What’s on your bedside table?

I had a phone call late last week from an ABC journalist I knew from my Orange days. She was looking for someone to speak on ‘the books on my bedside table’ for drive time radio. She too has left town and so wasn’t aware that I was no longer a Mainlander (to use the local parlance), and probably not in the show’s remit. Luckily I was able to offer a solution and so the show went on.

But the conversation made me reflect on my current reading and how I share that.

When I was managing a library I religiously included the ‘I’m currently reading [insert title here]’ tag line in my email signature and encouraged my team to do the same. I was always amazed by how many people would tell me what they were reading when they replied. As a member of IFLA’s Literacy and Reading Standing Committee its a habit I need to get straight back into – note to self!

We also included what I’m reading/listening to/watching as a regular agenda item for staff meetings. Its not ‘fluff’ to have this conversation, rather its about knowing your stock in trade. The beauty of a shared discussion is that we all read differently and can contribute to a shared knowledge bank.

We also included the ‘what are you currently reading, would you recommend it and why?’ as a standard question in our recruitment process. Boy was that a trap for unwary players – the ones who tell you how much they want to work in libraries because they just love books and reading , and then when asked a direct question have nothing to contribute.

So what books are on my bedside table (coffee table actually):

Sophie Hansen’s new cookbook book In Good Company; simple, generous recipes and ideas for get-togethers and good times. Sophie is based in Orange and has strong connections to the Library. Not only have all her book launches been there, she often works from the Library, and was the NSW Writer in Residence in the National Year of Reading. Plus her recipes are fabulous!

Sargasso by Kathy George. I was ‘in’ when the blurb on the front cover described it as ‘shades of du Maurier’s classic Rebecca in this atmospheric mystery’ plus Jean Rhys’s book, Wide Sargasso Sea has always been a favourite. ! An Australian thriller this is my ‘ferry read’ (ie the book you have in the car to dip into when you’re waiting for the Bruny Island Ferry). Fortunately (or unfortunately for my reading pleasure) I haven’t had to wait in weeks and will probably have to start again so that I understand the story.

Sarah Ostman’s Going Virtual: programs and insights from a time of crisis is a new publication from the American Library Association (ALA). Lots of quick case studies of virtual programs offered by US libraries during COVID with content divided into Learning, Conversation, Connection and Entertainment. Plenty of ideas to build on both during and post lockdown. Also available form the ALA is Pivoting during the pandemic; ideas for serving your community anytime, anywhere. This is more best practice than case studies and is downloadable as an e book. I’m enjoying both.

Finally there’s A ladies garden by Karen Cunningham – a beautiful new patchwork/quilting book. I did a workshop with Karen at Blackheath in the Blue Mountains years ago and love her work.

On that note I’ll get back to some work!

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