We answer all kinds of questions at the library, from how to get a credit history report to how to print airline tickets. We locate addresses and recipes and long forgotten authors and books. We answer questions about homework assignments, and research papers, and how to set margins in Microsoft Word. We know where to find a diagram of a pyramid or a video of the “I Have a Dream” speech. Questions come at us all day long. Some are easy to answer and some present a challenge. It’s the unpredictability of the day’s questions that makes our job interesting and enjoyable. We never know just what questions we’ll be asked.
There is one question, however, that I know we’ll be asked, and it makes my pulse race and my heart pound just to think about it. It’s a question that’s often asked. It’s a simple enough question, and it’s always asked with an eager smile, “Can you recommend something to read?” or evenly shyly, “Read any good books lately?” Why, you may well ask, does this question cause heart palpitations? Don’t librarians know what books are good to read? Well, yes and no. The truth is that I, like most, am very particular about what I read. What I enjoy may not be to your taste.
That’s what makes the simple question about what to read so difficult. Reading is a very selective, personal choice. Unless I know you very well, I may not make a recommendation that you’ll enjoy. And I don’t want to disappoint you. This is not to suggest that you shouldn’t ask. We are knowledgeable about books and authors and the library’s collection, and we have a wealth of resources we can draw upon to find that “Just Right” book. Tell us what you enjoy reading, or give us an author that you enjoy, and we’ll offer suggestions of similar titles. We can offer ideas from the bestsellers lists on our web page, or reading suggestions from book lists such as Library Reads or from our book alert service, BookLetters. Our shelves are full of good books just waiting to be read. The choice is yours.