Monday, October 20, 2008

Kinship on the Shelves

Have you noticed the machines in the aisles of the library emitting high-pitched beeps? Usually there is a person standing at the machine doing a dance of reaching and sliding with a book or dvd. This has all been in the name of RFID - Radio Frequency Identification. The use of this technology will translate into more efficient check out and check in of library materials.

One day while engaged in this workout of putting the RFID metallic stickers on the backs of books, I let my mind wander from the job at hand, and started paying attention to the titles and book jackets. Much to my amazement, there is a lot of kinship on the shelves.

I noticed many a title with a relationship word in the title. Hitler's Niece, American Wife , Fortunate Son, The Husband. So what’s up with all these? Do they have something in common? If you like one, will another prove to be appealing as well? Does the title describe the antagonist or protagonist? Which relationship noun is used most? Using the library catalog* searching the Des Plaines Library collection, I found “Wife” is used 150 times, “Husband” 39 , “Daughter” 180, “Son” 83, “Sister” 84, “Brother” 46, “Niece” 3, “Nephew” 2. When “Cousin” came up empty I decided to stop.

Now on my reading list is The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, a title that escaped me when it was a bestseller in 2002. It’s been made into a movie and is coming out in December. Also on my list is A Partisan's Daughter by Louis De Bernieres. Once upon a time, I read another book by the same author titled Corelli’s Mandolin and loved it. Lighter and sure to be delightful is The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith.

*Want to do the search yourself? We’ll be happy to show you the power search capability. Stop at the desk or give us a call at (847) 376-2840. Speaking of kinship on the shelves and RFID tagging, the photo up above features mother-daughter team Kathleen Barnes and Gail Bradley, both DPPL employees.


Jeanne said...

Cathy, I've noticed the same thing! In the last few months, I've read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld and My Sister, My Love by Joyce Carol Oates. What's even more interesting? Both are loosely based on the lives of real people. Sittenfeld's novel is loosely based on the life of Laura Bush, and the novel by Oates is based on the story of JonBenet Ramsey. Both novels were guilty pleasures for me.

Jo said...

How about The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards. This was a huge bestseller, but I confess that I seem to be the only person in the world who thought it was forced and melodramatic. (Who was the Memory Keeper anyway?)

Karen said...

I wonder if what this means is that, despite the alternative worlds of fantasy, science fiction and even historical fiction, there's no bigger drama, no richer pageant, than the stories we create in our own homes and families...

Anonymous said...

I have to recommend Three Girls and Their Brother by Theresa Rebeck. I have a really good relationship with my (only) brother, so I'm always interested to read about sibling friendships. In the Rebeck book, the brother is left out and neglected when the three teenage sisters become Manhattan "it" girls as the result of a New Yorker photo shoot.

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