Monday, May 14, 2007

Reverse Reader's Advisory

Some of the books I enjoy most have been recommended by other readers. Have you ever read a book that when it ended, you wanted more? Recently one of our wonderful patrons of the library asked me if I’d ever read These Is My Words by Nancy Turner and told me it was an historical novel about a pioneer woman in the Arizona Territories. I read it and enjoyed the story of a young woman who endured hardships and made a life for herself and her family; it had enough historical information to keep it realistic and keep me happy. Last week this same patron asked if I’d read it. When I told her how much I’d enjoyed it, she asked if I’d read the sequel. Duh! I hadn’t even checked for a sequel. Off to the shelves I went to retrieve Sarah’s Quilt: A novel of Sarah Agnes Prine and the Arizona Territories, 1906. It didn’t take me any time at all to remember Sarah’s story and to enjoy this follow-up story even more. More than just enjoying it however, I am in awe of the life that women endured, just one hundred years ago – in my own grandmother’s lifetime! When we are bombarded daily with images and stories of the fast-paced senseless lifestyles of some of the rich and the famous, reading the no-nonsense story of what it took for our ancestors to survive, just one century ago, made a deep impression. Both novels were based on the author’s family stories about her great-grandmother, giving a veracity to the stories that makes you believe the characters are real.

Another instance of reverse reader’s advisory is having my bank teller recommend a series of futuristic novels by J. D. Robb, a pseudonym for Nora Roberts. I was embarrassed that I didn’t know that series and came back to the library to check if we had any of those books. We didn’t. We do now! This series features Police Detective Eve Dallas on the New York City police force in the not too distant future, but distant enough that cars “fly”! In each novel from the first one Naked in Death, to the most recent, Innocent in Death, Lt. Eve has to solve a murder. She is assisted by her husband, dashing multimillionaire Roarke, a businessman with a shadowy past. There are now 25 books in the series, and in each, the strong female character prevails, often just barely. There’s enough cops and robbers procedure with a touch of the technology wielded by Roarke to satisfy my reading tastes – I do like it when the good guys win!

And if you haven’t read any of Jodi Picoult’s novels, it’s time to start. She lives in NH and has appeared locally at book talks and signings and is very accessible. Staff members recommended her books to me as a good read, and they all are. She thoroughly researches her topics and sets them in a believable story. Those topics range from the ethics of having a baby specifically to medically help an existing child in My Sister’s Keeper, to school bullying in Nineteen Minutes. I’ve recommended the latter book to each and every teacher I know and would recommend it to parents who may think that bullying violence couldn’t happen here!

Happy Spring almost Summer, Happy Reading! Watch for our new summer reading program for adults based on the theme Reading Roadtrip USA.

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