Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yes, Children's Librarians Can Read Grown-Up Books, Too

It is so easy (SO EASY!) to get wrapped up in all the reading that we need to do for our jobs. Children's librarians read through hundreds of picture books looking for the perfect storytime picks. On our off time, we're reading the newest chapter books, fiction, and nonfiction to get ready for booktalking, book discussions, and reader's advisory.

And I know there are only so many hours in the day. And I know that reading kids' books is fun and we do it because we love it.

But, it's okay (and good for us!) to take a step away from work and pick up a read that's just fun or interesting for us as adult readers. I have had the pleasure of reading some really great "grown-up books" this summer while we took a break from booktalking. I've found myself gravitating towards adult books over the past few weeks, which is probably also a blow back from last year's commitment to Newbery reading. And I wanted to share a few that I have really enjoyed this year.

I love to peruse Book Riot to keep up on what's being published for adults (they cover YA and middle grade occasionally, too, but this site is a gold mine for finding out about new adult books!). Most of my recommendations come from there, as well as from friends and the folks in my book club. I love audiobooks, and sometimes adult books can motivate me to work out more frequently since they're longer and require more of a commitment to listen all the way through.

Girl in the Dark by Anna Lyndsey (Doubleday, 2015). This memoir of a British woman who developed a sudden extreme sensitivity to all forms of light gripped me and wouldn't let go. I kept picturing what my life would be like if that happened to me - to have to live periods of weeks or months in the pitch dark, to have to depend on my family and friends to make my life liveable, to be (ironically) too sick to travel to visit the doctors that could possibly help... This book reminded me of two memoirs I'd read and enjoyed previously: Brain on Fire by Susannah Calahan and The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey.

The Martian by Andy Weir (Crown, 2014). Of course, you have probably seen this one around since the movie is coming out this fall. To me, it stands up to the hype. This was a book that, as I was reading it, I kept turning to The Fiance and telling him bits and pieces of it until he demanded that I stop until he could read it, too. It's a rip-roaring science fiction adventure story with plenty of actual science and a great voice (I am a sucker for a great voice).

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming (Dey Street Books, 2014). Ahh, you see a trend here. I am a big fan of memoirs, and celebrity memoirs are my guilty pleasure. This one was an especially appealing audiobook (read by Alan Cumming) and a great blend of fluffy celebrity tidbits and a more serious storyline about Cumming's journey to uncover secrets about his family.

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery (Atria Books, 2015). I have read some of Sy Montgomery's science books for kids and I really like her writing. This book details her experiences getting to know and love the octopus. It's a great choice for anyone who likes nature and science writing.

Sous Chef: 24 Hours on the Line by Michael Gibney (Ballantine Books, 2014). I listened to the audiobook of this title right when I really needed a motivating walking book and this definitely fit the bill. The entire story takes place over 24 hours as sous chef Michael Gibney gives readers the inside scoop to the restaurant scene. Listening to this book was like watching an episode of Top Chef.

An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay (Grove Press, 2014). This is a book that starts with a bang and doesn't let up until the riveting conclusion. While visiting her wealthy family in Haiti, Mireille is kidnapped and brutally abused. This book is about what happens to her and what happens after. How does a strong woman cope with being broken and trying to put the pieces back together? This is definitely a heavy read, but an important and redeeming one.

What great adult books have YOU read lately? I'd love more suggestions!