In this special episode of the ReadICT Podcast, hosts Sara Dixon and Daniel Pewewardy celebrate the joy of rereading your favorite books, and with the help of the wonderful library staff here at Wichita Public Library, have many great recommendations to share with all you fellow book lovers! To share this book love, they talk with Director of Libraries Jaime Nix for a fun and candid discussion about their love of books, libraries and of course, what their favorite book to reread is!
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DANIEL, VOICEOVER: Welcome to another episode of Read. Return. Repeat. : A ReadICT Podcast.
SARA, VOICEOVER: We know we said that our next episode would be about category 6, a book about mythology or folk tales, but you'll have to wait until next month for that one because today we are celebrating re-reading our favorite books which is also category 7.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: What is so special about this category is that it gets to the heart of the ReadICT reading challenge. According to Pew Institute study, a quarter of adults have not read a book in any format in the last year.
SARA, VOICEOVER: Reading is incredibly important it gives us the chance to view the world through the eyes of characters from diverse backgrounds and experience places of the world we might not otherwise have the chance to experience. So today we're going to celebrate our whole ReadICT community, our library staff, and our shared love of reading.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: Our guest today is Wichita Public Library director Jaime Prothro and we're going to hear from our staff on which books they love to read over again.
SARA, VOICEOVER: I am jazzed about today's episode. Can you tell? It's like a party but in a podcast.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: Or not. I'm Daniel Pewewardy.
SARA, VOICEOVER: And I'm Sara Dixon. And before we welcome Jaime, let's hear from a couple of our staff members on what books they love to reread.
LENA: Hi, my name is Lena. I'm a youth services librarian at the Alford and Walters branches. My favorite book to reread is Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo because the characters and setting are fascinating and I catch something new each time I read or listen to it.
COLLEEN: I'm Colleen. I'm a senior library assistant at the Rockwell branch. I'm currently re-reading Lincoln by David Herbert Donald. Considered one of the best single volume biographies on Abraham Lincoln, what I like best about this book is Donald's straightforward and very human portrayal of Lincoln. It is Lincoln with the myth stripped away.
SARA: Thanks, Jaime, for joining us. This is going to be so fun. We're excited to interview you. So let's get started. Can you tell us a little bit about your background and your journey to becoming a library director?
JAIME PROTHRO: I never thought that I would be a library director, just start with that. I started working in public libraries when I was 17 so a senior in high school. Lucky job at the Emporia Public Library. It was before the internet so we were using old school technology, ka-thunk ka-thunk with the little pockets and due date cards and I was a mad alphabetizer at that point. Also had really great biceps from shelving books. That's a really physical job if nobody ever thought about it.
JAIME: I know, right? I think... so I... when I started college, I also needed... I was paying for life and things so I had a part-time job at the public library and also worked part-time at the university library at Emporia State and got to feel kind of the difference between public environment and academic and that's... public is definitely where my soul is at. So you know, I tried different industries: bookstores, a law firm as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up because I was going to write poetry and that's a lucrative career. But I kept finding myself back in libraries, specifically public libraries and decided that really this is where I'm at. I'm a much more attuned and attentive reader than I am a writer. So you know, kind of keeping in that spectrum but came back and went to Emporia State, got my master's degree and I've held a number of positions. Ironically, I've never held the job classification as librarian.
DANIEL: Oh wow.
JAIME: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So I was in paraprofessional jobs until I became a branch manager. And I mean at that point I'm doing reference and reader services and collection development and things that librarians do but I've never had that on my name badge. So just continue to work and I think, you know for me, working in a public library, it is incredibly diverse. So many different experiences, can't make up the stories of what happens on a daily basis in a library. I think that it's the place for everybody in a community to be is the coolest thing in the world. What we want to do is... is increase access and availability of... of the things that can change people's lives and that's what happens inside of books.
SARA: I feel like you're speaking with kindred... kindred spirits and there's something that drives us all to become librarians and work in the library field and I feel like we all kind of feel that way so...
DANIEL: Since librarianship is so much more than reading and books, can you tell our listeners about what being a library director entails?
