Comfort reading and librarian romances

It’s March and my fiction reading still has not taken off. I’m a tad busy at the moment (understatement) as I have my part-time librarian work, I have taken on teaching a new subject which is slightly shifted from my previous subjects, and of course I am still chipping slowly away at my PhD meanwhile I am continuing with my whole family’s habitual 2 episodes a night of How I Met Your Mother  (priorities peoples!) while trying to perform motherly duties, so there will be no self-flaggelation over my lack of recreational reading. That said, I still wanted to contribute to SuperWendy’s TBR this month as I really love the comfort reads theme so I dug out an old draft post I had started writing on my favourite librarian romances which are high up on my comfort reads list.

There are quite a few librarian novels and SuperWendy, who is also a romance reading librarian, has an ever-growing Librarians in Romance Novels page with over 125 novels listed. I’ve read many on her list but I’ll only discuss my favourites.

Karina Bliss wrote What the Librarian Did which became an automatic buy up for libraries with a Mills & Boon buying plan (ahem!) I think this was a favourite because we were all wondering “What did she do!?!?!”.

Let’s just say that Rachel Robinson was a great academic librarian but a little bit reluctant in the relationship game because, you  know, life decisions can sometimes suck and come back to haunt you.

But this book isn’t my absolute favouritest librarian comfort read…..

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Mal Booth is Sharing the Shallows

Mal Booth and I are LibraryLand colleagues, he is my university librarian and a Twitter friend, too. We have had many twittversations on matters of libraries, information, copyright and open access, fiction and reading, brutalist architecture and of course, politics (he is after all a Twitter friend!). In real life, we have had only a handful of conversations at industry and uni events. We’ll often walk past each other on the street and on campus where with a barely perceptible nod of the head we acknowledge the intersection of our real and virtual interactions.

Mal Booth portrait

Flickr user: MalBooth (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Mal Booth

University Librarian 

Can you describe yourself:

Mal is unable to play any musical instruments or dance. He is very keen on true crime podcasts and ever so slightly obsessive compulsive. This goes some way to explain his extensive fountain pen, camera and bicycle collections. He has never played a computer game nor completed a PhD. He speaks only one language and remains a fan of the Hawthorn FC. Mal also claims to be a fan of good design but this cannot be verified by an independent authority. In the early 2010s various rumours circulated that he was working at UTS Library but sadly, these too were unsubstantiated. He doesn’t take selfies. You could try the Google. Continue reading

On Reading: The Pleasures of Reading

Every day and throughout the year, I spend a substantial amount of my time reading about reading. From scholarly articles to academic books to chronicles of reading and reading memoirs. I am going to post a series of short observations on the books (and the occasional articles) that I have been reading particularly reflecting on the presence (or lack thereof) of romance fiction, and on how I feel my perceptions of reading aline with the authors.

The Pleasures of Reading

The Pleasures of Reading

The Pleasures of Reading: A Booklover’s Alphabet by Catherine Sheldrick Ross

published by Libraries Unlimited, 2014

So far the books I have discussed I found by browsing the library shelves at my university, whereas Catherine Sheldrick Ross’s The Pleasures of Reading led me to them.

 

Catherine Sheldrick Ross is one of “my tribe”. She is a librarian scholar and researcher of readerly people at Western University, Ontario, Canada (well actually, she is a professor emeritus of library and information  science). I first came across Ross upon reading her paper “Reader on Top: Public Libraries, Pleasure Reading and Models of Reading”. Ross, in her paper discusses the child series reader, the romance reader, pleasure reading, reading as a ladder and what I found particularly striking, is the anxiety that librarians feel in promoting reading that is not considered by literary standards to be “the best”. Continue reading

Fandoms, librarians and readers

I’m talking about fanfiction, fandoms and fanart on the 13th of June on 702ABC with Linda Mottram from 10:30ish am.

