Thursday, September 15, 2011

Browsing the Library Shelves

Charlotte Canelli is the library director at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

I’ve mentioned before that being a librarian is a little too much like being a kid in a candy shop. The cliché “too many books, not enough time” is the story of my life these days. Imagine spending your day surrounded by so much temptation and not enough time to do it. Add to that the fact that librarians often spend our time off reading about books so that we can make the best decisions for your reading pleasures.

There are many librarians here in Norwood who can recommend the very latest and the very best of books. Every first Friday of the month, many on the library staff meet on the uppermost floor of the library in the Trustees Meeting Room before the library has opened for the day. More than a dozen of us spend the hour before the library opens discussing the books that we have been reading. Those suggestions get passed down to you at the desks of the library. It’s simply what we do and what you should expect of your librarians.

I have the privilege of ordering many of the non-fiction books for the library. This is especially rewarding because most of my favorite books are non-fiction. Sports and crafts, cooking and music are subjects of book that I enjoy reading about. I love seeing them hit the shelves where that you can find them.

What can be more fun, however, is seeing the books in the categories I don’t order. It’s often like peeking under the Christmas wrap. Ah, I didn’t know about this book!

I was surprised when I came across“365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life” (2010). I was going to write this book! How had someone else jumped the gun? John Kralik, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, had much the same idea that I had had only he had the foresight and good sense to begin writing it several years earlier, to beat me to the punch and get it published. Kralik made it a practice to write one thank you note per day for a year to all of the people who had made a difference to his life. John Kralik includes a brief note about each thank you in his book along with an explanation of the motivation to write it.

Many of us have heard Tavis Smiley, a radio and television talk show host on public radio and television for over 20 years. In his latest book, “Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure” (2011), Smiley packages his best advice in twenty chapters. In Chapter 4, “You’re Always On” , Smiley relates the trouble with live mikes in which he relates his own weak moment of pomposity. The end of every chapter in his book ends with Tavis’s Takeway or some words to the wise. That particular chapter ends with this advice: “Even when you think you are off – you’re on. In the Internet Age, what’s private can instantly become public.” Other smart chapters are “Cheaters Never Win” and “Remain Dignified Even When You’re Justified.”

In “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts” (2010) Simon Garfield explains why fonts (which have been in existent since Gutenberg invented the printing press) have become so popular in recent years. Everyone has come across references to the typeface near the very ending of expensive books but they’ve more than often been ignored. Recently, however, fonts have become vogue. Who would have thought that Comic Sans could be so happily casual, or that Helvetica could ensure the success of corporate giants like The Gap, Verizon and American Airlines.

Next to fonts and typefaces, I love books on words and grammar. However, I can always use a good editor and I have several of them right in the library with me. Here we have copies of all of the dictionaries and the all-important “Elements of Style”. Some of us sometimes bow down to both Strunk and White. However, in a book by the Bureau Chiefs you might as well forget all about clear, concise writing techniques and learning to correct typographical errors. “Write More Good” (2011) is, to quote the source, “an absolutely phony guide” but it is always humorous, sometimes irreverent, and gives one something to think about writing in this Twitter, Facebook and texting age.

“The Pun Also Rises” (2011) or “How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics” is written by a former presidential speechwriter ,John Pollack. Pollack argues that the pun should rise to a higher level of linguistic honor. Puns have often been thought of as apologetic jokes and as a lowest form of humor. Pollack argues that puns are crucial to learning the relationship of language as a child. His book begins with a particularly laughable account of his winning the 18th Annual World Pun Championships in Austin, Texas.

On a more serious note, Peter Meyers and Shann Nix have written “As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick” (2011) to overcome your fears of public speaking and to win over an audience. No one really loves public speaking; some have become so good at it that they have mastered the fear and the obstacles. Meyers and Nix explain the three building blocks of learning to be self-confident and effective as a speaker: organize, deliver and perform.

All of the books mentioned above are available from our library and other Minuteman libraries. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for all library materials please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,