JAIME: Yeah. I think what I'm discovering -- I'm in my seventh month but I have worked in library administration for the last 20 years -- as a library director, really my vision has to be long-term. It needs to be 5, 10, 15 years out and it's completely committed to making sure that the library, while I'm caring for the institution during this time in my career, that it has a life that exceeds anything that I'm able to do. So I try to really focus on the quality of service that we're delivering. In addition, my job is a lot about partnerships and cultivating relationships because libraries don't do anything on their own. We're part of the collective impact of any community and helping improve the quality of life of our community members. So with that and with the long tail in investments comes fiscal responsibilities. And so paying attention to our City budget -- because we're a department of the City of Wichita -- but we also get funding through the generosity of donations that come through our Friends support group as well as our foundation and grants and just opportunities that come up.
I think part of my job as a library director is to ensure that the team of staff -- who's like the greatest resource in any library -- it's about the connections that we have with people and our knowledge and ability to navigate people to their information or reading needs, so it's... it's all about making sure that the staff have the resources and the training and support and really the enthusiasm to keep them going and doing the great work that manifests on a day-to-day basis as we help people. I think in addition, a library director, while it is a large and incredible responsibility and it weighs every single day because I mean there are still open questions out in the universe about why do libraries exist if we have Google, part of my job is creating that story, that values story about how... what would the world look like without its public library, what would reading look like, what would students' lives be look like, what would families look like without their library? And it would be really sad. So part of my job is to create the stories that show the value of what we do on an individual basis.
SARA: I like that a lot. Well, I like it because it supports what we do.
DANIEL: Yeah, that's the interesting thing about Google like people don't really think of that being like actually a profit-driven, ad-based search engine and it's like you're not going to get the best results, like have you tried buying concert tickets off Google?
JAIME: Oh, good luck.
SARA: You have to go like at least five, even going to a local venue, like five results down before you even hit the local venue.
DANIEL: That's crazy.
JAIME: Mm-hmm, that is crazy.
DANIEL: How has librarianship changed your perception of the importance of reading -- or working in libraries since you've never had that title?
SARA: Yeah, good point.
JAIME: So working in libraries, it takes it out of... for me, it takes it out of being a personal experience as a reader, right? Every book I read, I have a unique... my own lens, my own like way of thinking. And what it does is it basically takes it out of the personal and puts it into the collective. I think part of... there was something I read. I remember working at the Minisa library. One of our staff members put in front of me like our policy manual. I was just starting and like get oriented to our policies and I read the Freedom to Read statement which is adopted from the American Library Association. And there are so many things within that statement that gave me goosebumps, one of which was like this is a place where judgment doesn't happen so anything you want to read is a good thing to read. And that that lofty elitism of classics versus not, pulp, I don't know, I mean that... that was something that was like, I fully embrace that and whatever anybody wants, we're able to help them navigate.
I think even within that statement too, it talks about the power of reading as being essential to our democracy and that is critical. That means all things need to be written so that they can be read because that's embraced in our Constitution. I think the last thing that I want to kind of... just kind of to tie that up too, part of the... the statement talks about like the... to counter a bad idea, you get a good idea, right? To approach a bad book, you get a good book. And so what this is saying to me is that there isn't any... that it's always a personal journey, essentially. Not every book has... is for every reader, but... but the answer and the anecdote for things that are challenging you or that you disagree with is to keep searching and keep reading.
SARA: I love it.
DANIEL: That's an awesome answer, it's great.
SARA: But also for our listeners, you know, if you are holding on to that book that is the classic literature that's very intimidating, that is another one of our categories and you can stay tuned because we will have an episode planned where we'll dive into... to those books a little bit.
DANIEL: The classics!
SARA: The classics, the intimidating books.
Jaime, now you've lived a few different places now, both here in Kansas, you came over from Washington state. How has the geography if at all changed what kind of books you like to read? Like do you like to read things when you're living here, you're all you know Willa Cather and John Steinbeck whereas on the... the west coast I don't even know what you would read?
DANIEL: Or even like the weather, right? It rains out in the Pacific Northwest and here, who knows what's gonna happen?
JAIME: Right, right? Yeah, I think, you know, place is always like an important driver for like stories, right? I will say the... because I grew up in Kansas and so I think a lot of the books that are written by Kansans about Kansas, you know, I kind of grew up with them so when I moved to the Pacific Northwest, it was... it was a very different landscape. It looks prehistoric. I mean, just the green and the moss and the forest and the mountains and the rivers and the ocean.
SARA: I want to go to there.
