From the Library: The Reading Challenge by Marg Corjay

Read Marg Corjay’s column in the January 18, 2013 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Marg is an Outreach and Circulation Assistant at the Morrill Memorial Library and a voracious reader.

Do you feel like a kid in a candy store when you come into your town library, everything looks so tempting, you want to sample it all, and you can’t decide which one to choose?  If you love to read as much as I do, it is not unusual for me to read two or three books a week, I find that my favorite authors cannot keep up with my cravings for new material.  Now imagine you work there, surrounded everyday by all this unexplored reading material!!!!  Every time new books come in, I want to take them all home that night to read. My love of reading goes back almost fifty years to elementary school and the summer reading club at my local library. It was for third- through sixth-graders, you would try to read as many as you could in the eight weeks of July and August from a selection that was chosen by the librarians. You could take out two at a time, and after you read it, the children’s librarian would ask you questions about it.  I would go almost every day, take out my two books, return, report, and take out two more, and by the end of summer, I would have read at least seventy-five books.

How do I curb my appetite, there are only so many hours in an average day to read, I found I have to put myself on a “novel diet” (sorry, that pretty bad library humor, wasn’t it).  My diet plan – THE ANNUAL READING CHALLENGE – one fiction author, one mystery author, and one title beginning with each letter of the alphabet, with a whole year to complete the challenge.  In 2012 I made it even more interesting by trying to only read selections by female authors and in 2013 I have added another dimension by also reading a selection in the Children’s Department. I am an eclectic reader that shies away from the popular mainstream authors, I am never as thrilled as when I find a hidden gem tucked away by an author that no one has ever heard of.  In 2012 I read a total of 215 books, obviously not all were part of my challenge, there were many by male authors or nonfiction selections that I could not count towards my final total.  I succeeded in reading one (or 3 or 10) in each category, except I never located an ”X” female mystery author, that would be a ready-made category for a pseudonym if anyone is interested.   I originally got the idea from one of the woman’s magazine websites that had a similar activity a few years ago. You started with “A”, read the book, then commented on it and so forth through the alphabet.  I started with good intentions, read my “A”, “B”, “C” books, commented, and then a long-awaited “L” book came along.  At that point my plan went up in smoke; I couldn’t wait until I had read all the letters in-between to get to my “L” selection, felt guilty about cheating, and dropped out of the group.

There are several books in the library that can give you suggestions on how to get started with your own challenge, give you booklists in many different areas, and share many writer’s experiences  with their own reading odyssey.  If you are strapped for time, 100 One-Night Reads; A Book Lover’s Guide by D.C. Major gives suggestions from many categories that are fast, but enjoyable reads; or perhaps So Many Books, So Little Time by Sara Nelson will get you started with an interesting list.  1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die edited by Peter Boxall is available in the Reference department, it contains reviews by renowned authors and critics on notable literature in chronological order.  You’ve Got To Read This Book: 55 People Tell the Story of the Book that Changed Their Life compiled by Jack Canfield, contains essays about life-changing books written by people from all walks of life.  Good Books Lately: The One-Stop Resource for Book Groups and Greedy Readers by Ellen Moore and Kira Stevens gives lots of suggestions of books that have been popular with book clubs through the years.   A Passion for Books : A Book Lover’s Treasury of Stories, Essays, Humor, Lore, and Lists on Collecting, Reading, Borrowing, Lending, Caring for, and Appreciating Books  edited by Harold Rabinowitz and Rob Kaplan contains short pieces on the love of books and reading that would resonate with everyone who loves reading for the sake of reading.  Between the Covers : the Book Babes’ Guide to a Woman’s Reading Pleasures by Margo Hammond and Ellen Heltzel is a lighter-hearted look at women’s’ literature and popular woman’s fiction of today, it lists books by main theme and topic.

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