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Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday Discussion: Book That "Changed" Your Life

Okay, today we are getting a little metaphysical. Yesterday, I was being interviewed by a colleague who is working on an Independent Study to finish up her MLIS. Her topic is very interesting. She is trying to assess the current state of RA education in America (with a detailed look at its history). But in interviewing me, much of our conversation was about where I, as a RA educator, see the future of RA training.

I will have more on her findings to share with you in a few months, but the whole notion of looking at the broader picture, combined with the specific questions she was asking me, made me think back to why I decided to dedicate my career to helping leisure readers.

Until I took the RA class toward the end of library school, I was convinced I would work at an adult reference desk in a public library.  I knew that meant I would help leisure readers as well as answer many reference questions, but as we all know now, that changed.

I have dedicated my career to helping leisure readers and to training librarians to be better at providing this service to their patrons.  So how did this happen?  Well, in thinking about it a lot yesterday, I realized there is a book responsible for tipping the scales and making me seriously consider changing the focus of my entire career.

That book was not some serious tract on the philosophy of reading, nor was it a great classic. No, it was the critically acclaimed bestseller, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier.

Why did this book change my professional life forever? The answer is actually quite simple. When I read this book for my RA class and was forced to figure out readalikes, I had an epiphany.  Cold Mountain was already a bestseller then. It had wide appeal. But when I was reading it with an eye to why people enjoyed it, I realized that there were so many different layers, reasons, and appeal factors that could lead someone in dozens of different directions for readalike options, and it all hit me.

Before that point I found RA interesting, and was excited to do it as part of my reference work, but after reading Cold Mountain, I realized there was enough "meat" to doing RA that I could be happy doing it for my entire career. And look at me now!

So I figured if there was a book that ended up changing the course of my life, there is probably a book for many of you that changed your life either professionally or personally. I mean you work in a library, so there is a probably book that is in some part responsible for this huge life choice.

For today's Monday Discussion, share that book that changed your life.

For past Monday Discussions click here.

7 comments:

John BPL RA said...

There are five titles that come to mind. To list and discuss them all would fill the comment section beyond capacity. I will say that books have certainly changed my life more than people have. The power of literature to shine a light on life cannot be underestimated.

Steve said...

While my enthusiasm for it has waned in recent years due to public comments by the author, ENDER'S GAME is what made science fiction click in my head for the first time. I'd enjoyed STAR WARS and STAR TREK and other movies and TV shows, but it was the first SF book that hooked me for the genre, due to its protagonist being around my age at the time of reading, the well-described settings and action, and the philosophical underpinnings of it and its sequels.

Marion Teen BPL said...

Hands down "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." As we all know, high school tends to be where library's lose that demographic as patrons and the same could be said of me. I stopped going to the library when I started HS because I never had time for leisure reading. Then one summer I picked up the first Harry Potter book and never looked back. Since then, I have made it my personal goal to find the right book for teens that will show them how much fun reading can be and hopefully, change their lives in some way the way Harry Potter did for me.

Anonymous said...

Advise and Consent by Alan Drury. I read it in high school; had never read anything as intensely emotional. I have never forgotten that book.

Nonfiction: "Your money or your life" by Dominguez. It had you determine how much per hour you really earn, after adding in all the time you spend getting ready for work, getting to work, decompressing for work, etc. It really affected my life.

Katie M. said...

The Harry Potter series defined/consumed the entire second half of my childhood, and I love being able to pass the series along to patrons who are experiencing it for the first time. I don't think there will ever be another series that captures me as much as Harry Potter did at age 11.

And I distinctly remember devouring The Shining at age 14, which was my first introduction to Stephen King's novels. I haven't looked back since.

Tara BPLteen said...

There are so many books and series that made me the bibliophilic geek I am today. The Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia were some of the first. The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451 opened the doors a little wider. Anything and everything by Piers Anthony and Robert Asprin got me through high school. Adulthood saw Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant and Ursula Vernon. Reading (particularly sci-fi and fantasy) changes me every day. It opens my eyes to the world in which I live through allegory and satire and opens my mind to worlds that exist only in the realms of possibility.

Donna said...

"Gone With the Wind" which I read as a freshman in HS was the first book I read over and over and over. Through it I discovered my love for reading about the US Civil War both fiction and nonfiction. It's interesting to read it now and see so many different facets of the story that a 14 year-old couldn't possibly have understood. I now like it less, but understand it more.