Name: Hi everyone! I’m Jen Streckmann, a student at the UBC Library School. I’m doing a two week placement with NVCL and am excited to share my recommendations and favourite spots with you!
Job Title: Practicum Student at NVCL
Best book I have read this year: One of my favourite reads this year was M. Train by Patti Smith. M. Train is the second memoir of Smith’s, and delves into the loss of her partner, her writing process, and of course includes a lot of rumination on black coffee, which she
drinks quite religiously. Peppered throughout the book are many beautiful one-liners and thoughts on life and what it means to create. As a prominent figure of the New York punk movement in the 70’s, Smith’s memoir moves fluidly through her past and present in a
slightly stream-of-consciousness style. I recommend this book for anyone who loves to sit and think in coffee shops, or anyone who has a crippling coffee addiction, as I do.
I will read any book by: Neil Gaiman! I love the allusions that Gaiman sprinkles throughout his books, like an Easter egg hunt for the reader. As a teenager I was a complete fantasy fanatic, and as I’ve grown up writers like Gaiman help me fulfill that lingering attraction to myths and legends. I loved American Gods, his book where the old Gods (Egyptian, Greek, etc.) have to battle the new Gods of America, which happen to represent current society’s values, such as money and technology. It is a thrilling road trip through American culture, beliefs, and history. If you’re looking for a shorter read, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a beautifully nostalgic tale of a man’s trip down memory lane.
I also have to add a shout-out to Kurt Vonnegut in this section, because his strange sense
of blunt humour appeals to my dark side. Slaughterhouse 5 may well be my favourite book ever, but I also really enjoy his weirder works, such as Galapagos. This is a story spanning millions of years where a small group of humans survive the death of the entire human race after being marooned on the Galapagos Islands. Complete with a ghost and seal-people hybrids, this is definitely a quick summer read, but maybe don’t read it if you’re thinking about a cruise.
Best place to curl up with a book on a rainy day: I love reading books outside my apartment, it makes me feel as though I am participating in the world and helps prevent me from turning reading into napping, which can happen often (student, remember?). It also doesn’t hurt if I can order a good coffee, so I love reading at Kafka’s or 49th Parallel coffee on Main St.
Best place to lounge with a book in the sun: I hail from East Van, so I would have to say one of my favourite spots is Dude-Chilling Park, or any park, or anywhere with a hammock really.
A book I know I should read, but haven’t: 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. I have seen this book on countless library display shelves, and heard people rave about it for years. Having loved other works by Murakami such as The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and Norwegian Wood I am sure I’ll love this book, but have never actually taken the plunge. The story has to do with Tokyo, parallell worlds, and mystical cults, all of which sound incredibly interesting, so I will eventually get to it! Perhaps tomorrow!
The book I push on all my friends because it is soooooooo good: Recently the book I’ve been recommending to friends is Karl Ove Knausgård’s A Death in the Family, which is the first book in his six-part semi-autobiographical series titled My Struggle. This series was a smash-hit in Norway, and has since been translated into many languages. There is something very addictive about Knausgård’s writing style and the intensely personal moments that he ruminates on. Quite frequently as a reader I found that Knausgård could put into words ideas and questions which had been floating around my head for years. It’s the type of writing where you become so engrossed in his world that you will wake up from the book and realize you’re almost done. I dare you to read just the first 20 pages of A Death in the Family and see if you don’t wake up somewhere in the fifth book.
Where you can find me: I’ll be at North Van City Library for two weeks, generally clutching a coffee and learning as much as I can! Come say hi and we can chat about books!