JAIME: Yes please. But I think, you know, I mean that... that sense of place described in fiction for example David Guterson or any Stephenie Meyer, the Twilight series, right? I think it definitely creates like a sense of place for sure.
SARA: I love the books where the setting is almost an entire character in the book so --
DANIEL: I've learned the term psycho geography in relation to writing and like places and how --
JAIME: That's interesting.
DANIEL: Yeah, it's like a thing that you see in like horror movies a lot, like they about the psycho geography.
JAIME: Oh, that's interesting. Yeah, I think one thing that I deliberately read books written by Pacific Northwest authors primarily to get a better grounding of history of the community and then also the culture. Even though we're in the same United States, Kansas is very different than and so kind of understanding people a little bit more through their stories creates empathy and knowledge.
SARA: Yeah, absolutely.
DANIEL: So we're just getting started. Let's take a short break and here's some more from our library staff.
BRIAN: Hi, my name is Brian. I am a clerk at Westlink. One of my favorite books to re-read is The Chosen by Chaim Potok because the character development is great and the characters' devotion to the studies, each other, families and religious beliefs is shown in great details. The struggle of these teenagers as they grow up is also inspiring. Chaim Potok is a very descriptive writer.
KATRINA: Hello, my name is Katrina. I'm the youth services librarian at the Rockwell branch library. My favorite book to reread is Written in Red by Anne Bishop. Quite frankly, the whole Others series is worth re-reading multiple times. No matter what mood you're in, there is something to enjoy in this well laid out urban fantasy that has humor, horror, a realistically developed romantic relationship that takes several books to really solidify -- and if you're in the mood for it -- some subtle commentary on humanity's relationship with the natural world. Now, if you aren't in the mood for that, you can still really enjoy the satisfying way that shifters, vampires, and elementals make pretty much literal mincemeat out of some really bad people.
MARK: I'm Mark from the Evergreen branch library. The book I'm rereading this year is No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I read nonfiction for pleasure. This Pulitzer Prize-winning work is about one of the most revolutionary periods in our history. It's an intimate portrait of Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt and of the period in time which a new modern America was born.
SARA: Okay, we're back. Let's talk more with Jaime Prothro about fostering love of reading. Because that's really important and that's one of the reasons that we're here today to talk about rereading our favorite books.
So Jaime, do you ever find yourself rereading a book when the next one in a series is coming out or like if you need to refresh yourself on that story? And if so, what series makes you do that?
JAIME: I would have to say the Louise Penny Three Pines series. Oh my goodness, you guys, I just read... I read the first one, Still Life, it wasn't that long ago, maybe five years ago and just drank it in. And I know that I read it so fast that I didn't... I didn't absorb all of it because I was just so enthralled, right? So I felt like I ate it really, really fast. But I think as the newer books were released, I did refresh myself a little bit more. I tend... because rereading takes time, right, and there are so many books to read, I... as far as series goes, my approach is more to like kind of go back to the internet and the author's webpage and kind of just remind myself of where we were at or where the characters kind of left off or some of the struggles that they were having. I think often too I rely on the newest book to give me that little bit of recap at the beginning. I think that's a really amazing author writing device to make sure that everybody stays... stays in the flow.
SARA: And you want to talk about a book that has setting as a character, those Louise Penny books.
SARA: I really only read the one but it stayed with me.
DANIEL: Have you ever found yourself giving a book a second chance, like you hated it in school but later revisited and loved it? And how do your life experiences impact how you feel about certain books at certain times?
JAIME: Yeah. I think probably the thing that I've read and given a second chance, it was actually something I read as an adult and I had chosen it to do a book talk. And you know, just... I picked Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I was so like I was so wanting to love this. I wanted to love it so much that I committed to giving a book talk about it before I even read it, like that was a lesson. Because as I was reading it, I just... I couldn't. I couldn't get in, I couldn't, I tried to like reposition my thoughts. I actually watched The Wizard of Oz thinking that that would inspire my reading and I got three-quarters of the way through it and I actually chose to like stop reading it and to confess to the people I was presenting to like I can't, I personally can't recommend this but the concept of the book is so enthralling. I did come back to it a couple of years ago. I was telling my daughter about it. I was like, you know, there's this musical and we watched it and really thinking that that wouldn't kind of recharge. Mm-mm, t's not for me. It's just...
DANIEL: Yeah, that's how I feel. I was wanting to read it after watching the musical and I was like... you're good.
