It’s a real pleasure to be able to write a book column and promote the Friends of the Shawnee Library’s annual book sale, back after a year off.
I’ll promote first: A huge amount of books, from two storage units, will be available, hopefully somewhat sorted, October 7-9 (Thursday-Saturday) at the library. Hours: from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, preview sale for Friends members (subscriptions available at the door), then from 7 p.m. 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 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 reading them, give them to us and we’ll sell them! We are all volunteers and after minimal expense all proceeds go to help library collections and special programs, especially those for children and youth in the summer.
NOT A READER?
What if you’re not a reader and don’t need books? I realize that there must be some of you reading the papers to find out what nonsense we bookish types can offer for your enjoyment. (We bless you nonetheless.)
But consider: do you live in an apartment with thin walls? Or maybe one of those huge new homes built so close together you can hear your neighbors arguing? (Or worse, the bellowing laughter and the deplorable music of their backyard festivities?)
The solution? A large bookshelf against the connecting wall, adding both class and extra insulation to the room.
In years past, we had a regular who bought sets of encyclopedias and law books. We figured he should use them to help soundproof his rooms. At our prices, it’s cheaper than buying books by the yard in a furniture store.
You will find at least one table full of mysteries and thrillers: I recommend the Wyoming Game Warden series by CJ Box, the procedurales de la police québécoise by Louise Penny, the first Dublin procedurals by Tana French, the French cold case series by Peter May and Just About Everything by Henning Mankell, the most famous for the Swedish series Wallander. They all helped me through our year of isolation, 2020. (No, I won’t be picking them up, because I’ve read them all.)
In May 2022, the library plans to celebrate the life and works of famous Pott County mystery writer Tony Hillerman. His daughter, Anne Hillerman, who continued with her Navajo police procedures, also plans to attend. Look for the titles of one of them.
One type of mystery or thriller that you can spot is the celebrity-related romance. Patterson and Bill Clinton? Is everything good, by the standards of Patterson fans? (Let me know.). Dolly Parton also plans to team up with Patterson. And — get this — Hillary Clinton will team up with Canadian Louise Penny to produce a political mystery. Do celebrities actually contribute to writing, or are they just news sources, named to generate more sales? Always asked.
TEEN TITLES, INCLUDING A RANT
There will certainly be an array of teen titles, including a few graphic novels. I admit 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 TV series.
To my complaint: In its mid-September issue, Time Magazine featured a list of the “100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time.” Normally I skip such lists, but I was intrigued to see what the panel – all teenage book authors – would recommend.
The first thing I noticed was that almost 75% of the titles have been published since 1999, during the lifetime of the panelists. Eh? “Best … ever”? ?
Are the panelists educated? Did they just forget what they loved as young adults? Did they want to make sure they included something from each of their friends?
Only one title published before 1900 – Little Women – was deemed worthy of inclusion. Unbelievable! Not the travels of Gulliver, the Swiss family Robinson, Robinson Crusoe, Frankenstein, the short stories of Poe, Jane Eyre, Tom Sawyer, Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful World of Oz, Black Beauty, etc. (you can think of others).
Less than 30 titles were from the 20th century when teenage books began to flourish as a separate category. Left out Charlotte’s Web, Animal Farm, Tarzan, The Hobbit, Call of the Wild, Fahrenheit 451 and all that was written by Robert Cormier, which opened the door to novels dealing with the mental issues of modern adolescents.
I was nervous enough to send a letter to Time, which I don’t think will be published. I’m sure many of the listed headlines written over the past 21 years are worth reading, even if they haven’t shown that they will stay in print for the long haul. But the sheer imbalance of 21st century titles versus the rest of the (still) best “of all time” makes the list useless as a tool for formatting a reading program for young adults.
Either way, pick some of these older teen titles or others from their authors. They are good enough to be read in adulthood. Or read again. Find out 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 protected]