Category Archives: books

Et tu, brute?

Other people have said more insightful and salient things about Penguin’s recent defection from Overdrive, but I didn’t want to let this one go without saying something. Penguin’s decision to pull all ebooks from Overdrive’s lending program is a huge disappointment (especially when you consider it in light of the fact that they make a crap ton of money from re-packaging public domain content). Their excuse for ending their Overdrive contract is beyond flimsy: They claim that Amazon’s addition to the Overdrive platform raises security concerns. They’ve stated that they might re-consider if lending didn’t go through Amazon’s site, or if patrons had to be physically present in a library to borrow ebooks. I fail to see how downloading a file and loading it via USB could possibly be more secure than loaning through the Amazon site.

It’s clear to most who are paying attention to this story that Penguin’s reasons are more petty than that. Amazon’s foray into publishing has pissed them off. They feel they’re losing control. They can’t handle the changing technological landscape, the changing publishing landscape. But these reactions are nothing more than scrambling, futile grasps for some kind of hold. They aren’t going to change things, and in the end, Penguin will still be forced to adapt, and the only people who will lose are those who always have: those who rely on libraries to access information. Not to mention the future of our cultural record, when libraries are no longer able to fulfill a crucial preservation function.

The fact is that the world of writing and publishing, selling and reading is different, and we can’t turn it around. Books are going to be published digitally, no matter how many people write impassioned diatribes against ebooks. Ebooks are the future of reading. But right now, we’re creating a world where access is being limited more and more to those who can afford it. Libraries have always played a key role in leveling that playing field, and we’re being prevented from doing that in a digital future.

That Penguin made this move just a week after a much anticipated meeting between the Big Six publishers and ALA head honchos just makes me feel powerless. As a librarian, I put my trust in ALA leadership to advocate for our needs, and the needs of our patrons. But it sounds like they went in there with anything but a heavy stick. ALA has a massive communications network, and a marketing budget. For decades ALA has spent that marketing budget creating Read posters and other pieces of propaganda that, frankly, serve more of a sentimental purpose than anything else. Why not use that budget to create a unified voice around issues that really matter, like this one? ALA could orchestrate an excellent patron education initiative around digital library issues. I feel like all they did was go into a meeting with the publishers and assure them that everything would be ok. Instead, we need people who are willing to fight.

What I read in 2011

Another year, another lamentation that I didn’t write as much as I wanted. I did, however, read a lot last year. Here’s the list of books I read in 2011. Asterisks indicate my favorite book in each month, and (RR) indicates that it was a re-read.

January
“In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom” by Qanta Ahmed
“Hungry Monkey: A Food-Loving Father’s Quest to Raise an Adventurous Eater” by Matthew Amster-Burton
“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum
“The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance” by Elna Baker
“The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman *
“House of Mirth” by Edith Wharton
“The Bestiary” by Nicholas Christopher
“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou

February
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” by Trenton Lee Stewart
“Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen *
“North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell
“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan
“God is not Great” by Christopher Hitchens
“Sisters Red” by Jackson Pierce

March
“Withering Tights” by Louise Renniston
“Metadata for Digital Resources” by Muriel Foulonneau and Jenn Riley
“Blonde Roots” by Bernardine Evaristo
“My Life in France” by Julia Child *
“Darkly Dreaming Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay
“Health at Every Size” by Linda Bacon

April
“Pictures from Italy” by Charles Dickens
“The Imperfectionists” by Tom Rachman
“Switched (Trylle Trilogy, Book 1)” by Amanda Hocking
“The Weird Sisters” by Eleanor Brown *
“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman

May
“Dearly Devoted Dexter” by Jeff Lindsay
“Ethan Frome” by Edith Wharton *
“An Omelette and a Glass of Wine” by Elizabeth David
“Drinking Closer to Home” by Jessica Anya Blau

June
“Bossypants” by Tina Fey
“Anne of Green Gables” by L. M. Montgomery (RR)
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Episode 8: Parts 1-3” by Joss Whedon et al
“Beauty Queens” by Libba Bray
“My Life” by Bill Clinton
“Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Episode 8: Parts 4-8” by Joss Whedon et al
“The World that Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square” by Ned Sublette
“Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table” by Sara Roahen *

