2015 is with us, and this week marks a return to my usual office routine and blogging!
The December/January holidays, cooler weather, and a little vacation time are the perfect ingredients for a good dose of book reading, and over the last few weeks I have indulged myself in this and other favorite activities. People always assume librarians love books and reading, and yes, reading ranks high on my list of enjoyable things to do.
During my administrative leave in 2013-14, I largely transitioned from reading traditional print materials to, whenever possible, reading e-books and other electronic resources on my iPad.
I will admit that it did take a bit of effort on my part to make this change. What is that saying? Change is never easy. It did take a bit of learning on my part to master some technical aspects of e-reading (e.g. managing bookmarks, backlight settings, etc.). Once mastered, I embarked on some very serious reading of the first two books in the Ken Follett century trilogy series. Book one (Fall of the Giants) starts on June 22, 1911 – the day King George V was crowned and Billy Williams went down the pit in Aberowen, South Wales. I think the reason I like the story so much is how it is set into the bigger context of world events (and in the later volume those world events that happened in my lifetime). Book two (Winter World) continues the storyline and the presentation formula of characters set against world events, and brings the storyline up to 1933 – an era that I can recall my parents talking about. Unfortunately my reading of the series was interrupted by my return to work and having to wait for the publication last Fall of book three in the series (Edge of Eternity). This final installment brings the series to over 12,000 pages, and the storyline to the election of President Obama.
Next on the reading menu came University Leadership and Public Policy in the Twenty-First Century by former U of S President, Peter MacKinnon. For this I had to revert to old habits and a print copy. I found myself wanting to adjust the font-size (it’s a little too small for my comfort), turn-up the brightness on the backlight, so I could see the text better – oops, what backlight? Regardless of these distractions, I thoroughly enjoyed the easy reading. MacKinnon is a powerful writer, clear in his use of vocabulary and logical in the presentation of arguments. Should I have expected anything less of a lawyer? These two skills combine to turn what some might regard as a rather dry topic into a narrative that kept my attention. I liked the chapter flow and the formula of using a personal U of S story and experience at the start of each chapter to introduce the topic or theme and set context. Chapter titles are catchy. I think I didn’t fully get the reason for the subtle and interchangeable use of gender specific interpersonal pronouns (her and his) when referring to the President – but it at least made me stop and re-read those sentences for deeper meaning. At the official book launch at the Diefenbaker Canada Centre earlier this week I appreciated the opportunity to speak personally with Peter about this aspect of the writing.
While I enjoyed the MacKinnon book reading, I was happy to return to my iPad for the final installment in this holiday reading season – Hack Attack by Nick Davies – a piece of forensic and investigative journalism focussed on the inside story of how the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch. I still have over 1,000 pages to go, so let’s hope I don’t have to wait until the next December/January holiday period to pick up where I have left off.