my love/hate relationship with reading books

ALA Read mini-poster
“ALA Read mini-poster” by me

This year I participated in the “set your own challenge” book reading thinger on Goodreads. Initially, I set mine at 25, as a little stretch goal from my average of 19 books per year over the past four years. But, I was doing so well in the early part of the year that I increased it to 30. The final total was 27, but I’m part-way through several books that I just didn’t have time to finish as the clocked ticked down to the end of the year.

What worked well for me this time: audiobooks. I read more of them than paper books this year, and it forced me to expand to a variety of topics and styles I would not have patience for in print.

What failed me this time: getting hung up on a book I felt obligated to finish, but did not excite me to continue on it, so I kept avoiding it. To be fair, part of what turned me off was on disc two, I accidentally set my car’s CD player to shuffle. This is great for adding some variety to music listening, but it made for confusing and abrupt transitions from one topic/focus to another.

I read a lot of non-fiction, because that works better in audio format for me, and I read more audio than printed (either in paper or electronic) books. For 2013, I’d like to read more fiction, which means reading more in print. Which means making time for my “must read the whole book cover to cover” method of reading fiction.

audiobook: 20
print book: 7
ebook: 0

fiction: 5
non-fiction: 22

books read in 2012



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NASIG and ER&L

NASIG 2011
creative serialists at the 2011 conference

I’ve been an active NASIG member since 2002, and our conference participation (as well as over-all membership) has been declining every year. I think a big part of it has to do with our identity and the shift of serials librarians to eresource librarians. I believe NASIG still has relevance, particularly as a forum for conversations between librarians and the commercial side of the continuing resources industry. However, I think our conference and membership can sometimes get mired down in 25+ years of traditions and personalities.

ER&L seems to be avoiding that so far, so I spent a good bit of time thinking about why their model is working so well for drawing new and repeat attendees. There certainly was no lack of commercial side participation, both as presenters and in session attendance. Some of that may be due to an early adoption of sponsorships and a lack of a negative knee-jerk reaction to branding by the sponsors. There is also a more prominent placement of the vendor exhibits, situated in the middle of the conference schedule, and including free food and drinks to draw in participants.

The other big thing that stood out to me is the length of the sessions. Each concurrent session was no longer than 50 min, and the last 10 min was reserved for questions. We’re experimenting with shorter sessions at NASIG this year, in part due to Program Planning Committee member suggestions based on experiences with other conferences. I am hopeful that this will result in fewer instances of time-fillers such as lengthy introductions with info about home institutions that are rarely relevant and literature reviews that would be better presented as handouts than from a podium. Sad to say, but my generation and younger are not going to want to attend your dry, academic presentation. Give me some content and context that I can’t get from reading your paper in the proceedings, or else I have no reason to listen to you.

I’m not saying that I want NASIG to become a mirror image of ER&L, but rather we need to be more brash about our relevance to the community. Let us be an “and also,” not an “either or.” I derive tremendous benefits from attending both conferences and participating in both communities, and I’m very thankful that my home institution supports this. I wish everyone else had that benefit, too.

how the university works

My review of Marc Bousquet’s book How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation has been published on Blogcritics. It took me a few months of reading a little at a time to get through it, and I will admit to skimming quite a bit. I also had to put it down several times because it was too depressing to keep reading.

The stereotype of the tweedy professor — older, male, and white — is one that continues to be the common perception of academics in American culture. The reality is that this stereotype is such a minority, it might be a candidate for the endangered species list. It is this stereotype that prevents the average American from seriously considering the plight of college and university educators. Bousquet blasts that stereotype out of the water with his accurate and thorough descriptions of the true working conditions in higher education.

she’s such a geek

I have managed to read the first four chapters of She’s Such a Geek: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders, but since I’ve had it on my desk for nearly six months, I decided it was time to return it to the library. So far, it has been an interesting read. I recommend it to all my geeky sisters.

okay, okay, i want one

Long-time readers and friends probably know my thoughts on the Librarian Action Figure. I’ve mellowed a bit over time, and have even had a little fun with it. Now Archie McPhee has a deluxe edition that comes with a “library diorama” that includes a computer with what looks like an email message and an IM chat window open on the screen. I think this is a Librarian Action Figure that I wouldn’t mind finding in my Christmas stocking (or as a birthday gift – you’ve got exactly one month to get it to me).