Picky Reader – 1

Picky Reader:  Library Problems

A few years ago I stopped going to the local library because I got the feeling I’d already read everything of interest to me there.  I started buying books, mostly the marked-down ones at Barnes and Noble.

But economics being what they are of late, I’ve returned to my library habit, much to my dismay. 

Typically I’ll take out four books, always fiction, for a period of three weeks.  Here’s what’s been happening: 

On January 4, 2010, the four books I borrowed were:  Made in the U.S.A, Disturbing the Peace, Earthly Pleasures and Roommates Wanted:  A Novel.

I started reading Made In the U.S.A, by Billie Letts because I’d read another of her books a couple of years ago and liked it.  Sadly, I could not finish this book.  It’s the story of a 15-year-old girl and her 11-year-old brother who find themselves homeless on the streets of Las Vegas.  I got halfway through but when the girl is raped in a motel room, I had to put it down.  I admit I flipped through the rest of it and it appears it to have a happy ending, but I couldn’t read through the pain to get there.  If I want gritty realism, I can turn on the news any night of the week.  I need fiction to remove me from reality, not slap me in the face with it.

So I picked up Earthly Pleasures.  This is the story (romance I think) of a greeter in Heaven who will be sent down to earth as a human being.  I give the author credit, it’s an unusual idea.  I just couldn’t get into it and gave up after a few chapters. 

Moving on to Disturbing the Peace.  This is the only book out of the four that I finished.  It’s basically about a woman searching for the mother who gave her up.  Women’s fiction.  Although I thought it had a few gaps where I’d have appreciated a bit more information on why the biological mother gave her up, the fact that I finished it tells you something.  It held my interest.

With a few days left before my books were due I picked up the Roommates book.  I don’t think I made it through the first chapter.  This is one of those British books about a guy with a house and a motley crew of roommates who’ve written to him in response to advertisements to get a room in his house.  The guy’s a starving a poet whose wife left him after a month of marriage and whose father abandoned him after he bought him the house.  Not my thing.  Back to the library we go.

Took out four more books:  Becoming Strangers, Talking to Addison, Book Doctor, Hairdos of the Mildly Depressed.

I have a new strategy.  Now I read a few pages into each of them to see if any of them are going to hold my interest and then I pick the most likely candidate.  I have a feeling I’ve already read Book Doctor because one of the character’s names sounds familiar even though I don’t exactly remember the whole story.  I’ve already put that one down.

So far Becoming Strangers seems like the likeliest candidate for a full reading, but I’ll let you know.

I’ve had another brilliant idea to keep track of what I read when and I wish I’d started doing this years ago.  I’m going to keep the little receipts the library issues when you take out books.  They list the title and the withdrawal and due dates, though not the author’s name.  At least I’ll be able to check if I think I’ve already read something.

Earlier in December I read How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward.  I recommend it.

She wrote another one called Sleep Toward Heaven.  Have not yet read it.

Stay posted for further musings from Picky Reader.

Further Musings, Star Date 2/11/10:

I finished Becoming Strangers, but it was a struggle.  This is literary fiction, I guess, slow-moving, probably making a point about marital relationships on some deep symbolic level that I’m not smart enough or well-versed enough to grasp.

I took a break from library books and read Kristy Kiernan’s second book, Matters of Faith.  I confess, I somehow lost my own copy (I still think I lent it to my daughter who swears she returned it to me) and I had to borrow a copy from another friend.  I enjoyed the exploration of what “faith” means or can be to different people in a contemporary life-and-death situation, coupled with complex marital and family relationships.  I have to say this, though:  if you know your screen door is going to catch your heel every time you walk through it, why wouldn’t you hold it open until you’re inside?  I know this was used as a metaphor, and that’s all I say.  If you enjoy women’s fiction, read Kristy Kiernan.

On February 5th, I went back to the library and took out:  Black Hills by Nora Roberts; Face Value by Kathleen Baird-Murray; The Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne.

I finished Black Hills last night.  For years I loved Nora Roberts and read a lot of her stuff.  Then several years ago I stumbled across one of her Silhouette romances which completely turned me off of reading her.  I should know better than to pick up a Harlequin or Silhouette series romance. They’re just not my thing.  I didn’t read Nora again until I found Angels Fall in hardcover on sale at Barnes & Noble a couple of years ago.  I loved it and have since read several of Nora’s “big books” and enjoyed them all.  She is simply an excellent story-teller, and isn’t that why we read?


  1. Dear Barbara, your blog popped up via the Google Alert, and I was thrilled to read that you took my book out from the library! I hope you liked it!
    best wishes, Kathleen

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