July (what happened in July?)
“The Lover’s Dictionary” by David Levithan
“Dexter in the Dark” by Jeff Lindsay

August
“The Stand” by Stephen King (RR)
“Anne of Avonlea” by L. M. Montgomery (RR)
“Operating Instructions” by Ann Lamott
“She’s Come Undone” by Wally Lamb * (RR)
“The Next Queen of Heaven” by Gregory Maquire
“Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit” by Barry Estabrook

September
“Room” by Emma Donoghue *
“Crooked Little Heart” by Anne Lamott (RR)
“Rosie” by Anne Lamott
“The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Wendy McClure
“O Pioneers” by Willa Cather
“The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction” by Dirk Hanson
“Bumped” by Megan McCafferty

October
“This Beautiful Life” by Helen Shulman
“Best Food Writing of 2010” ed. Holly Hughes
“Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef” by Gabrielle Hamilton
“The Secret Circle Trilogy” by L.J. Smith (RR)
“Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs *
“The Hangman’s Daughter” by Oliver Pötzsch and Lee Chadeayne

November
“Fledgling” by Octavia Butler
“Soulless (The Parasol Protectorate)” by Gail Carriger
“The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger (RR) *
“Linked Data: Evolving the Web into a Global Data Space” by Tom Heath and Christian Bizer
“The Man Who Ate Everything” by Jeffrey Steingarten

December
“Solar” by Ian McEwan
“The 3-Day Cleanse” by Zoe Sakoutis and Erica Huss
“The Family Fang” by Kevin Wilson *
“The Table Comes First” by Adam Gopnik

Banned Books Week: A Defense

Another Banned Books Week is coming to a close, and once again, my RSS feed has been filled with arguments for and against this most well-known library tradition. I’ve always been a supporter of Banned Books Week, even organizing events around it for the Simmons College community when I was chair of the Simmons Progressive Librarians Guild chapter. But I’ve never heard a better articulation for why it’s still important than the one Andy Woodworth at Agnostic, Maybe gives in his recent post.

The ALA estimates that one in four book challenges in libraries goes unreported, and in these cases, the librarians dealing with these challenges are also unsupported. There are many reasons a librarian might choose not to report a book challenge, and some of them might be perfectly reasonable. But the worst of these reasons is fear: Fear of losing a job, fear of bad publicity, fear of loss of funding. In these cases, a librarian might choose to simply remove the item in question, without consideration for what the loss of that material might mean for the community. It doesn’t mean that’s a bad librarian, it means that’s a fearful librarian.

Banned Books Week exists so that we can bring attention to the reasons to stand up for your community, and your library’s collection. It exists so that, in the future, those librarians might be able to find more support than they thought they could expect. I think that’s as good a reason as any to continue holding Banned Book Week events every year.

Andy articulates this much more clearly than I, so please, go read his excellent editorial on Banned Books Week.

Another Big Deal? Working with Publishers

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ebooks and digital content, and about what libraries have to do to get publishers and other content providers to work with us and play nice. I’ve been trying to think of what we can offer them in exchange for favorable terms on digital content, and my mind has largely been moving in the marketing, increased sales, statistical data direction. But this evening I remembered something else that effects everything we are and might be doing with publishers.

See, publishers have to sell things. They have to make money off of their content in any way they can, and preferably as much of it as possible. They would charge us to re-read the paperbacks sitting on our own bookshelves at home if they could, and this isn’t because they are greedy, evil bastards. This is because they are for profit organizations, and it is the law that they make as much money as they can for their shareholders. That is their whole raison d’etre, as for profit companies. Even if they wanted to give us content, even if they wanted to cut us great deals and be generous and think of the children and the future and the preservation of our intellectual culture, well, they can’t. Because legally, they have to make money, above and beyond every other consideration.

This is why Panera Bread needed to start a separate foundation in order to operate its Panera Cares Community Cafes, where they charge only what customers can afford in order to serve the hungry. They needed to be able to operate as a non-profit in order to absorb losses, and to operate in a way that is about more than the bottom line.