 

As many listeners know, I somehow manage to mention fanfiction every time I am on 702Sydney. it is such a huge area of readership that I can’t help but include it in any discussion around fiction. Seeing this month is Fanreads over at ReadWatchPlay I thought this would be a good talking point for the show.
Whenever someone asks me explain to them what “fanfiction is” my favourite analogy is to describe it as a retelling of a story in which you take someone else’s characters and write a story about them. So, any retelling of an original story is fanfiction. Any new authoring of Homer’s Illiad is fanfiction as are Arthurian tales. Novels such as P. D. James’s Death Comes to Pemberley is a future fanfic of Pride and Prejudice and Shakespeare is swimming in the fanfic pool. In a nutshell, fanfiction are stories of fictional characters that are written by fans and not the original creator. They are derivative works. There are the occasional exceptions like J K Rowling writing fanfics of Quidditch matches over at Pottermore. For a famous authors writing fanfic this Daily Dot article gives you a fair coverage. Of course, the whole fanfic thing also comes from fans of TV shows and movies wanting more of their favourite characters. I just adore this. I love that people are so invested and in love with their TV characters that they seek out stories about them.

 

There's a storm coming/ fanart posted with permission/ Dumblyd0re at http://dumblyd0re.deviantart.com/art/There-s-a-storm-coming-315866735

There’s a storm coming fanart posted with permission from Dumblyd0re http://dumblyd0re.deviantart.com/art/There-s-a-storm-coming-315866735

As a librarian and fan of reading (hehe – did you see what I did there), I happily endorse fanfiction reading to my borrowers and anyone that asks. Actually, in the whole readers’ advisory process, I think that librarians need to look outside of our published book centered recommendations and we should be recommending reading choices in non-profit areas of reading/writing too. I have heard people use the “quality” writing argument here. How, as librarians, could we endorse a story that is not of a high literary quality? My answer is that this is EASY. Reading appeals is NOT about quality reading. It is about engaged, pleasurable reading. As a reader, I have given up on many well written stories that lacked the heart and soul that I seek out when I am reading yet I have found wonderful stories in fanfiction that have sparked my interest or they have challenged me to look at a certain story in a different way. As a reader, I am not stupid. If a story is completely unreadable, the pace, the diction or the writing is completely out of place – I will move on. Just as I have sent may a book to my DNF pile, I have sent many fanfiction stories to that pile too. Of course, there are times that I prefer my commercial fiction as someone else has had to deal with the slush pile (thanks publishers) but if I am looking for an extension of characters who I love and want to see how someone else imagines them, I can’t go past fanfics. Reading fanfic is a bit risky.

A teen I was speaking to last week said he hated it because he was reading this wonderful Harry Potter’s twin fanfic, he was loving the story and then he discovered that the writer quit the story. Just like that. No warning. Just a message saying “Thanks but I won’t be continuing”. This teen was a tad bitter (this amused me to no end). Another reader told me they were thrilled because a fave story came back to life after an 18 month hiatus. They received an alert on their phone and they screamed out in joy that the writer had returned 🙂

I find FanArt just as interesting. Fanart is similar to fanfiction but they are fan imaginings of what characters look like or they put they characters into scenes that they would love to see them in. Fanart is similar to fanfiction but they are fan imaginings of what characters look like or they put they characters into scenes that they would love to see them in. I know that there is a lot of comic, anime and manga fanart out there but I was particularly taken by the tweet from Sleepy Hollow (another fab fanfic creation) writers with fanart posted on their walls. Writers don’t ignore fanart. As it doesn’t mess with their head canon (as fanfiction can do) fanart tends to be enjoyed more.

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Commuting and podcasts

It’s that time of the month again. I’ll be on Linda Mottram’s The Blurb on 702 ABC Sydney talking about podcasts on Tuesday at aroundabout-ish 10:30-ish am AEST.

Last year I started commuting long distances again for the first time in over a decade. I discovered that reading on trains had changed. I no longer had to dodge the selfish broadsheet reader, there were definitely fewer (print) book readers but a lot more music listeners, particularly devoid of any sense of train etiquette play-that-tinny-music-loud boy, than back in my “good ol’ days” of walkmans. And there are lots and lots of smart phone and tablet readers. I was never all that big on reading on the train to start with. I have always been a social bunny and I tend to meet people on transport and strike up friendships with them (I met my husband John in his car while scamming a lift to a train station, I met my son’s godmother commuting on trains & buses to get to uni and one of my closest friends is @MereJames whom my husband met while commuting to work by train). Sadly most people aren’t as open to meeting people on transport and I only made one new friend on the train last year so I had to have back up reading with me. Continue reading