February 17th, 2010
Did you know that the Cecil County Public Library system carries 65,409 fiction titles, and of those, only about 2% can be browsed on the new book shelf? What is the fate of the remaining 98%? We’ve read and reread Patterson, Koontz, Picoult, and Cornwell. Goodness, if you only checked out books recommended by the media, you’d be pigeonholed into reading only vampire fiction. There has to be more!
It breaks a librarian’s heart to have to console the poor book that gets checked out 15 times while appearing on the new book shelf, only to fade into obscurity once moved back in the stacks. You wouldn’t believe the tales of woe coming from the fantastic book written by a one-time author. (Don’t forget, Harper Lee only wrote one book!) And what about the authors who used to capture our imaginations decades ago that we’ve forgotten? Let’s all have a moment of silence for Kenneth Roberts, the author who brought life to the War of 1812; Mary Stewart, the woman whose Merlin series entertained readers 40 years ago; witty Georgette Heyer, the pioneer of the regency romance novel.
And it’s not just the older books that have been lost in the shuffle. Try international authors like Penelope Lively, the novelist whose books are wildly popular in the United Kingdom, or Sweden’s Henning Mankell, author of the captivating Kurt Wallander crime novels. Perfectly fantastic books are hiding under ugly covers, like Robert Graves’ I, Claudius, a book on TIME magazine’s top 100 books published in the English language since 1923.
Sadly, some books are lonely simply because they are shelved on the very top or bottom shelf. Walter Mosley’s Bad Bad Brawly Brown, a mystery set during the turbulent civil rights era, hasn’t been checked out since 2006. Under the Skin, Michel Faber’s bizarre sci-fi horror novel requires a footstool to reach.
Here is where you, dear reader, must take on the challenge to discover something new – go where few people have gone before. YOU be the Oprah that brings an unknown book into the limelight.
What book did you “discover?”