On Wednesday, October 26th we held our second Reader's Tea of the year. This time the focus was Take Time to Read! I (Caitlin) offered some tips on how to squeeze more reading time into your life, and several staff members gave book talks about excellent books they've read recently.
Here are some tips from my presentation:
- Listen to audiobooks! CDs are great for commutes, Playaways can work for commutes (if your car has a cable jack) or around the house and while walking. Hoopla Digital, Overdrive, and 3M downloadable audiobooks are great because they can be downloaded to a smart phone and listened to anywhere—in the car if you have Bluetooth or a cable jack or other phone connection, while walking or exercising at the gym, or while folding laundry. If your phone is too quiet, plug in headphones to block out other noise or use a small, portable speaker than can be hooked up with a cable or by Bluetooth. I am a recent audiobook convert— I love listening while walking my dog, crafting, and doing household chores.
- Read books about reading, such as Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch or Pleasure of Reading: 43 Authors on the Discovery of Reading and the Books That Inspired Them edited by Antonia Fraser
- Read before bed. Give yourself some winding down time, away from screens, before going to bed. If you have trouble falling asleep, reading may help!
- Don't read bad books. There are no rules. If you don’t like something, stop reading it. If you only like to read romance novels or the current hit page-turner, that’s fine. If you don’t like the classics, don’t read them! (Although this is a very broad term and they vary widely—give some of them a try!) You only want to read dystopian YA? Awesome! There are no reading police and there are no rules.
- Read short stories. We have books by single authors (in fiction, by author’s name) as well as collections of different genres (ghost stories, dog stories, mysteries, etc.). We have many books from the Noir series, which are collections of noir stories set in different locations (Paris Noir, Boston Noir, and so on). One of my recent favorites is A Study in Sherlock: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon, edited by Laurie R. King and Leslie S. Klinger; many excellent authors interpreted the Holmes stories in unique ways. If a story just isn’t working for you, skip it!
- Read The New Yorker—this weekly magazine has great in-depth nonfiction articles about current issues, along with excellent short stories and poems.
- Children’s books! You’re never too old for children’s books, even if you don’t have kids or they aren’t interested. They are generally much shorter and faster to read than adult books but the quality can be very high. Revisit your childhood favorites or classics you never got around to reading, or check the awards lists for some great recommendations to get started (such as the Newbery award and the Great Stone Face award). I highly recommend The Invention of Hugo Cabret, which is an excellent story with fantastic illustrations (don’t be put off by the number of pages—there are a lot of illustrations and it’s a quick read).
- YA books—slightly longer than most children’s books, but still usually shorter than most adult books. This genre has exploded in the past ten years and there are so many great books, with a number of captivating page turners and sweet, angsty love stories. Again, you’re never too old for this genre. Revisit classics you may have read in school, such as The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, and newer hits such as The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, If I Stay by Gayle Forman, and Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. Sometimes these aren’t much shorter than adult fiction, but they tend to be easier to pick up in bits and pieces and faster to read in general, while still being beautiful stories.
- Read novellas. These works of fiction are longer than a short story but much shorter than the average novel. I recommend The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Sometimes they are grouped with short stories by the same author and sometimes they are published on their own. Try searching “novella” in the library catalog. Some other great novellas include Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain.
- Read short novels:
o Classics: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck; A Separate Peace by John Knowles; The Stranger by Albert Camus; The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway; The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka; The Awakening by Kate Chopin; Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne; Brave New World by Aldous Huxley; Animal Farm by George Orwell; A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess; Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad; Silas Marner by George Eliot; The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen; Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton; O Pioneers! by Willa Cather; Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
o Fiction: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri; The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien; I, Robot by Isaac Asimov; The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros; Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout; The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote; Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger; A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid.
o Nonfiction: The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande; Grayson by Lynne Cox; The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey; Hammer Head: The Making of a Carpenter by Nina MacLaughlin; The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion; Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth by Margaret Atwood; Night by Elie Wiesel; Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit; The Elements of Style by William Strunk.
- Read seasonally. Read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens at Christmas (only 80 pages!), Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (166 pages) or short ghost stories at Halloween (try The Signal-Man by Charles Dickens), and “beach reads” in the summer to give your mind a rest.
Click here for a link to all of the titles mentioned above (and more)!