Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I am Reading and Why I Can't Always Share


One of the ways that I like to use this blog space is to share some of the titles that I am reading and write about which books are my new favorites. So far this summer I have finished ten books and are in the middle of two books as I type this post. 

I choose the books that I read for a lot of different reasons. I am a book reviewer for both School Library Journal and School Media Connection (formerly Library Media Connection). That means that I am sent books to read and review. I get to choose favorite genres and age ranges, but what I get is a crap shoot. Sometimes I love the books but very often I am underwhelmed. SLJ asks all reviewers not to broadcast to publishers or authors what books that they will be reviewing. I am also asked not to publish, like on this blog, my reviews until six months after the review has been published in the print magazine. LMC has never given me any such guidelines, so I just follow what I do for SLJ. By the time that my review has been in print for six months, I have sort of forgotten about it. I certainly have moved on in my reading. I have only recommended two books to receive stars from SLJ. One of the titles was not given the star in April of this year, but the other one did. I am not suppose to reach out to the author on social media so that no one thinks that I gave a star to a friend. I have to say that I have befriended many authors over the years. If I received a title from one of those authors, I would probably have to decline to review it. What if I hated it?

April 2015 SLJ Star Reviews
I am a member of the Louisiana Teen Reader's Choice Committee. Right now we have a list of about 40 titles published in 2014 that we will use to select the ten titles for the 2017 list. We meet in early August to finalize the list, so I have spent some time this summer reading those titles. I just checked online and found that the past consideration lists with the 40-odd titles were available for anyone to see. Though I guess that I could tell you what I am reading for the 2017 list, it just doesn't feel right giving you an assessment of how I liked a particular book. I will say this. The committee is made up of about 25 school and public librarians across the state, and everyone has definite opinions of books that they like and don't like. Many times none of us agree. 

I usually schedule five to six author visits a year at school. Some of those are virtual not face to face, but either way I think that it is crucial that I read at least one book by any author who my students will meet. This year we get a return visit from Jewell Parker Rhodes who will be talking about her newest book, Bayou Magic. That book is on my to read list, and I plan to visit Octavia Books on Friday to pick up a copy. 

I run two book groups at school one for high school and one for middle school. My high school students never want to read the same book, so I just share with them books that I read that I think will interest them. My middle school group reads a book a month. I certainly can't run a discussion if I haven't also read that book. Sometimes I try to select books that I have already read, but I want books that have appeal to the students. I do try to give them a chance to select titles for our meetings and very often those are books that I do not know nor have read. 



Now I get to the point where I can select books that I want to read. That doesn't seem to happen very often. Early in the summer, I listened to an audio version of the adult book, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. All my retired teacher friends loved it, and I did, too. I even bought it for my husband so that he could read it on our vacation. After buying the book, I found out that it had been sitting on the shelf of my library. I try, but I do not know all the volumes on the shelves. Anyway, we left the book with my father and his wife so that they could read it also. I loved Seraphina by Rachel Hartman that was published in 2012. When the second in the duology came out this year, Shadow Scale, I was thrilled to find out what happened to the characters in the first book. The only problem was that except for the main character I really did not remember what happened in the first book. Then I remembered the Recaptains' website. This is a blog written by some librarians who recap what happens in each book in a series so that you don't have to reread a book before reading the next in a series. This website is definitely a keeper. The other book that I read just because I wanted to was The Story of Owen by E. K. Johnston. I loved the premise that in a modern day Canada, there needs to be dragon slayers who the government contracts to keep the population safe from the dragons. The second book in that series, Prairie Fire, came out in March, and I have it in my pile of to reads. 

So I stand by the motto of my school library---All Readers Welcome. I hope that you had a chance to get into some first rate reads this summer like I did. 

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