World Enough and Time: Booked up
It is a distinct pleasure to be able to write a column on books and promote the Friends of the Shawnee Library annual book sale—back after a year off.
I’ll promote first: A huge supply of books, from two storage units, will be out, hopefully somewhat sorted, from Oct. 7 through the 9 (Thursday-Saturday) at the library. Hours: from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, a preview sale for members of the Friends (memberships available at the door), then 7 to 8:30 p.m. open to the public. Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to noon.
Because the Friends group has so many books, they’ve set bargain prices: 50 cents for paperbacks, $1 for hardbacks; $5 for a bag, $10 for a box.
Please come and get a bunch of books! If you don’t want them after you’ve read them, donate them back and we’ll sell them again! We’re all volunteers and after minimal expenses, all proceeds go to help the library collections and special programs, particularly those for children and youth in the summer.
NOT A READER?
What if you are not a reader and need no books? I realize there must be some of you out there who read newspapers to discover what absurdities us bookish types can offer for your enjoyment. (We bless you, nonetheless.)
But consider: Do you live in an apartment with thin walls? Or perhaps one of those huge new houses built so close to each other that you can hear your neighbors arguing? (Or worse, the bellowing laughs and deplorable music from their backyard festivities?)
The solution? A big shelf of books against the communicating wall, adding both class and extra insulation to the room.
In years past, we had a regular who would buy up sets of encyclopedias and law books. We figured he must be using them to help soundproof his rooms. At our prices, it’s cheaper than buying books by the yard from a furniture store.
You will find at least one table full of mysteries and thrillers: I recommend the Wyoming game warden series by C. J. Box, the Quebec police procedurals by Louise Penny, the early Dublin procedurals by Tana French, the French cold case series by Peter May and just about anything by Henning Mankell, most famous for the Swedish Wallander series. They all helped me get through our year of isolation, 2020. (No, I won’t scoop them up, because I’ve read them all.)
In May of 2022, the library plans to celebrate the life and works of Pott County’s own famous mystery writer, Tony Hillerman. His daughter, Anne Hillerman, who has continued his Navajo police procedurals, plans to attend as well. Look for titles by either of them.
One kind of mystery or thriller you may spot is the celebrity-connected novel. Patterson and Bill Clinton? Any good, by Patterson-fan standards? (Let me know.). Dolly Parton plans to team with Patterson too. And—get this—Hillary Clinton will team with Canadian Louise Penny to produce a political mystery. Do the celebrities actually contribute writing, or are they simply resources of information, named to produce more sales? Always wondered.
TEEN TITLES, INCLUDING A RANT
There will certainly be a table of teen titles, including some graphic novels. I confess to being a bit of a fan of the graphics, including Akira, The Dark Knight Returns and, recently, The Last Man, which I note will be a television series.
To my complaint: In its mid-September issue, Time Magazine featured a list of the “The 100 Best Young-Adult Books of All Time.” Normally, I skip such lists, but I was intrigued to see what the panel—all writers of teen books—would recommend.
The first thing I noticed was that almost 75% of the titles were published since 1999, during the lifetimes of the panelists. Huh? “Best...of All Time”??
Are the panelists educated? Have they simply forgotten what they enjoyed as young adults? Did they want to make sure they included something by each of their friends?
Only one title published before 1900–Little Women—was deemed worthy of inclusion. Incredible! Not Gulliver’s Travels, Swiss Family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, Poe short stories, Jane Eyre, Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful World of Oz, Black Beauty, on and on (you can think of others).
Less than 30 titles were from the 20th Century, when teen books began to flourish as a separate category. Left out were Charlotte’s Web, Animal Farm, Tarzan, The Hobbit, Call of the Wild, Fahrenheit 451 and anything by Robert Cormier, who opened the door for novels that dealt with modern teenagers’ mental problems.
I was irritated enough to send a letter to Time, which I don’t expect will be published. I am sure many of the listed titles written within the last 21 years are worthwhile reads, even if they haven’t shown they will stay in print over the long run. But the sheer imbalance of 21st Century titles to the rest of the best (again) “of All Time” renders the list useless as a tool to format a reading program for young adults.
Anyway, pick up some of those older teen titles or others by their authors. They are good enough to be read as an adult. Or reread. Discover who you once were...and who you still are.
Bill Hagen is a retired OBU professor. He lives in Shawnee with his cat. Contact him at email@example.com.