DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jan 6 2016

(Not) Everyone Has Read That

by Amie P

Sitting at the table for our morning meal at a bed and breakfast a couple weeks ago, I happened to mention to all the guests that I was a librarian. A woman at the other end of the table blurted out, “Oh, I love to read. What book should I read now?” After a short pause she added, “I like historical books.”

Now I read a lot—two or more hours a day on MARTA gives me plenty of time to bury myself in a book. Still, whenever I’m asked to recommend a book, my mind instantly goes blank. Then when I do think of a title, my next thought is, “That’s a terrible recommendation. Everyone has already read that. You’re a librarian—can’t you think of something that isn’t on the NYT Bestseller Lists?”

In this particular instance, the only book I could think of was one that won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2015 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction. I was sure she must have already read it. But I had no other ideas. So I asked her, “Have you read All the Light We Cannot See?”

She hadn’t.

She hadn’t even heard of it.

And this was a woman who loved to read, liked historical books, and even came down to breakfast with her Kindle.

So I’ve decided I need to stop making assumptions about the books that everyone has read, and need instead to simply recommend good books.

Here are a few books that “everyone” has read.  If you’re not yet among that everyone, I recommend putting these on your to-read list:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr allthelight

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Often people follow the crowd for the sake of following the crowd.

But sometimes people follow the crowd because the crowd is going in the right direction.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dea Anne M January 6, 2016 at 1:53 PM

I had to smile when I read this post mainly because I recognize myself. It took many years, and a lot of life lessons, for me to leave behind some well-entrenched cultural cynicism and realize that just because a book (or painting or film) is popular doesn’t make it bad. It took working as a bookseller (and a library person!) to understand that, indeed, “everyone” might be reading a book (and then telling other people about it) because the book is actually good. It’s always good to be reminded…so thanks!

Joseph M January 7, 2016 at 12:45 PM

Ha. I must admit that I haven’t read a single book from that list, although I have heard of most of them. Perhaps I’ll get around to them one day.

I have the same problem with book recommendations. Despite all the great books I’ve read over the years, I often freeze up when put on the spot. I can usually come up with some good ones given sufficient time, though.

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