Reader Profile – Erin Egloff


erin egloff (2)Erin Egloff was born and raised in Lowville, NY, and graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, California. She developed a career in the Los Angeles nonprofit sector for 14 years and moved to Rochester in 2017 with her husband and felines. Erin is a lifelong learner who is particularly passionate about intersectional feminism, racial justice, sexual violence and misconduct, education equity, and government transparency. She is on the board of 540 West Main Communiversity, sits on the RCSD R.E.A.L. Team, and is the Education Committee Secretary for Rochester’s chapter of Citizen Action NY. Twitter: @ShePersisted03

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

I’m an overly ambitious reader whose only fear of dying is that I won’t be able to finish my To Read list.

What are you reading right now?

I’m finishing Race Manners by Bruce Jacobs and The Meaning of Freedom by Angela Davis; I’m halfway through Biblioholism by Tom Raabe, and I’ve been staring longingly at Ian McEwan’s Nutshell for a month.

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

I suppose I’d take Finnegan’s Wake so I could do the work that I gave up on during undergrad. Song of Solomon would provide comfort and a dreamy escape from my inevitable anxiety; I’d also bring National Geographic’s Concise History of the World, The Wheel of Life, and The Year of Magical Thinking.

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?

I used to feel obligated to finish books, but I quickly realized life is too short and there are too many books on my To Read list to get through. I can’t really recall the books I stopped reading, because I just toss them into a bag and give them to the library. I do recall that I ditched Eat, Pray, Love and Swann’s Way. I also abandoned The Canterbury Tales after 20 minutes, though that’s not particularly unique…

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

Blasphemy!

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

Nutshell by Ian McEwan, Feminasty by Erin Gibson, and What is the What by Dave Eggers

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

It depends on what they’re looking for; someone recently asked for a suspense recommendation, and the first author that came to mind is Tana French. For other genres, I often suggest Roxane Gay, Joan Didion, James Baldwin, Lawrence Sanders, Doris Lessing, Roald Dahl, Sherwin Nuland, and Kay Redfield Jamison.

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

My favorite characters tend to be miserable or deeply troubled, so I’d probably rather be an author. Though most of them are also likely miserable and deeply troubled… so perhaps I should give this more thought.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

The Devil Wears Prada. What a waste of time.

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

Reading Song of Solomon in high school hit me like a ton of bricks; the allegory and imagery is so thick and magical that I decided I’d have to major in literature in college. If I hadn’t read that book, I may have ended up majoring in business and been miserable.

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

There are genres of which I’m not personally a fan, but I’d never wish any book to go away. Someone will want to read it, someone might love it, and as long as people are reading, I’m happy.

Describe your favorite place to read.

I love to read while sitting in my blue chair in my living room, feet on the ottoman, blanket on lap, with one cat by my side and one on my feet. Sometimes the cliché really is the way to go.

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

I’ve given this a lot of thought and the only one I can come up with is Lee Daniels’ movie Precious, which was based on the novel Push. Something about the book didn’t resonate with me, but I was very moved by the film.

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

If I’m driving for hours at a time, I like to listen to audiobooks, but normally I prefer hardcovers or paperbacks. I do enjoy the Kindle when I’m in bed, but I don’t usually read in bed because I fall asleep as soon as I feel the pillow.

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

I’m pretty fond of a quote from Station Eleven: “It is sometimes necessary to break everything.”

If you’d like to be featured in a Reader Profile, contact me at patricia.uttaro @ gmail.com.

Reader Profile – Emily Hessney Lynch


emilyEmily Hessney Lynch is a digital marketer at a nonprofit by day; she also runs her own business called Serve Me the Sky Digital, where she offers freelance social media strategy, management, and writing. Additionally, Emily is the Director of Content at I Heart ROC, a local website that tells the stories of fascinating Rochesterians. She loves volunteering, reading obsessively, taking long walks, and hanging out with her husband and their two rescue dogs. In 2019, Emily is on a quest to read 100 books. You can follow along with #emilys100books2019 or by following @servemethesky.

What are you reading now?

I just finished my advance reader copy of Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, out May 14th from St. Martin’s/Griffin. It was spectacular. You may not realize you need a book about the First Son of the United States falling in love with the Prince of England, but you definitely do.

Are you a fiction or nonfiction reader?

I read way more fiction than nonfiction, but I do occasionally dive into nonfiction.

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

“Every moment in your life is a turning and everyone one a choosing.” — Cormac McCarthy.