So what does that have to do with libraries? I think there are people in the publishing world who could be convinced to start up non-profit foundations to work with libraries to provide digital content. I think this would be a great public relations move for them. I think a lot of publishers DO care about preserving our cultural record and the children and the future. And I think there are library non-profits, like Library Renewal, that can make it part of their organizational missions to help publishers move into this realm, and help publishers reap the PR benefits from it, as well. Individual libraries might not be able to partner with publishers in the non-profit foundation world, but library organizations can.

There are probably many more things libraries can do to provide value to publishers, to convince us there is a profitable reason to work with us, and to continue to provide us digital content on terms we can afford and are willing to accept. But we have to understand, too, that under their current for profit statuses, publishers are not only not going to volunteer to work out favorable terms with us, they may not actually be able to. It isn’t their business to provide content equally to all citizens, it’s their job to make money from citizens. Maybe we can help them figure out ways around that.

Michael Porter on Library Renewal and eResources

Michael Porter presented a session with a nice, attention-grabbing title at ALA Annual: “You Mean Libraries Will Be Able to Deliver Content Better than iTunes and Netflix?” The session wasn’t really about how libraries will deliver content better than commercial providers; it was more like a rousing exhortation to libraries to start re-thinking how we own, deliver, preserve, and manage our materials as we move ever onward into the digital era. He has some interesting ideas, and it was a great, lively presentation, I think Michael has a gift for lighting a very needed fire under librarians’ collective butts.

Besides talking about the bigger picture of the library’s role in a digital content environment, I thought his narrative of how he got involved in ALA and started to make things happen in the areas he cares about was very inspiring. For everyone who thinks ALA is a big, unfeeling organization that cannot be moved, talk to Michael. He shows that ALA will respond if you push hard enough.

ALA formed a presidential task force, EQUACC (Equitable Access to Electronic Content), to investigate digital content and how its use is being restricted for libraries. (There’s some interesting stuff on the timing of this task force’s creation; it was underway and beginning work when the whole HarperCollins debacle happened, but hadn’t released any information. ALA’s delay in response was noted by many, and when EQUACC did release their report, it kind of looked like it was in response to the HarperCollins situation…at least from my admittedly small perspective). EQUACC delivered their report to ALA the day after this presentation (I have not read it yet). Their report details some very specific monetary requests they are making of ALA to begin work on problems around access to digital resources. They want to look at accessibility issues, conduct an environmental scan, deal with PR issues around e-content, and create a permanent place in the organization for these issues.

The EQUACC website has a forum that, at this point, is a bit sparse. Like any online community, it will only be built if people get in there and build it, and this could be a great place for this kind of conversation. Ultimately, though, I think it’s kind of dead in the water. People are already having these conversations on blogs, FriendFeed, Twitter, etc. ALA expecting people to have them all over again in a new place is kind of unrealistic, I think. Maybe better to aggregate comments and blog posts on these issues in one place?

Michael also talked about a few organizations who are starting to work in this area, including the Internet Archive, HathiTrust, and the Harvard/Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s Digital Public Library of America project. Interestingly, he had some guarded comments about the DPLA project, including that their top-down, very monied approach doesn’t seem designed to be part of a collaborative, networked library world. One organization, COSLA (Chief Officers of State Library Associations) has actually asked the Berkman Center not to use the name Digital Public Library of America because it is not, in fact, a public library. I, too, thought the DPLA project was a little strange when I first read about it. I remember thinking, “Wait, who are these people and why aren’t they working in collaboration with existing projects like Hathi?”

Here are some more general notes I have from the session; as with the rest of my ALA posts, I will be trying to pull all of this together into something coherent and meaningful in the end.

