Broaden Your Literary Horizons

I read a bit of everything. I am not overly fond of non-fiction, but I will pick up the occasional memoir, biography, historical or self-help book. I also dabble in science fiction and fantasy from time to time, but neither is my favorite genre, or category, of books. My husband on the other hand, only reads from a very limited selection. If it has anything to do with airplanes or the military, he is there. I think he finally got tired of all the non-fiction military history I checked out for him. My brother got him hooked on the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher. I used them as a jumping off place to expand into other fantasy writers, which has been successful. I can also slide in the occasional mystery.

For those of you who are not married to a library employee, I wanted to offer some tips to help you to read outside your comfort zone and explore the wide world of books.

Join a Book Club – I have discovered some of my favorite books through my book clubs (I belong to two personal book clubs and lead two book clubs at the Florence branch – Mondays 4 Mystery and Best of the Best.) The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls and Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik are the top two books I found this way. One of my book clubs is named Happy Housewives Drinking Wine in honor of the second book.

Try a Book In a Different Style By a Favorite Author – J.K. Rowling is, of course, best known for the Harry Potter series. The detective series she writes under Robert Galbraith is excellent and there is not a single wizard in evidence. Another example is Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels. As Peters, she writes the Amelia Peabody Egyptology mysteries. Her books written under Michaels contain gothic and supernatural themes. J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts writes crime thrillers and romance respectively.

Try a Sub-Genre of a New Genre – If you like history, try a historical fiction fantasy. Replace your modern action/adventure novel with a western. If you tend to read about love, look for a historical romance.

Time Travel With Your Favorite Genre – For romance, try Jane Austen, adventure – H.G. Wells, horror – Robert Louis Stephenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Read Your Favorite Author’s Favorite Books – George R.R. Martin loved The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien when he read it in junior high, however, he also liked Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Gillian Flynn’s picks include And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie and The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer. Erik Larson loves The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett.

Browse the Library Stacks – The funniest book I have ever read was Forrest Gump by Winston Groom. I just stumbled across it one day many years ago when I was wondering through the Lents Branch.

Ask Someone to Pick a Book For You – Last Christmas my then 19-year-old son asked his uncle to buy him a book he thought he should read. My brother chose Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, a book on the Battle of Thermopylae and one of the best books he has ever read.

Try a Reading Challenge – You can find all kinds of lists on the Internet that include instructions like read a biography, a classic, a young adult book, a humorous book, a book based on a true story and a self-improvement book. Pick and choose as you see fit.

Read a Banned Book – The list includes: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren, Sophie’s Choice by William Styron and The Lord of the Flies by William Golding, just to name a few.

Request Recommendations From an Older/Younger Relative

Ask a Friend/Significant Other What Book They Would Be Surprised to See You Reading

Try an Audiobook – I used to think I didn’t like audiobooks. Then a tried a few on trips and really enjoyed being entertained as I drove. If you don’t want to commit to reading a different kind of hard copy book, just pop in the audiobook as you drive, walk the dog or exercise.

No matter what you choose to read, remember, life is too short to read a bad book. If it doesn’t grab you, move on and find the next challenge. Happy reading!

A Circulation Assistant at the Florence Branch, Suzanne Yowler started her career in journalism and public relations. She established her free-lance writing business after her first son was born 20 years ago. An avid reader, Suzanne is always on the lookout for a good book.

100 HBO Videos you can stream for free with your library card

Access Video on Demand just added over 100 HBO Documentaries to our streaming video collection. Type in your library card number and check out the complete list of new titles, or get started with one of these five Library staff picks:

1. Six by Sondheim
“Everybody has problems. Nobody goes through life unscathed, and I think if you write about those things, you’re going to touch people,” says Stephen Sondheim at the start of Six by Sondheim, an intimate look into his long and prolific career creating ground-breaking work that has redefined the musical theater. Directed by award-winning Broadway director and playwright James Lapine, and predominantly told by Sondheim himself, this 84-minute film weaves together dozens of interviews of Sondheim, conducted throughout his illustrious career. Archival performances of Sondheim classics by stars like Bernadette Peters and Ethel Merman are interspersed with new performances produced exclusively for this feature documentary, showcasing such stars as Audra McDonald, Darren Criss and America Ferrera. Blending theatrical footage with rare interview footage and Sondheim’s candid anecdotes, the film underscores Sondheim’s unique, conversational songwriting style, and focuses on Sondheim’s experiences writing six songs: “Something’s Coming,” “Opening Doors,” “Send in the Clowns,” “I’m Still Here,” “Being Alive” and “Sunday.” Art and life are intertwined for Sondheim, and Six by Sondheim is a story of both.