This one rings so true to me, because so often we think of choice in our lives only in the really big moments, but it’s actually all around us, in every second of every day. We are constantly choosing to stay in our jobs, our relationships, our homes, or to change and evolve. It’s a good reminder that we have the power of choice at our fingertips, all the time.

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?

I think the Saga graphic novels would make an incredible movie. Apparently Lin Manuel-Miranda made a comment about how much he loves to get lost in the world of Saga, and now the writer, Brian K. Vaughn, and artist, Fiona Staples, are joking in interviews about a Saga musical co-created with Lin Manuel. I’d be so down for that.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

Lately I’ve been making an effort to read more books by women and people of color. I’m always recommending Angie Thomas’s books to people; another great one I read during Black History Month and have recommended widely is How Long Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin.

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?

On the Road by Jack Kerouac. I found all the characters pretty vacant, and couldn’t find much meaning in the story, at least not enough to justify the cult following.

Are there any other books that marked milestones in your life?

I used to reread the entire Harry Potter series every summer. The summer between high school and college, I was staying up late every night to read and working two jobs before heading off to U of R. One night, I came home from work exhausted, and scraped the side of my car on the basketball hoop as I pulled into the driveway. My dad was livid and blamed it on me staying up too late to read Harry Potter. He banned me from reading it for the rest of the summer! I still look back on that and laugh, even though it was horrifying in the moment.

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

I read Ulysses by James Joyce in my modern lit class in college. It was incredibly challenging, but I felt so triumphant when I finished it.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?

I think it does, but in very unconscious ways. Studies have shown that reading fiction makes people more empathetic, and I think everything I’ve learned from books (both fact-wise and compassion-wise) is at play when I’m moving through the world and making decisions.

Are you a “finisher” or do you stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?

I have a hard time abandoning books. I’ll power through even if I’m not enjoying it. I like to give books the chance to redeem themselves, or sometimes I just end up “hate reading” them, as I call it. I’ve been known to pick up a book I put down for six months or even a year and just jump back in and finish it, even after that long a break.

Why do you read?

I read to feel more like myself. The act of sitting down and reading centers and grounds me. I also read to have experiences beyond my day-to-day by escaping into a novel and a world other than my own. I read because it’s a habit, too—I’ve been doing it consistently my whole life, and something feels off if I don’t read.

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

I’m the kind of reader who will try anything once and have strong opinions about it afterwards—I’ll either end up either loving it and raving about it to everyone I know, or loathing it and warning everyone against it!

What is at the top of your TBR pile?

Karamo from Queer Eye’s book. It’s called Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope. My hold just came in from the library and I’m definitely pushing some others back in the stack to read this one next!

What book do you wish you’d never read?

I was very close to saying You are a Badass by Jen Sincero for this question, because I think she has some super problematic ideas (for example, she’s fat-phobic and fat-shaming, she doesn’t believe depression is real, and she encourages people to buy Audis they can’t afford “so they can become the type of person who drives an Audi” / end rant). However, I learn something from each book I read, even if the takeaway is “that’s not for me,” and a firmer understanding of my own beliefs and where I stand in the world.

Describe your favorite place to read.

I have a cozy cheetah print chair in the corner of my living room—one of my dogs will curl up in the crook of my knee and the other one will lay at my feet. It’s basically the ideal reading scenario. In the summertime, we migrate to the back deck or a hammock in the backyard.

Reader Profile – Cara Rager


photo jun 29, 7 27 44 pm

Cara Rager is the Manager of Educational Training and Family Engagement at WXXI in Rochester, NY. In her role, she works to engage, support, and empower Rochester’s families and educators using public media and PBS resources. In case you’re wondering, that’s Cara between D.W. and Buster!

What are you reading now?
I just finished reading The Burning Girl by Claire Messud and now I’m reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I have a pretty hefty “to-read” list.

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?
I mostly read fiction – I’m a big fan of psychological thrillers like The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware, Into the Water by Paula Hawkins, and The Girls by Emma Cline. Lately, though, I’ve been getting more into biographies. I’m loving reading about the lives of comedians, such as Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer, and Sick in the Head by Judd Apatow. But my most favorite recent bio read was Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones. Given my work at WXXI Education and growing up with Sesame Street, The Muppets, and Fraggle Rock, I learned so much about Jim Henson, his creativity, the people he worked with, and all the places and spaces that he impacted.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?
Educated by Tara Westover. I couldn’t put the book down and I’m pretty sure I was in shock reading most of the book because I couldn’t wrap my mind around the idea that it was a true story. I’ve been telling everyone to read it and even bought it as a Christmas gift for my mom to read! Highly recommend.

