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Sunday Salon: Reader Advocacy

November 13, 2011

The Sunday

This post should’ve been published this morning, but I needed to add the covers and for some reason I couldn’t access my dashboard until now. Whoops! That’ll teach me to do everything and schedule a post rather than leaving bits and pieces for later. ;)

November continues to be a lovely month. I’m still not up to my normal reading levels, but I’m reading every day, which after October makes me profoundly grateful. And I have almost all of my posts for the week already drafted, which is nice! Outside of that, life has settled into a comfortable routine again, and I’m hoping that’s enough to keep flare-ups at bay.

I came across this summary of a talk given by Nancy Pearl (librarian extraordinaire), and it really resonated with me as a book blogger. Obviously, I don’t have an academic background in library science, and I’m in no way arguing that I’m a replacement for/equivalent to an actual librarian. However, of the many reasons for book blogging, convincing readers to try titles or authors or even ‘genres’ (especially nonfiction stuff) they might never have heard of otherwise is high up on my list. When I post about a book I love, I actively set out to make it sound irresistable: I want to spread the joy! :) I think that’s also why I enjoy doing a ‘suggested companion reads’ section at the end of my now shorter posts…it’s a little way to bring attention to even more of the incredible books I’ve read over the years. Having to cut back on my typing, and thus change most of my formatting, made me crystallise my goals and realise ‘book pushing’ is important to me. Hence my new approach to talking about books in these TSS posts too! Anyway, go read the post and see what you think! Do you find it relevent to book blogging or not so much? And now, let’s turn to the books I’ve been reading (if you’re wondering about the grouping, I’ve included an explanatory footnote).

Books I Loved and Found Every Page a Delight

Read Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie if…you’re looking for a more nostalgic, less traditional, offering from the queen of Golden Age mysteries.

Books I Would Have Loved, Except for One or Two Little Quibbles or Books I Really, Really Liked

Read The Calligraphers’ Night by Yasmine Ghata if…you love lyrical, prose-centered fiction or Middle Eastern fiction.

Read Death of an Outsider by M.C. Beaton if…you’re in need of a slim, comforting mystery and have developed a bit of a crush on Hamish Macbeth.

Read The Sirens Sang of Murder by Sarah Caudwell if…you prefer your mysteries more intellectual and sardonic.

Books I Definitely Liked, Although They Didn’t Blow Me Away or Books that had Great Points Counterbalanced by Not-Great Ones

Read Passage by Connie Willis if…you’re in the mood for an unusual thriller with a speculative flavour and don’t mind an ending that doesn’t quite live up to the strong start.

Read Death in the Stocks by Georgette Heyer if…you want a Golden Age mystery and don’t have any Christies or Sayers on hand.

Read My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart if…you enjoy mid-twentieth century British authors with ‘spunky’ heroines and can overlook a wildly improbable plot.

Read Travels in a Thin Country by Sara Wheeler if…you have a taste for travel writing of the ‘we were out in the middle of nowhere but had a bottle of wine so we were happy’ variety that also mixes intellectual writing with a few hints of British snobbery.

Read From the Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner if…you enjoy feminist musings on literature, especially fairy tales, and are prepared for a more meditative style, rather than supported scholarly arguments.

Read Gilgamesh by Joan London if…you’re drawn to WWII fiction or coming-of-age tales and aren’t bothered by odd plot pacing or slightly thin characters.

Read A Thousand Times More Fair by Kenji Yoshino if…you’re curious about what literary criticism through a legal lens would look like and are more interested in the Shakespeare aspect than the law one.

Read Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels if…you enjoy midcentury fiction and are/or classic ghost stories that are fun while reading but don’t offer much actual substance.

Books That Aren’t For Me but I Could Still See Some Good Points

Read Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves if…you’re looking for a unique take on the YA paranormal genre with a strong heroine and quirky setting and can stomach a great deal of graphic violence (I am a wimp).

