The end of every year usually brings all sorts of wrap-up lists: “best of” collections of everything from cookware and electronics to music and YouTube makeup artists. At the library, we see an almost endless array of “best of” book lists, some organized by reviewer or review site, others by genre or format, and still more by increasingly esoteric criteria. You can even follow along with Art Garfunkel’s reading life. Truly, a list for everyone!
It can be a little overwhelming. After all, it’s difficult to commit to reading every book that catches your eye. Believe me – we read professionally here and often in bulk, and we all still lament the many books we haven’t gotten to yet. This year (a strange one, as we know) has seen my reading life go up and down. I’ve done plenty of reading, but there were also periods where I read less, instead spending my time immersed in TV series, exploring the vintage clothing corner of YouTube, or diving deep into podcasts. And you know what? Those were great stories, too.
First, I want to reassure you that you don’t have to read all the time. Second, I want to reassure you that, when you do want to read, we can help point you to something good based on what’s best for you. Let’s start with a few manageable lists.
A satisfying offshoot of reading is talking to other people about what you’ve read. I’ve really been enjoying our monthly Let’s Talk About It program, a casual virtual discussion of books, movies, TV, and more with members of the PPL community. After each session, I compile the titles we discuss into an annotated book list: here are the lists from December and November. You can find more lists from our spring sessions in our catalog.
If you’ve been in the library recently, you may have seen our recently expanded Staff Picks section near the Welcome Desk on the first floor. Library staff maintain lists of their own personal recommendations (here’s mine), and we’ve made it easier for you to browse these (complete with handy scannable QR codes to access the full lists) to find your next favorite read.
Interested in even more librarian-approved reading? Good news! Each month, librarians across the country share their favorite upcoming releases through LibraryReads, and the top 10 books are compiled into that month’s list. We highlight these on the other side of the staff picks shelf, so you can find them easily. This time of year is also when librarians take to Twitter to share their personal top 10 reads of the year for “lib faves.” You can find the full list of #libfaves20 recommendations here.
Now, if you are someone who really wants to have all the facts before you plan your reading, never fear: there is a master list for you! Literature and music website Largehearted Boy aggregates all of the best of lists of the year in one spot, so you can review them all to your heart’s content. If, instead, that sounds like your worst nightmare, let us do the looking: submit a Book It request to receive a personalized list of suggestions.
Two final lists: one for self-care suggestions and one for digital detox to help you transition smoothly into 2021. As the year winds down, don’t forget to take time for yourself and consider your own year’s best – whatever that means to you. Let that be a resolution for the New Year.
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