Friday, November 26, 2010

Plenty of Turkey (with a few books thrown in)

My family and I have been "well-turkeyed" this week. Enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal at my father-in-law's nursing home earlier in the week. Then had a full meal with all the trimmings with extended family at noon yesterday and delicious turkey sandwiches with my sister's family last night!

It's always fun to catch up with what's going on in the family--sometimes it's more drama than we prefer, but still, it's good to hear what's happening with everyone. One of my cousins has a friend named Deb who works at a book store and this year we re-connected. It starts out so innocently with a simple question like, "what's the best book you've read this year?" and before we know it, we are at a full gallop traveling across the range of fiction, nonfiction, and beyond!

Within minutes, she had grabbed a pen and a piece of paper to write down her favorites and we were googling via my mobile phone to look up a couple of titles we were having trouble remembering, immersed in our own little world of "book lust." Now before I lose the slip of paper she wrote on, I am going to enter her best reads list. After all, she works in a book store and she ought to know!

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer

Atlantic : Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories by Simon Winchester

Love Begins in Winter by Simon Van Booy

Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang

Jarrettsville by Cornelia Nixon

Cleopatra : A Life by Stacy Schiff

And just in case you are favorite book this past year, would have to be The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (which Deb hasn't read......but will!)

Monday, November 22, 2010

What Is a Book?

If you live in Iowa and you love to read, you really should check out this group of dedicated "bookies" who contribute their time and energy to something called the Iowa Center for the Book(ICB). The ICB is a program of the State Library of Iowa and an affiliate of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress whose mission is "to stimulate public interest in books, reading, literacy and libraries."

I have the pleasure of representing the DMPL on the ICB's advisory board and recently attended a meeting. In addition to offering a wonderful web site devoted to reading and books, the ICB also collects the names of Iowa Authors--a task that is not as easy as one might assume at first glance. The ICB's list of Iowa Authors is a great resource for readers, librarians, teachers, and anyone else who might have an interest in finding an author. (The DMPL also has an Iowa Author list with slightly different criteria.)

The list currently includes the names and contact information for more than 230 authors--not bad for our small state when one considers that the criteria for being included on the list is:
Author is presently living and writing in Iowa.
Author is writing for the non-specialist reader.
Author writes books for adult, young adult, or juveniles.
Author's book is in physical format, printed and bound.
Author's book is owned by at least one library in Iowa that is open to the public.

That's where the discussion about "what is a book" gets interesting. Nowadays, with e-books and all the self-publishing opportunities, it's becoming harder and harder to define exactly what constitutes a book, hence an author. The committee is going to leave the current criteria in place for the time being, but we will continue, I'm sure, to re-examine it at future meetings.

No matter. The important thing is to continue our mission of encouraging the love of reading! So, check out the list and if you know of any authors that should be on there, tell them to submit their names.

Another cool thing that the ICB web site contains is a wonderful literary calendar of all kinds of book-related programs and events, including information about the annual All Iowa Reads selection and related events. Enjoy!