Wednesday, February 02, 2011

12 books for 2011 | invitation to photo essay

  1. Water for elephants / Sarah Gruen
  2. The Thirteenth Tale / Diane Setterfield
  3. Three Cups of Tea / Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin 
  4. The Secret Life of Bees / Sue Monk Kidd
  5. Outliers / Malcolm Gladwell 
  6. And then there's this : how stories live and die in viral culture / Bill Wasik. 
  7. Strength in What Remains / Tracy Kidder 
  8. The 10pm Question / Kate De Goldi
  9. Year of magical thinking / Joan Didion
  10. Her fearful symmetry / Audrey Niffenegger  
  11. Atonement : a novel / Ian McEwan.
  12. Blindsight / Maurice Gee
Let me know if you'll join me in this list!

My other book related project is to photograph the library book pile whenever I get books from a library.  This is going to be a like a photo essay of my reading for the year.  It will be books from whatever library I borrow from, public or academic.  If you'd like to join my project, I've made an open Flickr group you can join.  It's uncompetitive, no pressure and doesn't have to be artistic in any way.  I like seeing what other people borrow.

My first photo is this one:

2 Feb Library Books

Libraries (particularly public libraries), are being threatened by budget cuts and closures around the world.  In New Zealand we are fortunate that we haven't suffered the drastic cuts like the US, and now the UK where 400 libraries are planned to be closed.  That is 400 libraries worth of staff and collection that will no longer be available to the tax paying community.  Tomorrow there will be a day of protest in the UK over these closures.  Check out this scary map of libraries affected produced by the author of Public Libraries News.

View Larger Map

I think it is worth pointing out that this is more than just books we're talking about.  The printed book is an enduring physical entity and it'll be around for a while yet.  E-books are great and are becoming more important.  I'm anxious for them to mature past the issues relating to digital rights management and the multiplicity of ereaders available on the market so that we can really get our digital teeth into using them especially in the academic library world.  Libraries supply other resources like magazines, local history collections, newspapers, resources for family historians.  Have you tried the audio books available from your library?  Auckland Public libraries has great collection that you can access online and put on your mobile device via Overdrive.  Great for when you're sick, for kids, on long road trips or just to chill out.

It is worth pointing out that it is more than just resources we're talking about.  Libraries are a physical space too where people come to meet, work and relax.  They are warm and relatively safe places to be.  Public libraries are open to everyone in the community regardless of race, gender or ability.  Academic libraries provide a much needed physical sanctuary for students and even staff of their institution.  The digital space should not be disregarded either as much interaction can take place between the user and the library in the virtual realm.

So use your library.  Don't let it be taken away from you.

Daddy, what did you do?
By Phil Bradley


  1. Here here for public library's. I love my local one. My card has gotten a workout in the last year and a half. More so in the last 12 months. I now have a concession card for my reserves. It costs $2.00 for me to reserve a book. The library has been a fantastic resource for me. I found I have cut down on buying books and get more from the library. The only thing I found with bookclub last year is often the books we were reading had a huge waiting/reserve list. Hence me reading them out of order. I woyuld be gutted if our library closed.

  2. Absolutely - I use the libary all the time. So convenient that you can reserve a book online. I discovered the audio books a few weeks ago. I must admit some frustration with the set up process but it seems to work well now. I can only assume my local library is well used - there was a HUGE pile of returns there yesterday when I dropped a book off. I will be book marking your list for 2011 and will hopefully get to read some. I have already read Blindsight (excellent) and Outliers (interesting).

  3. Anonymous3:39 pm

    Use it or lose it really. No public institution, whether a library or (here in Sydney recently) a post office or whatever can justify staying open if they can't show that people (us!) are using it. It's like small, local business as well (but that's another story and don't get me started!)

  4. I will join in the bookclub again this year. I love how it makes me read stuff I would have thought of. Although last year I didn't perservere with some books I still did at least look at them all - even i they weren't all read. Like the look of the list this year. Thank you for organising us. Again.