The Allure of Reading Challenges

bookI fall for reading challenges every year (I also fall for Blocks of the Month quilting projects).  Each year starts so fresh and shiny, and I always think I can change (the implication is to be better) and accomplish lofty things.    This year, I thought I would be realistic and keep in my own safety zone…no “diversify your reading” challenges for me.  I am to embark on a big change in my life this year that will demand a lot of stressful activity; and I think that will be enough.

So I was going to stay with goodreads challenge.  Then I came across a couple of blog posts that lists reading challenges well within my areas of reading interest and is totally do-able since I have no intention of doing anything but read in the various genres that come my way by browsing library shelves, reading book reviews, and blogs.

I came across a masterlist of reading challenges at GirlXOXO  Almost anything for any interests.  So I chose a few (too many, probably) to pursue.  They are:

  • Audio Books Reading Challenge
  • Cloak and Danger Reading Challenge
  • Craving for Cozies
  • Cruising through the Cozies
  • Foodies Challenge
  • Library Love Challenge
  • Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge (My previous post)

There’s quite a few but they overlap and I’m hopeful.  I think that is the wonder and beauty of the New Year:  we start with such hope.  No matter what, we should work to sustain that spirit of hopefulness.  Part of that is forgiveness and compassion.  Hope is a renewable resource depending on how well we forgive ourselves our perceived missteps.

May your challenges be voluntary, your mis-steps few, and your self-compassion generate more love and hope.

I’m a Sucker for Reading Challenges

Last year,Last year what I thought was a completely do-able reading challenge with one book a month, each month outside my normal mono-focus on the mystery genre.  I actually got going in January by reading a book made into a movie, The Giver, which I liked.  I noted it on goodreads.com Then I lost the will to persevere.  I did read a lot, a whole lot, of books but they were either in my favorite category or something that captured my fancy.  In this respect, it was a great year.  I refuse to feel like a failure, after all, I am reading and enjoying stories.

This year, 2017, I found several reading challenges that sound do-able.  The first one I’m going to write about is run by Becky from Becky’s Book Reviews and is called the Share-a-Tea Reading challenge.     The rules are few and simple:  drink tea, read books, and share.  No minimums or standards to achieve.  I think I’ve already achieved two of the three.

shareatea

I’ve already read three books, although the first one was started at the end of 2016.  They are:

  • Brownies and Broomsticks by Bailey Cates, a really cute cozy mystery about a young woman, a baker, who moves to Georgia to help her aunt and uncle run their bakery.  This first in a series tells us of her discoveries:  she’s from a long line of hereditary hedge witches; and there’s a dead body.
  • I also read The Taking of Libbie, SD by David Handler.  The next in a series about a former cop who is now a millionaire.  He is kidnapped by bounty hunters due to a mistaken identity.  Once the identity problem is resolved, he investigates.  I adore this series.
  • And then I read the marvelous The Great Reckoning by Louise Penny, one of my favorite authors.  She writes so lyrically about the human condition and the effects of history, corruption, art, literature on people’s thoughts, actions, and their souls.

And the teas I drank, to name a few, since I drink tea all day long!  My fitness program incorporates at least a gallon of liquid a day, which for me is mostly tea.I was on vacation…

  • Mate Chai by Citizen Tea
  • Double Chocolate Mate by The Republic of Tea
  • Matevana by Teavana, which they don’t make any more, to my great sorrow.  Fortunately I discovered Citizen Tea!
  • and probably others, I can’t think of.  I drink iced tea most of the day, though it’s just decaffeinated made from a mix (see I didn’t even apologize for that incredible gaffe in front of aficionados).   As always, I bravely live my life out-loud whether I intend to or not.

May your day and days be filled with refreshing beverages of all types and stories that delight you!

 

My Reverse Bucket List

Never want to do againMy career as a librarian and library administrator has been characterized as “mature,” which I think means that it has lasted more than two decades.  It’s really been nearly four decades as a librarian, longer if you count that fact that I worked in a library during high school and all through my undergraduate and graduate years.  When I first graduated from library school, I had a list of things that they never taught me.  I though the library school should give me a rebate each time I had to deal with something for which I had been inadequately trained.  A short list includes:

  • Smelly employees and smelly library users
  • Helping people adapt to change
  • Working with difficult people
  • Building issues such as heat, no heat, air conditioning, no air conditioning, curtains/no curtains, fire inspections, trash, and the like
  • undergraduate and library hijinks of all sorts
  • Getting people out to the building
  • Porn vs. sexual materials and having it in the library
  • Dumpsters
  • Unions, non-unions, and the so-called open door policy
  • Getting people into the building
  • Etc, etc, etc

Yes, the primary “soft” skill set needed to be a librarian is creativity, adaptability and flexibility.  Libraries have always innovated and people have always had a range of reactions to it.  Libraries are a community of workers serving a community of users; and those communities bring their strengths, weaknesses, joys, and ills with them.  They do not get left at the door when people come inside.  They act out, suppress, let loose, and sit down with all their history and future.  Our job is to help them find the resources they need to cope with those histories and help them find ways to walk into their future.  It may be entertainment, health information, legal information, or some information they need to get by.

There’s also a mystique and romance about libraries that most people have and expect to be acted out for them when they enter the library.  People become disappointed when they come to the library and expect whatever they expect and don’t get it.  They may expect a nice, quiet place and find that the library is full of lively students studying and talking together.  That there’s food, and coffee, and the gentle hum of computers, printers, and cell phones.  Or that they expect instant answers to all their questions, only to find that there’s a process and perhaps a waiting period.

And through all that tumult of expectations and reaction, the librarian helps people manage their expectations and their research needs.  It’s a juggling act.

Recently I was at a conference, talking to some peers, and I said that I used to have a list of things they didn’t teach us in library school.  Now I have a list of things that I won’t miss when I retire.  My colleague said, “Oh a Reverse Bucket List.”  And so it is.  A few of the things I won’t miss are:

  • Worrying about safety and security of the people, materials, and building
  • Helping people manage change
  • Parking lot wars
  • Leaking roofs, bug and rodent infestations, and user hijinks of all sorts
  • Dumpsters, trash, bathroom ick, smelly people
  • Budgets, spreadsheets, and making difficult choices
  • Hearing, “I really miss the card catalog”
  • Hearing, “I’d love to work in your library because libraries are nice, quiet places.”
  • Dealing with unions
  • Emergency responses, or lack thereof
  • Hearing, “I wish I could work in a library so I could read all day like you.”

Working in a library often strips away the mystique and romance of a library.  We know so much about the inner workings of a library, the pain and suffering that goes into making things a simple as possible for the user, and our own inability to get out of our own way that we lose sight of why we wanted to be a librarian in the first place.

Most of all, I hope the reverse bucket list will restore and revitalize my vision of the library as one of the things in our society that truly envisions and embodies the democratic ideal of freedom of thought, the pursuit of knowledge, and the right to read and reflect on knowledge without censure, judgment, or comment.  Libraries are the place where your rights as a reader and pursuer of knowledge are passionately defended and your tastes and needs are met regardless of what others might think of the format or the  content.