Wednesday, December 14, 2016

You Mean I Have to Pick Just One?

What's your favorite book? You'd think it'd be easy for a librarian to answer that question. Not for me. A coworker once told me how she gets that "deer in the headlights" look whenever someone asks her what her favorite book is. The titles of dozens of books flash before her eyes as she futilely attempts to weigh the merits of each one and determine which is the best. Is it the book she couldn't put down? The one that made her think to the most? The one she reread 5 times? I understand her dilemma.

I posed the question to another coworker. She responded almost immediately, "Queen by Alex Haley." Another person I asked said it'd been easier to make a list of favorites for each of the genres she reads. Though after some equivocating, she settled on Little Women as her all-time favorite. Rather than attempt to pin down my own favorite book from the last 38 years of my reading life, I'll just mention a few I've enjoyed.

Book cover for Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett
I have long been a fan of science fiction and fantasy. One of the best fantasy series I've ever read are the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett (yes, he's a common favorite among librarians). These books have many of the standard fantasy tropes, like elves, dwarves, magic, and monsters, but they not our grandparents' fantasy books. They're full of satire and biting critique of politics, religion, and society. Imagine Mark Twain writing fantasy. Well, yes, Twain did write a fantasy book, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, but imagine him writing more. In Pratchett's book, Men at Arms, for instance, Captain Sam Vimes of the City Watch is ordered to recruit trolls, dwarves, werewolves, and even vampires into the all human City Watch to make the force more representatives of city's populace. It's all Vimes can do keep the dwarf and troll recruits from killing each other, never mind catch the rogue assassin terrorizing the city.

As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate non-fiction more. I recently read Elon Musk: Inventing the Future. Elon Musk is the founder and owner of Solar City, a solar energy provider; SpaceX, a private rocket manufacturer and orbital transport firm; and Tesla Motors, a high performance electric car manufacturer. Musk is an amazing entrepreneur. He's made, lost, and remade a fortune, He's challenged established giants like Boeing and General Motors. He created a car company from scratch. When was the last time someone started a new car company?

I don't think I'd want to work for him though. One of his aides, feeling burnt out after too many 70 hour weeks, took some time off. Musk said he'd do the aide's work during that time. When the aide returned to work, Musk said he had found it easier to do his own work and the aide's, and promptly fired the person for being redundant. I wouldn't want a boss who was so efficient that he could happily do his own job AND mine too!

Do you have one favorite book? Or is the last really good book you've read your favorite? Maybe limiting the question to 1 favorite is cruel. When we recently ask staff from throughout MCPL to tell us their favorite read of 2016, some of them responded with a dozen titles!

Book covers for The Fifth Season, Jacksonland, One the Edge of Gone, and Truthwitch
MCPL Staff's Favorite Reads of 2016
If you looking to find a new favorite or expand your reading, you could try a reading challenge. Our 2016 Reading Challenge contained different categories that encouraged readers to explore new territory. The categories included books by a local author, books by an author of a different race, religion, or ethnicity from your own, and books in a genre you typically don't read. Check out our Reading Challenge 2016 Pinterest board to see what books folks have read for the challenge, complete with hashtags to designate each book's applicable category.

Whether you have a favorite read or just a good one, let us know in the comments what books you've enjoyed and why. We'd love to hear from you.

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