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I read it, I think the basic message is there but to me, I felt like a lot of women were left out of her picture. I do think it’s important for women to be empowered to shake up the status quo in places where they feel like they are not being supported or treated equally, such as their workplace. And I also think it’s really important to hear stories from lots of different women who have been able to make serious change. But, given all the praise the book got in the beginning, I wasn’t as impressed when I read it.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?
I actually have two books that changed my view of the world and specifically my philosophy of education – Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James W. Loewen and The People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. I read both books when I was in my undergraduate education program at St. John Fisher College. As someone who loved school and learning and was going to school to be a teacher, this was the first moment that I realized that the whole picture was not being taught in school AND that it was my charge as a teacher to make sure my students left with a variety of perspectives of history to build the full picture. I definitely felt cheated when reading these books and learning how much I didn’t know.

Do you read with your children? What are some of their favorite books?
While I don’t have kids of my own yet, I do have 6 nieces and nephews and I love children’s books! I love to read with them when I can, but I especially love choosing books for them. Gifting books is one of my favorite things; I like to collect some information about books/topics/genres they like and then see what treasures I can find. I love that they all have such different reading preferences even being so young. My niece, Ruby, is 2 years old and loves dinosaurs (like her older brother), cooking, and dress-up. For Christmas, I gave her Brontorina by James Howe (from Webster!) about a dinosaur who wants to be a ballerina but is too big and Razzle-Dazzle Ruby by Masha D’yans about a spunky little girl who uses her imagination to go on adventures with her dog. I have another niece, Lila, who is 8 years old and devouring books like crazy right now. She loves comic books (like Garfield!) and graphic novels and she’s really enjoying book series. For her birthday in November I gave her Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #1) by Ben Clanton which is the first book in a super silly series about a friendship between a narwhal and a jellyfish who both love waffles, parties, and adventures. She loved it!

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?
My personal philosophy is that reading should be enjoyable – that said, there are times when you must read something – but if I’m reading for pleasure, I’m happy to discard a book if it’s not grabbing me. I think choice is a big part of getting people hooked on reading – especially kids. I love getting lost inside books and then sharing what I’ve read or learned. Not everything is interesting to me and I’m okay leaving a book behind. Perfect example: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet.

Why do you read?
I read to relax, escape, exercise my brain, and learn.

What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?
Michelle Obama’s Becoming. I’m on the waitlist for the ebook but I might have to just buy it because I’m #138 of 30 copies!

Describe your favorite place to read.
My favorite place to read is on the couch, under a blanket, with a cup of coffee, and in between my two dogs. It’s the best, coziest spot.

Reader Profile – Cynthia Dana

1

56A0FECF-397B-4849-8229-FE751AEBFF83Cynthia is the Patron Services Manager at the Central Library of Rochester & Monroe County, where she began working at age 16. She loves her job and can’t think of a better place to work and grow up. Libraries have always been an important part of her life. She got her first card at a young age and read everything she could get her hands on. In her off time, she enjoys, yeah you guessed it—reading, but also enjoys traveling, watching stupid reality shows, attending local theatre, playing word games on her Kindle and being outside, soaking up the sun. Her latest passion – thanks to a class at the library—is making monster dolls!

What are you reading now?
All the Ever Afters: The Untold Story of Cinderella’s Stepmother by Danielle Teller

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?
I read both; my reading list has way more fiction on it though. I like memoirs and library related or current topic non-fiction books.

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

“Sometimes life is just what it is, and the best you can hope for is ice cream.”
― Abbi Waxman, Other People’s Houses

This quote is meaningful because of its simplicity; also because it’s so true, life may not always be fair and sometimes what you see is what you get. I often say “it is what it is” for things I cannot change. And, ice cream DOES make everything better, right?

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?
I rarely enjoy the movies as much as the books; however the Harry Potter ones I knew from the get go would be made into movies and I LOVED them. Also, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. One of my favorite books is Widower’s Tale by Julia Glass. I would like to see Andy Garcia play the part of the widower. Or Richard Gere, who doesn’t like to look at Richard Gere?

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?
My all-time favorite recommendation is Merle’s Door by Ted Kerasote. For a more current recommendation, everyone should read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?
Fifty Shades of Gray, all of them. Enough said.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?
I’m not certain that any book changed my life, but I will say that I felt a deep sadness when I read The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. I cannot fathom this type of treatment of ones’ fellow humans still going on today, albeit not to the same extreme but still upsetting.

Are there any other books that marked milestones in your life?
No particular title; however my mom took us to the library A LOT when we were growing up. I will never forget when the librarian said I was ready to go around the corner into the chapter books section! My mom had this little look she would give me when she knew I was excited about something; she raised her eyebrows and had this little grin on her face as I followed Lois Hoffman (librarian) to the chapter books. You’d think I would remember what I picked out, but I don’t!

