Friday, July 24, 2009

Booklists for Bookworms

My favorite assignments in library school, the assignments that I started working on weeks before they were due and kept right on tweaking long after I turned them in, were book talks and book lists. Books talks and book lists are discussions, either spoken or written, about a group of books. There are typically at least five titles in a book talk or a book list, accompanied by notes that give a brief plot outline and, more importantly, highlight the real appeal factors of the book. Books can be linked by subject, topic, theme, genre, character, audience—anything goes, absolutely anything. And that’s what makes them so much fun.

Since those assignments, I can’t stop making lists of books. It’s gotten to be something of an obsession, and I’ve found that if there’s one thing that compares to the joy of reading books, it’s the fun of writing about them. My lists consist of five to ten books that I’ve read (or, at the very least, books that I have on my shelves with every intention to read as soon as I’ve finished whatever book I’m reading right now). There’s a bias to my lists because they’re my lists—these are the books that I’ve read and liked and that reflect my reading tastes and interests. Making these lists has forced me to expand my reading boundaries, which is another reason I make them. Had I not had an idea to make a list about the blending of science fiction and classical literature, for example, I might never have discovered the hilarious
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

These are by no means professional book lists. I try not to repeat titles, but I can’t help adding my favorites to as many lists as possible. I figure that everyone reads for different reasons—if you’re not drawn to, say,
The Eyre Affair through the science fiction-classics list, you might like it the context of my mystery series list. I do have one rule: If you don’t like what you’re reading, put it down! There’s no rule that says you have to finish every book begin. You’ve got your whole life to read books—why waste time forcing yourself through hundreds of pages you dislike when you could be curled up with the book that becomes your new favorite? Please comment and critique my lists and add your own suggestions and recommendations.

So, without further ado, from Jane Austen read-alikes to science fiction classics to books about boats, books about boys, and even books about books, here are the lists that I cannot stop making.

Note:  I will list books by title and author.  I'll include the date and publishing house of a recent publication, and if the book was published more than twenty years ago, I'll provide the original publication date.  Keep in mind that most books exist in more than one edition (paperback and hard cover, for example) so don't limit yourself to the publication information that I've listed.  I'll also list a few of the genres and sub-genres that the book relates to.  

And remember your local library and your independent booksellers!

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