JAIME: -- high of expectations or what, yeah.
SARA: So there's that Neil Gaiman quote about kids getting shamed for loving graphic novels instead of, you know, "real literature." So what do you think are some things that can prevent someone from developing a love of reading?
JAIME: I think first thing that comes to mind is that parents aren't modeling reading to their kids. I think that's one of the most critical steps that any parent can... can take whether they're actually reading or not. Just having the book out and the environment of reading and words can really set the stage. Obviously reading with kids every night is really important for getting them ready for kindergarten too. But I think, you know, this is this is something that like hits me at a values center. There should never be any shame in anything that's read. There shouldn't. Every reading is reading and that's stretching a muscle of your brain that helps you in all aspects of your life.
I think in a lot of ways, I remember I always had my nose stuck in a book and in fact like we'd go on camping trips when I was a kid and I'd have like a big, big stack of everything and I would choose to like sit and read in the forest rather than all the other things people were doing and I got shamed a lot, like I'm missing out on all of this like wonderful nature experience. I was like, oh no, I'm actually having this other experience and this is where I'd prefer to be. I think... gosh, you know, honestly something that might prevent someone from like developing a love of reading it's just not even having access to books. There are a lot of people in our community who can't afford books in the home. I think even the idea of using a library and the potential of accruing overdue fines prevents people from reading. But more and more, I think it's really about how often do we see people reading in public? See people walking down the street with their phone right bumping into things but what would it look like if our world was full of book readers? And I don't know, that's just part of... part of the challenge I think that we have in the library is to... to create that community.
SARA: So that's... that's a good point, though. I mean, how does this like creating an environment of readers change when a lot of us are reading on our devices, on our phones? Because I mean I do, I read whole entire books on my little iPhone. So no product placement there. But how does that change building this, you know, world of readers?
JAIME: I think it expands it quite... quite a bit that you can have countless books on your device, right, means that the weight of physical books isn't really pressure. Sorry, that was pun intended.
DANIEL: Are there any books out there that everyone is down on but you absolutely love?
JAIME: I was incredibly ashamed to admit this but I gonna share it proudly today. I love British chick lit.
SARA: Like example?
JAIME: Katie Fforde as an author. Her entire body of work. They're the same book, different characters, slightly different space and why am I reading a book that's so similar? It's because it's lovely and because it tastes like candy and because I experience the ebb and flow of love and a moment between two people and they have a spark and then they conflict and then they come back together. And usually in these... in these books, there's some sort of like do-it-yourself element like home being rehabbed or I don't know, business being built or something and so kind of combining that career plus love and romance plus British accents and culture. It's just... it's... it's delightful, it's pure escapism but yeah.
SARA: Are you listening to these or are you reading them?
JAIME: I usually read them, yeah.
SARA: You said accents so I didn't know if like –
DANIEL: Does your reading voice change, do you do accents when you --
JAIME: Oh yeah.
DANIEL: Oh, wow!
JAIME: I mean, just like you're picturing what people look like physically, right, what does their voice sound like?
DANIEL: That's awesome. That's really an imaginative way to read. I don't even think I do that.
SARA: So is there an author that you read when you were a kid that you would credit with shaping your young, developing mind?
JAIME: I would probably point to the beat writers. When I discovered them, like a whole slew of culture and insights and art like opened up to me. And I think I read Kerouac On the Road when I was maybe a sophomore in high school. I had no concept that this could be happening and I think the idea too of unpolished writing was really a new something because everything ought to be perfect when it's in print, right? And that these writers were intentionally creating jazz through writing, it was... it was an incredible influence so like Kerouac and Kesey and Bukowski, I think that stream of consciousness was something that really... it was really appealing to me as a different type of format. And I mean just even the vocabulary. I dig it, they're pretty cool cats, yeah.
DANIEL: I liked it in college because it was like Bukowski, it's like a big like long name and you think it's gonna be really hard to read but it's like really approachable and like it was... it's like kind of what got me into more like adult reading and stuff so I have a soft spot for like people like him and Burns and stuff.
JAIME: Yeah, I think I'm really grateful too that my parents never really... they were always interested in what I was reading but they weren't barriers or they never really prevented me from reading. So I probably read some things beyond my years but I think that's what rereading is all about, right, is to catch it at different times in your life and see how life experience creates some perspective.
