The Librarian


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I’ve had a library card for as long as I can remember.

A long time ago, I’d browse the shelves and select some books to take home and read over the next few weeks. I still do that occasionally, but I’m far more likely to look for a specific title in the library catalogue, request it, and pick it up when it comes in. But I don’t think I’ve ever asked a librarian to help me choose a book – if I have, it was decades ago.

I probably could have gone on that way quite happily. After all, I’m on track to read 50+ books this year, each selected for one of several reasons:

  • it was recommended by someone I know
  • it frequently showed up on book blogs or social media
  • I picked it up at a used book sale or the Little Free Library that recently opened in my neighbourhood (yay!)
  • I needed something to read and it happened to be available on Overdrive

I enjoyed Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2015 Reading Challenge and decided I’d participate again this year.


To make it even more challenging, I planned to read the books in the order listed. I was doing great, and was even ahead of schedule (if you count on one book per month) until July when I got to “a book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller.” Claiming it wasn’t convenient, I jumped ahead to the next one, then continued through the list.

With the end of the year – and the challenge – in sight, I had to admit that my reasons for not speaking to a librarian were just excuses for avoiding social interaction and that I needed to JUST DO IT. I’d have been really annoyed with myself if I didn’t complete the challenge, so I popped over to the library this morning before I could change my mind.

It was actually pretty exciting to have someone pick out five books for me after hearing just three titles I’d enjoyed this year! Definitely worth stepping outside my comfort zone.

I happened to have one of them at home already (borrowed from my sister, who recommended it) and briefly considered thanking her and going home to read the book I already had, but reminded myself that the point of doing the challenge was to expand my horizons, so I chose one of the others and I hope it will be an rewarding end to a great reading year.

Once I’ve read it, I’ll be revealing the titles of all 12 books I chose for the challenge. Why not subscribe so you can find out what they are?

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Janet Barclay

I eliminate stress for my clients by hosting, monitoring, and maintaining their WordPress sites so they don’t have to worry about security, downtime or performance issues. When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, cooking, watching movies, drinking tea, and spending time with my family.

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  1. Pauline Wiles on December 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    I’d love to join a challenge like this for next year! I’ve just been reading a wonderful book, Bibliophile by Jane Mount, which has gorgeous illustrations and recommendations for books from all kinds of genres (plus lots more bookish inspiration). I was thinking, I’d like to feel I’d dipped into a broader selection of categories.

    • Janet on December 16, 2018 at 5:56 am

      You’re in luck, Pauline, because the 2019 Reading Challenge was posted this week! Want to join with me? 🙂

      Bibliophile sounds wonderful and I’m happy to see it’s available at my local library.

  2. Kathy Stinson on December 16, 2018 at 10:55 am

    Congratulations on stepping out of your comfort zone on this, Janet. Of course I’m curious to know which books you told the librarian you liked, which books she recommended (especially since one of them was one I’d recommended too), and which book you decided to take.

    • Janet on December 16, 2018 at 11:16 am

      The books I told her I liked were:

      1.The Unlikely Redemption of John Alexander Macneil
      2. Clara Callan
      3. The Home for Unwanted Girls (which I’ve set aside to lend you)

      The librarian recommended The Orphan’s Tale, which you lent me, and The Museum of Extraordinary Things, which I took out. I’ve already forgotten the other three, but I might get in touch with the librarian to see if she remembers.

      • Kathy Stinson on December 19, 2018 at 7:05 am

        Thanks. I loved The Unlikely Redemption… too and I look forward to The Home… I’ll be interested to see what you think of The Museum. I liked some of Alice Hoffman’s books, then a couple were a bit “weird” for lack of a better word for my taste.

    • Janet Barclay on December 17, 2018 at 1:25 pm

      Two of the other titles she recommended were:

      The Evening Chorus – by Helen Humphreys (takes place during the war)

      Crow Lake – by Mary Lawson (was a Hamilton Reads title in the past)

      She can’t remember the other, but came up with another one for me:

      Tell the Wolves I’m Home – by Carol Rifka Brunt (takes place during the 80’s)

      • Kathy Stinson on December 19, 2018 at 7:00 am

        Glad you went back! I loved The Evening Chorus and can lend you that one if you’d like. Crow Lake I liked too. I’ve added Tell the Wolves I’m Home to my Want to Read shelf on Goodreads.

    • Janet on December 19, 2018 at 5:14 am

      I remembered that the 5th book had a black and red cover and that the librarian hadn’t read it yet, so I passed this information on to her and it was enough for her to recall that it was The Girls – By Emma Cline (a novel inspired by the Manson girls).

      • Kathy Stinson on December 19, 2018 at 7:07 am

        Sounds promising! And what a clever librarian to remember the title on the basis of those clues!

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