Episode 6 Craftsbury Public Library - Craftsbury VT

Published on 22 May 2024 at 14:43

     In episode 6 of Where the Books Are Now, I chat with Susan O'Connell, Library Director at the Craftsbury Public Library in Craftsbury, VT.  The library sits in a perfect location in town, just off the town common and close to the Craftsbury Academy. We chat about the history of the library, including a great story about the $50 that was set aside to build the first public library in Craftsbury.

Susan also shares her philosophy about having a "Library of Things" collection, and surprises me with their collection of folding kayaks available for loan. I didn't know there was such a thing. And of course we talk about books. Susan and I both agree that we are liking books these days that are fun and/or an escape. 

Susan had some great books to share. Her books aren't necessarily on the big bestseller lists (I love that.), but are fabulous stories and take place in diverse communities. I can sometimes get stuck in my comfortable lanes of what books and authors I usually choose, and often all it takes is a little nudge from a reviewer, a librarian or bookseller, or a friend, to get me to expand my reading horizons. I'm always glad when I do. So thank you Susan, for adding to my TBR list!

Susan said she is reading books that allow her to escape into another place and/or community and that have elements of humor and irreverence.  Her first pick is How Can I Help You, a mystery by Laura Sims. This is about a killer nurse who travels to another part of the country and assumes a new identity as a librarian. The author is a part time reference librarian and she gets all the behind the scenes details spot on. Next on Susan's list is a book about the deaf community, True Biz (2022) by Sara Novic about a boy named Charlie who is deaf but never met another deaf person before he transferred to a residential school for the deaf. This one got "one of the best books of the year" from NPR, BookList, and Publisher's Weekly

Susan's third pick, The Bad Muslim Discount (2021) by Syed M. Masood is an immigrant story that is both very funny and irreverent, but also has a dash of heartbreak. The story follows two families from Iraq and Pakistan in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016. **I did want to mention that Bookshop.org didn't have The Bad Muslim Discount listed on its site, so if you want to purchase that one you'll need to order it from your local independent bookstore or other bookshop.**

I wanted to be sure to have time for Susan's final pick, The Bandit Queens (2023) by Parini Shroff is novel set in India featuring Geeta, an Indian wife whose husband has disappeared. The rumor is that she killed him. And this rumor works to her advantage. No one wants to marry her and no one harrasses her. But then some of the other wives might want their husbands to "disappear" as well and they come to Geeta for advice.

My picks for this episode are about words and maps. My first book is a novel titled, The Cartographers (2022) by Peng Shepherd, that plays with the idea of place. Does a place exist because it's on a map or is it on the map because it exists. The author read about the true story of Algoe, NY, a place that never existed, then did exist, then once again didn't. Nell Young is a map expert and is a daughter of one of the country's most prestigious map experts. They had a falling out over an old gas station map. She gets a call that her father was found murdered and while exploring his office she finds that gas station map in a locked drawer and starts on a quest to find out why it is so important. This novel also has a cat and mouse storyline and some fantastical elements. It's also beautifully written. I've read this one twice and had to own it.

My next two books are about the Oxford English Dictionary or OED as it's referred to. The Dictionary of Lost Words (2021) by Pip Williams, is a novel that takes place in England just before World War I. After her mother dies, Esme is cared for by her father and spends long days in the "scriptorium" where her father and several other men are gathering words for the OED.  She stays under the large table where they work and one day an errant piece of paper with a word drifts down under the table. Instead of giving it back, she hides it in her dress and scurries it away in her box of treasures she keeps in her room. She starts collecting other slips of paper with words that her father and his friends discard. As she grows older she realizes that most of the discarded words are "women's words" or the words of common people. Esme then sets out to make her own dictionary of women's words and working people's words. 

My final pick is a nonfiction companion to the Pip Williams novel. The Dictionary People: The Unsung Heroes Who Created the Oxford England Dictionary (2023) by Sarah Ogilvie. The author was doing research with the archives of James Murray, the first and longest standing editor of the OED when she came upon his address book. It wasn't an ordinary address book though. It contained the names and contact information of many of the people who contributed to the OED, including murderers, a vicar, and inventor, female anti-slave activists and more. She investigated who these people were and wrote a fascinating book about them.

Thanks for listening! Show notes for all episodes and all the books we talked about can be found at https://www.wherethebooksarenow.com/ and please visit us at Facebook for more Vermont public library tidbits. If you would like your Vermont library to be featured on an episode of WTBAnow, please use the contact information on the website or send a Facebook message!

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