A wise person once told me, when asked by a potential employer, “Why did you choose to pursue a career in librarianship?” to never answer, “Because I love to read!” That wise person was Dean of SU Libraries, David Seaman.
Initially, this advice seems backwards, being that libraries have traditionally been linked to literacy. However, Dean Seaman’s advice makes complete sense in present day ‘library land’ since librarians are expected to possess multiple interests and skill sets that expand beyond reading. Managing makerspaces and advocating for STEM learning, performing data analysis, job coaching, marketing, assessment, instruction, preservation— the list of librarian ‘to dos’ goes on.
After saying this, reader’s advisory is still an important part of many librarians’ jobs. One that sparks conversations about likes and dislikes in regards to genres, authors, characters, and more, helping librarians form relationships with patrons.
Here are some winter reading recommendations, brought to you by library science students at the iSchool, to keep you warm this winter.
The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Recommended by Danielle Masursky, MSLIS ‘18
I plan to read Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic prequel The Rules of Magic. I just heard about it and it sounds fun. I’ve read a few of her books and enjoyed them (some more than others). It’s a novel, set in the 1920s mostly. It seems like a good holiday break read, not too taxing.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Recommended by Leanne Minkoff, MSLIS ‘19
Over winter break, I look forward to reading Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. While reading Hamid’s The Reluctant Fundamentalist during a class in my undergraduate program, I fell in love with the way Hamid tells a story. The Reluctant Fundamentalist takes on the themes of race, culture, and the American Dream around the time of 9/11.
With similarities to The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Exit West follows a couple as they grapple with emigration and refugee issues. I cannot wait to dig in and see what new world Hamid has created. Published in 2017, it was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and named a Time Magazine Best Book of 2017.
Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan
Bonus Recommendation: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Recommended by Sara Kern, MSLIS ‘19
I’ve been working through the Wheel of Time series because I started it in middle school and never finished it. It’s a 14 book fantasy series and it’s a refreshing break from school reading! I think I may also reread The Time Traveler’s Wife. It’s, I don’t know, maybe romance with some drama and time travel? I don’t think that’s a genre. But I want to read it again because I’ve recently been talking to the high school friend I’d first read it with and I’d like to revisit it not as a 17 year old.
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren
Bonus Recommendation: A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket
Recommended by Margaret Martin, MSLIS ‘20
I’ll be finishing up Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, which is part memoir, part botany fan prose. With my children I’ll be continuing on with A Series of Unfortunate Events, with which I have a love/hate relationship. I adore Lemony Snicket’s vocabulary-building techniques and strikingly visual writing style (it was just waiting to be turned into a Netflix series). I hate the fact that the same freaking thing happens in pretty much every volume – and there are 13 of them. So we alternate between the books as read-alouds and listening to Tim Curry narrating the audiobooks on road trips.
Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman
Bonus Recommendation: Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling
Recommended by Ellen Bartlett, MSLIS ‘19
I’ve been working my way through The Count of Monte Cristo for the past couple years, and it would be nice to finish it before the new year. I’m also reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire along with a podcast. I’m also planning to read some Christian theology books looking at issues of race and social justice: Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman and Prophetic Lament by Soong-Chan Rah.
Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks
Bonus Recommendation: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Recommended by Heather Elia, MSLIS ‘19
I’d like to recommend two of my favorite books from my bookselling days. The first is Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks, which is contemporary fiction. It’s told from the point of view of Budo, the imaginary friend of Max, a boy on the autism spectrum. You should read it because it looks at human actions and motivations from a unique, outsider perspective and touches on issues of friendship, loyalty, love, what is real, and the sometimes tricky process of trying to do what’s best for someone else.
My second recommendation is The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, which I’d call historical fiction but you could also classify it as fantasy. It’s the story of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, from their childhoods through the Trojan war. Reading it feels like being sucked back in time to ancient Greece and being immersed in an unsettling world full of strangeness and wonder and beauty, but also terribly acts of war and difficult choices. It won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK in 2012 and a Gaylactic Spectrum award (an honor for SFF novels with positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters) for Best Novel in 2013.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Bonus Recommendations: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green and Warcross by Marie Lu
Recommended by Becky Leathersich, MSLIS ‘17
I’m so behind on leisure reading, but I really hope to read Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, and Warcross by Marie Lu. These are all books that I have in my school library collection and all of them have rave reviews. I can’t wait!
Want by Cindy Pon
Bonus Recommendations: A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo, The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi, Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz, Leviathan Series by Scott Westerfeld
Recommended by Pauline Schwartzman, MSLIS ‘19
I’m going to try to read some of the 2017 YA releases that I haven’t gotten to yet this year – Want by Cindy Pon; A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo; The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi; Alex & Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz. Also might re-read the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld, because it’s my absolute favorite.
Grant by Ron Chernow
Recommended by Lynn King, MSLIS ‘19
I asked for *Grant* by Ron Chernow for Christmas! Grant by Ron Chernow is a Biography of Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War General/President. This is the same author that wrote the Biography of Alexander Hamilton that inspired the Broadway Musical! I want to read this book because the I love the author and his previous book, and because I am fascinated by Grant!