Tag Archives: #libraries

DEWEY and Storytelling

Grand Central Publishing 2008

There is something wonderful about a great audio book. While I read Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World in actual print first, I really fell in love with the story after listening to it on audio. Susan McInerney does the narrating for it but it sounds just how I imagined Vicki Myron’s voice. In other words, it sounds like your mother quietly telling you a story. It’s so familiar and soothing. And here’s the thing, it came to me at the perfect time. You see, I am a cat lady without a cat for the first time in more than 15 years. So, being able to share this story made me feel comforted. I believe a lot of that had to do with how well the story was written but also how well the story was read.  I don’t often listen to audio books. It seems I gravitate to non fiction stuff over a fiction tale. The first I ever bought was a lecture on Walt Whitman. I have listen to that one 3 times fully and numerous times just one or two lectures. But Dewey is by far my favorite.

If you have never read this lovely little book and you are a fan of any one of these: cats, libraries, small towns, farms, or stories of survival, this is a perfect book for you. Even if you only are interested in just one of those you will be surprised at how much you care about the others by the end of this tale. Vicki does such a seamless job of blending not only her personal life but also the life of a small town- a town that could exist anywhere in the States- with the story of a very special cat. The story takes place in the mid-80s for the most part and during the farming crisis in the middle of our country. Now I was born in 1986 so I don’t really remember it but she reveals how it affected people and I was moved. Then she stirs in her own crushing story of love, loss and serious illness. She battles breast cancer so valiantly all while being a single mom with a deadbeat drunkard ex-husband. In the end, she has a beautiful daughter and a fabulous job at her local library. Unless you have no heart this story will make you cry at some point.

What about you? Do you ever listen to audio books? Or would you like to and just haven’t known where to start? They can get pretty expensive but do you think it’s worth it if it makes the book even better? If you read Dewey, what were you most moved by? Dewey’s story? Vicki’s story? Or the story of the struggling small town?

If you liked this you may also like…

Sarah Vowell

I love this writer. She’s so funny and smart and just cool. I picked up Assassination Vacation used at Bogart’s because I loved her stuff and the list of guests seemed really cool. Truth be told if I see Jon Stewart’s name attached I pretty much buy it on the spot. But this is another case of blending in her own life along with the deaths of presidents. It sounds morbid and it is but it’s also brilliantly funny. She gives you little tidbits about each president that I never knew. And even some small coincidences that they had in common with their assassins. So, you come out smarter than you were before. Plus, she has a way of delivering her own lines that I think I would have missed had I read it in print.

See you later, see you soon.

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AMONG OTHERS and Curses

“There are some awful things in the world, it’s true, but there are also some great books.” (pg.52)

I have been wanting to read more science fiction for quite some time now but I never knew where-or I guess with whom- to start. It has been a genre that interested me but I always found kind of intimidating. There are authors that some people discuss in hushed tones. These are authors that have a cult following that few other genres could rival. A lot of these writers have been doing so for many years and have giant catalogues to show for their years of work. But I am conflicted since I have read the back of many titles but none have jumped out at me as something that I would like to read. Yet, I still have the desire to read at least one. Just to see what all the hype is about. Well, this book gave me a great list to work from. She talks about dozens of sci-fi (and some fantasy writers too) that all sounded like things that I would like to read very much. I even thought about taking a cue from Morwenna and begin from the letter A and just see what happens. It would not be unwise to start with Poul Anderson and slowly make my way down to Roger Zelazny.

However many sci-fi books are discussed does not make this a sci-fi novel though. It is far closer to a fantasy with all the fairies and magic that happens. Or does any magic actually happen? As Morwenna says herself, “You can almost always find chains of coincidence to disprove magic.” (pg.40) Since Morwenna is such an unreliable narrator we can’t even be sure that any of the fairies or ghosts that she claims to see actually exist either. Which I think is the best part of this book. It allows you to decide if you want to believe in the magic or not. You have to dig deep and really examine how you feel about the mystery of the world around us. I just really love the idea of fairies but I certainly don’t really believe that they exist. Jo Walton makes you feel comfortable giving in to the fantasy of seeing fairies or being able to say good bye to our loved ones one more time without forcing you to actually believe them in real life. Just relax and enjoy the journey with Morwenna who is infinitely interesting.

The book is worth a read just for all the wonderful things that Walton has to say about the book culture. Certainly most of us have nothing in common with Morwenna on a personal level. We don’t have a witch mother or a twin that died because of said witch mother. We aren’t in a boarding school being paid for by our rich but crazy aunts. We can’t make that connection but we all feel the same way she does about books. And as a future librarian I especially loved what she had to say about them:

Libraries really are wonderful. They’re better than bookshops, even. I mean bookshops make a profit on selling you books, but libraries just sit there lending you books out of the goodness of their hearts. (pg.59)

Is that not that best thing ever said on libraries? Well, it’s the best thing I ever read in a book about them. And how true it is too! As a bookseller I try to be honest and give the best advice and price to my customers. But I have to make money to keep the place running. Libraries have a big advantage with outside funding and they just let you browse and borrow until your heart is content. They’re good like that.

If you enjoy a good curse then you might like… 

Junot Díaz

I read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao in college and totally enjoyed every character. It is set in New Jersey which is always good for me. There are places that I know of in it. I recently gave the book away to 20 lucky strangers for World Book Night back on April 23. Read about it here in The Press of Atlantic City. It was a lot of fun and a lot of people have come back and said that they really enjoyed the book. Even some people who aren’t big readers. This book mentions a lot of sci-fi and fantasy writers as well. And is about outcasts from society dealing with major tragedies. But that’s about as far as the commonalities go. The curse in this instance is from the Dominican Republic and is associated with luck more than fairies. The references also seem more current. The book is seriously good as well though.