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I recently stumbled upon a new book that caught my attention; Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates. Who could resist such a provocative title? I must admit that as a librarian I already subscribed to the notion that books have the power to change lives, so the author was preaching to the choir. However, this book made me think about a lot of things, not the least of which was the U.S. prison system.
Last year I started a tradition with my (then) 2-year-old niece, Scarlett. Her Christmas Eve gift from us would be a new pair of pajamas, hot chocolate, and 1 or 2 seasonal stories for bedtime. I wanted to give her a tradition that she could always associate with warmth, family, and reading. I had a wonderful time exploring all of the holiday picture books last year—many of which I remembered from my own childhood.
I was thrilled when the transcendent, luminous, extraordinary short story writer Alice Munro won the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature earlier this month. Not only is Munro being recognized for her exceptional achievement in this often-belittled (certainly misunderstood) literary form, which is a win for all short-story readers the world over, but she is a woman, and women writers have only received Nobel love 12 times before Munro. (She is the lucky 13th.)
One of the guiding principles librarians use when connecting readers to books they will enjoy is that someone should NEVER apologize for his/her reading tastes. I think, however, that I might also add: “but be willing to stretch.” It’s just like our parents would explain “You don’t have to like everything, but you do have to try it.” So, I can say with empirical backing that I don’t care for turnips or Harry Potter. But, I’m guilty like everyone else of assuming I won’t like something based on its genre or cover.