I don’t often blog about books and writing here. Definitely not as often as I blog about online issues, or educational stuff, or similar. But I’d like to change that, especially considering the debate that’s been going on online. I think it’s rather puerile to reduce it to a hashtag like #arcgate or “librarians vs. bloggers” because that’s not what’s really going on. Even within our profession, we’re learning more about the divide that exists between the “techy” librarians and the “reader” librarians, those that set up gaming tournaments vs. those who excel at Readers’ Advisory (RA). And even that is an inadequate and inaccurate statement, because I know there are a lot more hybrid librarians out there than just me. There are SO MANY library and information professionals who recommend good books in the morning and teach Intro to WordPress in the afternoon. There are librarians responsible for their organization’s servers who are also passionate about the stories that we store on the machinery. So today is my way of beginning a new practice: blogging equally about books and reading in the same way I do about digital issues and the education world.
Today I did one of the more common things I do to keep up with our patrons’ world: I went to the bookstore for some reconnaissance. You can look at the catalogs and websites from publishers all you want, but it’s equally helpful to hit up a retail outlet to see trends and get inspiration for displays, etc.
My visit turned out into a trip down memory lane, as I got to visit some old familiar friends. This is what I saw. First up: Perks of Being a Wallflower! As a novice teen services librarian, I knew this was an important book by the number of Perks we saw being stolen, beat up, and shared with friends. I actually asked our current selector to pick up more copies in anticipation of the movie coming out this fall, and we wondered whether or not they would do a new cover. Glad to report that the classic chartreuse understated cover was retained! Just a little aqua dot with the movie info was added. Perks is one of those absolutely essential modern classics that no teen collection can do without – despite being set in the early 90s, Charlie’s story of teen angst, love, heartbreak, abuse, and redemption continues to resonate with today’s teens.
Next up: some wonderful new covers for more classic thrillers. Caroline Cooney is the queen of mystery and intrigue to me – every new book possesses the same sense of urgency that the old ones do, and she just keeps cranking them out. Is Cooney the Joyce Carol Oates of YA lit? Possibly, possibly. What I’m LOVING about these reissues by Ember are the dreamy x-ray noir-esque covers, which to me perfectly capture the Face on the Milk Carton and Whatever Happened to Janie? It’s a great new look for the Janie books and a wonderful way to reach today’s readers.
Seeing Stolen was like being greeted by an old friend on the shelf – a wonderful reminder of the transformative experience I had on the 2011 Printz committee! I was very happy to see that the distinctive cover from the hardback made onto the paperback copies, although the alert and worldly reader will realize that it is slightly different from the original Australian cover. Also, the title was simplified. But I think that paring those elements away made it even better. I imagine that it will have a lot of shelf appeal just like this for years to come, just like Perks.
Similarly, another old friend was on hand but in a different package: Ship Breaker
! I think the eyes on this new cover are suitably mysterious and creepy (who’s looking at us? Nailer? Nita? Tool?) and of course I am a huge fan of the well-deserved shiny medals down the left side. If you haven’t tried Paolo Bacigalupi yet, please do yourself the favor and dive in. His distinctly familiar post-apocalyptic world where climate change has upended world trade and polite society stretches into both adult and teen titles. My senior English teacher (Hey, Mrs. Adams!) spent a lot of time talking to us about the thematic use of “disquietude” and I am not sure I truly appreciated that theme until I read the story of Nailer’s survival off the coast of tomorrow’s New Orleans.
So that was what I saw on my field trip today. As a librarian, I wear many hats. I have to stay current in technology, literature, and in many more topics in order to do my job well and to serve our patrons best. And as you can see, we often do it in our spare time – we don’t get paid to sit and read novels on work time, nor can we learn everything we need to know during the typical work day. I also visited the enormous Nook kiosk, where an attendant was showing potential Nook buyers all the different models in a well-lit, Apple-esque center stage arena that dominated the floor. The lure of giant Nooks with screens as tall as me was interesting, but I think I’ll leave that for another day.