Monday, March 31, 2008

Book Pimp

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.


Rosie said...

You got a call today, chose, what four books? Chose excerpts AND did a handout? Dang! I'm impressed. Be careful now. Word will get out and you'll be in demand.

Wendy said...

Rosie: Not quite that bad. I got the call Thursday to do the presentation on Monday. The problem was laying my hands on all the books. The library closest to me had two of them, I have an autographed copy of the Macomber at home, and I made do with the ARC for the Cain novel.

Jill D. said...

Wendy that is so cool! Good for you. I think you did an excellent job with your book choices too!

Kristie (J) said...

Here! Here! for including romance in your presentation. And coming from a SuperLibrarian - it must have made it seem that more legitimate!
Glad you had fun - and hopefully you influenced readers

azteclady said...

*laughing* you are the best book pimp. Well, Ann Aguirre is giving you a run for your money right now (check her blog *hint* *nudge* *wink*), but I would have loved to be there and see you wow the ladies.

Stephanie Feagan said...

Aw, c'mon! You didn't pimp The Nympho Librarian?
I'm still waiting for a review, by the way.

But seriously, I'm impressed. Keep that up and I'll be nominating you for Librarian of the Year or something.

Stef, who would much rather be reading The Nympho Librarian - or even WITH the nympho librarian - than doing tax returns

Wendy said...

Well I just got a phone call from one of the "little old ladies" who wants to write a note to my boss about how fantastically wonderful I am. Ha! After this whole experience I came home from work and told The Boyfriend: "I'm damn good at my job" and he replied, "I know you are." I kick ass!

Stephanie: LOL - I don't actually own the Nympho Librarian book or I would read and review it! I did look at OCLC though, and it ain't listed. Bummer. I stole that graphic, so I'm thinking it's just one of those anonymous pulp novels that never made it's way to be legitimately cataloged, or else someone designed that book cover using some graphics program and it doesn't really exist.

Ugh, taxes! I did ours back in February and while it wasn't too awful, I have to spend some time going through The Boyfriend's mileage/business expenses etc. and it's usually hassle (even though he keeps excellent records). Blessedly mine usually end up being a slam dunk. I'm boring!

Stephanie Feagan said...

Of COURSE she wants to write your boss a note! She SHOULD write your boss a note. You should subsequently be given a raise.

Boring is good. We here in TaxLand love us some boring.

And yeah, I suspected the Nympho was all an illusion. I therefore think you should write it. Heh. They say write what you know!

Stef, ducking and running

Wendy said...

Stef: Well hardy har har. I'm not sure what's funnier - me writing "what I know" or getting raise!

Big Sis said...

OMG! the alter ego has taken over! Super Librarian, give us our mild mannered Wendy back!!!

Seriously, good for you!
And those "women of a certain age" aren't all that much older than me (thankyouverymuch)so let's not sound too shocked they might be up for a novel like Heartsick.

Wendy said...

Big Sis: Uh, no. Definitely older than you. I would say the youngest woman in the room had a good 10 years on you - and that's even factoring in any plastic surgery (hey, I do live in So. Cal.).....