What book challenged you the most when you read it?
Moby Dick; I was so determined to get through it even though I found it boring at times My friends all gave up. I have since read it twice more.

Do you read with your children? What are some of their favorite books?
I do not have children; however I LOVE children’s books; often read to my cat. He prefers picture books. We like the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie series, more recently we enjoyed Pete the Cat series and Julian is a Mermaid. So glad there are more LBGTQ books geared towards young readers.

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?
I was always a “finisher” until maybe 5 years ago when I finally decided life is too short to suffer through books that you are not enjoying.

Why do you read?
For knowledge, for pleasure, to escape, because I love it! I have a friend who said he has never finished a book in his life. I was horrified!

Reader Profile – Hannah Ralston


D7EFB933-16A7-45EA-BFC8-4FAF0FBD0738Hannah Ralston is still relatively new to “libraryland,” having just about 5 years of experience under her belt.  She’s worked in both academic and public libraries, and she considers herself to be the “swing” librarian at Webster (NY) Public Library because she’s happy to assist in the Children’s, Teen or Adult departments (even though technically she’s a grown up librarian – read that as you will). When not at the library, she likes to read. Surprise! She also enjoys yoga, swimming, beach and forest bathing, funny TV shows, and hanging out with her shaggy labradoodle.

Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.
I read all sorts of things and I read them slowly, taking time to absorb and digest, sometimes getting bored, always following my intuition.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve been reading a lot of poetry this year. Right now, I’m reading The Passages of Joy by Thom Gunn. I usually try to read a mix of fiction and non-fiction at the same time (even though fiction is incredibly difficult for me to stay interested in), so I’m also reading Dubliners by James Joyce.

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

  1. The first book I would make sure to have is a Field Guide/Plant Identification book specific to that region.
  2. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  3. Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich
  4. The Complete Tales of Winnie-The-Pooh by A.A. Milne
  5. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

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?

Nope! Life is too short, and there is too much to read waste time on a book you don’t like. I recently quit two popular books:The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. They just weren’t catching my interest. I’ve heard that you should know by page 45 whether or not a book has grabbed you, but I usually give it 70 pages to be more forgiving. I also struggled, really fought with myself, through Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I love poetry, and I wrote a lot in college, but it’s been really disappointing for me to slog through the poetry of my peers. Most millennial poetry seems like quick summaries of notes, jotted onto a legal pad during a therapy session. It’s whiny and aggressive, shallow and unskilled. I understand that it’s opened doors for many non-readers to get into poetry, so I’ll let that be the end of my rant for now.

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

Oh, I know that this is such a bad habit… It’s like the one thing that really makes me feel like I’m sinning as a reader. I do have a little bit of “story anxiety,” so every once in a while I’ll peek at the last line. It’s horrible! I wish I didn’t do it. It usually doesn’t help my nerves in any way! It’s been a while since I’ve done that, but I know my weakness.

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

It depends what type of book they are looking for… I don’t have a go-to author for non-fiction, but I have a few go-to books like The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and Tiny Beautiful Things. For adult fiction, I like to recommend Donna Tartt and Sue Monk Kidd. If a teen or adult is looking to try graphic novels for the first time I’ll recommend Bryan Lee O’Malley. There are just too many great recommendations for kids! It really depends on the request.

What book do you wish you’d never read?

I really felt like Milk and Honey, as mentioned above, was a waste of my time and frustration. I’m also going to go ahead and just say it… I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey, and for me that may have been a life mistake.

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

When I was ten years old, my father read the Chronicles of Narnia to me before bed every night. That was a life changing experience for me. I had always been a strong reader, but these books opened up a whole different world to me. It may have been the stories, or it may have been the time with my dad, but something about that ritual made me a life-long reader.

Describe your favorite place to read.

I will forever prefer to read in bed, which, according to The Atlantic (https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2017/05/reading-in-bed/527388/), is dangerous and “depraved.” What can I say? I like to live on the wild side.

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

I love audiobooks! For the first 2 years that I was working at Webster Public Library, I was commuting from Canandaigua. The long daily drive turned me into a huge fan of the audio format. Surprisingly, I’m not listening to anything right now, but I like to have one audio and one printed book going at the same time when they’re available.

