New Treasure: Allison of Piling on the Books
I had the great pleasure of interviewing Allison of Piling on the Books, a new to me blogger who I never meet before. I had fun perusing her blog and coming up with questions to ask her and learn more about her.
Your blog is 95% about books with enticing little tidbits here and there about your education in Library Science. What made you decide to pursue being a librarian?
I'm that girl, you know, the one who, when you ask her questions, is always like, "Hmm. I don't know... let me look it up for you!" I love answering questions, and I especially love it when those answers take some effort. I thought it might be nice to make a career out of it!
Are you almost done with your classes?
I am all done! I got my degree about three weeks ago and am doing that looking-for-a-job thing that is so difficult these days. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Yeah! Congratulations. What an awesome accomplishment. What did you discover about yourself while pursuing your degree?
I really like working with people. At first, I thought I'd go into some obscure area of librarianship that involves living in a basement, but as I took different classes I realized that I love the challenge of dealing with the public -- the nice people, the mean people, even the really weird people.
We all have those dreams of the perfect job, the perfect place to live. What would your dream library look like, where would it be located and how would you make it so enticing, everyone will only want to use your library?
Oooh. Okay, my dream library would be very much like the Cleveland Public Library or other old public research libraries, all marble and fancy staircases and giant windows. It would be in a bustling downtown area, but not too big of one, like Portland, OR. People would love my library because I'd stock it full of librarians who read zillions of books and are ready with a suggestion any time someone walks in, and who know the reference collection (print and electronic) well enough to make sure everyone can find the answers to their questions. Now, if only I had a few million dollars or so to make that happen...
Do you keep a personal library of books or get all your books through the library. If you do have a personal library, how many books do you have and what makes you decide to keep a book versus checking it out?
I read almost all of my books through the library. I generally only buy books that I've read and loved, though I am a sucker for a used book store or library book sale. I just moved, too, so I had to really decide what books to keep -- I ended up getting rid of at least two-thirds of the books that were in my house. My process for that is basically, "Will I read this again? If not, will I want to have it to lend out to people? If not, what is this doing on my bookshelf?" It's a pretty solid system!
How old were you when you first started reading and do you remember the name of the first book you read?
I'm not sure... I think I was probably about three years old when I started reading. My mother has told me that when I started reading books out loud to them, they thought I had just memorized the stories they had told me, until one day they gave me a new book and I read it just fine! I don't know what books those were, though. The first book I can remember reading is probably a Baby-Sitter's Club book... I was obsessed with those from about kindergarten to fifth grade.
You seem to be a very eclectic reader like me. What draws your attention to a book - word of mouth, the cover, book bloggers, favorite authors.
These days, I generally end up reading books that I've seen on other blogs, or that have been recommended by friends, but only if they sound good -- which could mean a lot of things! Covers and titles are attractive, too, but I have to see a good blurb. What usually attracts me is a story that seems reasonable and straightforward, but has something a little different about it, whether it's a story about time-travelling and literary detectives (the Thursday Next series) or a story about being a teenager and growing up... with a grandmother obsessed with Buckminster Fuller (The House of Tomorrow).
Who are your favorite authors? Those that you'll read their books no matter what they write.
Jasper Fforde. I love him. He writes the aforementioned Thursday Next series, which has a new book coming out in March, and a series about detectives who investigate crimes based on nursery rhymes and who are nursery rhyme characters themselves, and a series about a world in which everyone's life is determined based on the colors they can see, and he's got a kids' book coming out in November and I don't even really know what it is but if it's in my library I will read it. There are some other authors whose books I am always willing to give a chance, at some point, but Fforde's are the ones that I must absolutely read as soon as I can find them.
What made you decide to start blogging about books?
Four years ago, I thought it would be a good idea to read all of Shakespeare's plays during my summer break from undergrad. I'm not sure what odd part of my brain thought up this plan, but it did, and I set up a little hand-coded web page to track my progress. I, um, started The First Part of King Henry VI, and that was it, but I did note that I read seven other books -- all from the children's section. Shakespeare, I was not cut out for. But I had fun keeping track, so I did it again in 2007, and 2008, and by then I had graduated and started a job (I miss having a job) and discovered book blogs and figured it wouldn't be a terrible idea to keep track of my reading year-round. So I did. Good story. :)
Which book bloggers would you say have influenced you the most?
All of them, really. When I was keeping track of books on my hand-coded pages, I kept the reviews short and sweet, but with the real blog thing I wanted to be a little more... useful... but I wasn't sure how. So I read lots of book blogs and I adapted some styles from them and I'm still doing that -- I am constantly looking for ways to improve my usefulness!
Thank you so much Allison and it has been a pleasure getting to now a bit more about you. Now we know who to come to with our research questions! :) Good luck with your job search - we'll all be keeping our fingers crossed. Be sure to drop by Allison's blog and say hello.