Six by Sondheim


2. Heroin: Cape Cod, USA
Twenty years after his groundbreaking Emmy®-nominated film Black Tar Heroin: The Dark End of the Street, which chronicled three years in the lives of five young heroin addicts in San Francisco’s Tenderloin, Academy Award®- winning filmmaker Steven Okazaki turns his focus to America’s current opiate-addiction crisis with Heroin: Cape Cod, USA. This 76-minute film takes an unsparing look at the lives of several young people in their early 20s gripped by heroin addiction, living a seemingly endless existence of getting high while cycling through stages of rehab, recovery and relapse. The film also chronicles the impact of the crisis on the community of Cape Cod, a picturesque summer destination known for its quaint villages, lighthouses and beaches – but with an epidemic of young people addicted to cheap, easily-acquired heroin, whose addictions are often the result of being prescribed opiate pain medication after an accident or surgery. Following several subjects who talk candidly about their heroin habits, as well as parents struggling to understand how their children got to this point, Heroin: Cape Cod, USA is an unflinching examination of the heroin crisis in one New England community – where there are few answers and fewer happy endings.

Heroin: Cape Cod, USA


3. Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House
Directed by award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy, Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House profiles the iconic journalist, a legend in political reporting, who has covered the White House and every president since John F. Kennedy. In this 38-minute film, Thomas, now in her 80s and as sharp as ever, sits down for a one-on-one interview in which she reflects on her storied career, the distinct personalities and foibles of the presidents she has covered, as well as some of the scandals that have rocked the White House over the years. Supplemented by clips of Thomas in action, plus archival photos and footage, the film offers a rare glimpse of a veteran member of the White House Press Corps, who was one of only a handful of female correspondents when she began covering the presidency in the 1960s. Idolized by many and despised by some, Thomas is without a doubt a determined and steadfast journalist, who maintains the utmost respect for the office of the presidency, while knowing it is her job to ask the tough questions.

Thank You, Mr. President: Helen Thomas at the White House


4. Mondays at Racine
Directed by Oscar®-winner Cynthia Wade, Mondays at Racine tells the uplifting story of Rachel Demolfetto and Cynthia Sansone, two sisters who do their part in the fight against cancer by providing free beauty treatments – hair, makeup, manicures and pedicures – to cancer patients at their salon every month. The sisters have a personal motivation in offering such treatments: they watched their mother grow reclusive and depressed after being diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1980s. Now, they own a beauty salon called Racine in Long Island, NY, which they open free of charge to women with cancer once a month on Mondays. Their goal: to give cancer patients a sense of normalcy and beauty, and in doing so, combat the fear that accompanies the disease. Airing during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this 39-minute documentary profiles several of Racine’s regulars, many of whom wake up with the clumps of hair on their pillow, a symbol of the hair loss caused by chemotherapy. Without hair, “you feel like you’re being erased,” one woman offers. Cancer can rob many women of their ability to feel like the person they once were, but Cynthia and Rachel are determined to help, with a little bit of blush and a lot of handholding.

Mondays at Racine


5. An Apology to Elephants
Elephants are among the Earth’s most majestic and intelligent creatures – but for hundreds of years, they have suffered under the hands of humans. We have poached them for their tusks, chained them up in captivity, and destroyed their natural habitats. Narrated and executive produced by Oscar® nominated actress Lily Tomlin and directed and produced by Emmy® winner Amy Schatz, An Apology to Elephants is an HBO family documentary that illustrates how elephants live in the wild – from their matriarchal structure to their truly impressive memories – and examines the problems and issues that arise when they are brought to live in captivity in zoos and circuses. This film traces our long history with elephants and features beautiful nature footage, juxtaposed with disturbing behind-the-scenes video of the cruel ways that circuses break down elephants’ spirits in order to get them to perform. The film also shows how people have been striving to spread awareness and improve the conditions for the scores of elephants still living in North America.

An Apology to Elephants

–Emily

Emily Kean is the Digital Services Librarian at Boone County Public Library and the consortium administrator for Kentucky Libraries Unbound. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky School of Information Science and has managed electronic resources in special and public libraries for over ten years.