Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ON BOOKS ~ Does Enjoyment Trump Writing For This Star Gazing Librarian?...

You know what's cool? Librarians. Want to meet a cool librarian? Thought so. Meet Melissa. I just got to know her myself. I snooped around her blog, One Librarian's Book Reviews, peeking through the stacks so to speak. And I found a grand lover of books, as all good librarians should be of course. But also a very thoughtful reviewer, a blogger with great clarity and someone I'd love to meet in person, if she didn't live so far away in Arizona. I know some pretty cool bloggers in Arizona. If you are one of them you should stop by and introduce yourself to Melissa. She could use a bit of the Welcome Wagon right about now - she just moved to your state and is ready to explore. Here are some of the questions that I had for her. She was nice enough to stop unpacking long enough to answer them. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did...

The layout/design of your blog is visually attractive and at the same time well organized and easy to move around. How did you settle on your blog's identity, design and components?

I'm pretty minimalist in what I like, which is why I went with a plain background. Plus, it was really easy to match my header to the black background. I'm not really design-oriented, so I'm pleased you think it's organized. Pretty much, I looked at what I liked in others' blogs and incorporated those things into mine. Being a librarian, I like people to be able to find what they want.

I appreciate your ratings within each review - as alerts for language, violence and sex content to assist readers in determining what will or won't be of interest to them personally. Are there any things that you refuse to read based on content alone?

There are only a few books I've set aside because I couldn't appreciate them because of their content. If I know a book is about certain topics (really sexually oriented or about violent crime or something) I'll just avoid it because I probably won't like it. I might be a bit of a prude, but I'm usually willing to try a book before I decide I won't read it.

You have a wonderful recurring series featuring libraries that you have visited. What libraries are on your wish list to visit in the future?

Oh, so many. I'd love to take a European tour just to see old libraries, but that probably won't happen in this life. I'm intrigued by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in New Haven, CT, but I love to see local libraries and branch libraries almost as much as beautiful foreign ones.

What is the strangest question/request you've received as a librarian?

Most of my career as a librarian was spent in a dental hygiene college, so I didn't get a lot of weird requests, but I was particularly fond of the (quite common) requests for books of a certain color. Students would obviously not remember the title or author and so they'd ask me for the "blue" or "red" book. It was hard not to giggle while asking for a few more details.

How do you decide what to read next?

I've been getting a lot of my recommendations from other bloggers, not to mention my mile-long TBR pile. I usually focus on books that are due soon at the library and then books I've scheduled with a publisher/publicist to review on my blog. I am, however, particularly bad at being prompt, so this is sometimes all thrown aside when I find something I REALLY want to read.

As a reader, I prefer to have a review contain why the blogger did or didn't like the book - not just their general opinion. What do you wish more book bloggers would include in their reviews?

I agree with you! I'd especially love to have bloggers include why they didn't like a book. It is hard sometimes to talk negatively about a book, especially if you know you have to send a link to a publisher/publicist/author, but it's especially important to me in deciding if I'd want to read it. If the things they discuss are things that will bother me, I might skip it, but if not, there's a better chance I'd pick it up. I'm always happy to find bloggers who aren't afraid to say what they didn't like.

I'm a bit of a Classics junkie. You are a lover of YA and Middle Grade genres. What do you do to turn someone on to your passion when they rebuke the genre simply as something they just don't think would be for them?

Usually, I slip them a book that I know they'd like anyway. This, of course, requires knowledge of what they'd like, but as a librarian that comes with the territory (and is still very hard). The best way to get someone to try a new genre is to find something in that genre they'd be interested in. All the talking in the world probably won't convince them, but get a book in their hands and they just might fall in love. But, if they've tried it and don't like it, I'm not big on pushing it on them further. To each his/her own, I say.

You mention on your blog that you welcome suggestions for your future reading. I would like to recommend The Book of Lost Things as well as The True Story of Hansel and Gretel for you given your interest in fairy tales. I know some people who are hesitant with what they feel is a recommendation responsibility. Do people turn to you all the time for recommendations because you are a librarian and surely must have read everything and know exactly what they would enjoy? Do any of them come back and complain when they didn't like what you suggested?

I do have a lot of friends and family that ask for suggestions. I think it's pretty funny when they assume I'll know what they like before they tell me what they like, but I love the challenge of finding something for them. I don't think any have come back and complained, though they've certainly told me if they didn't like it. I think they recognize that my recommendations are definitely NOT a perfect system. Though it also might be because they are family/friends for the most part (dental hygiene students don't often ask for reading suggestions ;)

If you were not a librarian, what is another career you would like to pursue?

My bachelor's degree was in physics and astronomy and I always wanted to work at a planetarium. I adore sharing the night sky, especially with people who are new to discovering it.

What is your guiltiest reading pleasure?

Hm...sometimes I like a poorly written, possibly cheesy romantic story. Quite a few times, I've read and liked something and then found that others thought it was dreadfully written while I didn't even notice the writing. Enjoyment sometimes trumps writing for me (shocking, I know).

Many thanks to Melissa for taking the time during her move to participate in this Armchair BEA interview. The interview series is a round robin event, meaning that we don't interview each other but someone different. If you would like to read my interview, head on over to another cool blogger I enjoyed getting to know - Deborah @ Books, Movies and Chinese Food. Does that sound like a perfect place for me or what?!


kayerj said...

Deborah sounds perfect for you. Your interview was fun to read, I liked how she slipped them a book she thought they'd like.

melissa @ 1lbr said...

Thanks for the interview - you make me sound way awesomer than I really am, somehow :)

Alyce said...

That would be hard not to laugh when being asked for a book by color! :)

Michelle said...

Great interview! I agree that enjoyment does trump writing style in the end! And she is a better person than me. I would have laughed loudly at requests for a book by color! ;)

Thanks for participating in our round-robin interviews! They are randomly assigned, so one of my favorite things is seeing who gets matched up with whom. Sometimes the bloggers are complete opposites, and others find a ton of similarities. I hope you had fun and were able to make some new blogging friends!

soleil said...

I really enjoyed your interview, Molly. I am heading over to Melissa's blog to say hello. :)

Anonymous said...

What fun! I feel the same way about great romances :) I laso love that you gave her some recommendations, Molly. Very nice of you.