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Why This Blog?

I’m a great reader of books – as well as magazines. I used to be a magazine editor (albeit for trade magazines) and loved it. Now I’m a librarian and, in some ways, I get to read for a living. How wonderful is that?

Years ago, I subscribed to The Believer, an ad-free magazine published by McSweeney’s, and one of my favorite columns in that magazine was “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” by Nick Hornby (he stopped writing it for a little while, but it’s back). I am nowhere near as well-read or well-spoken as Mr. Hornby. But I was quite taken by his musings on the books he read or planned to read (or, as often as not, what was going on in his world). So, for years I thought about writing a blog along the same lines.

This is my attempt. I welcome polite comments and ideas from everyone, as well as suggestions on books to read and topics to cover.


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What I Haven't Read in 2017

I made an odd sort of promise to myself this year: Read fewer books. The past few years, I been reading at a pace of about 100 books per year – a mix of children’s (but not counting picture books), young adult, and adult – and I felt as if I was reading too quickly and perhaps forgetting what I was reading. (Thank goodness for Goodreads.)
However, I consider it a very important part of my job as a librarian to keep up with what’s published, even if it’s a daunting task. Hundreds of thousands books are published each year in this country, so obviously it’s beyond even a superhero librarian (and I’m not one of those) to keep all those titles straight. But I try to at least know something about some books. We have two public-facing desks in my library – one is called the information desk; the other, reference. If you are working at the information desk, you will be asked for book recommendations. You will be asked, have you read this book? You will be asked to help select a book for a r…

"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance

I rarely get angry at a book or an author, but I found myself getting increasingly angry at J.D. Vance and his book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis. Angry enough to blog (so you know it must be bad.) This book is filled with contradictions and in several places is downright crazy because of people making really poor decisions. I am disappointed that so many people I know love it and so many book reviews rated it as one of the best books of 2016. I thought it would be a story that would teach me something about Republican/conservative voters, so I wanted to read it. It did not do that.
A graduate of Ohio State and Yale Law School, and a veteran (marine), J.D. Vance is from Kentucky and Ohio (his family is originally from Kentucky but they moved to Ohio and the author spends much time traveling back and forth), so he grew up in a family of hillbillies. Most of them were very poor and didn't work and often moved to larger cities in Ohio to …