Last week, when I was kayaking on the Niangua, there was a wedding at the NRO Campground and a bald eagle was circling the sky above it. What?! Yep, I could do a whole bookworm on events I have experienced that, when I say them out loud, seem like a crazy made up dream. It is not good, and between that, and reading and hearing about humans being awful to each other I feel that I might be losing my mind. This felt like a week that I really wanted to call the bad behavior out, but I will go another route…again. Where are those hummingbirds when I need them?
We continually buy books and weed books, it is how a library works. On both sides of this coin, the same questions are asked, “Is this book being read?” and “Is this book worth being read?” Shirley and I have recently been going through the adult fiction, multiple books have been saved because we decide that, yes, this book is worth reading, so we have checked them out, but we obviously cannot do it alone.
This issue extends beyond adult fiction, books at all levels never leave the shelf. In the juvenile section we have tried to use the “if you like this kind of book, maybe you should try this book” method, no such luck. We did an adult winter reading challenge a few years back, then COVID, and blah, blah, blah, but, seriously, it made me realize that maybe we could provide some extra challenges throughout the year and also promote materials that deserve some love, kill two birds with one stone. Wow, that does not seem appropriate after the hummingbird incident.
On September 1st, our Adult Reading Challenge started. I found 9 books that had never been checked out, but had all received ratings of 4 and above on Goodreads, and not just by a handful of votes, but by the thousands. Why had so many people loved these books, but no one in Morgan County has? These are the 9 books: Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton, Christodora by Tim Murphy, Don’t Tell Me You’re Afraid by Giuseppe Catozzella, How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? By N.K. Jemisin, Rebel Queen by Michelle Moran, The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais, Little by Edward Carey and On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. The challenge is to read 2 of the 9 titles and rate them 0-5 when you are finished. There are prizes for participating and a grand prize drawing for a gift card to a local business for the winner.
The good news is this, guess what? Each of those books have been checked out at least once at this point! I have only received feedback about one title and I have read a title myself. “The Rebel Queen” had a slow start, but was “an excellent book” according to one patron. “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is a hard read, yep, that is the one I read. I mentioned I wanted to call the bad behavior out this week, and I said I would go another route, well that is not entirely true. This book was difficult and probably would not be enjoyed by most of our patrons, but it would totally be because it does what great fiction can do, put you in someone else’s shoes. It is dark and sad, the main character is a poor minority and he is also gay. Seems like too much you say, yeah, no joke, but to make that hit harder, it is an autobiographical novel. This book is fiction, based on the author’s own experience and it is gritty and real. I will admit that it was too dark for me to read right now, but I will say it is high time that others do read it.
Our small town had a hate crime committed this month. What?! Come on people, be better. Okay, that is enough, and boy I hope I can stop saying these things over and over again, but, well, we will see.
We will do the adult challenge through October 30th, we will also be doing young adult and juvenile challenges. This process will be repeated, so there will be 2 challenges for each division, on top of our yearly summer reading program. I am so excited to promote underutilized material and maybe if a patron develops a dash of empathy and understanding through a character I can consider it the cherry on the cake.
Upcoming Events: 10/6 Story Time at 10am, 10/7 Adult Craft with Jennifer Avey at 6:30pm (pre-registration required), 10/9 STEAM at 10:30am, 10/11 CLOSED, Adult Reading Challenge has started and runs through October 30th, swing by the library for more information