We are fast approaching the winter holidays (I know, we can’t believe it either) and since we’ll all be having a lot fewer Ugly Christmas Sweater parties this year, there’s going to be some time to fill. What better way to spend it than reading? We’ve asked a few of our staff and member librarians which books they would recommend, from theological librarianship reads to Best of 2020 picks. So make a cup of tea or hot cocoa, sit back, and get out your TBR lists, because you’re not going to want to miss these!
Which Book Inspired Your Love of Reading?
Charlotte Nahon, Member Programs Coordinator – “The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine. My mom used to work at a bookstore and received an advanced reading copy of this book. Although I loved reading it for the story of brave, swashbuckling sisters, the typos and little mistakes throughout the book were the real magic that made me see it in a different light. It opened my eyes to the way that stories are created and gave me a new appreciation for reading.”
Race MoChridhe, Scholarly Communication Coordinator – “All of the Calvin and Hobbes collections by Bill Watterson. I must have read every single one a dozen times by the time I was six, often well after I was supposed to be sleeping. In terms of grown-up reading, I read my father’s old collection of H. G. Wells stories when I was eight, and The Time Machine is still one of my top five favorite books. That was my first encounter with reading’s ability to transform, as well as to entertain.”
Jamie Lin, Education and Professional Development Manager – “Books have always been my constant companions. My earliest memory is of laying on a couch with my daycare teacher, reading aloud from one of the BOB Books. Nowadays, due to finite shelf space, I only purchase collectors’ editions (and children’s books for my son), while maintaining a continuous queue of digital holds from my local public library.”
Which Book Would You Recommend to Someone Joining Theological Librarianship?
Carisse Berryhill, Special Collections Librarian at Abilene Christian University – “I’d recommend Introduction to Theological Libraries (Curic), A Broadening Conversation (McMahon and Stewart), The American Theological Library Association: Essays in Celebration of the First Fifty Years (Graham, Hotchkiss, Row), and Shifting Stacks (Estes, Stephens).”
Bo Adams – “Nerdy answer? Melody Layton McMahon, ed. A Broadening Conversation (Scarecrow, 2006). Real answer? Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams, Christianity and the Transformation of the Book (Belknap, 2008).”
Which Book Do You Re-read Most Often?
Charlotte Nahon – “Devotions by Mary Oliver. Her writing always brings me peace.”
Race MoChridhe – “I’m a librarian. Managing to slow down long enough to actually read a book is an accomplishment. Re-reading books is a retirement goal.”
Jamie Lin – “At the beginning of the Pandemic, I decided to do a quarantine reading list of books with pandemic/end-of-world plots. I began with a third reread of one of my all-time favorite novels, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It’s a frenetic, dual-plot time-traveling novel that occurs during a pandemic in the future and a pandemic in the past, and a beautiful and sad story of loving relationships and missed connections.”
What is the Best Book You’ve Read in 2020?
Charlotte Nahon – “This is really tough to answer! I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a lot of books I’ve read this year. Here are my top three:
- The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. Do you like fantasy books that completely draw you into their world? Stories told from multiple characters’ points of view? Positive LGBTQ representation? Mystical origin stories? Dragons? Then this is the book for you! Controversial opinion: This author does more in one book than George RR Martin did in five books and an HBO series.
- Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Emotionally devastating. This novel begins with two half-sisters in 18th century Ghana – one sold into the slave trade and one married off to a British officer – and follows their descendants through three hundred years of history to the present day.
- Broad Strokes: 15 Women Who Made Art and Made History (In That Order) by Bridget Quinn, with illustrations by Lisa Congdon. The writing style made me feel like I was walking through an art museum with an old friend. It combines elements of a memoir, feminist scholarship, and art history. The author also includes several more contemporary artists I hadn’t heard of before reading this.”
Bo Adams – “Neal Stephenson, Fall (William Morrow, 2019).”
Race MoChridhe – “In fayer-vogn (אין פייער-וואגן|’In the Chariot of Fire’) by Avrom Sutzkever. Sutzkever was a Yiddish poet who fought as a partisan in Lithuania and later testified at the Nuremberg trials. In fayer-vogn was the first collection of poems he published after immigrating to Israel in 1947 and deals, among other things, with the disjunction of coming out of a Yiddish-speaking world that had just been destroyed and arriving in a Hebrew-speaking one that was just being born. The whole of the original collection is actually available online from the Yiddish Book Center, but you can find the poem from it that’s most been on my mind in English translation.”
Jamie Lin – “Notable titles from this quarantine reading list include Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, Severance by Ling Ma, Weather by Jenny Offill, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I’ve since moved on to reading all science fiction… a great escape from current reality, and it makes me happy to imagine a future of inter-species cooperation and connection.”
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