Tag Archives: Library

One Courageous Human Tries to Read a Book From Every Bookcase in the Library

manPet care, military history, even the reference shelf: this guy is going to read a book from each of them. Robert Sedgwick wants to expand his reading, and to promote his local library. He decided the best way to do this was to read a book from each bookcase in the library – there are 133 bookcases, by his count – and blog about it here. He’s on book 43. He has over 20,000 books to choose from.

As with any self-imposed Herculean challenge, one must set oneself some rules:

Firstly, he defined a bookcase:

‘For my purposes a bookcase is a set of parallel horizontal shelves with vertical sides. As soon as you cross a vertical line it’s another bookcase. Tables of books laid flat I will treat as one bookcase.’

Then a book:

‘I will only read English prose/poetry books, so things like telephone directories and dictionaries which are not meant for reading I won’t consider as books, likewise audio cds and recordings of people reading books are not for this project. If there are no valid books on a bookshelf then I will ignore that shelf.

If possible I will not read any book or author I have read before and I will select books at least 150 pages long. I’ll only break this rule if there is no other choice on the bookshelf.

My intention is to stick to the adult library and not to select books from the children’s section.’ I think it’s a shame about the kids’ section, but never mind.

He also states that if he is utterly loathing the chosen book he reserves the right to abandon it and choose a different title from the same bookcase. Very wise.

He began at the front door and is working his way around the library in an anti-clockwise direction, gradually spiralling into the centre. He’s been through true crime, thrillers, young adult and book of the week. You can take a virtual tour of his chosen library here  to get a sense of what he has in store.

As a person who works in libraries I have two things to say about this:

1. Everyone should look around sections in the library they don’t often visit – there are hidden gems and Dewey-decimal quirks that mean you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Ask the people working there for recommendations – we know where the buried treasure is (and we’ve read half of it)!
2. Also, keep going back to your favourite sections because libraries are constantly getting new books, either brand new or circulated from around the county. They don’t all go on the ‘new titles’ section to make sure you go to the shelves and see the older stuff too. We want you to take out a new book and an old favourite!

Much to applause to Robert for promoting libraries and reading like a champion. Follow him @1stofftheshelf and follow his library @DorkingLibrary.

dorking

What do you think of Robert’s idea? Could you do it? Is there a section you’d never consider taking a book from? Comments please!

 (This was first published here, and this version has some updates. I’m the author of both versions.)
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What Happens in a Library When a Beloved Author Dies

  1. The first person to see it on the news uses the library’s internal communication system to send round a message.
  2. The person in each library who reads it spreads the message among their colleagues and everyone talks about the loss of a great human and writer.
  3. Their books are moved to prominent display areas, partly because people are about to come in and ask where they are, but mostly because they deserve to be read.
  4. Shelf checks start to come in from other libraries as readers request the books. We send them off as quickly as we can as we know the waiting lists will soon become vast.
  5. We read about their publishing history, so we can think about which to recommend to the readers who come in never having read that author before and asking where they should start.
  6. We know that this flurry of intense interest is temporary and that saddens us. But this mass-reading of their works seems to us the most perfect act of collective mourning.  They will be read; they will be remembered.

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Mr. George Baker and Mr. Morris Lessmore: Two Perfect Books About Reading

Journey-2I’ve been planning story times for the library which allows me the unrivaled pleasure of reading some of the funniest, loveliest books around. Children’s books have to be succinct, and often have depth and moral messages. They also have pictures. I wrote a post last week for Momentum Books about the most gorgeous wordless novels I’ve come across: Silence is Golden: The Particular Loveliness of Wordless Books. These visual books are particularly good for people who have dyslexia or other reading issues. They are universally accessible and are undeniably works of art. Journey, pictured right, is a particular favourite.

Mr GeorgeHowever, I’ve also been reading books with words in them (the parents do prefer that when they’ve brought their toddler to story time). I like to choose books with the theme of reading, to doubly encourage it. I am completely in love with Mr. George Baker by Amy Hest and Jon J Muth.  Mr. George Baker is narrated by a little boy called Harry. The eponymous character is one hundred years old, a famous drummer, and going on the school bus with Harry, because he is learning to read too. It’s lively, beautiful and moving.

Also essential reading is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm. The stunning animation it inspired is an award-winning combination of Up and The Wizard of Oz, but for book-lovers. Like Oz, once colour kicks in it becomes even more of a visual treat. The book is retro, heart-warming and, I think, even better than the film. Watch the film though – it’s fifteen minutes extremely well spent.

Did you like it?

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An Evening with Diane Atkinson: Author of ‘The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton’

Happy International Women’s Day!

Any regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of women’s history (in fact I wrote a little book of it), so I was delighted to have the chance to listen to Diane Atkinson speak about her book ‘The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton’. Here’s the blurb:

The Criminal Conversation of Mrs Norton

Caroline Norton: beauty and wit, poet, pamphleteer and blue stocking. She was married to a boorish minor aristocrat at 19, who accused her, for his own political ends, of an affair, or a ‘Criminal Conversation’ as it was know, with Lord Melbourne (the Prime Minister) which ended in the ‘Trial of the Century’. Pilloried by society, cut off and bankrupted by her family she went on to be the most important figure in establishing women’s rights in marriage. This is the startling story of how one woman changed marriage and revolutionised women’s rights.

Atkinson relayed a brief history of Norton’s life from her marriage, and subsequent political struggles, to her death. I was most compelled by her vociferous legal battle to gain access to her children and extend this right to all separated mothers (in the past, children of divorced parents were considered the father’s alone: the mother had no legal rights to see them). The question and answer section was very interesting at Atkinson spoke more about her research; she spent two years going through over a thousand letters written my Mrs Norton. Atkinson was confident and knowledgeable – she held the room beautifully. 

It was heartening in my small town to see a room full to bursting of people interested in women’s history. 

Find out more about Diane Atkinson here.

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