MORRILL MEMORIAL LIBRARY

Monday - Thursday: 9:00 am - 9:00 pm
Friday: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturdays: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sundays: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Closed Saturdays July 1 through Labor Day
Closed Sundays from Memorial Day - Columbus Day Weekend

All The Books I’ve Never Read

After contributing to this column for over three years, I should learn to take my own advice. I’ve written several articles on strategies to cultivate and diversify your reading interests and on tools to help you find your next book.  For all of the knowledge I dispense on a daily basis about finding the right book for the right person, I can’t find one for me!  That’s right, I’m admitting it out loud (or in print):  My name is Kate, and I’m a librarian who can’t find a good book to read.  I’m floating in a state of non-reading, a place filled with aimless internet surfing and too many piles of unread books on my nightstand.  Instead of reading, I spend my time watching YouTube videos (gasp!) and musing about various Instagram memes.

Not reading is a tough phase for a librarian to go through.  It’s bewildering on both a personal and professional level. There’s a palpable sense of anxiety; a worry of “what if I never read again?!?!” flies through my head when I’m in one of these ruts.  Few of my colleagues have admitted to temporarily being a non-reader but I personally believe it happens to all of us at some point.  Once, I had a colleague shamefully confess to me about a phase where she read nothing but magazine articles for three months!  Of course, this still qualifies as reading but, to a librarian, it feels like cheating.

So what am I going to do?  I went back and reread some of the advice I gave in my last column about making reading compatible with parenthood and have decided to mine  my own  childhood for reading ideas. After looking over my own book lists, I’ve realized there are significant holes in my list of children’s classics that I’ve actually read.. Perhaps it’s time to fill the holes and read all the books I “should” read and could enjoy as an adult

An avid fantasy reader, I loved Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series and eagerly awaited the publication of each title in the late 90s. Lyra Belacqua, Pullman’s protagonist, lives in an alternative Oxford, England under the theocratic Magisterium, a church that controls the entire world. She and her daemon, a spirit animal that constantly accompanies Lyra, live a carefree life until her friend is kidnapped and she is thrust into the mysterious adult world of her uncle Asriel’s research on “dust”.  Many view Pullman’s trilogy as a direct critique of the Christian worldview and apology in C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series.  Lewis sets his books in the mythical Narnia, a magical, alternate world discovered by four English children who’ve been evacuated to a house in the British countryside after the outbreak of World War II.  Though I’ve seen the BBC adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I’ve never been able to finish any of the Narnia books.  I’ve always found the beginnings rather boring and not enticing enough to carry on reading them.  It’s not a promising sign and I suspect The Chronicles of Narnia won’t be the books to force me out of my reading rut.

Another hole in my reading history is the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I managed to miss the bump in popularity that these books received during the 80s and 90s obsession with pioneer life (the eponymous TV show starring Michael Landon, Christy, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman come to mind).  I’m not naturally drawn to historical fiction but the Little House series remains well-loved in the pantheon of classics in children’s literature.  In contrast, I adored Anne of Green Gables by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. Set in late 19th century Prince Edward Island, Montgomery tells the tale of red-haired Anne, an orphan mistakenly sent to a local farm to help its elderly owners with the daily chores of rural life.  Anne Shirley is my perfect heroine: imaginative, fiery, and extremely loyal to friends and family. If I attempt any more historical fiction, I’m determined to find one with a strong main character.

Finally, as a lifelong mystery reader, I loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg. Twelve year old Claudia knows she wants to get away from the banality of suburban life and the beautiful, glamorous Metropolitan Museum of Art is the perfect destination.  She strong-arms her brother Jamie, a penny pinching kid with the funds to make their adventures a reality, into coming along with her and they become embroiled in a mystery of an angel statue that might be the lost work of Michelangelo.

Claudia Kincaid is an appealing example of a common archetype:  isolated preteen girl with aspirations to something more. This is the basis for Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, another book I managed to miss. Harriet Welsch is much less likable than Claudia with lower ambitions for her future.  After deciding in order to be a writer, she must write what she knows, Harriet begins keeping a pretty epic burn book of all her cruel thoughts and observations about everyone in her life. Her precious notebook falls into the wrong hands, causing her to lose all her friends and learn a tough lesson about the consequences of one’s actions.  Harriet’s nanny,  Ole Golly, dishes out the harsh lesson that there are no do-overs in this life and that she needs to shape up and start being the person she wants to be.

Unlike life, reading offers us the opportunity for a do-over, the ability to go back and re-live our favorite book moments or fill in the ones we never had.  It’s particularly satisfying to go back to old, favorite books and get even more enjoyment out of them. If you are looking to re-read a childhood favorite or to get some help finding the ones you missed, come into the Children’s Room and let us show all the books you never read.

Kate Tigue is the Assistant Children’s Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Mass. Read Kate’s column in the August 31st issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin

Kate Tigue

Translate »