What I’m reading: September 2020

Now that I’m officially on sabbatical for the fall, I’ve been doing a lot more reading than usual. Rather than devote an entire post to reflections on each of these items, I thought I’d share some thoughts on them in smaller, bite-sized pieces.

What I’m reading for work/research

Studies of information-seeking and creative populations: So one of the projects I set for myself this summer was to do an in-depth literature review of studies that look at the information-seeking behaviors of creative populations. I managed to get through roughly thirty articles on the topic and while there are still some sources I would like to take a look at (but can’t because they’re books my library doesn’t own and interlibrary loan for print resources isn’t a thing right now), I feel like I have a pretty good sense of what the literature has to say about it. Which is basically that the information-seeking behaviors of creative people don’t really matter except insofar as libraries can use that information to somehow manipulate them into using the library more. To be fair, almost all of the studies I read were from LIS journals, so the focus on libraries made sense to an extent but I also found it incredibly frustrating. Like, are we as scholars only interested in the information behaviors of people who use the library? Or are we interested in information behaviors more generally? There’s a great article by Sandra Cowan that calls some of this out, which I referenced in my last reading list. But even those who cite Cowan seem kind of okay with the status quo. Or willing to seem okay with it because that’s what’s required to get published in top LIS journals. So weird.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo: Like a lot of workplaces right now, my library is having a lot of conversations about race and thinking about how the issues around race might affect the workplace environment. A special committee was formed (somewhat confusingly, it’s being called a “climate” committee) to lead these conversations and they chose this book as a sort of “big read” for all of us to work through and talk about together. As a white person, reading a book like this is a little like sitting in a dirty diaper but I feel like that discomfort is a necessary part of the learning process. I’ll probably have more detailed thoughts on this book once I’m finished reading it. So far it seems like a good choice for the conversations the committee who chose it is hoping we’ll have.

What I’m reading for fun

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This was a popular beach read when it was first published about a year or so ago so of course I’ve started reading it in fall…oops. Anyway, if you’re not familiar, this novel tells the story of the rise and fall of a fictional band that became popular in the 1970s as told through “interviews” with the surviving members of the band and others who are connected to its story. At first, I wasn’t sure the structure of the book (again: interviews) was going to work for me but the author does a good job of capturing the different voices telling this one story and the way their points of view sometimes contradict each other (unknowingly, since they were all ostensibly interviewed separately) is occasionally used to greatly humorous effect. The book actually reminds me a lot of the movie Almost Famous, so much so that I was picturing some of the characters from that movie as the characters in the book. I was more than okay with that since Almost Famous is an old favorite. The book is a lot of fun.

What I’m watching for fun

Hannibal on Netflix: So there was a time early on in this whole pandemic thing where I only wanted to watch things that were happy and comforting. To this end, I rewatched The Mary Tyler Moore Show in its entirety. Then I moved on to The Bob Newhart Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. I also revisited some old favorites that aren’t classic sitcoms like Stargate Atlantis (which, it turns out, is still very good albeit in a slightly dorky way). But somewhere in there I also watched Mr. Robot. Now this. I remember trying to watch Hannibal around the time it was first on because I’d heard good things about it and also because Hugh Dancy. This might have also been around the time that I both watched and read The Silence of the Lambs, but I couldn’t say for sure. Anyway, the show was just too much for me back then and I gave up after a few episodes. When it returned to Netflix recently after some time away, I decided to give it another try because Netflix’s algorithm kept insisting it was a thing I might like and also because I read this article on Vulture that convinced me it would be worth the effort. And so far it is. Like, I’m only just now finishing the first season and I’m already mad that there’s only two more after it. As someone who normally hates gore, I can’t explain why this show is suddenly working for me now when it didn’t before but it is. It definitely is.

The Last Dance on Netflix: As usual, I’m about six months late to a thing everyone else is surely over by now but in my defense I don’t have ESPN and The Last Dance only just showed up on Netflix recently. So there. I have absolutely no idea why I’m watching this. I have no interest in or knowledge of basketball. I couldn’t care less about Michael Jordan or Scottie Pippen or Dennis Rodman. I’ve never even heard of any of the other players or the managers or lawyers or owners or anyone else who was part of this story. And even though I’m old enough to remember 1998, I have never paid enough attention to sports to know anything about this documentary’s subject. Like, I was only vaguely aware that the Chicago Bulls were considered a “good” team. Yet here I am watching this documentary series completely of my own volition. I think I just like knowing the stories behind things, even if I don’t necessarily care about the things themselves. And The Last Dance tells a good story. I’m enjoying it. I have no idea why.

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