Wednesday, July 20, 2016
A volunteer I am very friendly with asked me for a book recommendation. We were in the back room of the library with at least a minimum amount of time to attack the problem thoroughly, so I enthusiastically committed. I would find him a book to read or give up library work forever!
I asked a few questions about his reading tastes. In addition to what I knew about him I found that he liked books he could learn from. My favorite book this year so far has been Walkable City, a fascinating tour of urban planning and design. It's about what makes cities livable and appealing, the horrible ways we've messed it up, and the clever things cities have been and are starting to do. He loved it. It sounded great!
We didn't have it.
We only have one copy, and because I've been so fanatically recommending it it's checked out!
Fine. How about that charming book about the guy who decided to try and live off of wild harvested food, It's Only Slow Food Until You Try to Eat It? Charming, funny, illuminating, and with the magical good fortune any kind of bookumentary needs: momentous, life changing events coming along as he's writing the book. They even come along because he's writing the book.
Okay. No problem. How about H is for Hawk. I read it early this year, beautifully written, very int... OH! He's already sold on it. He heard something about this one. He wants this H is for Hawk. It sounds great!
It is checked out with a small waiting list.
I refuse to speak ill of the librarians, except, well, this is their fault!
No problem. My volunteering friend leaks more information. He likes Young Adult fiction. Ha. Why didn't you say so. Wee Free Men. Charming! Clever! Great-Hearted! Wise! He doesn't usually like fantasy, but this sounds appealing.
We don't have a copy at this library.
Oh, glorious teen librarian, star in our librarian firmament, oh, alas, hang your head in shame today, no Wee Free Men? Well, no problem, you can't win them all. I'm sure he's working on resolving this issue.
Anyway, onto the next one. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I don't even ask if my volunteering friend is interested now. I just look it up in the catalog to see that we have no copies checked in.
The volunteer says "Maybe I should just go ask in the teen room. They're good with recommendations."
Even now this statement hurts me in ways it is difficult to communicate. I pretend he hasn't said anything, which he surely wouldn't have had he been thinking clearly.
As I inquire about mysteries and begin to suggest Rex Stout he says he wants a sweet book. Some difficult, mortal things have recently transpired in his life, and he needs something on the gentle side.
A gentle book of sweetness.
What's with the trickle of information? But, okay.
Danny Champion of the World. By Roald Dahl. Easy.
It's in the kids' room. The juvenile fiction and our kids' room come through! It's actually there!
Is there a mistake?
Is a chapter missing? No.
So then, is my volunteer friend happy with my choice?
I don't know. He graciously took my book, but I might've seen him heading off for the teen desk.
I should have tried harder.