I’m probably not the best person to write a post about heroes in literature. As I’ve mentioned on here before, I’m usually much more drawn to the supporting characters or the, ahem, villains than the heroes. But every now and then, like a normal person, I really do like the protagonist of the story.
And to that end, since the Great American Read is going to be airing its episode about heroes next week on September 25th, now’s the perfect time to explore a little more about literary heroes.
Next Tuesday, September 18, the first of the themed Great American Read episodes will air. Titled “Who am I?” it focuses on books about self-identity and characters’ journeys. These themes are the classic catalysts of coming-of-age stories, which are admittedly one of my favorite genres. One of the ideas broached in the episode is that of reading a book at the right time.
This past weekend, Forbes published an op-ed that advocated for libraries being shut down and replaced by Amazon bookstores, all in the name of saving people tax money. Due to widespread public outrage, the piece has apparently been pulled, though it is still preserved on the Wayback Machine. I wrote this response while the article was still on Forbes’s website, and we are still posting it because we want to educate people about the role of public libraries and their very real value to their communities.
As someone who has spent the last 10 years working for the Berryville Public Library and is currently a member of our Friends of the Library board, I was horrified by the measures the Forbes editorial recommended. But I was also disturbed by the number of misconceptions that Panos Mourdoukoutas, the author of the piece, seems to have about what libraries actually do and the services they provide their communities.
He notes that in the past libraries provided resources like books, magazines, and journals, as well as quiet research places, comfortable places to enjoy books, space for community events, video rentals, and free internet access. However, according to his reasoning, these things can all be sought elsewhere, including Starbucks and Amazon bookstores.
I have been hearing these doom-and-gloom pronouncements about how outdated libraries are and how they are shortly on their way toward the fate of dinosaurs and dodos since I was first hired by a library. Inevitably, I have always found that they are perpetuated by people who have outdated ideas of what libraries do.
It’s that time of year again, where people are making resolutions and breaking resolutions. I tend to be more interested in and successful at book-related resolutions, which are more fun than regular resolutions, anyway.
For me, I have a few random literary resolutions this year. I always hesitate to pre-plan my reading too much because, quite frankly, I flit from one interest to another fairly quickly, so I know I am just setting myself up to fail if I have an overly rigid agenda of what I want to read for even a couple of months, let alone an entire year. But I have developed three that I think are achievable.
Do you plan your cooking around your reading? Do you plan your reading around your eating? Or do they never correlate in your mind?
I must confess, it isn’t something I thought a lot about until I recently was catching up with Elise Bishop, one of my former college professors/bosses. She’s a regular blog reader, and when I told her I was always open to blog post idea suggestions, she told me I ought to write about the connection between literature and food. Thanks for the great suggestion, Mrs. B.!
I know a lot of my bookish friends tend to describe their year in reading by how many books they read — and I do that too — but that still doesn’t say much about your year in reading, like what you were actually reading in those 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, etc. books you read over the course of 2016.
And, so to that end, I thought I’d recap my year in reading –a lot of which did not end up on the blog — and you could share your year in reading in the comments.
Note: not all of the books I mention are available in the library, but we can certainly try to get them for you through ILL if you’re interested!
Ever read any of these on an Amazon review? Ever intentionally sought out books with bad reviews? Now’s your chance since one of the challenges in the 2016 Library Challenge is to do just that – read a book with a bad review.
I must confess, this challenge probably amused me the most of any of the ones on this list when I first read it at the beginning of this year.
Because, really, how hard is it to find a book with bad reviews?