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

I already have some brainstormed! I’ve wanted a Watchmen tattoo ever since I read it about 5 years ago. It would be an owl, with a stopwatch in its talons, and the following quote, which is too long for tattooing: “For you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes… and let’s go home.” Someday I’ll also have a Sylvia Plath tattoo. I’d like a bell jar, but I haven’t decided what I want in it yet. It will be slightly open, hovering above its base, ambiguous as to whether or not it will stay that way.

Reader Profile – Bob Scheffel

2

5A88318B-204C-486D-8011-ACF5C9543FCA

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.

Reader Profile – Shamika Fusco


 

shamikaShamika Fusco was born and raised in Rochester, New York. She is a Children’s Outreach Librarian for the Rochester Public Library. Shamika received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York, College at Brockport in May 2002, with a major in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children. She received her masters degree in Library Information and Science in 2014. She has worked with families and children extensively over the last 25 years.

 


What are you reading now?

Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?

Non-Fiction

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

A person’s a person no matter how small.” Dr.Seuss

This quote is meaningful to me because I feel like we all play a special role in life and it doesn’t matter how big or small we are, we can all contribute and have a purpose.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

I am recommending The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Is there a book you feel is highly overrated?

I feel like the Twilight series is overrated.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? 

Talking Back, Talking Black: Truth About America’s Lingua by John McWhorter

Are there any other books that marked milestones in your life?

Hopefully the one I plan to write one day 🙂

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

I don’t have a specific answer for this question but my overall challenge is the lack of diversity in books, particularly in the area of everyday life. I would love to see books that represent the lives and personalities of African Americans but not always from a “We Shall Overcome” perspective. Our history is extremely important and it is my hope that my grandchildren will have an array of books to choose from that depict all the wonderful things that people of color are capable of.

Do you read with your children? What are some of their favorite books?

Yes but not as often as I should have. We loved the Sandra Boynton Board Book series. I also made it a point to have books that were racially reflective of my household. I always gravitate to African American literature such as Bright Eyes, Brown Skin, Shades of Black and I Love my Hair.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?

Sometimes, mostly my perspective going forth. I may not change my decision but I feel like can respect a broader scope and be humble as well as respectful of the opposed.

Are you a “finisher” or do stop reading a book if you’re not connecting with it?

I will not finish a book if I am disconnected.

Why do you read?

I read mostly for factual and applicable information. I like to read about things that can change my life.

 

Reader Profile – Mr. Book (Jason Vigorito)


2DE33037-EE99-4842-9C22-9BD64A2B5242

Jason Vigorito is a graduate of Penn State University. He is a former bookseller and freelance ghostwriter for clients from Boston to Washington D.C. He is currently a librarian in eastern Pennsylvania, freelance editor, and online manager for a tourist company in Jackson, Wyoming. He’s also helped organize and run eight book clubs, primarily in new York City, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. You can find Jason online as Mr. Book on Facebook and Litsy.

 

What are you reading now?

Bibliomysteries: Stories of Crime in the World of Books and Bookstores,” edited by Otto Penzler. I’m also working through G. K. Chesterton’s “The Complete Father Brown Stories.” And I’m listening on audio to Walter Isaacson’s latest, “Leonardo da Vinci.”

Are you a fiction or non-fiction reader?

I’m both equally. Regarding non-fiction, I have a passion to learn about the world around me in the present and the past, and I love to read the thoughts passed along by great people. Regarding fiction, I thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in the made-up worlds and fantasies of imaginative minds; they reflect reality in poignant ways that non-fiction has difficulty producing.

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

I have two, both from Winnie-the-Pooh. (Sometimes something comes along that lodges in your heart and takes up permanent residence in your brain.)

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love.”

To the former, I have said goodbye to a great many people, and every time I have, I’ve realized how lucky I am to have had our paths cross. To the latter, I’m constantly told I care too much–which seems to fall in line with my philosophy of giving everyone love.

What book would you love to see made into a movie? Who would play the lead role?

The Holy Man,” by Susan Trott. What a unique and mesmerizing movie that would be! The lead role would be played by me in 30 or 35 years, lol–short, unassuming, soft-spoken, and around retirement age.

What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?

With so many forces trying to bring everyone down a notch over the past few years, I think a positive, reflective, encouraging book is in order. I recommend two: “The Magic of Thinking Big,” by Dr. David J. Schwartz; and, for the more creative types, “Art and Fear,” by David Bayles. They will remind you of your intrinsic greatness.

Is there I book you feel is highly overrated?

This one gets tomatoes thrown at me. It’s “American Gods,” by Neil Gaiman: the story, not too bad, but sulky and almost too slapdash; the prose, dull and rudimentary. Granted, this book has been my first foray into Gaiman’s body of work and there is much more to discover, but I’ve been told repeatedly that his stories are magical and prose mesmerizing. Hopefully, AG is an anomaly.

What book changed your life, or changed how you view the world? In what way?

Two years ago, I finished Susan Wise Bauer’s “The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome“. No book has paradigm-shifted how I look at history, current events, and psychology, more than that book. Perhaps it is the macro-outline format, or maybe even that she isn’t a professional historian, but, man, that book brought me to some staggering realizations about civilization and humanity! She’s since written two more volumes up through the Renaissance, and each has solidified what I learned from the first.

Are there any other books that marked milestones in your life?

When I finished “The Count of Monte Cristo” and “Moby-Dick” before I entered high school. From then on, I turned much of my attention to my library’s adult books section. I knew if I could tackle those books and be triumphant, I thought I could handle anything the adults threw at me.

What book challenged you the most when you read it?

Probably the Riverside Shakespeare. It’s Shakespeare.

Does reading influence your decision-making process?

Absolutely. I’m regularly reminded of a book or two in which a similar situation occurred as a situation unfolds before me. Whether it’s self-help books or philosophy or even a thriller. Remember, always ask yourself: What would Reacher do?

Are you a finisher or do you stop reading a book?

I’m obstinate, I intend to finish what I start. I have bailed on books, but less than a handful. Even if I don’t like where a book is going, I learn what I don’t connect with.

Why do you read?

I love imagination, I hold wide wonder about the world, and I can’t stop learning. My brain runs on a V8 engine that doesn’t slow down. Reading is the best fuel for it.

Reader Profile – Pat Rapp

1

FA65079D-59CD-4BD9-AC0F-32449351E2F9Pat Rapp is an avid reader and also spends a lot of time advocating for the Maker movement. She believes art can be used to excite people about science and gives frequent talks on this topic. By day, she works in a public library where she gets to talk to people about what they are reading. Pat is Chair of the Board of Directors of Rochester Makerspace and a co-producer of Rochester Mini Maker Faire. Pat also volunteers for the Burning Man art department each year where she works with artists from around the world to bring their dreams to life.

What are you reading right now? Would you want to visit the setting of this story?
Currently, I’m reading Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith. It’s a nonfiction book about upcoming technology such as cheap, commercialized space travel. Would I want to visit? I’d love to visit the places where this is happening. I visited NASA Ames Research Center a couple of years ago and the sense of innovation and makerism is something I had never experienced. The “Space Shop” is the employee’s makerspace, where everyone – engineers, custodians, techies, security guards, office staff, scientists – is encouraged to use the makerspace because the Ames management believes strongly that “everyone has ideas that can change the world.” I like that. I’d love to visit more innovation hubs.

What’s your preferred choice of reading format? Ebooks, hardcover, paperback? What determines your choice?
Hardcover. Hands down. I’ll read a trade paperback, too, but I love to hold an actual hardcover book in my hands. There’s an odd sense of comfort in that. On a rare occasion, I’ll read an ebook on my phone while I’m in bed. I really dislike the little paperbacks.

What’s at the top of your “To-Be-Read” pile?
I’ve been meaning to get to Robert J. Sawyer’s WWW series for a while now. “Wake” is the next book in my pile. Rob has a sharp insight into near-future trends and his writing is absolutely beautiful. His characters are real, his technology is believable, and his worlds are vivid.

Are there specific titles you go back to again and again? What draws you back?
Yes. I’ve read Frankenstein every ten years since I was 11 years old. It started out as coincidence; I noticed that I’d read it a second time at age 21 and then picked it up again at 31. I discovered that it was increasingly more valuable to me as a reader as I became more mature. It’s an excellent book about loneliness, isolation, and misunderstanding. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend checking it out.

Who would you choose to narrate your favorite book?
I don’t listen to books often. I’m easily distracted and an audiobook usually turns into background noise while my mind wanders. However, I think I could listen to Patrick Stewart and be in awe of his wonderful voice, even if he was just reading his grocery list. So he would definitely be my choice for narrator of any book.

Where do you get your reading recommendations?
I work in a public library. The best recommendations come from our library patrons. One my favorite things about my job is being at the checkout desk when people are returning books. They frequently tell me if they loved it or hated it. I’ll usually write a title down on a scrap paper and stick it in my pocket to add to my list. But sometimes the patron is so excited and animated in their review that I check it out immediately and take it home. This is how I discovered The Rosie Project. The patron was laughing so hard as she described it to me, she had tears in her eyes. And she was right – it was laugh-out-loud funny. The checkout desk is the place to be if you want book recommendations!

Do you have a favorite book that you received as a gift?
Sadly, I almost never receive books as gifts. I guess people assume I will just pick up books at the library. The last book I received as a gift was The Summer of Katya by Trevanian, from my sister, probably twenty years ago. I remember it being a harsh story with strong characters. I love giving favorite books as gifts. For many years, I kept a stash of Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury to randomly give people. It’s a beautiful, nostalgic story of a 12-year-old boy in the summer of 1928. I also love finding a quirky book for someone, like a book of heartbreaking Lithuanian poetry that I found for a friend who likes to refer to himself as a “brooding Lithuanian.” I joined a book group last year, and I discovered a couple of books that may become my go-to gift books: A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds and The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson. Those were probably the best books I read this past year.

Are you a must-finisher or will you quit a book if it’s not resonating with you?
I’m 99% a quitter. Once in a great while I will push through to the end of a book I don’t like — usually if I am obligated because of a book club or a critique group. There are so many great books out there, it doesn’t make sense to spend time on something I’m not enjoying. I’ll usually give a book about three chapters before giving up on it, in case it just has a slow start. I always have a stack of “to be read” books in my house, so if something isn’t resonating with me, I move on to the next one. Life is short and my list of books is long. 😊

Do you judge a book by it’s cover?
I’m drawn to a book based on it’s cover or title. Cover art can be powerful. I’ve discovered some great books simply because the cover caught my eye. Because most of my reading is done with library books, I have the luxury of picking up anything looks even slightly interesting. If I were buying, I’d be more discriminating.

What was your favorite book when you were a child?
I had two favorites that I read over and over. One was a Scholastic book I bought through the school book order form in first grade, called The Man Who Lost His Head by Claire Huchet Bishop. This guy woke up one morning and his head was missing. He walked around town asking people if they’d seen it. Nobody had, but each person was very helpful and gave him substitute heads – a pumpkin, a turnip, a carved wooden head. None of these substitute heads had the bulbous nose and curly hair he was missing. I think I liked that people were so willing to help and so creative in the ways they tried.
My other favorite was The Lonely Doll. As a kid, my dolls were like friends to me with distinct personalities. Knowing that this doll was lonely made me feel almost obligated to check out the book whenever I found it at the library.

Fun fact: I used to go to the old Fairport library on Perrin Street as a kid and I’d go downstairs to the children’s room looking for The Lonely Doll. About 35 years later, while working at the library, this book was on the discard cart. It was headed for the dumpster! I said, “Oh my god! It’s my favorite book! Can I have it?” It’s now on my bookshelf. It might even be the same copy I checked out so many times as a kid.

Is there a book you wish you hadn’t read?
Short answer: No.
Longer answer: I can’t think of a single book where I said to myself, “I wish I hadn’t read that.” Even the assigned reading in school, where I had to push through and finish something I didn’t enjoy, was never a regret. Those books helped me find my voice. They taught me to articulate my opinions.

What book made you laugh out loud? What book made you cry?
As noted above, The Rosie Project made me laugh out loud. It’s a fun book about a guy who I envisioned as very Sheldon Cooper-ish, looking for a wife. I don’t remember specific details, but I remember that I did actually laugh out loud throughout the book.
There are so many books that brought out the tears for me. I’m easily swayed, emotionally, by books with vivid characters in crisis, but they don’t need to be sad stories. Sometimes just the beauty of a well written book can cause me to tear up. Dandelion Wine, mentioned above, is one of those. It’s nostalgic and beautiful and makes my heart ache for the simplicity of being 12 years old on a hot summer day.

Are there books that mark milestones in your life? What are they?
Other than my rereading of Frankenstein, I don’t think any books have purposely marked milestones for me. I have gone through various reading phases over the years, though. As a teenager I was drawn to strange books by authors like Philip K. Dick and Poe. When I worked downtown, I read short stories on the bus to work. As a stay at home mom with the luxury of kids napping, I alternated between science fiction and literary classics. I went through a phase where I read nothing but mysteries when I was trying to tighten up the plotlines in my own writing. I’ve spent a large chunk of time reading technology, science, math, and business-oriented books. Non-fiction has been a big focus for several years now. However, the book club I joined last year reminded me how much I love good fiction, too. I expect my next phase to be a fiction-based one.

What book changed your life?
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. I learned about Randy Pausch through a friend who had worked with him on his ETC project and I became of fan of his work at Carnegie Mellon in the field of virtual reality and world-building. I watched his last lecture several months before his death and I began following his blog. His outlook on life was inspiring, particularly his desire to use his work to “enable the dreams of others,” which really resonates with me with regard to the volunteer work I’ve pursued. The book was published shortly before he died and it expands on this lecture. It’s a tiny little book with a powerful, heart wrenching hit. The Last Lecture is an excellent example of a life well-lived. The book is a reminder that life is short. We need to be having fun in our work; we need to be kind and encouraging to others; we need to laugh, and we need to love deeply.

Reader Profile – Maria Thomas Fisher


maria fisher

Maria Thomas Fisher is currently the Chief of staff for the Rochester & Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation. She is the host of the radio show “Still I Rise” on WAYO 104.3 FM, and has worked for the City of Rochester, Rochester City School District, and Rochester Regional Health. Maria is a strong advocate for libraries and a Reader with a capital R!

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

I’m a non-fiction reader and library fanatic who thinks the stories of real people are the most captivating.

What are you reading right now?

I just started reading Gold from the Well. It’s the story of Jocelyn “Josh” Apo and details his journey as a Haitian refugee. Josh survived 17 days crossing the ocean in a flimsy raft in order to make a better life for himself. Josh is now a beloved custodian at Pittsford Central School District. My family came to this country as refugees after surviving a Nazi slave labor camp. Because of their experience, I’m moved deeply by stories of survival and the positive impact refugees have on our communities.

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

The Cuckoo’s Egg by Clifford Stoll
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamont
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Half the Sky by Nicolas Kristoff & Sheryl WuDunn
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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?

I’m more of a delayed finisher. I’ve been working on a doctorate over the last few years and just get so busy sometimes that it can take me a long time to finish a book. If I’m really bored with a book I don’t mind stopping. There are too many great books still to read for me to spend time reading a book that doesn’t interest me. I did force myself to finish reading the book Kindred Spirits which was part of a work reading group. I was bored with it from the beginning and that never changed.

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

I would never read the end of the book first. I love the element of surprise and enjoy not knowing the ending. Plus, I would feel too guilty.

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

A Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

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

Lately, I recommend Ta-Nehesi Coates. He’s an incredibly powerful author.

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

I would definitely rather be an author. I like to write and the idea that my writing could move people would be a dream for me.

​What book do you wish you’d never read?

There isn’t a book I read that I regret. However, I am really glad I’ve never read any of the 50 Shades books. They sound dreadful.

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

I found Animal Farm to be a powerful, impactful read when I was young and have reread it numerous times. As a young person, it helped me relate to my family’s experiences of living in Ukraine under the Stalinist regime. Obviously, Animal Farm was based in part on Stalin. There are so many powerful words in the book that I still remember “Four legs good, two legs bad.” “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” Every time I read the book I am reminded that it is my job to speak for the voiceless and fight for the rights of the vulnerable. It’s very easy to marginalize certain groups of people, just like my family was marginalized. We must always stay vigilant. Everyone should read this book more than once.

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

I absolutely hate romance novels and romantic comedies for that matter. I find grand romantic gestures boring in novels. I would much rather have someone who picks up my prescriptions and puts gas in my car than a room filled with candles and roses any day. Romance novels just feel so unrealistic. My favorite writing on love was oddly in the classic children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit. I love the part where the horse tells the rabbit that being real happens when someone loves you not just to play with but really loves you – then you become real. And most of us don’t become real until we’ve lost our hair and we’re loose in the joints. That writing is so powerful for a children’s book and I’m moved to tears every time I read those lines. Romance novels never scratch the surface of real love.

Describe your favorite place to read.

Libraries are my absolutely favorite places to read. We didn’t have much money as a child and my mom would bring me to the library at least three times a week. I never felt poor at the library. At the library, I had the same access to resources as anyone else. I instantly feel at home as soon as I walk in the door of a library. The Irondequoit Library is especially impressive. There are lots of nice, comfy quiet spaces and it’s just a very lovely building. In addition, librarians are about the coolest people in the world.

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

I prefer books to movies. Books can go into in depth character detail that movies can’t. I also like that you can use your imagination in books. It isn’t a movie, but I prefer the TV show Orange is the New Black to the book. A significant reason for this is because the actresses on the show are spectacular. Also, the show has had multiple seasons and has gone beyond the stories in the book. I like that the TV show goes into great detail telling each women’s story when the book was focused on Piper’s story.

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

I only read hardcover and paperback books. There is a satisfaction I get from holding a book and turning pages that I could never get from an audio book. Since I started volunteering with people who are visually impaired, I’ve realized how important it is to have audio books available in order to increase access to books to everyone.

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

I would get the quote. “Books are the best weapon in the world. Arm yourself!” (from a Dr. Who episode).