Check It Out

Courier Article by Pam Locker
Sunday, October 8, 2006

Help Picking Book Is as Easy as Turning a Page

With thousands of new books published monthly and a finite amount of reading time (after all, we have to sleep), what's the best way to narrow the selections?

Librarian Nancy Pearl, the originator of the national One Book/One Community movement and author of Book Lust and Book Lust II, will join us from Seattle, Washington on Wednesday with tips for deciding what to read next.

Book Lust: Recommended Reading for Every Mood, Moment, and Reason by Nancy Pearl (Sasquatch Books, 2003) is a compilation of about 2,000 of Nancy's top picks. Under headings starting with A…My Name is Alice and ending with Zero: This Will Mean Nothing to You, Pearl lists both fiction and non-fiction standouts.

Visit Pearl's interactive website at http://booklust.wetpaint.com for monthly "Pearl's Picks" and to participate in "a community for people who love books." And don't forget to attend Pearl's free public lecture at Central Library.

The Book Club Companion: a Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy (Berkley Books, 2006) offers ideas for energizing book groups. Loevy, reading groups editor for The Literary Guild Book Club website, is herself a member of several book clubs in Fairfield County, Connecticut.

Loevy organizes her suggestions into nine chapters – the Beloveds; the Book Club Classic; Classic Fiction; Brit Lit 101; Red, White and Noir; Literary Respites; Black Lit; Nonfiction That Reads Like Fiction; and the Memoir – and in each category starts with detailed information about the Ten Indispensable Titles.

Since deciding on what to read is probably the hardest part about being in a book club, compendiums like this are a good resource. I'm not a cook, so I skipped over her recipes and other entertainment ideas for spicing up meetings.

Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading: Finding and Losing Myself in Books by Maureen Corrigan (Random House, 2005).

Corrigan, NPR's "Fresh Air" book critic and a widely published reviewer and essayist, is a self-confessed obsessive reader.

She starts her introduction by writing "It's not that I don't like people. It's just that when I'm in the company of others – even my nearest and dearest – there always comes a moment when I'd rather by reading a book."

Read this free-ranging memoir not for the reading suggestions – since many are rather obscure – but rather for the comfort to be derived from knowing that there are other people who consider reading to be a noble and enlightening pursuit.

Literacy and Longing in L.A. by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack (Delacorte Press, 2006).

Kaufman, a staff writer at the "Los Angeles Times" and Karen Mack, a former attorney and Golden Globe Award-wining film and television producer, have written a Cinderella novel with a book addict as the likeable heroine.

Dora, named after Eudora Welty, finds her life coming apart on all fronts in this witty chick lit novel set in contemporary Los Angeles. Interspersed throughout the plot are trips to bookstores and ruminations on favorite titles. I hope we see Dora again.

Finally, here are some of my favorite sources for reviews of new books:

"BookPage" (also online at www.bookpage.com) is a free monthly newsletter available at all EVPL locations.

"Book Marks" and "Pages" are bi-monthly magazines available at various local libraries as well as at bookstores. Selected reviews are online at www.bookmarksmagazine.com and www.pagesmagazine.com.

"New York Times Book Review" (www.nytimes.com/pages/books) and "Washington Post Book World" (www.washingtonpost.com, click on Arts and Living, then Books) and the "Los Angeles Times" (www.calendarlive.com/books) are good newspaper sources.

Pam Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.