From the Director

Library news and happenings.

It’s OK to Stop Reading

…a book that doesn’t grab your attention, that is.

Some of us feel an obligation to finish a book once we have started it. We’ve become invested in it and should press on to the end.

Reader advisory expert and book reviewer, Nancy Pearl, encourages readers to give themselves permission to stop reading a book. She even has a “rule”: if you are 50 or younger, read at least 50 pages before you commit to reading it. If you are over 50, subtract your age from 100 and that is the number of pages you should read before deciding to read to the end or give up and move on to another title. Her theory is the older you are, the less time you have to read all the books on your list.

I like this “rule”. Some books just don’t grab my attention or it’s not the right time. I might want a lighthearted book, this one is serious. For those titles, I’ll keep them on my list, but come back to them at another time.

I think it is Thomas Jefferson who wrote “so many books, so little time”, but whoever it is, it makes the point of Nancy’s approach – move on to a book that engages you, ignites your imagination, takes you to new places.

We have many good books, come visit soon.


Nancy Pearl visited Kalamazoo Public Library in 2006

Final 2009 “Best” List

The first month of the new year is not quite over, so I’m thinking I can share one more “best” list from 2009 before it is time to move on. Earlier this week, I shared some year end observations from the New York Times Book Review. Publishers Weekly (PW) summarizes its bestseller lists from the past year also. Not surprisingly, there are some similarities between the two lists, but also some differences. Obviously the lists are compiled differently.

PW entitles its list “longest-running bestsellers” in various categories. The Host tops the fiction hardcover list at 29 weeks with The Help a close second at 28 weeks.

In hardcover nonfiction, Outliers is the clear favorite at 51 weeks; The Last Lecture was on the list for 40 weeks.

Paperbacks are listed separately. The top two spots in the mass market were From Dead to Worse at 28 weeks, closely followed at 26 weeks by Dead Until Dark.

The Shack was on the trade paperback bestseller list for 51 weeks with the popular Three Cups of Tea at 47.

It is always interesting to learn what books others are reading or buying, what is most popular. Although I don’t have our circulation statistics by title at hand, I know many of these books were popular with KPL patrons, too.

Now I’m ready to move on to 2010 bestsellers and new titles. Let the new year of reading begin.


The Host

Different Twist on “Best Of”

It’s about the end of the season for “best of” lists. A recent New York Times Book Review had a different twist on “best of.” Their focus was a year end summary of titles that appeared on their weekly bestsellers lists. I share a few of their observations that I found particularly interesting:

  • The hardcover nonfiction list was dominated by sports, celebrities, and conservatives. Liberty and Tyranny held on to the number one spot the longest, 11 weeks.
  • Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was first on the fiction list for eight weeks so far. It’s still at the top. The Help, considered a “sleeper hit”, but a top choice on many “best of” lists and a favorite of several KPL staff members, was on the NYT list for 39 weeks – a record for 2009.
  • Girl Who Played with Fire was the first translation to reach the top spot on the fiction list in the last 25+ years.
  • Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking was number one on the Advice (how-to) bestseller list, 48 years after it was first published. A movie tie-in can certainly revive interest in a book!

KPL staff have blogged about many of the titles on the NYT lists and they are all in our collection.

Come visit soon. If these titles aren’t on the shelf, put them on “hold” so you are on the waiting list. Staff can help if you aren’t familiar with that process.


Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Fiction Favorites of 2009

I’m impressed and amazed by those who can pick their favorite book, movie, or music of the decade. I’m still struggling to decide on my favorite fiction titles of the year and I’m allowing myself to select several from those I read this year, not necessarily published this year.

I’m glad I waited this long to decide since I just finished That Old Cape Magic over the weekend and I’m adding it to my top five. My other four include Piano Teacher, The Vagrants, Exiles in the Garden, and Invisible Mountain in no particular order.

These five are closely followed by Shanghai Girls, The Lace Reader, The Story of a Marriage, Gardens of Water, and Telex from Cuba.

I’ll stop there and continue to ponder my favorites of the decade. Please share your favorites – the year or the decade.

Come visit soon. All of these favorites of mine are from our collection, along with the many other good books, of course.

I wish you a healthy and happy 2010 and hope there is time for leisure reading and many good books.


That Old Cape Magic

What Are YOU Reading?

Friends and acquaintances who know I work at the library and read a lot, often ask me: “what are you reading?”

I usually have a “main” book and several “pick-up” books that I am reading. I’m currently reading The Girl Who Played with Fire, a sequel to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. These are not the type of books I usually read, but they’ve been so highly recommended by reviewers and reading friends that I picked them up and have barely put them down: what page turners. They should be read in sequence to continue the story. This second one exposes the extensive sex trafficking operations between Eastern Europe and Sweden. Its story and character driven.

My secondary books are usually ones that are not page turners, can be picked up and read a chapter or story at a time, and might take me months to finish. I bought Booknotes: America’s Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas at the Friends Bookstore for $1. It’s two pages of interviews with authors from the TV show of the same name and is interesting, quick reading. I have more books for my list-of-books-to-read-sometime from these interviews.

The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas is an engrossing description of the Great Lakes from a schooner, racing yacht, and a voyageur canoe with some history, ecology, and family memories along the way. Its easily picked up and put down, but interesting reading to those of us familiar with the area.

All of these books are in our collection. I recommend them all! Now its your turn – what are you reading?


The Girl Who Played With Fire

Nonfiction Favorites of 2009

Well, it is not quite year end, but nevertheless, I am ready to declare my favorite nonfiction books of the year. Note that these are my favorites from those I read, not necessarily published this year.

My top three choices reflect my ongoing interest in reading about U.S. Presidents:

I do read nonfiction about other topics too. To round out my top five:

I’m still working on my fiction list. I’ve read more fiction and it’s hard to pick my top five or even my top ten.

Now it is your turn to share your favorites.


Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years

Recognition for “Stitches”

The season for “Best of…” has begun. As I wrote previously, the first list I saw this year was best books in the Nov/ Dec issue of Bookmarks magazine.

Publishers Weekly has published the PW TOP 10 and PW TOP 100. That’s a lot of good books, at least in the eyes of the PW editors.

Not surprisingly, David Small’s Stitches is on the PW TOP 10 list. Those of us who have read David’s book and attended his program at KPL or elsewhere in the community, know this is a powerful graphic memoir well deserving of this recognition from Publishers Weekly and its nomination for a National Book Award. (If you missed David’s presentation, watch or listen to the entire program here.) 

David has been a special friend to KPL and our patrons. Congratulations on this nomination, the top 10 listing and the many more recognitions sure to come his way.

We have David’s books, most of which are in the children’s collections. Come visit and check one out.



Best Of...

I admit – I can’t resist scanning “best of” lists, especially books and movies. If I have a pen nearby, I find myself checking off those I have read or seen.

I just read my first “best of” list for 2009: “Best Books of 2009” in the Nov/Dec issue of Bookmarks magazine.  I had two immediate thoughts:  how can they publish this list yet – there might be even better books published yet this year AND how can it be that there so many books on this list that sound great and I’ve never even heard of them.

It seems a little early to ask you to share your favorite book of 2009, but begin thinking about it.  My favorite nonfiction might be Looking for Lincoln: The Making of an American Icon or The Hemingses of Monticello. Then again there are still seven weeks left in the year and I might yet read one I like even more than either of these two. 

I’ve read more fiction than nonfiction so it’s a little harder to pick a favorite. I might have to do my own “best of” list.

To quote Thomas Jefferson, “so many books, so little time.”

We have many good ones, come visit soon.


“Best Books of 2009”