While it is not actually a requirement of my current job, I spend a lot of time reading books and writing reviews. (OK, I do need to remain current and familiar with the books to give good Readers Advisory service. But I take it a bit to an extreme, and the writing is definitely not required.) I admit to being a complete bookworm. My reading expands from just my leisure time to cut into time I should be spending on household chores. Luckily, my husband is very understanding and considers all of this reading and writing part of the way I practice my profession. Every now and again, something happens at work to justify his faith in me. Yesterday afternoon was one of those times that both demonstrates the importance of the reading I do and reminds me why I love being a librarian.
To provide some background, in the beginning of April, I decided to take up the YALSA’s 2012 Best of the Best Reading Challenge. For that challenge, I have been reading heavily from this year’s Award Winners and recommended book lists and writing about the experience on my book review blog, Writing ‘Bout Reading. Doing the challenge means that award-winning books are on my mind right now, which was a very good thing yesterday. Several students came to the Young Adult desk over the course of the afternoon with an assignment to read an award-winning book, learn about the award and write an essay about why they think that book should, or shouldn’t, have won that award.
Because I’ve been paying attention to various awards, I was able to quickly generate lists for them of potential books to read and discuss the various awards knowledgeably. As I was creating the lists, I was pleased to see how many of the books I have read. That meant I was able to better guide students to books that might be of more interest to them. I really wanted to fight the perception that award-winning books are dull and uninteresting. (One Mom actually kept telling her daughter that she would just need to accept that this was going to be a boring book and choose one that would be easier to write about.) Some of the students left with a stack of books to look over and choose from. Others left with just one.
But my favorite was the young man who walked out with Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (National Book Award 2007) and a huge smile on his face. I was grateful that I had taken the time to read so much because I was able to ask all of the usual Readers Advisory questions about the type of books he likes to read and what he had recently that he liked. I was then able to choose the book and tell him why it fit what he liked. He went from dreading having to read an award-winner to excited by the book in his hand. The feeling I got from seeing his smile is why I absolutely love my job! And it is also why I won’t feel too guilty about how much reading I do.
- Librarians Help! – Report after Week One (sonderbooks.com)