SARA: Absolutely. And that's a great segue as we take another short break so we can hear some more recommendations from our library staff. But then when we come back, we want to dive into that idea of rereading our favorites.
TAMMY: Hi, my name is Tammy Penland. I'm the Support Services Manager for the Library. My favorite book to reread is entitled Tammy Out of Time by Cid Ricketts Sumner. This book is set post-Civil War, World War II. It is a heartwarming story of a young girl being raised on the Mississippi river in a houseboat by her grandfather who's a preacher and also known for his corn liquor. The grandfather goes to jail and she goes to live with a wealthy family while her grandfather serves his time. Her eyes are opened to modern conveniences while staying with his family. Very enjoyable.
JANELLE: Hey, my name is Janelle Mercer and I'm a technology trainer at the Advanced Learning Library. My favorite book to reread or listen to is Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera. The story about how three strong women's lives intertwined in the 1920s South is fantastic. This is one I would recommend listening to if you can get a chance. It is narrated by three different narrators and the narrators add so much more to the story.
DANIEL: Those sound like really awesome reads. Thanks to Library staff for recommending those. And you're listening to Read. Return. Repeat. and we're here with Jaime Prothro, Director of Wichita Public Library system.
Okay, question of the hour: why do you think we love to reread books? What qualities lend themselves to a good re-read?
JAIME: My gosh, countless reasons why people re-read books. Go back to time and place, that was appealing. I think books at times create like a safety for us. That setting or those characters or the scenario could be a place that gives us like calm or comfort. So I think that as a tool and a resource for anxiety or fear might be really good. The thing to do when... to reread a book definitely creates new experiences. And I think re-reading books at different periods in your life will probably surface a number of insights that you may not have had the first or second time that you've read it. I will say that re-reading also helps with the comprehension of what's going on. So for me, I know I gravitate to stories. Give me a story any day, fiction. When I'm reading nonfiction though, I tend to read it maybe three times if it's something that I'm really wanting to like embed in my brain. Like the first time I'm just reading it straight up just for the experience, the second time I'm really digging deeper. There are likely a lot of vocabulary words that and concepts that I'm wanting to... and then the third time I'm reading it again for that kind of piecing together the things that I thought and the things that I'm thinking now to really solidify the concepts or the new learning.
I think in some ways, rereading a book when a movie's out, that is such a popular way of getting some circulations at your public library, but I will say the adaptations, film adaptations always compels people to read. I remember, gosh, when Misery came out as a movie, I was maybe middle school. Begged my dad to take me, he did. I'd never read Stephen King and I had to read that book. I had to know more about what was happening. I had to understand this crazy woman a little bit more. I think another reason people tend to reread is probably because the author stopped writing, whether they passed or whether they moved into a different career but that was like the last, their... their body of work isn't continuing to grow and so if they're a beloved author, going back and re-reading it's a good call.
SARA: Those are all great reasons to reread a book. So I mean, what... what books then do you like to reread? What are on your top list?
JAIME: My top lists of rereads. Probably more poetry from cover to cover. I think Mary Oliver's poems are something that I can read every single day the same poem and still get something remarkable out of them. Another book that I've reread a handful of times, it's a fiction book by Nicole Kraus called The History of Love. The format on it was so intriguing because it's past and present. It's two characters with the same name at different points in history and their lives are being woven together by this book that a Polish immigrant wrote before he had to leave Europe because of the war. And the book that he wrote was the origin of how love came to exist.
DANIEL: Aww, that sounds awesome.
JAIME: Oh! And he wrote it as a love story to his Alma. And so I just... there are just moments in that book that made me weep like I've never experienced before. And it was it was... she's an incredible writer. I think also The Color Purple by Alice Walker. There's just so much in that that rereading it is something that I do every maybe like five or six years I seem to pick it up and need to get back into it. The idea, I mean even within that about, you know, just the connections that sisters can have even from a distance. The struggles that African American women especially have experienced. I think unfortunately it's still... it's still a story that people are experiencing, but I think the way that Alice Walker just tells that tale, it's... it's provocative, it seems new to me every time I read it. And I just... I pick up different... different elements each time.
SARA: So actually that's gonna probably be my book that intimidates you. I tried to read it -- I'm gonna give something away here -- for the year you were born because a couple years ago that was one of our categories and I still haven't read it because I'm just like, I know it's going to be heavy in places and I don't want to have to read something that makes me sad but it's still really important to read those stories. I mean, I... just for any number of reasons. So anyway, that's... which is funny because it's your reread and it's my intimidating book.