  • People will continue to access electronic content at exponentially increasing rates, and not just books and journals but music, video, games, interactive applications, and things we can’t even imagine now. Our current business models aren’t designed for this kind of content and distribution and they won’t continue to work. We need new solutions.
  • Libraries have a lot of power IF we begin to work together, and consider ourselves an aggregate organization rather than single, isolated libraries. Regional consortia have a lot more power than a bunch of libraries working alone, and it will become more and more important for us to band together in groups like this. Our best opportunities are going to come from new organizational structures like consortia, from new vendors and new partnerships.
  • Libraries need a our own distribution infrastructure like iTunes and Netflix, and it would be best if we build it ourselves.
  • We should be building archives of digital content, but we’re currently held back by restrictive copyright legislation, litigious publishers, and our own fear. If we could band together to fight restrictive copyright and litigious publishers, we’d have a better chance of winning.
  • We can’t rely on for-profit corporations to build our archives of digital content because they have no business reason to preserve after the content stops making money.
  • There are some major hurdles in the way of libraries owning, distributing, and preserving e-content, and the biggest is that the law is against us right now. The people who make the content don’t necessarily want us to have it. There was some conversation about creating new publishing models, and organizations like GlueJar and Library Renewal are doing some really interesting things in this area, but that doesn’t change the fact that the content our users want most isn’t being offered to us in ways that work for our organizations or our patrons.
  • Partnerships with publishers will be key, and we need to start thinking about how we should approach them. We have more power as a collective: if libraries as a whole, or even large library consortia, rather than individual libraries here and there, approach them, there is more incentive to listen. We need to think about what we can offer them. As it stands, they have no interest in working with us, especially large trade publishers (university presses might be more open to partnership). What can libraries give publishers in return? We need to start thinking of this so that we have something worthwhile to approach them with.
  • I think we can approach publishers either as good cops or bad cops: We can offer them something beneficial (statistics? marketing? events?) or we can threaten them with bad publicity. Or both? I’m generally not a fan of negative tactics, but in some cases you have to fight with what’s going to work.

I think there are some really interesting ways we can move forward in this area, but we have to collaborate to do it, and we have to be clear about what we need and want. Right now a lot of libraries are taking whatever they can get because they want to offer content to their patrons in the formats people want. And I completely understand that need, but I also think we might be undermining our long-term needs and goals.

There is certainly a lot to think about here, and I’m glad we have people like Michael who are passionate about these issues, who are thinking of solutions, and who are so excellent at getting other people engaged, too.

Links:
Library Renewal (the non-profit Michael and a few other folks started up to advocate for libraries’ rights in a digital age)
EQUACC (the ALA task force that was started thanks to Michael’s poking and prodding)
Libraryman (Michael’s bloggity)

More thoughts on ebooks, and preservation

I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write up a polished piece on ebooks and my growing reservations, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out of my head in the midst of the madness that is my life these days. My growing reservations are really around one of the most important, but least known or understood, aspects of librarianship: preservation.

When I say least known or understood, I don’t mean among librarians. I mean among the general population, although considering how little I’ve seen this issue raised in discussions of ebooks, I’m starting to wonder if librarians have forgotten about this crucial part of our mission as well. Preserving the cultural record has been part of the purpose of libraries since libraries began. I think it’s important that this preservation occurs in a non-corporate, non-profit-oriented environment. I think it’s desperately important that we have institutions charged with keeping copies, even when they are deemed insignificant or unprofitable. Preserving is equally important, to my mind, as providing access.

When we first started providing e-journals, it became standard practice to license content from commercial providers. That was ok, because we were often still receiving the print, and we had our print back issues. We were still able to preserve, while we provided better and easier access to our patrons. But what happens when journals stop appearing in a print format? What happens when we decline to receive those print copies? All we are left with is the electronic copy, the copy we do not own. We are now relying on a commercial provider to preserve those journals, and to continue to provide access. The work of preservation has been taken out of our hands, and all we are left with is the role of providing access.

I’d like to see something different happen with ebooks, and I’m not entirely sure I will. When I got my Kindle for Christmas I was so excited, and I love to read on it. I love to buy books for it; the instantaneous nature of it is just awesome. But there is a little voice in the back of my mind, that keeps getting louder everyday, that says, “You don’t own that book. You just paid to use it for awhile.” As an unrepentant book hoarder, this bothers me. I don’t want it to be this way, but I’m afraid I have no choice. The voices of individual consumers, of libraries, of those who believe in free access, our voices are teeny tiny in the halls of lawmakers compared to the booming voices of corporate bodies who want to find more and more ways to make money.

