Norman Public Library
This month’s ‘Staff Selections’ columnist is Steven, an Information Services Librarian who has worked at Norman Public Library since 2005. A lifelong Oklahoman, Steven grew up in the tiny towns of Konawa and Sasakwa and went on to earn a B.A. in English at East Central University in Ada. After teaching for a short time at the junior high and college levels, he spent several years pursuing a career as a professional musician, touring the United States with blues and rockabilly bands. “If you can call it a 'career',” he laughs. “I certainly didn’t get rich, but I got to play some great shows with some great musicians and see a lot of beautiful country, particularly out west.” Steven eventually went back to school and completed a Master’s degree in Library and Information Studies at OU in 2010.
“My reading tastes lean toward nonfiction,” he says. “There are a lot of good writers these days like Erik Larson, Malcolm Gladwell, Jon Krakauer and David Grann who really know to take thorough journalistic research and weave it into a compelling narrative. I also enjoy graphic novels, and have been a huge fan of audiobooks for years. I get tons of great stuff from PLS’s OverDrive downloadable catalog. My favorite thing is to take a long hike with my dog, and to be able to experience a great audiobook at the same time is just about the best thing there is.”
Blue Highways: A Journey Into America by William Least Heat-Moon
Steven: “This is my favorite book, and had a lot to do with getting me hooked on travel literature and nonfiction in general. Heat-Moon was a college professor back in the 1970s when he lost both his job and his marriage in a short span of time, and decided to tour the country in a Ford van to clear his head. He shares rich, poetic descriptions of the people and places he discovers along the way. A great pictorial, Blue Highways Revisited, came out in late 2012; it was done by a father and son who were big fans of the book and retraced the journey, taking amazing photos of the places described in Heat-Moon's work."
Steven: “Released in 2008, this is Theroux’s fascinating follow-up to The Great Railway Bazaar, the classic account of his four-month journey across Asia by train in 1975, which established him as one of the preeminent practicioners of travel literature. The author undertook the same journey in 2006 and herein reflects on all of the geographical, political, and technological changes he encountered along the route after thirty years. Theroux has also written eloquently of similar rail journeys across China, The Americas, England and Africa.”
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling; read by Jim Dale
Steven: “While the Potter books are great stories in themselves, what really hooked me and keeps me returning to them is Jim Dale’s incredibly nuanced, dramatic reading of the books. His voice work on the series earned Grammy Awards and even a Guinness World Record for creating an astounding 146 separate character voices for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The audio series is available on CD or to download from PLS’s OverDrive collection.”
Steven: “This graphic memoir was listed among the best books of 2006 by The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Amazon.com and Entertainment Weekly, and was named the Best Book of that year by Time. It chronicles Bechdel’s troubled relationship with her father and her attempts to reconcile her feelings following his mysterious death. It also deals with the author’s coming to terms with her sexuality and her shared love of literature with her father, an English teacher. The subject matter and a number of the drawings are mature and controversial, so this definitely isn’t a comic for kids, but it’s an outstanding biography and, judging by its critical reception, an important piece of literature.”