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Saturday, March 28, 2009


Shelf Monkey
by Corey Redekop

For starters, I usually prefer not to read books about our time. We live it. We are inundated with it. The news coverage is already overwhelming. The worse it gets out there, the more I long to reread Buddenbrooks.

However...occasionally a book overlaps so closely with my actual life that I not only bother reading it, I really enjoy reading it. (Wow - does that ever sound egocentric!)

Shelf Monkey is, delightfully, one of those. Although the narrator, megabookstore-employee Thomas Friesen, is almost painfully manic, his tastes, his book dreams and his book frustrations are similar to mine. I am even a bit of a shelf monkey myself, volunteering in a school library once a week. (Is anything more pathetic than a librarian wanna-be? We even inhabit the same loser-land.) The key idea for a shelf monkey is that the books are more important than the readers.

The premise of the book - bookstore staff jointly working up their frustrations to the point where they snatch an opportunity to attack a talk-show host cum purveyor of trash-fiction - is the set-up for a disquisition on the culture of reading as I guess is experienced by...dare I say it?...many readers and most, if not all LibraryThingers. The tone is hard and smart and funny. The story is sufficient unto itself - no padding. Hate padding!

I have promised to lend my copy to a few friends, but I really want to keep it close to hand, to track down the references to books that I couldn't get or re-read the ones that seem like they might bear new fruit. The whole book is like a conversation about books with a smart-ass friend.

And thus, in conclusion, Shelf Monkey rox!

Fun fact: I discovered Corey Redekop on LibraryThing because I saw that he connected two books I love through Recommendations, and I looked at his profile only to discover he is a writer himself! Go LibraryThing!

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