DANIEL: I think it's going to bring up like crying because like my reread is Grant Morrison's All Star Superman graphic novel. And it's like... like first of all I'm biased because I'm a transplant to Kansas like Superman so I have... like he's one of my favorite superheroes because of that and Grant Morrison's my favorite writer. But it's like a story about Superman dealing with his own mortality. And as I get older, I read it and like I start crying. It's like a harder read. I still read it because as I get older, I relate to it more because it's like... and it's so that yeah, did you have a favorite reread?
SARA: So I used to reread Confederacy of Dunces like every few years because I would always get something new out of it. So I've listened to it, I've read it and then I read it again and so that's always one but it's been several years now since I've... I've reread that one. And then just because of the nature of my work, I've reread Station Eleven I can't even tell you how many times and I love that book. I know it was our Big Read a few years ago and I fangirled all over Emily St. John Mandel for the... the time that she was here and that was a really wonderful experience for me.
DANIEL: That actually leads into our next question because I read Station Eleven. Like the book a lot, did not like the show.
SARA: Okay, we can we can have that be a different podcast.
DANIEL: But actually I was going to ask you: have you ever reread a book after it was made into a movie or TV show just to see how closely it followed or deviated from the original story? If so, which book or movie was it and did it change your original perspective on the book?
JAIME: The example that comes to mind is Twilight.
SARA: I knew you were gonna say that! I don't know how!
JAIME: Like the movie was so boring. I'm sorry, I was watching it, I was like, what's gonna happen? This is supposed to be all encompassing love. It's there but what's happening? And so I was like, surely there's more story that just didn't... because that book is really thick and I mean, like I'd go into the stacks of books for a while with teens and like be surprised if vampires didn't bite me. It was so prevalent in publishing at that point. So just reading it and it just... it's a cultural phenomena but the book didn't give me any more insights but I did choose to go... go down that path.
SARA: Yeah, Twilight, that cultural phenomenon, I would say that's probably the way to describe it.
Okay, so we talked a little bit about audio, maybe I talked a little bit about audio. I guess it came up in one of our other questions. But have you ever -- like when you're rereading a book but then you listen to it on audio for your second or, you know, vice versa and how does that format difference change your appreciation of the book?
JAIME: This may seem weird but like as I'm reading physical formats, my eyes really go fast over dialogue. I mean, just like I'm just reading fast and I'm trying to, you know, kind of keep... keep going. What's next, what's next? I think when I listen, though, I cue into more of literally what people are saying in the parentheses of dialogue so that's something that kind of calls out to me. I think also with the audio -- and I know a lot of people have the same experience -- you know, it's always dependent on the narrator. And I will say like Dan Brown's book The Boys in the Boat --
JAIME: It's about the UW rowing team back in like the '30s with the German Olympics, they actually won the race in Germany, it was just right before World War II and I think that one was really... it was cool because there were a number of like places in Washington state for example that I had only read and so I had this like way of pronouncing it based on the word spelling. And then when he read it, I was like, Oh... oh, oh. It's not "pew-alep," it's "pew-allup." Or ephedra. You know, and just trying to... you know, just hearing things pronounced differently kind of expands, you know, my understanding of different words too.
DANIEL: I had that happen with Dune because I knew how the words were supposed the names of everything in Dune were supposed to be said. Had no idea how to write them at all.
SARA: Oh, because you listened to it and then you read it.
DANIEL: I listened to Dune and then I was like I don't know how to like... and then Duncan Idaho was just Duncan Idaho, his name was Duncan and state Idaho. Because I thought it was going to be like written weird, but it was not. It was just Duncan and Idaho.
JAIME: Yeah, it's kind of cool like when you're talking with people too and they pronounce a word and it's a little bit mispronounced and you just realize that, oh, they've read it. I think that's so cool and just practicing new words, even... even if you miss the mark with pronunciation.
JAIME: It's kind of cool when that happens
SARA: Well, now you can just kind of listen to it on the... the search and I've done that before. I'm like, how do you pronounce it? Oh, then I just listen to it that.
DANIEL: Even with the e-reads, there's so many different things.
So you have this lifetime working career in libraries You've... like assuming that libraries are your primary source for books.
DANIEL: But one question: what makes you buy a book?
