I would argue that librarians do good deeds everyday, and when you're working the front lines - you do. But I'm in administration now, and while sitting around, spending money, and buying oodles of books is good deed enough - I sometimes get the itch to interact with "the little people." Granted, I don't miss a lot of the craziness that working with the general public brings, but there is a downside to working in virtual isolation. For one thing, I don't get a lot of opportunity to talk books with your average, everyday reader.
(Hence, one of the reasons I blog - it scratches an itch)
I got a call last Thursday from one of our branch managers. Coincidentally the manager at the brand spankin' new library we opened up about a month ago. He got a call from a local book group. They wanted someone to give a book talk today. Yes, today. Nothing like short notice. This manager, despite being in a brand new library, open seven days a week, does not have enough staff. Hey, my employer hasn't cornered the market on this. Ask any librarian who works just about anywhere and they'll say, "I don't have enough staff." Your shrinking library budgets at work! So he told this woman that he "had someone in mind" (uh, that would be me) and he would make some phone calls.
Now, normally on notice this short, I probably would have turned it down. But this woman called our new library - and I thought if I went, gave a rip-roaring book talk, and didn't make an ass out of myself, that it would not only look good for me and my boss(es) but also for this brand new library and their staff. See how my mind works?
So how did it go? Well they loved me, of course! Was there ever any doubt? I guess they could have been lying to my face, but somehow they seemed genuine. I was told I was a "fantastic actress." Let's pause a moment for my sisters to stop laughing hysterically - because I have never, ever been accused of being out-going in my whole life! I was told my passion for the books I discussed was "infectious" and that I talked about them "so well." Hey, when you love your job, it's easy. And the best part? They fed me lunch! Woot!
The demographic I was speaking to was a little interesting. All women, all of a "certain age." So what did I discuss? Well, it just might surprise you:
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran - Hey, you can't go wrong with historical fiction and when I read this last summer I really enjoyed it. And I don't care all that much for Egyptian history.
Between Friends by Debbie Macomber - My "milder" fiction choice. I picked this one because it follows the lives of two female friends over the course of 50 years, and is told entirely through letters, journal entries, postcards, and e-mails. Not one stitch of dialogue. And yes, I loved it. This one is a real tearjerker, but ends on a satisfying, non-depressing note. Plus I thought the premise would appeal to a group of more mature women.
Heartsick by Chelsea Cain - In the immortal words of The Boyfriend, "Are you sure that's a good idea?" I wondered, given the group of little old ladies in the room - but I qualified this one with "if you don't like violence or bad words then just ignore me for the next few minutes." I would like to say though that this is the book that got the biggest reaction out of the room, and I honestly believe some of them will read it!
A Reason To Live by Maureen McKade - My "no romance does not equal poorly written, trite, fluffy and Fabio" book. Another emotional read, but with a happy ending. I wanted to recommend a book that challenged any preconceived notions of romance novels that the audience may have. I think this book does that.
I gave brief descriptions of all of these books, some general observations on my part, plus I read excerpts. This seemed to be a big hit, and worked as a "teaser" to intrigue them. I, bless my soul, threw together a handout which featured book covers, ISBNs, and prices. I also mentioned that all the titles were available through our library system. I know, I'm a peach.
It was a lot of fun, and it was great to talk about some good genre fiction. It's always dicey with book clubs, but I figure one can only read so much literary/general fiction until your eyes cross. Plus the woman who asked me to do it said, "Oh we read all kinds!" when I told her I was pretty heavy into genre fiction. Good thing, because I probably would have slit my wrists if I had to plow through too many Oprah books.