Monday, April 21, 2008

Overwhelmed by fiction

Recently, I found myself without a book to read. I was visiting my daughter at her university and spending the night at a nearby hotel. I had just finished a book at home, and the next one on my nightstand was a really heavy hardcover that I didn't want to pack.

After a fun dinner, my daughter headed off to an event, and I wandered over to the campus bookstore in search of reading material to pass the evening. Glossy displays of best sellers, staff favorites, classics, self-help, global perspectives, graphic novels, YA lit, chick lit, old lit, new lit,seductive cover art, different genres, new authors, established authors; this was the firm grip of decision paralysis. I was overwhelmed by fiction.

Suddenly, I was completely in-synch with the students who stagger through the CCHS Library door, glazed look in their eyes, saying "I need a book". As I go through the good 'ole reader's advisory interview "what sort of books do you like?" "what was the last book you read that you enjoyed?", the flight response gets upper hand and they try to bolt with that great lie "I'll come back later." Once they leave, they never come back.

I was that student. Overwhelmed by choice, not sure what I wanted, hopeful that someone would take pity and shove a book into my hands, saying "Just read this", and it would somehow be the perfect book. That didn't happen. Empty handed, I left the store in a total funk, and passed the evening reading a tourist promotional guide.

The next time a student staggers past with that unique, slightly desperate look, I will grab three of my favorites and say "try these". At least the kid will leave with something. And maybe, if we are lucky, one of them will be exactly the right book. If luck is really on my side, I'll have a repeat customer.
(photo credit: Flickr books=bliss by SoulBella)


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