JAIME: Honestly at this point, the books that I buy are either cookbooks --
JAIME: Or for my Little Free Library.
JAIME: I just... you know, if I buy a book, I'm likely... I am actually assured not to read it. Like for some reason, just the amount of time that I've worked in libraries, it's like the due date is my deadline, I've got it. You know? Death by due dates. But I think yeah, cookbooks, my... my collection's growing.
SARA: So it's funny you say that. I think I'm the same way, like I will buy books because say the author is in town and I want to have a signed copy or something and then they just kind of sit there because I don't have anything like any pressures to finish it.
DANIEL: I have a lot of signed books I'm never going to read.
SARA: I'm going to get to them. They're there, I'm going to do it.
DANIEL: Sorry, David Sedaris.
SARA: I know! I have David Sedaris, too!
DANIEL: Everyone has a David Sedaris book they haven't read that's signed, with a joke in it!
SARA: Oh right. Yeah, I'm not going to say that on podcast but I do got a David Sedaris joke.
Okay, final question. You're on a deserted island. You can have three books. Which ones are you taking with you and figuring out how to preserve in that climate?
JAIME: This is a harsh question.
SARA: I know, that's why it's the last one.
JAIME: It's evil. It's horror, in fact.
Okay, so probably there are three books that I've talked about and this podcast that I would bring with me. I would bring Louise Penny from her first book Still Life. I think that just the again, the... the place and space and characters and magic. I mean, it's like... it's like you exist in a snow globe for a little bit, right?
SARA: I can see that.
JAIME: I think and if you're on an island, it's hot. The History of Love would be the second one that I would I would preserve, again because it's one that I keep going back to and it rocked my world and it keeps rocking my world. And then I would bring likely a collection of poems and I was struggling between a couple of different poets but I think I would choose Mary Oliver.
SARA: Okay. Any particular collection?
JAIME: Probably her collected work so I could have the thickest variety and most of them.
SARA: That's not cheating.
DANIEL: Take an apology.
Thank you so much for answering or questions, Jaime.
SARA: Yes, thank you so much.
DANIEL: It's not every day you get to interview the big boss.
And we're gonna go ahead and finish up this episode with -- you guessed it -- more staff recommendations so take it away.
JENI: Hi, my name is Jeni Lehecka and I'm a youth services librarian at the Advanced Learning Library. My favorite book to reread is Matilda by Roald Dahl because of the inspiring notion that stories can transport us to new worlds. We can also learn much from the resilience of Matilda as well as the lasting impact of compassionate teachers like Miss Honey.
MICHELLE: Hi, my name is Michelle Enke. I am the Local History Librarian at the Advanced Learning Library. My favorite book to reread is Wichita Century: A Pictorial History of Wichita, Kansas, which was published for the city's 100th anniversary in 1970. I enjoy rereading this book for it provides a great overview of the city's history divided into decades. And best of all there are many great photographs depicting the development of the community.
CINDY: My name is Cindy Bailey. I'm Tech Training Manager, librarian, at the Advanced Learning Library. My favorite book to reread is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I just love it because I love historical fiction, I love the characters and it has such a rich story that continues to engage me every time I see the movie and I have read the book and just love it.
SARA, VOICEOVER: Wow, so many great recommendations in today's episode. And I just gotta say it was so fun putting this whole episode together. A list of the books discussed can be found in the accompanying show notes. And to request any of those books, visit wichitalibrary.org or call us at (316) 261-8500.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: As we end today's episode, we'll leave you with a short story submitted from the community. This is one of the many short stories and poems you can get from one of our short story dispensers located at Reverie Roasters coffee shop, Evergreen community library, and the Eisenhower airport. And if you have a short story under 8,000 characters to submit, you can visit wichitalibrary.org/shortstory.
IAN, VOICEOVER Hanna by Joseph Arthur.
"Jooooseph, wait up." That is Hanna. We are both in the same English Literature class on the Beat Generation. I don't know why she insists on calling me Joseph, even though it is my given name and I like it better than Joe and the way she pronounces it makes me feel important when really, I'm not. I think her accent has something to do with living in Minnesota or Wisconsin before moving here, to northern Virginia just across the Potomac river from Washington D.C. I like to call the river the "Big Muddy" because it doesn't flow as much as it oozes along over rocks and along the shoreline.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it, it's impossible to miss Hanna. She is a bit clumsy and loud. For example, right now she is fighting with the school's exit door. Her book bag is currently caught on the door handle, making it squeak and rattle as she wrestles to free herself from it. She finally prevails and once again begins calling me to wait. The look on her face is strong and determined.
