Reader Profiles

Reader Profile – Bob Scheffel


Bob Scheffel has worked in just about every department in the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County for over 36 years; he currently works in the Reynolds Media Center happily selecting movies and music. He also was the host of the Spotlight Review on WBER 90.5 from 1989 to 2017, and still maintains its Facebook page as a musical diary. He lives in Spencerport with his patient wife, stepson, two cats, and a ridiculous amount of books.

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

I tend to read “hyperlinked.” An author I admire will write an intro to an autobiography which will lead me to that author’s poetry which will lead me to his influences which will….and so on down the rabbit hole.

What are you reading right now?

These are circling the end of the couch at the moment:

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

  1. The Bible (King James or earlier)
  2. Complete Works of Shakespeare
  3. John Crowley – Little, Big
  4. Ursula LeGuin – The Books of Earthsea (omnibus coming in October as she preferred)
  5. Either Moby Dick or Paradise Lost, two I haven’t read but hope to get thoroughly immersed in endlessly

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?  

A cliché: “life is too short to read shitty books.” This will probably earn me a boo, but I never finished the first Harry Potter book.

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

Absolutely no, it’s all about the surprise. I even avoid flap copy.

What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?

Leslie Jamison – The Recovering: Intoxication and its Aftermath

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

For non-fiction, Greil Marcus. For fiction, Kelly Link. Both unique voices.

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

The endless series: when I look at the list of new books in Locus and see “third in the series” or “sequel to”, my chest tightens up and my eyes glaze over.

Describe your favorite place to read.

In bed,  next to my wife,  during a thunderstorm. That said, I remember with fondness a tree on Cobbs Hill…

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

Hardcover all the way, paperback for convenience, and the rest absolutely only if no other format exists (or a Kindle version is staggeringly cheaper).

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

No tattoos, please. Needles are involved.

Share a favorite quote from a book you’ve read. Why is it meaningful to you?

John Crowley — ‘The further in you go, the bigger it gets.’ From Little, Big.  Just like a book.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

Every year since 1979, I send my friend Patty in Buffalo a book for her birthday. This year it was John Darnielle’s Universal Harvester.

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?

See my answer to not finishing books above.

Are there any  books that marked milestones in your life?

Crowley’s Little, Big and LeGuin’s Earthsea, both books that showed me the perfection that fantasy literature can be.

Why do you read?

I am a book reader and a book collector. There is no twelve-step.

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