I’m a librarian. I like books. Yes, I fall into that stereotype. Ergo, when a book appears on our shelves that is all about writers and their personal book collections, I pounce. That said, I don’t think you have to be a librarian to love this book. You just have to like reading.
Unpacking My Library is composed of a series of interviews where authors discuss what is in their library, and why they love those books. In many cases, the authors discuss the impact the book had on their lives and writing. These interviews showcase how our reading changes and grows with us as we move through life. These interviews are accompanied by lovely, full-color photos of the author’s book collection.
While there is nothing revelatory about the authors and their collections (or the writing of the book for that matter), the entire book has a magical quality to it. Unpacking My Library is not the best book I’ve read, nor the most thought-provoking. It is, however, a book about discovery and shared passions. Books are a commodity to be shared and discussed, when you see a book you’ve read discussed or pictured in one of the photos, it’s hard not to be excited. More than once I found myself scouring the images of author’s shelves for books I too have read. More than once I jumped in excitement when I found common titles. In many ways, it felt as if my own reading choices were being validated.
My only complaint about this book is that it is an awkward shape and size. It’s far wider than your typical book, but is not the huge size of a folio. That makes it awkward to hold while reading – particular if you’re trying to do so on the metro.
This is a quick and easy read, but one where the charming feeling will last with you long after you’ve closed the back cover.
I read this book because it received a lot of pre-release hype. Sadly, I was disappointed. I never connected with the book’s characters or story. I am, for the most part, living the life of these characters, and I still couldn’t identify or care about them.
Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women dealing with the common things most 20- and 30-somethings encounter – new careers, family expectations, love, loss, and parties – bridal and baby showers to be specific.
The writing is far too episodic, and that makes the story feel incomplete. I felt myself constantly asking, “And?” The writing felt lazy and unedited. The stories of the characters are told in vignettes, but there was no overarching connection or transition between these snippets. There were just stories about the happenings in these characters lives. Normally, I can get behind vignette writing, but not this time. The stories felt too much like a high schooler attempting to write their first novel.
I could have overlooked the writing if the story was good. Instead, it just felt “there.” Nothing special, nothing intriguing, simply there. More often than not, I wondered why the characters were acting the way they were. The motivations for these characters actions and responses seemed to be lacking. Heck, half of the “good stuff” seems to happen in between the written scenes. It was rather annoying to miss out on all the action. Close does make some decent observations about what it means to be a young woman finding her way, but her characters don’t live up to these insights.
I didn’t hate this book; I just didn’t care about it at all. When I finished reading, I just cast this books aside and said, “Next.”
Meghan Gates, Stacks Inventory Project Manager