These are the books I read in 2017 with my ratings – 11 fiction and 14 non-fiction:
These are the books I read in 2017 with my ratings – 11 fiction and 14 non-fiction:
|How Not To Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease||Michael Greger||★★★★★|
|The Museum of Modern Love||Heather Rose||★★★★★|
|Good Morning Midnight||Lily Brooks-Dalton||★★★★★|
|Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret||Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn||★★★★★|
|Green Kitchen Travels||David Frenkel and Luise Vindahl||★★★★★|
|Life On Earth||Mike Dooley||★★★★|
|Healing from Family Rifts: Ten Steps to Finding Peace After Being Cut Off from a Family Member||Mark Sichel||★★★★|
|Beyond the Rock||Janelle McCulloch||★★★|
|The Book of Joy||The Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Carlton Abrams||★★★|
|The Whistler||John Grisham||★★★|
|The Desire Map||Danielle LaPorte||★★★|
|The Course of Love||Alain de Botton||★★★|
|How to be Here: A Guide to Creating a Life Worth Living||Rob Bell||★★★|
|How to Live a Good Life||Jonathan Fields||★★★|
|A Whole Life||Robert Seethaler||★★★|
|The Fast Diet Cookbook||John Chatham||★★★|
|My Italian Bulldozer||Alexander McCall Smith||★★★|
|Hiding in Plain Sight||Susan Lewis||★★|
|Kissed by a Deer||Margi Gibb||★★|
|The Seed: Finding Purpose and Happiness in Life and Work||Jon Gordon||★★|
|Fight Like a Girl||Clementine Ford||★|
Or … event planning at public libraries.
Participatory learning is not a new concept, but becoming widely adopted as a valid way to engage with communities. Public libraries have used this approach in recent years to highlight their value and to support literacy development in our diverse local populations.
Libraries have great books and so much more, but there is a prevalent need to let people know this. One great method is to extend the power of the book by inviting authors to come along to provide further explanation, context, ideas, and personal story. This enriches the experience of the book for the library users and hopefully actively supports the IFLA credos about intellectual freedom, inclusion, fostering creative and critical thinking.
The sponsor is the governing organisation that provides the required funds to deliver these events, with a mandate towards social inclusion, public wellbeing, and community participation. The process can be upheld through regular checks and balances, reporting, and goodwill and integrity.
In this description, that would be me, and I have a process, a small team, venues, a budget, and no shortage of ideas. I am naturally organised and with project planning experience from my Industrial Design background, I love a good project plan. The main tool for my process is a spread-sheet in a multitude of variations. I can be juggling anywhere from 5 to 15 events and promotions simultaneously, all at varying stages in the process. I love a good Gantt chart but have simplified to a simple timeline. I prepare a communication plan for my team and other essential documents such as a media release.
Booked Out Agency serves as a perfect partner as a provider of authors as speakers. What a wonderful and empowering mechanism for authors to be able to extend their work! They are my first resource when I am planning to fill my events calendar.
Having found a speaker and agreed to the time, fees, etc. it is up to the speaker to engage with the audience.
Authors who are not well-known or just launching their first book can try to jump onto the speakers route through public libraries. This does require a bit of self-promotion and leg-work by the author to make the connection and pitch their worth to the library events organiser (me). Fees for speaking will be much less depending on what is expected and agreed. Sometimes free use of space in exchange for the speaking event can be a viable way for an unknown author to get into this field.
Once ‘on stage’ it is entirely up to the speaker/author to engage the audience. Not every speaker fully realises this opportunity provided to them. It is a special and unique platform to have the spotlight, to speak their truths, to say their piece. Some waste it. Some don’t inspire. Some are self-indulgent. Some are just inexperienced. Some can write eloquently but not be able to speak to an audience well at all. It is a performance to some degree. Expert speakers can talk underwater – for hours. Great speakers inspire, are humble, and authentic. Some just have one great idea that can hold an audience spellbound for an hour.
People have to feel inspired into action to come along to a hear a speaker. Sometimes popularity or notoriety is all it takes to fill a space with eager attendees. They come with expectations, wanting to get ‘something’ from their investment of time and/or ticket price.
It is a serendipitous outcome. My attitude is based on the idea that whoever is in the room was meant to be there. Any particular mix of people will shape the event into the unique experience that it is. Any messages shared by the speaker or the attendees are expressed for all to hear and learn from.
This past year I have been successful in attracting people into the library who are not our regulars, or even library users. Does this translate into new memberships and more loans? Probably not. That is part of the aim but not in an overt or pushy manner. The hope is they will see the benefits and come back soon.
The results are dynamic, unique and engaging. Hopefully it reflects the objective: that we engage with the people in our community to inspire learning, support literacy development, encourage freedom of thought with the ability to think critically. We hope to instil this love of libraries into everyone of us.
