For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
January 4, 2006 - Favorite 2005 Reads
By Rochelle Logan, Associate Director of Support Services
[Note: I'm going to be on vacation the first two weeks on January. So this column is from Rochelle Logan, my Associate Director. Next week's column -- which I will send next Thursday, will be from Mark Weston, President of the Douglas County Board of Trustees. I'll be back in the saddle the week after that.]
Libraries are not just about books. We consider the public library a meeting place, a center of the community, somewhere you can check out music, DVDs, audio books and work on a computer. With that said, it is still true that when you say the word "library" to most people, they think of books. It is also true that many librarians love to read and talk about books and I'm no exception. Through the holidays, I attended parties and my ears perked up whenever I heard friends talking about their latest favorite books. I'm here to give you my list of favorites. They were not all new in 2005 and they were not bestsellers. My favorites are, of course, available at your local library.
Lost in the Forest by Sue Miller
Sue Miller is best known for her novel "The Good Mother" published to critical acclaim and made into a motion picture. Miller often writes about family dynamics, especially broken families. "Lost in the Forest" takes place in the wine country of Napa Valley. The story centers on a divorced woman and her children after her new husband dies in a traffic accident. The middle child, Daisy has a hard time dealing with the loss. Her journey is especially poignant. Miller presents a cast of characters who are full of life and a story that kept me pondering even when I put the book down.
This is Not Civilization by Robert Rosenberg
A seemingly unconnected cast of characters and places come together in this story by first novelist Rosenberg. Jeff Hartig, an American Peace Corp volunteer travels to Kyrgyzstan after what he considers a failed mission at an Apache reservation. His relationships with an Apache teenager, the people of a small Kyrgyzstan village and eventually a circle of friends in Istanbul may sound unlikely. However, Rosenberg's style makes it work. I'm going to recommend this one to my reading group. It would be a good discussion book.
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant
Set in the 1400's in Florence, Italy, British author, Dunant writes a full-bodied novel about a young girl's infatuation with the disturbed artist her parents hire to paint the walls of the family chapel. Her life is complicated by an arranged marriage and the political upheaval of the times. This excellent period piece transports the reader to a luxurious, passionate, and violent time.
Baker Towers by Jennifer Haigh
In her sophomore offering after the award-winning Mrs. Kimble, Jennifer Haigh writes a story about a family's struggles in a Pennsylvania coal town after World War II. The hardship of the women's lives and their relationships with each other as well as the colorful members of the community makes for an enjoyable read. A Library Journal reviewer said, "Haigh uses evocative prose to create a picture of a company town-and of the human condition-that is both accurate and moving."
Broken for You by Stephanie Kallos
This debut novel by Seattle teacher, Kallos has some unexpected twists in a well-crafted plot. Her main character, Margaret lives alone in a mansion, rarely going out after the death of her young son. She talks to the priceless antiques in the house as one might talk to a pet. After a cancer scare, she decides to open her home to a renter, then two renters, then three. This is a compelling story of how an invented family comes together, finding unconventional ways to help each other heal.
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
In pre-Civil War Virginia, former slave, Henry Townsend makes enough money to buy land and (paradoxically) slaves. I listened to this on CD while driving in my car. It kept me going on long stretches of road. Jones won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2004 for The Known World.
The rest of my 2005 favorites:
The Lake, the River and the Other Lake by Steve Amick
The Inner Circle by T. C. Boyle
The Confessions of Max Tivoli by Andrew Sean Greer
Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
Twilight by Katherine Mosby
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Happy New Year and happy reading!