A compelling quick read

Posted on: July 30th, 2014 by Dan Weiss

I was reading James Sallis’ excellent & haunting new short novel, Others of My Kind, and was struck by this:
At some point we realize… that we’re going to have to make the decision to become human and put some effort into it. Most start young as a matter of course. Others… have good reason for being late starters. But the struggle’s the same. We work at making a self for most of a lifetime, only to find that the self we’ve created is inseparable from the struggle.” Sallis’ protagonist, Jenny, does this masterfully… we can learn from her resolve and moral center.

It also brings to mind John Lennon’s notion in one of his many masterpieces, Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy), that “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

James Sallis is responsible for a number of other great reads including Drive and its sequel Driven, as well as Salt River and The Killer is Dying.

If only there was more time to read…

Posted on: July 15th, 2014 by Dan Weiss No Comments

Nancy Kipping mentioned this in her last post, and it made me think of something that Dr. David Carr, one of my amazing and inspirational professors at the Rutger’s library school, once offered as food for thought years ago. I feel privileged to have learned from David, as I know many, many of my colleagues do, and I remember that he once asked us to consider that if you’re lucky enough to live to age 90, and you manage to read one book a week, every single week – never skipping – every month – every year, starting from when you’re say, as young as 10 years old… that means you’ll get to read 4,160 books in your lifetime.

Now, on one hand that’s a lot of books, but it’s also a very, very tiny subset of all the books out there. What that number is might be hard to pin down precisely (and I’m a librarian!) but conservative estimates put it at well over 1,000,000 every year (many now self-published) – some sources go much, much higher – and that’s not taking into account all the books that have previously been published since Gutenberg (arguably) got the ball rolling with his movable type produced bible almost 600 years ago in the 1450s. It’s hard enough to keep up with what’s new, let alone consider all the must-read classics on your “I’m going to get to it someday” list.

And of course some of us read faster than that, or can read more than one book at a time, or start at age 5… or will live to 105 – and this isn’t taking into account in all the newspapers, magazines, short stories, e-books, emails, websites, tweets, instagrams, Facebook pages, texts, blogs, letters and every other little printed thing vying for your attention every day (and this is also assuming that you rarely or never watch TV, or a video, or go to a movie, or a play, or a concert, or engage in pretty much any other leisure activity). But you get the idea.

To me, all of this says choose carefully… but choose and keep reading!


If you’d like to learn a bit from the brilliant David Carr, here are a few things to consider:

A beautiful lecture from 2013 called Communities of Aspiration with wide-ranging thoughts on libraries, learning, museums, education and more.

His most recent book: Open Conversations: Public Learning in Libraries and Museums

From the front desk

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 by Sheldon Roskin No Comments

As a fourteen year veteran manning the circulation desk at the Fanwood Memorial Library, I often encounter pleasant reminders of my previous life as a working partner in an international talent management agency and a career in publicity and public relations that spanned close to fifty years.

Books and recordings of clients that we represented such as Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, The Beatles, Michael Jackson, etc., etc. elicit tiny tugs of memories when they pass through my hands in the course of a day’s work at the library. One small note of recognition might generate a series of instant remembrances that happened many years ago.

The other day a patron borrowed a copy of Barbara Taylor Bradford’s new book, Cavendon Hall. I took a quick glance at the author’s photo and it revived memories of working with this gracious lady and her husband, Bob, back in 1979 when her first big success, A Woman of Substance was published and then went on to become a major, top-rated television drama. The many meetings-into-the-night, interviews, rehearsals and conversations we had at that time, riding the crest of her talent and good fortune, revived lovely thoughts of long ago.

It appears that the time I spend at FML has a definite and positive therapeutic effect on me.

More later…