While researching the topic to see what others say about this ‘occupation’, I came across two descriptions that I particularly like:
I admit that I had not heard about Clementine Ford until earlier this year. As the person who books the speakers at a public library, I came across her while searching for suitable people for our author events.
I was intrigued by the title of her book Fight Like a Girl and reserved the print and digital copies to prepare for a possible future introduction. I still had not come across her in any media because I must tailor my feeds to see other things.
Our event booked out quickly and unfortunately due to a ‘minor bingle’ in her car on the way to us, the event was abandoned with apologies to the keen audience. We rescheduled to a later date. This booked out immediately as well, so the eagerness to hear her message was solid.
I read the book! And hated it. My review on Goodreads:
“Clementine Ford obviously does not comprehend the evocative power of words because this toxic rant does nothing towards bettering equality for all human beings. Remove the meaningless and unintelligent profanities and the book’s actual content is reduced to a third. And most of what is left is tacky personal confession a wise person would leave in the scribbled complaints of a school girl’s diary; and not made public. In her epilogue she proudly states that “this book is a love letter to the girls.” There is no love in this book!”
The last book I recall hating with as much feeling was How It Feels by Brendan Cowell back in 2010 and here is that review.
Of course I am all for equality and women’s rights; indeed human rights. I know women are treated badly throughout the world. Clementine’s message is nothing new when it comes to feminism. Is she just getting attention because of her poor language? I love to be challenged by new thoughts, so it’s not about holding fast to quaint old views, but there seems to be a huge shortage of manners, respect, courtesy, and dare I say actual femininity.
I hand-balled the hosting task to a lovely quiet gentlemanly male colleague, who did his research then introduced her with warm thoughtful and well-considered words. What a guy! His introduction and the provocative talk by Clementine were appreciated by the crowd.
Profanities lack intelligence I think. They are aggressive blockers of conversation. Politics aside, I used to enjoy Paul Keating’s colourful and inventive sledging when he was in government. His wit and ingenious use of vocabulary left others mouths agape.
I must get on to my next read in preparation Music and Freedom – sounds promising.
Given my recent lack of regularity with posting to my blog, I’m sure I won’t succeed with the challenge to blog every week. The most I have posted was back in 2008, the first year of my blog, when I posted 33 times. But here goes … #glamblogweekly #libblogweekly
These are the books I read in 2016 with my ratings – 18 non-fiction and 12 fiction:
All of the books that make it to the reading challenge list I did actually read to the end. Books I Did Not Finish aren’t listed.
These selections have been influenced by:
A realization struck me as I sat in the audience listening to Doctor Bruce Wells talk about happiness: I am living my life aligned to my passions and values. My employed work is to plan and organize library related events for the interest and benefit of our local community. It is a privileged position and while, in general, library work does align with my values associated with ethics, morals, and liberty, Dr. Wells made me realize that for me there is something deeper.
I love reading and books. I love being exposed to new ideas. I love to imagine other worlds and lives that exist between the pages. I love being told a good story. I love feeding my hunger for exploration and discovery. I love sitting at home in a comfortable chair absorbed in the latest good read. Working in a library, invites, supports and encourages others to read a good book and learn new things.
But it is my work that takes this one step further. What good are books full of treasured stories if they sit idly waiting on shelves gathering dust? What makes people pick it off the shelf and open the cover? It relies too heavily on serendipity. Library staff create displays and programs to highlight and celebrate books and themes in order to help people see what they don’t always know is there. (I read ebooks too and I am well aware of the new consumer habits associated with obtaining ebooks, but for this post I am focussing on our public libraries and print books. Many people don’t know that you can borrow an ebook for free from a public library; but that’s a whole other post).
But I go one step further. I invite authors to come along and speak at our library. What better way to bring books to life than to have the author there before you, in the flesh, to tell you more about their ideas?
Being told stories is a cherished human activity that goes back before books. Campfire stories are still a favourite thing to do when we can. The popularity of TED Talks is no surprise. We all love to hear something interesting. Then we might follow up this interest by exploring more on the topic.
So my realization was that I am able to share my own love of reading, books, and storytelling, by inviting authors to come and speak in person at our library. Local people can enjoy hearing stories told, and the writing craft explained, by the authors themselves. Books are thus brought to life. It is a true privilege for me to be in this position to be able to bring about this unique alchemy.
These are the authors that I have organized speaking events for over the past year:
And these are the events that are coming up soon:
I want to tell you about this concept – the Self Initiated Life Long Learning Experience. This is a new acronym created by me a few months ago. It is a way that people use the library that is currently not described in any way. This to me is one of the backbone features of the library. It is something I have called SiLLé
Self – it is about the individual; not your parents or your school or your workplace.
