Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Library Life

I never intended this blog to be a place for book reviews but one of my favorite life titles is "Reader". I love to read. Mainly non-fiction. Memoirs are high on the list. I love seeing how other people tackle the things life throws at you. With each one I am reminded how we each have such different life histories with such similar life emotions.

I also love books that teach me something. I loved "Garbageland", which explored exactly where our trash goes and if recycling is really worth the effort. In a similar vein I loved "Almost Green", a selection off our "New Books" shelf at the library. It's a story about a regular guy, trying to figure out if those of us with small budgets and complicated lives could really make a dent in helping the planet.

A few years ago I read several by Mary Roach. My favorite was "Stiff", about what happens to our bodies after we die and what medical science does with donated bodies. She's an engaging writer that makes you want to stay up late to finish just one more chapter.

My two all time favorites from last year were "The Middle Place" and "Here If You Need Me". Both are written by honest, funny, smart, women who took some crap that life threw at them and wrote their way through the journey. I loved both of these books so much I bought myself a copy of them after returning my library copies.

The funny thing about non-fiction is that it is very misunderstood. Behind the check out desk at the library I see a lot of variety. From every corner of the library people pick out books that look interesting to them. Some you couldn't pay me to read (smutty paperbacks), others I would never get past the first paragraph ("Astrophysics for the Common Man")

It is not uncommon for patrons to ask if I've read their selections. If I have, I'll comment on them, if I haven't I'll politely answer in the negative. Many of the older women are shocked that I have not read their favorite authors, generally mystery writers or authors with a series of novels. I carefully reveal that I don't read novels. They sometimes look confused. Many think novels are the only thing available to read. If you're a reader, especially of the female type, you read novels. My stock answer, "I mainly read non-fiction" generally ends the discussion.

My favorite reply to this common exchange was a woman who wasn't ready to let it go. She stared at me with a blank face and then said, "Oh, I don't read non-fiction. I don't like science books."

It was my turn for the blank face. There was a line forming behind the woman so I nodded politely and sent her on her way. But in thinking about her answer I was just baffled. Did she really think that the large BACK HALF of our library was all 'science books'?? Unbelievable.

All this leads to my latest non-fiction find, called "Waiter Rant". Loved, loved, loved this book. Not just because it is written by a guy who began his journey blogging about his job, something I can relate to. But because the topic is so universal. We've all had a waiter or been a waiter in our lifetime. His perspectives and observations were amusing, entertaining and enlightening. I was thinking of this book as we tipped our waiter at Cracker Barrel last night, as "date night" drew to a close. I have a feeling his words will come to mind every time I tip from this day forward.

I guess this book was a big deal a few years ago but I missed it back then. I missed his appearance on Oprah and the book tour across the country. But the title captured me as I recently shelved this gem and I couldn't resist adding it to my daily pile of 'take home treasures'. Once I started it, I couldn't put it down.

It made me start to think, and not just about being nicer to those who are in the service industry. It occurred to me that maybe I should blog more about the one thing that takes up a significant chunk of my week, my job.

We have lots of fun stories that circulate amongst the staff. Tales of clueless patrons as well as those who touch our hearts. We often say we are like the sober version of bartenders. We get to know our regulars. Their life stories, their interests, their reading habits.

Most people wouldn't think that working at a library could be all that interesting. But believe me, it can be. If I can find the time in the coming weeks, I'll share with you some of my favorite stories.

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