Saturday, December 29, 2012

Sign of a Good Friendship

From the What Does a YA Librarian Do? Pinterest board

100 Notable New York Writers Who Are Still Living

New York City has long been recognized as an epicenter of the literary world. Home to numerous book publishers and the persons they attract - authors and editors, copy editors and proofreaders, book designers and booksellers, agents and publicists - New York is a veritable hotbed of big shots and up-and-comers in the book business. Flavorwire profiled those comprising the city's literati in its list of "New York's 100 Most Important Living Writers."

Zadie Smith

One of the reasons that drove Flavorwire to put this list together - aside from stirring up a bit of debate, I imagine - was a recent announcement made by Philip Roth. The much-lauded writer of Goodbye, Columbus, Portnoy's Complaint, Sabbath's Theater, American Pastoral, Everyman, and other impactful books stated in October 2012 that he was going to retire after more than 50 years of producing works of literature. News of Roth's retirement led Flavorwire to "look at some of New York City's most important writers, from Roth's contemporaries to his possible successors...taking into consideration their legacy, their publishing history, and their cultural relevance across the board."

Junot Diaz

Among those who Flavorwire listed in its "New York's 100 Most Important Living Writers" article are Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith, Chuck Klosterman, Patti Smith, Pete Hamill, Walter Mosley, Jonathan Safran Foer, Joan Didion, Gary Shteyngart, Paul Auster, and more. Despite some notable names being absent (I would have included Toni Morrison and Arthur Nersesian), the list is an impressive who's who of writers who are either from New York City or live in one of its five boroughs (although I'm guessing that most live in Manhattan or Brooklyn).

Chuck Klosterman

Besides presenting brief profiles of these writers, Flavorwire also interviewed some, asking questions including "How do you feel about Philip Roth retiring?", "Who is your favorite emerging New York writer?", and "What's next for you?" Their answers are touching, unexpected, and quite entertaining. (One of my favorite answers is Sam Lipsyte's response to the question, "How do you feel about Philip Roth retiring?" He said, "I didn't know you could." Writing, like any other form of creative expression, is an impulse that never stops nagging at you and therefore must be heeded. If Roth can turn that valve off, then good on him.)

To see everyone who made Flavorwire's list of "New York's 100 Most Important Living Writers," go to THIS LINK.

* All of the above photographs are from the Flavorwire article.

Americans Read an Average of 15 Books a Year

What does it mean to be an above-average reader if you're in the United States? It means you read more than 15 books a year! A study from the Pew Research Center found that, on average, Americans went through 15 books in the past 12 months. That included printed and e-books. Who knew that we're a nation of readers?

Image via

The same Pew Research Center study revealed that 89 percent of U.S. readers age 16 and older read a printed book; 30 percent read an e-book; and 17 percent listened to an audiobook. More women (81 percent) than men (70 percent ) read a book within the past year, according to the study. Also, reading declined with age: 90 percent of 16- to 17-year-olds, 80 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, 77 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds, 72 percent of 50- to 64-year-olds, and 67 percent of those age 65 and older read books within the past year, revealed the study. I wonder if 16- to 29-year-olds read more because they're more likely to be in school and thus are assigned books to read for class; too, they tend to have more free time during which to read. I assume the percentage drops for 30- to 64-year-olds because of the time that child-rearing takes up. And perhaps the numbers further drop for seniors because of physical ailments that get in the way of reading, such as diminished eyesight, arthritis, or some other condition. Still, this is a very intriguing set of data on readers in the United States.

Lastly, the study showed that a whopping 75 percent of Americans age 16 and older read a book within the past year. As someone who is working her way through library school, I find this bit of information to be very reassuring!

To see all of the results from the Pew Research Center study, go to THIS LINK.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

In Case You Were Wondering...

Image from the Hillsdale Free Public Library (Hillsdale, NJ) Facebook page.

Call for Papers on Librarian Stereotypes

When someone says the word "librarian," what do you think of? Most envision a shushing spinster wearing sensible shoes, her grey hair pulled tightly in a bun and glasses perched on the end of her nose. How does this common perception affect people's attitudes toward libraries and the library profession? This question and more will be addressed in a forthcoming book titled Beyond the Bun: Librarian Valuing Through Perception and Presentation. The editors of this book are now accepting papers on the topic of librarian style, stereotypes, and image.

A library associate who works at a public library in Washington, D.C.

Nicole Pagowsky, instructional services librarian at the University of Arizona, and Miram Rigby, social services librarian at the University of Oregon, are accepting abstracts and proposals that cover - but aren't limited to - the following issues:

How the historical and current underpinnings of demographics in the profession impact stereotypes and how to overcome these when attempting to attract more diversity to the profession.

The sexuality and sexualization of librarians: how are librarians gendered within librarianship and by others? How do race and age tie in to these notions?

How have librarian demographics evolved in relations to diversity? Where are the pitfalls, and where have gains been made? What is needed for the future?

Does the "trendiness" of librarians impose additional expectations? Does it diminish what users expect? Does it attract users?

Do users truly judge librarians based on what they wear? Are they more open to library instruction or reference service if librarians look a certain way?

How does the public's perception of librarians impact programming efforts, and is programming one way to reverse negative stereotypes through action? How can this be accomplished?

The deadline for these papers is February 1, 2013. Send abstracts and proposals of up to 500 words and a brief author's statement to Those who submit papers will be notified by April 2013. Final manuscripts of 1,500 to 5,000 words will be due August 1, 2013. For more information, go to THIS LINK.

The above photograph is from

Tattoos Inspired by the Writing of J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my favorite literary quotes is "Not all those who wander are lost." These words are from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, and they resonated enough with some people that they had them permanently inked on their flesh.