If libraries band together, we might have a voice big enough to be heard. We could, if we work together, be a real counterweight to commercial providers and licensors. And we have to, because it is part of our mission to preserve the cultural record. We won’t be able to fulfill that mission if all we are doing is licensing content from corporations. I think we have a real legal force in arguing the preservation aspect of our work, and to find ways through restrictive copyright laws that will allow us to preserve digital copies of works, but we aren’t going to solve this issue until we advocate for ourselves. We have to do that collectively. And we have to do that now. ALA needs to pick up the ball on this one, and this election season is the perfect time to let those people running know that we expect this of them.

We can’t just be talking about number of check outs or whether we can circulate Netflix DVDs and Kindles. We need to be talking about our ability to preserve resources that we are only borrowing.

eBook User’s Bill of Rights

The question of ebook access rights kind of exploded last Friday in the biblio-blogosphere, when HarperCollins, through ebook vendor Overdrive, announced their intention to have library ebooks expire after 26 uses (that equates to about a year of constant lending). Their rationale is that print books physically deteriorate and have to be replaced, which is kind of ridiculous, if you think about it, because digital books have a far shorter shelf life, so to speak, than print.

From the moment the Kindle was released and ebooks became a viable commodity and a library concern, I’ve had my own personal concerns about how they are being sold, distributed, and managed. I’ve never really understood (other than the obvious profit motive) why ebook sellers and publishers didn’t apply the same types of rules as apply to print books: the ability to lend freely and re-sell, to read on the device of your choosing, and to buy from whichever vendor you prefer. These things can be achieved with DRM protections (yeah, I’m not ready to get into a big discussion about DRM today), but essentially what you saw was publishers and booksellers realizing they could control the market in ways print never allowed them to, and deciding their profit was far more significant than a reader’s rights, or their customer’s desires.

This issue is far from being resolved, and this decision by HarperCollins kickstarted the discussion in a big way. Ultimately, I think librarians, consumers, publishers, and booksellers all need to sit down at the table together to talk about what is reasonable, legal, and ethical, both from an immediate consumable-good perspective and a long-term, cultural preservation and access perspective.

Sarah Houghton-Jan wrote an eBooks User’s Bill of Rights that I think is a great jumping off point for some of these conversations. I believe this is the moment when we have a chance to start re-thinking current copyright laws, and to re-tool them in ways that work for readers, writers, and citizens, and not just for the corporations that publish them.

Another year of readin’ books

Two years ago I decided to keep track of what I read over the course of a year, because I never seemed to be able to remember back more than a month or two on my own. With the aid of a simple Google document, I can look back over 2010 and remember every book I read, and see when I was reading a lot, and when not so much. This year I decided to, at the end of each month, make a note of which book that month had been my favorite. It’s a simple thing (and maybe a little dorky, to those of you with better retention than myself) but I really enjoy having these lists to look back on.

This year, I got a Kindle for Christmas from the ever generous boyfriend, and I love it! I wasn’t sure how well it was going to work for me, as a sentimental bibliophile, but thus far I can say that it pulled me straight out of a reading slump and I find it even easier to read than print, in some ways (sometimes those books are heavy for my little hands!). I’ll be curious to see if it affects my reading this year: Will I read more older books (free on the Kindle!)? Will I read more in print or digitally? Will I read more in general? Will I finally stop collecting things that are really, really heavy to move?

Anyway, on to the important stuff. Here are the books I read last year. The asterisks indicate favorites each month. Many of these books aren’t new, and many I read for the second, or third, or fourth time. I wonder if there will ever be a year when Harry Potter doesn’t turn up on this list? I doubt it…

January
“The Lost Child” by Julie Myerson
“The Lacuna” by Barbara Kingsolver

“Get a Financial Life” by Beth Kobliner
“My Custom Van” by Michael Ian Black
“The 19th Wife” by David Ebershoff *
“The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
February
“The Magicians” by Lev Grossman
“The Subtle Knife” by Philip Pullman
“The Amber Spyglass” by Philip Pullman
“Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking” by Michael Ruhlman
“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins *
“Her Fearful Symmetry” by Audrey Niffennegger

March
“Half Broke Horses” by Jeanette Walls
“Bastard out of Carolina” by Dorothy Allison
“Food Matters” by Mark Bittman
“The Girl Who Fell From the Sky” by Heidi W. Durrow *
“Jane Austen and Co.: Remaking the Past in Contemporary Culture” – Suzanne R. Pucci and James Thompson, eds.
“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

