Nancy Pearl is a celebrity of sorts. She initiated the "One City, One Book" library program to create a strong sense of community through reading. Her books- "Book Lust", "More Book Lust" and "Book Crush"- are great resources on what to read when. Besides that, what other librarian has their own action figure?
She was at Powell's recently to
promote "Book Lust To Go"- recommendations for the travelin' type. The
reading was so much better than I expected.
Nancy Pearl looked
like a librarian. Or, at least she gave off that vibe. Everyone could
tell she was a Reader with a capital "R" from the get-go. She was
forever recommending titles throughout the night. She shared many
interesting and hilarious anecdotes- including the time she got locked
in a hotel bathroom with nothing to read. Amusingly, she had the habit
of going off on tangents, leaving unanswered questions and unfinished
She then gave the rundown of "the perils of a
life of reading". The first was having a "reader's vocabulary" in which
words get mispronounced all the time based on how it looks on a page.
Her own examples were "awry" and "misled". Not bothering to look up the
actual definitions of words and relying too heavily on contextual clues
was the second. The final peril she shared was accidentally borrowing
the lives of the characters you've read. You may have a memory of
something that happened to you only to realize that it was actually a
storyline in a book. Why, I remember, when I was a young boy, I had to
do a bit of whitewashing. I didn’t want to at all and I somehow tricked a
bunch of other kids to do it for me! Those were fun times….
more somber moment, she said she was in an "existential funk"
concerning the state of bookstores and libraries- and the actual book
itself. She did encourage a librarian-to-be to stay with the program
though. One of the things she said that really stuck out was even though
everyone can read the same book, they read a different version of that
After going to so many readings, I finally had something
for an author to sign- a copy of "Book Lust Journal" I had bought
earlier that day. I also made small talk asking her if she was attending
the many literary events that were planned that weekend- Pacific
Northwest Booksellers Association and Wordstock. (Yes on the former. No
on the latter.)
It would be horrible of me not to include some of
the books Nancy Pearl recommended. Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom", Karl
Marlantes' "Matterhorn", and Tatjana Soli's "The Lotus Eaters" were the
more current ones she mentioned.
All in all, it was a great experience.