Image from

Whether it's excerpts from one of the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, lines of Elvish, or maps of Middle Earth, hardcore fans of J.R.R. Tolkien are getting elaborate tattoos that pay tribute to their beloved author.

The folks at Flavorwire selected "20 Amazing J.R.R. Tolkien-Inspired Tattoos" for a recent article. Some of these tattoos are really quite beautiful, like this rendering of the White Tree of Gondor. This symbol, which is featured in The Lord of the Rings, makes for an absolutely striking tattoo design.

It's amazing that people are so passionate about an author or a work of literature that they will have sayings or symbols connected to that author or literature be forever made a part of their bodies. That's some serious book love! 

The next time I'm sitting near someone reading a novel by J.R.R. Tolkien, I'm going to wonder if he (or she), underneath the layers of clothing, has a tattoo inspired by this author of high-fantasy classics.

To see all "20 Amazing J.R.R. Tolkien-Inspired Tattoos," go HERE. 

PS. I now want a White Tree of Gondor tattoo!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Yes, Yes They Were

 Image from Rice Lake Public Library's Facebook page.

Great Non-Book Gifts for the Book Lovers on Your List

I'm sure by now, the book lovers you're shopping for this holiday season have given you a list of the reads they want. But if you want to get creative - or if you can't get your hands on that obscure title they want by that author you've never heard of - consider getting them a book-themed gift. Any of the items highlighted by Flavorwire, in its "Christmas Gifts for the Book Nerd Who Reads Everything" post, should go over really well. Like, how cool is this crocheted Stark family? Even if you're not into Game of Thrones, you have to admit this is an awesome gift.

And how about this stacked paperback wallpaper? Doesn't it look great? I love the colors of the titles against the black background and that the paperbacks are classics. The price tag ($198 for one roll measuring 12 inches long by 18 inches wide and covering 18 square feet) is a bit hefty, but this wallpaper from Anthropologie would wonderfully accent any room in your house or apartment, giving it literary flavor that's both vibrant and unique.

If you've ever been to WORD, a cozy and well-curated independent bookstore in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint, then you've seen this T-shirt. I want it, and I'm sure the book lover in your life will love it. They'll look great in this shirt that's a flattering shade of blue and features the eye-catching "I Read Books" design by Mike Fusco of M+E. And at $20, it'll be easy on your wallet.

For other book-themed gift ideas - including a vintage Mark Twain beer stein, an "I Would Prefer Not To" Bartleby the Scrivener tote bag, a George Orwell 1984 fleece shirt, and a classy-looking "Recommended Reading" drinking flask ("One size fits alcohol," according to its item description) - check out the Flavorwire article "Christmas Gifts for the Book Nerd Who Reads Everything" HERE.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

15 Truly Bizarre Christmas-Themed Books

If there's a book lover in your life who appreciates irony, camp, or just odd things, there's a list that will make shopping for them easier. Publishers Weekly released its list of "15 Weird Christmas Books." Some of the selections are not completely unexpected, considering the zeitgeist, such as It's Starting to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, by Michael P. Spradlin:

Yet other books on the list come completely out of left field, which makes them appropriately weird. These include Lawyer's Week Before Christmas, by Joseph Justice, and A NASCAR Holiday 3 ("Four brand-new romances that will send hearts into overdrive this Christmas!"), by Liz Allison, Wendy Etherington, Brenda Jackson, Marisa Carroll, and Jean Brashear:

But there are books on Publishers Weekly's list that I wouldn't mind finding under the tree, like Dawson's Creek: A Capeside Christmas, by C.J. Anders. Sounds like a must-read for fans of the late '90s teen melodrama, a show that was pretty well written and acted, in my opinion.

Other books among the fifteen are goofy (Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Book, by Brian Miller, Adam Paulson, Kevin Wool, and Glenn Gontha), funny (Scared of Santa: Scenes of Terror in Toyland, by Denise Joyce and Nancy Watkins), or outright macabre (Santa Claus Is Dead, by Jason Twede). However, all of these books would make memorable gifts for the adorable oddball among your circle of friends or in your family. To see all "15 Weird Christmas Books," go HERE.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

'Tis the Season to Shop at Independent Bookstores

The holiday shopping season is well underway. Independent bookstores hope that consumers will skip the chains and spend money at their establishments instead.

Greenlight and other indie bookstores hope to see a boom in business this holiday season. Photo via

Fortunately, that's already happening at BookPeople in Austin, Texas. Steve Bercu, owner of BookPeople, told NPR, "People choose to come to this store to do their Christmas shopping. It doesn't have the overwhelming intensity of a shopping mall. It's a single store." And what do people tend to buy at independent bookstores this time of year? Hardcovers.

"The holidays, Bercu adds, are definitely the season for hardcovers," reported NPR. "Any other time of year, you might settle for a paperback or prefer the convenience of an e-book. But at this time of year, customers are looking for something special for someone special."

That "something special" tends to be elegant coffee-table books filled with photographs or artwork. Or they're cookbooks, according to Daniel Goldin of Boswell Book Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "And I don't mean cheap cookbooks," he told NPR. "A $60 cookbook will fly off the shelves." But he's doubtful people actually use these cookbooks. "People buy the book to have the book, to show off the book, to enjoy the book," he said.

Enjoyment of an exquisite hardcover book is what Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, a founder of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York, hopes to foster with the First Editions Club. "It works a little like a wine of the month club," she explained to NPR. "You sign up for a six-month or twelve-month subscription, and then the booksellers at Greenlight will select new titles - fiction or nonfiction - that they think are great and might be valuable in the long term. And subscribers get a first edition of that book signed by the author."

Whatever will draw more shoppers to small bookstores, I'm all for it. This holiday season, support independents like BookPeople, Boswell, and Greenlight!

To read the full NPR article "Independent Bookstores Find Their Footing," go HERE.