April
“The Origins of the Arab-Israeli War” by Ritchie Ovendale
“The Irresistible Henry House” by Lisa Grunwald *
“Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” by Rhoda Janzen
“Oryx and Crake” by Margaret Atwood (re-read)

May
“The Voyage Out” by Virginia Woolf

“The Year of the Flood” by Margaret Atwood *
“Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture” by Sherrie A. Inness
“The Food of a Younger Land” by Mark Kurlansky
June
“Last Night in Twisted River” by John Irving

“Can’t Buy My Love” by Jean Kilbourne

“American Wife” by Curtis Sittenfeld *
July
“Belong to Me” by Marisa de los Santos *
“The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia Book 1)
“The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia Book 2)
“Alice I Have Been” by Melanie Benjamin
“The Horse and His Boy” by C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia Book 3)
“Dead End Gene Pool” by Wendy Burden
“Beezus and Ramona” by Beverly Cleary (re-read, obviously)
“Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers
August
“Ramona the Pest” by Beverly Cleary (re-read)
“A Homemade Life” by Molly Wizenberg*
“The 13th Hour” by Richard Doetsch
“Remarkable Creatures” by Tracy Chevalier
“Sloppy Firsts” by Megan McCafferty (re-read)
“Second Helpings” by Megan McCafferty
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
September
“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
“Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer” by Novella Carpenter
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
“You Grow Girl” by Gayla Trail
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” by J.K. Rowling (re-read)
“In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan* (re-read)
October
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte* (re-read)
“Will Write for Food” by Dianne Jacobs
“Culture and Imperialism” by Edward Said
“A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway
November
“Stardust” by Joseph Kanon
“Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” by Rachel Simmons
“White Teeth” by Zadie Smith* (re-read)
“Thanksgiving: The Biography of an American Holiday” by James W. Baker
December
“Putting Content Online: A Practical Guide for Libraries” by Mark Jordan
“The Almost Moon” by Alice Sebold
“Gregor the Overlander” by Suzanne Collins
“Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality” by Christopher Ryan; Cacilda Jethá *

I’m actually surprised at how many new books I read, especially in the beginning of the year. I’m an inveterate re-reader, and last January, I promised myself that I would only read one already-read book a month. While there were a few months when I broke that rule, there were more months than I expected when I didn’t re-read at all. So considering my real goal was to read more new fiction, I think I did pretty well for myself. I think it’s also pretty dorky that I made up reading rules for myself, but, well, I’m just rule-abiding kind of lady.

This year I’d like to focus on reading more classics, which should be fairly easy on the wallet, considering I work in an academic library (we gots lots of copies of the classics) and most classics are free in ebook format. I’d also like to try to stick with my goal of reading one work of new fiction a month, but I find that harder, because we don’t carry a lot of new fiction in my library, and those hardcovers are pricey. I’d also like to write more reviews (and more in general), but we’ll see how that goes. I have a sneaking suspicion this is going to be a busy, busy year.

What were your favorite books of 2010? Do you have a favored way of keeping track of what you’ve read? Did you read any of the same books as me in 2010, and if so, what did you think of them?

A New Year, a New Start

Whooooa. So much for posting more last year. I expected to have so much to say about my first job as a bona fide librarian, but as it turned out, I was so busy getting my bearings and learning how to do my job that I didn’t have much energy left to formulate sentences about that job. Well, as they say, there’s always next year. Or, this year, as the case may be. As far as resolutions go, mine are usually pretty nebulous, but I do hope to spend some of my free time in 2010 writing more, about my chosen profession, about living in Walla Walla, and about books.

I also hope to read more in 2010. More specifically, I hope to read more new fiction. As you can see, in 2009 I didn’t read much that was shiny and new. I re-read Harry Potter for the fifth or sixth time, and I even re-read the Twilight saga (at which point I realized just how sexist and messed up that story really is). Well, I’m making it a goal in 2010 to read at least one piece of brand, spanking new fiction every month. I’ve already started with Julie Myerson’s The Lost Child, which is so far quite good (though not fiction). And I just picked up Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, for which I have high hopes.

So here’s to hearing more from me this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll actually find interesting things to say.