She is undaunted and fierce when met with adversity and challenges and continues toward me. Hanna is a force unto herself, I think to myself. I just wish she knew it.
"Joseph," calls Hanna as she nears my side. I pretend not to hear her. I know exactly what is on her mind. I pick up the pace, but she keeps a steady gait and reaches me before I make my intended target; a single row of buses form a line in front of our school, waiting for the crush of students and the youthful energy they will bring. Carnage, I think to myself. Bus drivers have it rough.
"Whadja you get on your paper?" She grabs my pee-chee and paper from my hand as I loosen my grip. "Yep! Right there it is," she says. "Another A+ for you and A- for me. I work hard on my papers and this is all I get," she shouts. She shakes it above her head and yells
"Rats" as she prepares to leave. Hanna is not a fan of cursing. She says her father does enough of it for the two of them. I try to make her feel better by telling her maybe she's not a fan of Kerouac's On the Road. "A lot of people say his other stuff is much better." I conjure the Dharma Bums or Big Sur in my mind. She's not buying it.
I cannot help but feel a bit sorry for Hanna. Her dad, Mac, is a biker who spends his days tattooing other bikers or the occasional suit and tie guy who comes to his shop, locked in the downward spiral of a mid-life crisis. Hanna joins him in his work. They live in a small apartment above the shop. It is not great, but I know how much Mac cares for Hanna and he would give her more if he could. However, he tells it like it is. "I belong to a biker gang and that's
how it is. He shrugs when he says it and offers no apology.
Not exactly an Ink Master with a passion for his work, to Mac a tattoo is nothing more than a design on a human canvas. But to Hanna tattoos are much more. They are symbols that should reflect the heart and soul of those who get them.
Hanna often educates me on just how special putting ink to skin is. For example, she will say, "In Samoan culture tattoos were a rite of passage for men. A sort of coming out. You know, leaving childhood and becoming a man." They would lay there for an entire day while others poked a dye under their skin. "Sounds like a painful process," I say. Hanna doesn't acknowledge my words. "Hawaiian culture is no different. To native Hawaiians tattoos are sacred and something they take with them into the afterlife, says Hanna."
I love watching her talk about the tattoos she has done. Her face grows animated and full of joy. She is a great artist. You can see the utter delight she feels as she talks about them. And then, just as suddenly, her face turns serious. "Tattoos are downright spiritual," Joseph. She makes sure to lock eyes with me as she says it, but then goes quiet and ponders that less than perfect grade from English class.
"The Beats, with their poetry and writing and jazz would understand my disappointment" she says, "I bet they would never get an A-." She chuckles a bit while saying it. And to that, I say, "They wouldn't give a darn if they did or didn't. They simply followed their passion." I conjure the Dharma Bums or Big Sur in my mind.
I can tell she isn't buying it. She looks sad and downhearted and sullen and ready to give up. This bothers me because Hanna is more than just a friend and I want life to be more than fair to her. I want her life to be wonderful and filled with good things day after
day after day, even if the world is never that way. She deserves better and I know it. All I can do is be that Nobody that loves Hanna.
See you tomorrow, says Hanna, as she stomps off toward home, braided hair and waste length ponytail swaying with each step; home to the apartment above the tattoo parlor and the real work that awaits her there.
SARA, VOICEOVER: Thank you for that story. Thank you to Jaime Prothro for taking our questions and to each member of the staff that submitted a re-reading recommendation. Listen each month for more category specific recommendations.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: To participate in the ReadICT reading challenge, please visit wichitalibrary.org/readict. Stay connected with other ReadICT participants on the ReadICT challenge Facebook page. Find out what's trending near you, post book reviews, look for local and virtual events, and share book humor with like-minded folks. To join the group, search #ReadICT challenge on Facebook and click join.
SARA, VOICEOVER: You can follow this podcast through the Anchor app or stream episodes on whatever platform you listen to podcasts. If you like what you heard today, be sure to subscribe and share with all your friends.
DANIEL, VOICEOVER: This has been a production of the Wichita Public Library. A big thanks goes out to our production crew and podcast team.