2019 reading list and commentary

double pile of books on my kitchen table, some of which were there this time last year.

I started 132 books this year and finished 127. New this year: a twitter thread of everything I read in 2019. I read a lot this year but that was partly because I wasn’t feeling great, so it’s a new high number, but not necessarily a cause for celebration. I try not to become too competitive with myself and my reading. However, I did really work on reading more female authors this year and I think, even though I read a lot of S. A. Corey’s Expanse series, it paid off. That said, my non-Western/POC reading is down and that needs work, I’ll be referring to this list to get some good ideas for 2020.

A few books hit my best list this year: The Library Book (of course), The Ten Thousand Doors of January, a surprise fave, and Underland, a look at the things that take place under the ground, told in a great rich style. Haven’t yet gotten to the point where I can easily track pages read, but I’d sort of like to. The booklist tweeting was a fun addition and I’ll keep that up for 2020.

Here are stats for the books that I finished.

average read per month: 10.6
average read per week: 2.4
number read in worst month: 7 (June)
number read in best month: 17 (March)
number unfinished: 5
percentage by male authors: 32%
percentage by female authors: 68%
percentage of authors of color/non-Western: 19%
fiction as percentage of total:  72%
non-fiction as percentage of total: 28%
percentage of total liked: 94%
percentage of total ambivalent: 4%
percentage of total disliked: 1%

Previous librarian.net summaries: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004. The always-updated booklist, going back to 1997, lives at jessamyn.info/booklist and it has its own RSS feed.

Ask A Librarian: Graphic Novels for Boomers?

cover of WOman Rebel which features Margaret Sanger tied to a chair

I was wondering if you might give my little women’s (boomers) some guidance as to a beginning graphic novel for us to read.

Hi! It sort of depends what you’re into. The big favorite was the Vermont Reads book for last year which was John Lewis’s March (about civil rights and the struggle for them especially in the south). It’s first person, can get a little violent at times but I found it pretty engaging. There are a lot of graphic novels at the library that are a little kid-oriented but still have storytelling and pacing that works for adults. A few classics include

  • El Deafo – about a child with a hearing impairment learning to manage it as well as just being a kid
  • Ghosts by Raine Telgemeier which is about families and, sort of, the Day of the Dead
  • Pashmina – a story about a “two culture” kid who encounters a magic shawl and uses it to get information on family secrets

One that I liked but it’s a little challenging in terms of material (some graphic stuff) is Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story which is a history of Sanger. Super interesting but obviously she was living in a difficult time and working with people who were living in a more difficult time.

All of these are, I think, available at the Kimball Library and Courtney Bowen there I’m sure would have other suggestions since she manages the collection.

Ask A Librarian: How can I get my product or book viewed by librarians?

Image of a glass statue of a woman who appears to be reading a book in front of a bunch of illuminated glass books

This is a question from the FAQ but I’m updating it and fleshing it out. Even as blogs are not the main place where people go for information, I still get pitches from people who find me when Googling “librarian” or some other impersonal way. I know it’s hard to promote a book or software, especially in today’s days of information overload. At the same time, barring you becoming some sort of viral sensation, libraries learn about books in a lot of the usual, normal ways.

The short answer to this question is “Go to library conferences. Have a decent, short pitch. Be familiar with their issues and concerns. Don’t be the typical salesperson.” Continue reading “Ask A Librarian: How can I get my product or book viewed by librarians?”

Ask a Librarian: What do I do with these old books?

13 liquor boxes full of books
When you work with libraries, people ask you a lot of questions about what to do with old books, presumably books they don’t want. Here are ten tips that are good to know about donating books in general. Continue reading “Ask a Librarian: What do I do with these old books?”