Dick Lange reading to Scott & Trina Lange, approx. 1966

Dick Lange reading to Scott & Trina Lange, approx. 1966

I’m the kind of reader who often just grabs books from the shelves at the library—mostly based on the covers, of course—instead of reading reviews or searching for books I might like. Maybe it’s actually the English major in me who had to read whatever the professors required, but it’s not the best technique. Do I really want to read another Moby Dick or a Tom Jones for fun?

More often the books that most disappoint have much fewer redeeming qualities than those classics. What I really hate is a book where I can’t bring myself to care about a single character and/or where the ending provides not even the slightest glimmer of hope. Although I’m not looking for unflawed characters or the sappiest of happy endings, I don’t need hopelessness either. If I want to find tales of doom and gloom, I can just look around the larger world or even my own personal realm and not waste my time reading.

The local library here in Englewood has started a program that just might save me from myself—or at least from my random reading habits. Good Books, Your Books provides readers with a personal advisor (from the library staff) who recommends books based upon a reader’s answers to survey questions and personal follow-up questions.

So far my advisor, Children’s Librarian Hillary Cole Davis, has been spot on with her recommendations for me. She’s found the right mix of serious and not-so-serious reads for me. I can handle a little murder, mayhem, abuse, and/or estrangement, as long as growth follows. On the other hand, I also like to intersperse the deeper reads with something a little formulaic and humorous—as long as I still need to bring my intellect along for the reading ride.

Stretching from the modern-day disparate locales of Wyoming and the English countryside to turn-of-the 20th century rural New York State to the divided England of the Wars of the Roses, the settings of my reads have been just as diverse as before but the stories are more suited to my tastes.

Our public libraries are fighting to stay relevant in an age filled with access to overwhelming amounts of information—and they succeed best when they help us to filter out the excess noise and find not only what we were looking for in the first place, but also a few surprising discoveries along the way.