Reading is my superpower, according to my coffee mug. I get my caffeine fix, and make a statement about how important reading is to me. I can’t remember not being able to read—to me it’s like breathing—necessary for life! I’ll read anything in a pinch, including any and all packaging (cereal boxes included), but I prefer fiction. I love literary fiction, women’s fiction and mysteries or suspense with a focus on character (Elizabeth George, Louise Penny); Southern writers for their strong sense of place and lyrical prose (Pat Conroy, Fannie Flagg, Lee Smith); coming of age novels (To Kill a Mockingbird, Boy’s Life); and classics. I also read historical fiction, fantasy and a little science fiction. When I read nonfiction, I prefer essays on nature and gardening (Sy Montgomery, Michael Pollan, Henry Mitchell), and books on travel, cookery and sewing. One of the great things about working in a library is I’m surrounded by other bibliophiles—I love to hear what others are reading so I can add to my “to read” list!
Destined to become a librarian? Probably: I cataloged my books—including all umpteen Nancy Drew mysteries—when I was in 4th grade. These days you’ll find me reading tons of nonfiction, especially the narrative stuff with a storyline that reads like fiction. I’ll read nonfiction about nearly any topic, but books about self-improvement, presidential history, aviation, journalists, popular sociology, adventure, and historic tragic events most often populate my reading list. I also like contemporary fiction and historical fiction, especially the types of books that are discussable for book clubs.
Reading book review journals for my job ensures that my “To Read” list keeps getting longer every day. I read mostly fiction, though I’ll read nonfiction if it is something that interests me. I’m generally perceived to be the “quirky books” reader, and guilty as charged. I like weird and snarky if it’s written well. Loved Rowling’s Casual Vacancy, Ramsland’s Doghead, and Good Omens by Gaiman/Pratchett. I will read anything contemporary or historical (literary or genre) if I like the writing and mood, especially books taking place in colder climates (quirky!) A vacation in either Bali or Finland? No contest, I’d head north every time. I also like mysteries (I’ve read everything by P.D. James and Louise Penny) and psychological suspense, with the odd thriller thrown in. I love the Charlie Parker series by John Connelly and I enjoy the occasional ghost/horror novel, but have my standards—no zombies, boring and devoid of personality! Dark and gloomy I like, a la Karen Maitland. Not much one for chick-lit or romance and I rarely read fantasy or science fiction (unless required to by work), but I never say never.
I confess, I did not grow up with a love for books. In my youth I struggled with focusing and retaining the material in them; therefore, books intimidated me. And now I’m surrounded by them!!! So then, how do you not fall in love with or want to read them?!! In my adult life, I have found that I love reading psychology books written from a religious aspect. I especially favor books authored by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. A couple of my favorites are Boundaries: When to Say Yes, When to Say No, to Take Control of Your Life and Necessary Endings: The Employees, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give up in Order to Move Forward, both by Henry Cloud. I also like to read books that focus on leadership training, such as The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader: Becoming the Person Others Will Want to Follow, Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping-Stones for Success, and Becoming a Person of Influence, which were all written by John C. Maxwell. And most recently, I’ve discovered that I enjoy reading biographies for four reasons: they promote self-discovery, they allow you to see the world in new ways, and can sometimes serve as an inspiration and/or mentors at a distance, and whether you admire or revile the individual they’re about, I personally want to know how a “normal” person became a world-changing figure.
Growing up with a children’s librarian for a mother, I lived and breathed reading. I could most often be found with my nose in a book. I forced myself through math homework by promising myself I could read a page after I did 5 problems. So it was natural that I became an English major and ended up in library school. Now as a reference librarian, I get to read for my job! I enjoy humorous novels, like those of Donna Andrews and Debbie Mason. My taste in mysteries runs to cozies and classics. Christian fiction is another genre I enjoy. When I turn to nonfiction, it’s most often to something that touches on women’s contributions to history–I loved Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly!