Erin Kernohan-Berning, Branch Services Librarian: Hello, I’m Erin Kernohan-Berning from the Haliburton County Public Library and this is Library Moments. Once a week some of us from the library will come and talk about books, upcoming events, or the services we offer at the library.
People have raved about it, it’s been on Oprah’s Book Club, or the New York Times Best Seller List, or it’s a timeless classic, one of the top ten books that everyone must read, a friend presses her well loved copy into your hand to borrow, you’ve excitedly checked it out of the library. You get that book home, make yourself comfortable in your favourite chair, and halfway through chapter one you come to the horrifying realization that you are never ever going to finish this book.
This edition of Library Moments is all about the one that got away. Today Bessie Sullivan, Sherrill Sherwood and I will tell you about books we’ve given up on.
Bessie Sullivan, County Librarian: In 1999 Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible came out. Everyone read it and loved it. The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it — from garden seeds to Scripture — is somehow changed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family’s tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. I did not love this book and only managed a few chapters before I put it down. What was it that bothered me? I have to conclude that a story told by five people is just too many voices for me. I just had too much difficulty keeping the story straight of each character. Reading is so personal that sometimes something as simple as the number of characters can change how you feel about a book. It is just as valuable when choosing a book to know what you don’t as well as what you do like. Strangely enough, reading something you don’t like helps you find books that you are sure to enjoy moving forward.
Sherrill Sherwood, Collections Development: You know a book is well written when the words transport you to another place and time, you are immersed in the story and when you look up, it takes a minute to come back to reality. The memory and feeling of the atmosphere, the people and their joys or troubles, stay with you long after. This did happen to me with Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden. The problem was, and still is, I don’t want to be in a canoe going down a river for three days with an elderly lady and her drug addicted nephew who has just come back from World War 1 with horrific memories of the killing fields. “Let me out” I thought and happily I could do just that by closing the book so I didn’t have to continue. The summary of Three Day Road reads; It is 1919, and Niska, the last Oji-Cree woman to live off the land, has received word that one of the two boys she saw off to the Great War has returned. Xavier Bird, her sole living relation, is gravely wounded and addicted to morphine. As Niska slowly paddles her canoe on the three-day journey to bring him home, travelling through the stark but stunning landscape of Northern Ontario, their respective stories emerge—stories of Niska’s life among her kin and of her nephew’s horrifying experiences in the war.
Erin: There are many reasons why one would think I’d make an excellent Hobbit. My short and stocky stature, my affinity for a comfortable existence with a reluctant willingness for adventure, I even took a couple of Old English courses in University – something J.R.R. Tolkien himself studied along with Anglo Saxon culture, both of which heavily influenced his works. Between documentaries about the books, books about the books, and the movie adaptations of the books, I know a great deal about The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s world of Middle Earth. But here’s the thing, I never have finished The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and I’ve never even made it through The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book. Rather, I’ve remained stuck in the Old Forest, only ever reaching the point where our intrepid Hobbits meet Tom Bombadil. While I would desperately like to complete The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, I feel like there is just too much other stuff for me to read out there, and that Tolkien’s work – while excellently written as far as I’ve read – might just be biting off more than I have been able to chew. Perhaps one day I will find myself with the time to devote to Frodo Baggins and his great adventure.
Thank-you for not giving up on us at Library Moments, here on 100.9 Canoe FM.
*Originally aired on 100.9 CANOE FM, June 8th – 14th, 2014.