was so long ago, it is not listed in GR.
- Robert Burgin, Nonfiction Readers' Advisory. This one is I have listed on my GR list.
- Harold Rabinowitz, A Passion for Books. This one, a favorite of mine, is also listed in my GR list.
- Joyce G Saricks, The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction. I read this in library school for my RA classes. Not listed in GR. I also read her Readers' Advisory Service in the Public Library for the same classes.
- Dilevko and Gottlieb, Reading and the Reference Librarian: The Importance to Library Service of Staff Reading Habits. This one is listed in my GR list. It makes an excellent point on the need for librarians and library staff to actually read (yes, believe it or not, a lot of my brethren do not read outside what little they may need professionally).
- Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran. I do not have this one listed in my GR page, but if I did, it would be on the "dropped" shelf. I simply could not get into this book, which I found pompous and pretentious at times. But hey, if it is your cup of tea, go for it. Remember the old adage: never apologize for your reading tastes. This book was simply not within my reading tastes.
- Sara Nelson, So Many Books, So Little Time. I have it listed on my GR. However, it was not a particularly good book in my estimation.
- Harold Bloom, The Western Canon. Read this in graduate school. Not listed in GR.
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