New Format Explanation: I’ve arranged my one-sentence thoughts into rough groups by how much I loved/didn’t love the book. You’ll notice that there are five groups, presented in descending order from most to least loved; remember that these represent a judgement of my reading experience, rather than the actual book (for a bit more detail, see my books read page). The first three (loved through liked) are all categories I would definitely recommend, more or less enthusiastically; the final two (didn’t really like and wish I’d abandoned), I’d (usually) still recommend but to those with different tastes than myself. I hope the new structure is helpful for anyone who wasn’t always sure how I felt about a title based on my one-sentence recommendation! :)
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11 Comments leave one →
  1. November 13, 2011 2:08 pm

    I do like to encourage people to read a book they might not otherwise try. I am always trying to expand my reading horizons and I hope others do the same. That’s one reason I really enjoy your blog, Eva. You read books that not everyone else is oohing and aahing over at the present moment.

    I like the idea from the article that we shouldn’t try to move people from “bad” books to “good” books. I strongly believe that the vast majority of books have something to offer someone, and it all depends on your mood, your situation, etc. I used to be a lot more judgmental about people’s choices, but I’m glad I’ve grown out of that. Reading is beneficial in and of itself!

  2. Jillian ♣ permalink
    November 13, 2011 4:44 pm

    The final part of the post you linked was funny — about the patron’s irritation at her belief that words like “intercourse” and “ejaculate” in Georgette Heyer refer to sex. :lol:

    I am beginning to feel that part of what I want to do is bring titles to life, for readers who aren’t accustomed to trying out the classics. I started out blogging just to journal, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment when someone visits and says they’re going to try something I’ve read and loved. I definitely think that book bloggers have an opportunity to spread literary knowledge. Not an obligation, but a certain opportunity.

  3. November 13, 2011 4:56 pm

    I like your new format. I have never really come up with a consistent way of reviewing books that I like. Your format is lovely.

  4. November 13, 2011 5:20 pm

    Eva, as always, your recommendations are delightful and come in all shapes and sizes :) This time, I’m especially drawn towards The Sirens Sang of Murder.

  5. November 13, 2011 7:46 pm

    I love these short but sweet recommendations Eva! Your insights are always wonderful.

  6. November 13, 2011 8:34 pm

    I adore your categories, and I really do feel like they give me a good sense of how you felt about a book, especially when combined with your micro-reviews.

    I really hope your November continues to be lovely, and that December is even better! (Though I’m really not trying to rush us into next month yet–I swear!)

  7. November 13, 2011 9:12 pm

    I think it’s great that you’ve thought more about your blogging goals and realized that book pushing is key. Nancy Pearl is definitely one of my favorite librarians. I remember having a great conversation with her years ago about library school. I think her speech applies to blogging too especially when she says you don’t have to love a book to recommend it and that books need to sync with the inner you. I often recommend books that I just like or felt “meh” about but I make sure I tell readers why I felt that way about a book. Thanks for sharing Lybrarin’s post with us.

  8. November 14, 2011 10:26 pm

    I like your method of “book pushing”. It’s not so in-your-face as I’ve seen on other blogs. Here, I feel like you always put some thought into your recommendations and I love the “suggested similar reads” section! :)

  9. November 15, 2011 4:56 pm

    I like the idea of lining readers up with the books they like, even if they’re not to your taste and it’s something I’ve tried to work on with RL friends when gifting. I love the idea of bloggers as book pushers and the idea of positive critical posts to get readers enthused (really like your one sentence descriptions because you get so much enthusaism over, but also a great ‘this is what you need to like to enjoy this, does this sound like you’ description). Despite what some people say critical posts (positive or negative) are really useful for making sure a reader is getting the best idea of what the book is about and how it works. Then they can go away and work out if that is the kind of reading expereince that generally works for them. Hopefully hearing the specifics about a book in a genre they’ve never tried will convince them to make a genre leap.

  10. November 16, 2011 10:47 am

    Thanks for all of the comments (and compliments)! Sounds like we all agree with Nancy Pearl…big shock. ;)


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