Reader Profiles

Reader Profile – Chad Cunningham

Chad for blog

2022 Update: Chad is now Circulation Supervisor at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County.

Chad Cunningham is Head of Circulation Services at the Gates Public Library and is most definitely a Reader. Chad probably knows more about the Monroe County Library System than anyone, and he is known for his eclectic and varied reading recommendations. If you’re in the mood to talk books, go visit him at Gates!

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.

My name is Chad and I read because the alternative is not reading and that just doesn’t make any sense to me at all.

What are you reading right now?

  • Chasing the Moon by A. Lee Martinez
  • Tales of the Dying Earth by Jack Vance
  • Promethea by Alan Moore and J.H. Williams III
  • Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett
  • Truants by Lee Markham
  • The Silence of the Flans by Laura Bradford

It is entirely possible that I read too many books at one time.

The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?

  • To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Invisibles Omnibus by Grant Morrison and various artists
  • Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?

Absolutely not. Life is too short to finish books I hate. One of my favorite Dorothy Parker quotes (and I think the fact that I have multiple favorite Dorothy Parker quotes says something about me) is

This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

My all-time least favorite book of all-time for all of time is Moby Dick. I hated every single letter of it that I read. I was forced to read it for an English class, I skipped 100 pages, and I still did well on the test. That was the book that taught me that is perfectly acceptable to not finish a book.

The last book I decided not to finish was one of those incredibly silly cozy mysteries. This one featured a librarian as the main character. Her library was in a lighthouse. 20 pages in I realized that I was criticizing all the library-related information and that this book was going to be nothing but a headache. I mean, who puts a library in a lighthouse.

Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?

Nope! Never! That takes away the fun of following the story! Noooooooooo!

I have skipped to the end when I am ready to quit a book and I have vague curiosity about how it will turn out.

What is the funniest or strangest thing you have ever found returned inside a library book?

I once found an old postcard with nothing written on it. It had a picture of a woman standing in front of a storefront. It was in black and white. There was nothing overly unusual about it, but it really creeped me out.

What is at the top of your TBR pile?

Séance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton. One of my friends recommended it to me.

Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?

I recommend Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean a lot. Jacqueline Winspear is another author I recommend a lot. If someone has even a slight interest in science fiction I recommend my favorite sci-fi author: Octavia Butler.

Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…probably my favorite character. My favorite character is Granny Weatherwax from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. I would love to be able to unabashedly revel in my stubbornness the way Granny does.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

Have I mentioned that Moby Dick is a monstrous abomination and should be erased from history?

Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?

There are three books that have helped define me as a person:

  • A Wrinkle in Time (which I read at exactly the right time when I was a kid) helps me to see that our unique qualities are what give us the power to truly love one another.
  • Weetzie Bat inspired me to indulge my imagination and to embrace the fantastic all around me.
  • The Invisibles (which is a comic book series that is one very long story) really encouraged me to believe that anything is possible and that it’s perfectly acceptable to live a life of glamorous rebellion.

Is there a genre or type that you are over and wish would just go away?

Are they still making teen dystopian fiction books? If so, then that.

Describe your favorite place to read.

My absolutely favorite reading experience happens early on a Sunday morning. I sit at my dining room table with bagels and a cup of coffee and quietly read for an hour or so. That’s the most fulfilling reading experience of my week.

Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?

I usually prefer the book, but there have been times when the movie was better. I think the movie version of The Talented Mr. Ripley – the one with Matt Damon- was an excellent complement to the book and I liked it a touch better.

Jurassic Park was also better as a movie- but mostly because you could see the dinosaurs.

What is your preferred format? Hardcover, paperback, digital, audio, doesn’t matter?

I don’t do audio books- they usually put me to sleep- but otherwise I’m good with whichever format. I just really love to read. There’s a character in Wonder Boys who loves to read so much that if she runs out of books she’ll read the back of cereal boxes. That’s me in a nutshell.

If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?

Mrs. Who’s glasses from A Wrinkle in Time.

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