Our featured Reviewer for January 2009 is Jessica H. Jessica has worked for Lincoln City Libraries since 2001 at various branches, including the Bess Dodson Walt Branch library, where she's been since 2003. Her reviews show up fairly regularly on our Staff Recommendations displays and on the BookGuide web site, focusing on an eclectic variety of fiction and non-fiction titles. Reading has long been an important part of Jessica's life, as she indicates in her answers to our questions about books and reading:
Would you care to share any personal info with our readers -- such as where you grew up, what you read as a child, etc.?
Learning to read was extremely frustrating for me as a child, but with my mother's perseverance, one-on-one help and special techniques, I was eventually able to keep up with my peers.
My first memory of the public library was around age 3. My mother took me to Gere Branch Library and I remember sitting on the floor among the picture book shelves looking at Blueberries for Sal. I was thrilled to learn we could take Blueberries for Sal home with us. I am always pleased to see Blueberries for Sal is still is a title maintained in Lincoln City Libraries' collection and it makes me smile when families add it to their pile of books to take home.
I was also a big fan of Richard Scarry and Patricia Scarry's picture books. I would look at them over and over again, and although tattered and torn, I still have these in my personal collection.
How long have you been an active reader, and were there any particular books or authors or other people that "made you a reader"? Has there been any book or author that "changed your life" or strongly influenced you?
Once I started Junior High, I really disliked being told what to read. I always tried to get away with reading assigned books as little as possible and still manage to write a good paper as well as participate in class discussions. My turning point was during my Sophomore year of college when a professor assigned Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. As I flipped through it, I was intrigued, read it from cover to cover in one night. I found the storyline to be the basis for most historical romance novels. After that I was hooked and began to branch out on fiction literature.
How important are books and reading to you?
For me, books are more important than the internet. Nothing compares to the feel and smell of a book, new or old. I can carry one with me anywhere, and read without waiting for a computer to boot up. I am always on a quest for information on a new topic and read quite a bit of non-fiction.
How do you select what books to read next?
I look for eye-catching cover art and then I always read the liner notes on the cover. Titles alone can be deceiving, so you may miss out on something really useful just by reading the title. I often go online to browse Barnes and Noble's new and coming soon titles. When I see something that stands out or I want to ask the public library to purchase, I put it in my Barnes and Noble's Wish list account.
What do you enjoy about writing book recommendations?
I see it as a form of advertising. I have a broad reading range and hope people will read a review or see a title they did not know Lincoln City Libraries owned. I also hope that one of my reviews will cause enough curiosity that a reader will check out that book.
Are there any interesting book- or reading-related stories or bits of trivia in your past that you’d like to share with our readers?
I always keep a dictionary within reach when reading, there is even one on my nightstand. It drives me up a wall to not know the meaning of a particular word. I think I own four dictionaries and three thesauruses in my little apartment -- one of which I have had since Junior High.
If there was only one author you could convince people to read, that author would be:
I would recommend London-born writer, Plum Sykes. Although she only has two novels under her belt, I really enjoy her fictional writing. At first, one would want to pass her novels off as fictional chic lit fluff; however, Sykes always takes the ending of her stories in a different direction than the reader is anticipating. Plum Sykes is also a contributing editor at American Vogue magazine in New York where she writes on fashion, New York and society, and which is where she receives her inspiration for her fictional books.
Booklists from Book Talks presented by Jessica:
High Fashion and High Society Fiction [July 2007]
Podcasts that Jessica participated in:
'Casting About, Program 20 [October 2008]
Posted to the BookGuide site in January 2009