Monday, January 26, 2009

Feature Intro: Book It!

Fifty percent of the contributors to this blog worked as a library page during high school. And although she didn't know it at the time, it was one of the better jobs NT has ever had. Not only did she get to wear her cool-as-ice cassette Walkman around the library while reshelving Chilton's car repair manuals, but she also participated in "shelf reading." Now, shelf-reading was a requirement of the job, but probably NT would have done it for free. Here was what you did during shelf-reading. Each month (or week?) each page got a section of the library to shelf-read. Say you have the 900s. When there were no books to reshelve, you'd head over to the 900s (geography and history!) and then sit there and make sure all the books were in the correct Dewey decimal or alphabetical order, pull them to the front of the shelf, and make sure the shelves weren't over-stuffed. Sound boring? Psyche! For NT, it was heavenly. Naturally, there were some sections that were no fun. The science-fiction section, for example, where books were sticky with boogers, or the picture books, which were a mess. Don't even get me started, okay?

NT's favorite section to shelf-read? Children's paperback fiction. Just the thought of that one aisle in the library is enough to put poor NT into a joy-induced coma. Everything you could ever want was in the children's paperback fiction. Baby-Sitters Club, obviously
. Choose Your Own Adventure. Boxcar Children. All the good stuff. Seventeen-year-old NT would sit there jamming to her bootleg copy of Barenaked Ladies' Rock Spectacle and flip through the latest Jerry Spinelli. Too good.

During a recent Christmas-time visit to her mother's house, NT rediscovered a treasure-trove of "chapter books" in the make-shift library in the unheated breezeway between the house and garage. So many books, all of the creased down their paperback spines, their dog-eared pages all yellowed and smelling like mildew. So fantastic. Upon reading these books, NT realized that some books she remembered as amzing when she first read them were, honestly, supershitty, while others broug
ht a genuine laugh out from between her old, weather-worn lips. She tried to read real adult books, borrowing stuff from her sister and mother, but she kept going back to the cheesy ghost stories and tales of eighth-grade dances complete with pencil drawings. These books might have been written for girls who had not yet started their periods, but that doesn't mean that they can't be appreciated and enjoyed by these girls' older incarnations.

As usual, NT was ahead of her time. With the recent popularity of Harry Potter and Twilight, it appears that the whole world had realized that lit for the middle-school set is where it's at, bitches.

And thus is introduced Book It! Remember Book It!? (Not an interrobang, just a happy coincidence) You'd read a number of books, probably ten, and for each book you'd get a sticker which you'd put on a button and after ten you'd take your filled-in button to Pizza Hut and get a pizza? Attention, NT participated in Book It!. She loved Book It!. She rocked the fucking socks off Book It!. But she never took her filled-in buttons to Pizza Hut to get the pizza. That's right. NT did Book It! for the pure love of books and reading! She didn't need no damn pizza to want to read, and she still doesn't! Well, maybe it'd be nice if people would buy her pizza for reading. But anyway, this feature will profile a children's chapter book every couple of weeks. NT will give a general summary of the book, a little bit of a reccommendation, maybe at some point a ratings system will develop. Who knows! This is basically just a way for NT to not feel so lame reading books with pictures that count in under 100 pages on the train to her job at a major university. Word up!