It is initiated by the individual; not by a curriculum, or a government organisation, or a rigid course.
The double ‘l’’s stand for Life Long Learning; that is self-explanatory I think. It could have been three ‘I’’s but that would have been silly.
é – because it is an experience. ‘e’ also represents the electronic medium of the virtual and digital world that libraries are part of. The French accent I put in just to give the acronym some French flair, but also because the French appreciate the value of the silly idea. This public library in Nice France is proof of that.
Here is an example of the self initiated lifelong learning experience.
A few years back I read this library book. The Buddha, Geoff and Me by Edward Canfor-Dumas. I enjoyed it immensely. The book introduced some things that I had not heard about before:
So I listened to an audio copy of the book and enjoyed the story once again. I heard the pronunciation – “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” – but sadly no chant. So I hopped online to research these things. I found various versions of the chant on YouTube. And I found that the chant means “Devotion to the Mystic Law of the Lotus Sutra”. I also found out that SGI Buddhism stands for Soka Gakkai International and this is a Japanese branch of Buddhism.
You could do all of this without the help of the library, however this is where the library catalogue serves as a precision tool for the masterful library users. Using the library catalogue I can bring up the record of the book I enjoyed and then cross-reference by subject to find more books on the topic, or by that author to see what else this guy has written, or by the narrator because I enjoyed hearing the gorgeous English accent of Nicholas Bell.
So the self-initiated lifelong learning experience continues… It is a truly unique intellectual wandering specific to me, and my random interests; as it is for everyone. Through this process we learn new things, our knowledge increases, and some of these pursuits might lead to something like a job; but not necessarily. However the impact that is has on improved literacy is immense. And we know that improved literacy helps with freedom of expression, civil liberty and a democratic society.
Now let me tell you a story about this man Og Mandino. Augustine Mandino was born in 1923. After schooling he joined the U S Air Force where he became a military officer and a jet fighter pilot. He flew during World War II. After his military duties, Mandino became a door to door insurance salesman. But he was really bad at it. He became an alcoholic, failed his family, and became destitute. He wanted to commit suicide. He went to a gun shop to get a gun and end it all. But the gun shop was closed.
Next door there happened to be a library so he went in to wait until the gun shop opened. He browsed through the books in a library, and it was the books about self-help, success and motivation that captured Mandino’s attention. He began reading and found himself there at the end of the day, having forgotten all about the gun. He read hundreds of books that dealt with success, a pastime that helped him alleviate his alcoholism.
He found W. Clement Stone’s classic, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, and this book changed Mandino’s life. He wrote the bestselling book The Greatest Salesman in the World. His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages.
Mandino eventually became a successful writer and speaker. This was before the Internet and before TED talks. He died in 1996.
The library saved his life. Because…
National Library Week has been a busy week for me where I have seen months of planning come to fruition. Our author event was a success with a lovely discussion around the topic of this year’s theme ‘imagine’.
Seven authors were asked questions posed by poet Andrea Louise Thomas. These authors were a diverse group and this added richness to the discussion. The authors were: Garry Disher; Greg Hill; Rose Inserra; Judy Taylor; Brita Lee; Leigh Van der Horst; and Susan Berg.
Andrea Louise Thomas expertly led the conversation asking questions tailored to suit each author’s unique approach. Andrea is a poet, arts editor of Mint magazine, proof reader, and poetry slam finalist. So a very well qualified person to lead this discussion.
Susan Berg offered a heroic and painful true story about losing her whole family in a boating accident in which she was the only survivor. The tragedy many years past, her story is about how her life has unfolded since that awful day.
Leigh Van der Horst is a new author with a book about the grief following her mother’s death. A common theme by coincidence, but it was interesting to hear about different approaches to writing about this deeply life-changing experience. The resulting published manuscripts also show this different approach to a similar life experience.
Garry Disher is a credible writer of crime fiction and his substantial body of successful works shone through in his answers that provided insight, generosity, and the humble spirit of a true craftsman.
Judy Taylor is new to the writing scene and her self-published diary of grief after her mother’s death is raw and personal. She gave advice based on her experience of the self-publishing process.
Greg Hill is a ghostwriter who brings life to other people’s true stories. He spoke with knowledge and depth about the writing process.
Brita Lee writes science fiction. The Panopticon Deception is the first published of a trilogy. Her passion and excitement for writing was obvious as she described how she lets the story reveal itself to her as she writes.
Rose Inserra writes children’s non-fiction and her latest non-fiction publication is about dreams. As a teacher of the writing craft she is well qualified to talk about the topic. She is warm, intelligent, and an engaging speaker.
The audience seemed happy and satisfied with one lady telling me, “I go to these types of events all the time, and this was the best one ever.” Sigh!