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Life-long Learners and the Joy of Reading

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Book Buzz is a blog produced in collaboration with neighborhood librarians from Houston Public Library, Harris County Public Library and the Bellaire Library.

Each September I am reminded how much I looked forward to a new school year when I was growing up. New shoes, new dresses made by my mom over the summer, classmates I had not seen since before summer break and, most importantly, things to learn and new books to read. The thrill of new books and learning has continued throughout my life and probably guided me to my profession as a librarian.

As a librarian, I know how books can have a special connection with people and know that just about everyone has a favorite book or author that spoke to them, either as a child or as an adult. Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White was the first book that made me cry and I cheered for Jo in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and The Once and Future King by Terence Hanbury White supplied the need for fantasy and heroes.

My mother’s love of mysteries introduced me to Agatha Christie and Rex Stout and my grandfather’s love for westerns helped me become a Louis L’Amour fan. Required reading lists throughout my school years expanded my reading interests with doses of Mark Twain, Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe and many, many more fabulous authors. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury still has a special scare for me.

Reading is my way of learning and I continue to learn every day through reading and listening. The term “life-long learner” is commonly used in the library profession and I think it is a valid term for an adult who wants to expand their minds with exposure to different thoughts and ideas through the written or spoken word. 

Life-long learners look forward to the start of a new school, too, although their school year never really has a start and stop date. Life-long learners look forward to the new book or audiobook that was just released or start checking off titles when they discover a new list of recommended reading.  

Reading is a way of life and meant to be shared. If you’re a life-long learner seeking new books, here are a few additional suggestions:

  • The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: The ultimate book about the power of hope and strength in the midst of unspeakable atrocities, and it serves to remind us that there will always be evil in the world, but that we must not let it win.
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou: Poverty. Racism. Rape. Coming of age amidst all that. It’s both heartbreaking and empowering.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Another book many of us read in school, but read it now through adult eyes. Be brave enough to do what you know is right.
  • Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy: A book that takes you along a path filled with hopes, dreams, love, sadness and utter despair.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: In laboratories worldwide, genetic science has created the “perfect” human race. If you've ever considered genetic engineering to be promising, pick up this book and see what a perfect world looks like.
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: A fictitious chronicle of the Buendia household in the ethereal town of Macondo somewhere in Latin America. Hailed as a masterpiece of the 20th century.

Still need suggestions? Check out these sites:

  • The Greatest Books: Books 1-50: This list is generated from 107 "best of" book lists from a variety of great sources. An algorithm is used to create a master list.
  • Outstanding Books for the College Bound: A committee of public, secondary school, and academic librarians from the American Library Association selects the titles on these five lists. Revised every five years, the lists offer reading opportunities for independent reading and lifelong learning.

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