Before I get to today's post, I have to be mercenary for a second and make some announcements about my own writing. (I know: obnoxious. I'll try to be quick.) If by any chance you are a librarian or library staff member, and you are at the PLA conference in Portland today, AND you are reading this blog (what are you doing here? Go to the exhibits and get some free advance reading copies already!), you should know that Nancy Pearl is signing copies of our new book, Now Read This III: A Guide to Mainstream Fiction, at the ABC-CLIO/LU booth (#1723) from 2:30 to 3:30. (Other good signings are taking place there today too.)
Also: A new book about readers' advisory to which I contributed a chapter is now available! The Readers' Advisory Handbook, edited by Jessica Moyer and Kaite Mediatore Stover, has been published by ALA Editions. My chapter is about "Nonfiction Speed Dating"--getting to know nonfiction books in a few easy steps--and if you'e so inclined, you can preview it here (my chapter starts on page 6 of the PDF file). The book also includes contributions about audio books, how to write reviews and annotations, preparing materials like bookmarks and booklists, and how to host author events. Good stuff!
And now: the love affair with reading stuff. Something you should know about me is that I continue to struggle to find ways to make a living that include reading and writing.* To some extent I have been borderline successful at this, but the thing about reading for a living is that you put in a lot of hours that aren't, for lack of a better term, billable. For example, yesterday I started a book titled Memoir: A History, by Ben Yagoda. I'm reading this book for work, as I hope to review it over at the Reader's Advisor Online blog. But the time it takes me to read the book is time that I can't really bill to anyone. So sometimes I do feel I should stop mucking about, and go back and get a real hourly job already. But then...something happens. I've only read the first chapter of the book so far, and it was wonderful. I took notes, and it felt so good to be learning and doing something that wasn't (to me, anyway) pointless. And it was satisfying because I know something about memoir and many of the landmark titles Yagoda mentions (and everyone sometimes likes to know they know what they should know). So I decided, what the hell. Even if I have to put in ten unpaid hours for every paid one, I am going to find a way to make this life work.
The feeling was compounded when I walked to the library and home yesterday, and picked up a book I had requested, titled Pictures, by Jeff Bridges (yes, the actor). It was big and beautiful and I was so excited it came in that halfway home, when I had a long block to walk, I took it out of my bag and looked at the pictures while I walked. I hadn't done that for ages, and it felt really good. Just for today, if you can--rekindle your love affair with reading. Take a book outside at lunch. Take a small book with you wherever you have to wait in line. Ignore a household duty to read an extra chapter. You'll feel better for it, I promise.
*And by "making a living," I don't mean anything crazy like getting rich or even borderline affluent. I mean being able to buy my own health insurance for me and Mr. CR (and have some cash left over for food), which I couldn't do at this point. It's so sad that that's the real yardstick for success in this country. Greatest country in the world!