Each year, as Memorial Day approaches, a few members start to approach me with their “summer reading” requests. Many of them call them “beach reads” as they, with a little bit of unnecessary blushing, request their mysteries, thrillers, and romance novels to take with them on their travels. As a lover of genre fiction myself, I have always been skeptical of the idea that there is such a thing as a “guilty pleasure” in reading. To me, all reading is valuable. Consuming a range of styles, subjects, and genres is critical to becoming a rounded person, finding pleasure as important as edification.
Of course, not all books are timeless – and maintaining a collection of “timely and timeless” works is central to the mission of the Library. Not every book I buy for “beach reading” may be in the collection forever. But then, few things are. In our aggressive deaccession project, for instance, we’ve had to discard biographies of people that someone surely thought would be famous forever, but whose names we barely remember now. So the hope of timelessness, in my regular purchasing, is often trumped by timeliness.
This year, our summer reading can be even more portable. With our new ebook platform and on demand ebook purchasing, that Club Library can come with you in your carry-on. So let the summer reading requests begin. No blushing necessary.