Thursday, September 23, 2010

Reference Librarianship: Notes from the Trenches

Reference Librarianship: Notes from the Trenches by Charles R. Anderson and Peter Sprenkle.

I can't count the number of times I've talked with two of my library friends about writing books about life on the reference desk. My friends who don't work in libraries are shocked by what actually goes on at a reference desk. This book proves how strange and interesting reference desk interactions can be, but truth be told, it didn't make for the best reading. The backstory to the book is that "a young reference librarian in a Midwest library, using the pseudonym 'Ref Grunt,' posted these transactions daily to an online blog. These blogs are published here in unexpurgated form..." Indeed, we get text message size nuggets such as "An Internet terminal crashes. 'Grant books are over here, right?' Consumer Reports for lawn mowers. Train schedules. Books on leadership. You need to type @ after your username, sir. Asbestos information, but she wants the other side of the argument. The third request for divorce forms today. He did not read asign, the copier took his money, and he's mad at me." Funny. But to anyone who doesn't work at a reference desk? Maybe not. You just gotta experience it yourself for the full effect.

Fly Away Home (audiobook)

Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

I can't say enough how plesantly surprised I was by this book. I'd not read any of Weiner's previous novels so I decided to try the latest in audiobook. Sylvie Woodruff, a 60ish Senator's wife from New York City, finds her life torn apart when she learns (via the television news) that her husband had an affair with a much younger legislative aide. While the mother deals with that crisis, her twenty-something daughters deal with crises of their own. None of the storylines are trite, and none are easily wrapped up. I'm ready to read her backlist!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Elegies for the Brokenhearted

Elegies for the Brokenhearted by Christie Hodgen

Elegies for the Brokenhearted is an original book about some common topics--love, family, and loss. Hodgens spins five little stories together about different people in Mary Murphy's life, and through the stories of these people, we follow Mary as she grows up a quiet, but insightful girl. The writing is beautiful, the stories are sad and shocking and true.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (audiobook)

In this novel by French author Muriel Barbery, the two main characters become unlikely friends--Rene Michel, the 54-year-old concierge of an elite apartment building in Paris, and Paloma, the 12-year-old daughter of one of the building's rich tenants. This was basically one long diatribe against society's class system. Rene Michel is interesting, but Paloma and her melodramatic suicidal declarations are annoying. I expected more from this book after all the buzz it got at pub, but I was left disappointed.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

And the Heart Says Whatever

And the Heart Says Whatever by Emily Gould

Next, please. I was so excited for this book because Emily Gould is a former editor of Gawker (my favorite website back when it was new and I was a member of the NYC media scene myself) and I expected the same snarkiness about New York City's celebrities and media companies that I get from Gawker. Wrong. The writing was bland, the editing was atrocious (Stephen King's name as actually spelled wrong), and Gould does not paint a pretty picture of herself. She comes off as arrogant and lazy.

As an aside, turns out she worked for an affiliated publishing company of one I worked for at the same time. I wonder what her former co-workers at Hyperion think about the essay on her three years there. At least she makes it clear she stopped working in publishing because she was too lazy to hack it.