Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is It A Goal Or A Quest??

In August I blogged about my goal to read all the 2009 Anthony Award nominated works in preparation for Bouchercon this October. At that time, I had read only four of the twenty-three nominated books, and none of the short stories. I’m happy to say that after multiple visits to three libraries and a bookstore, I now have read twenty-two nominated books and all six short stories.

The nonfiction critical works presented the biggest challenge, because our county library system didn’t carry two of them. My local librarian was able to jump on WorldCAT (which I could have done from home if only I were that clever) and tell me that these two books were available at our two largest local university libraries. That would be one book at each library, not one library with both books available (life is never that easy). Good news, I graduated from both these universities, and rumor was I had alumni privileges to check out books.

I verified this fact by phone first. One university library said, “Come right in.” The other said, “Stop at the registrar’s office first and get an alumni identification card.” Rats.

Visiting your old university stomping grounds could be a pleasant trip down memory lane for some people. Not me.

The first university is within city limits, which makes it the picky parking university. Back in my day, it had a free-for-all parking situation on the city street running alongside the campus and issued parking privileges on-campus only to those who paid for them. Now the university appears to own that street, and they installed meters. (If you want to know how I feel about metered parking, read my debut novel, For Better, For Murder, to get the gist.) The day I visited, I had only twenties in my wallet. The helpful information guard said I could park in one zone with my flashers on for fifteen minutes, which meant I had to hustle.

In the library, I approached their information desk and showed the Dewey decimal classification to the girl. She said, “Oh, follow the yellow lines on the floor to the elevators, then go down in the stacks on the mezzanine level.” I remembered the yellow lines and the subterranean stacks, but not much else after twenty-three years. When I craned my neck looking for the yellow lines, she took pity on me and led me to the elevators.

The stacks were as lonely and creepy as ever. All the lights are motion sensitive, and I was the only motion…sound…presence. I like to be alone, but not quite that alone. It took me a while to find the right aisle, call number, etc. Then I panicked because it looked like the book might be on the top shelf—well out of any normal human being’s reach. But, no, it was on the bottom shelf.

I grabbed the book, pleased to see it was relatively short, and took off for the elevators, my flip-flops slapping the gleaming floor.

I turned a corner and almost smacked right into another woman. My heart skipped a beat. I gasped then laughed. She apologized for scaring me.

The girl at the checkout desk asked for my alumni ID card and gave me a little talk about the need for one when I failed to produce—so much for calling ahead to get their requirements—then let me check out the book for four weeks without any kind of ID whatsoever.

Now I was off to my second institution of higher learning, the one I attended only at night. It looks different in the daylight—and after fourteen years. But the parking is still free and plentiful.

First I got in queue at the registrar’s office with the incoming students to obtain my alumni ID card. Their parents all smiled at me, undoubtedly because they recognized a woman of their own age group. I got the card. Nice picture; just doesn’t look much like me.

Then I walked over to the library, and the circulation desk attendant directed me to the dark, claustrophobic (my closet’s bigger and I’m not bragging) elevator and the third floor. I turned right as I exited the elevator. (Yes, I’m right-handed.) Shoulda turned left. I found the book…eventually.

Of course, the library’s computer didn’t recognize an ID card issued fifteen minutes prior, but another girl fixed me right up. So fast I wondered if I’d really needed that ID card after all.

By now I was re-thinking my choice of footwear. My bad knee ached, causing a slight limp. Plus, I needed a restroom. I decided that urge could wait until I got home.

Did I mention I was now almost as far from my home as one can get without leaving the county? Or that, in fact, almost every road in the county was under construction, causing motorists delays?

You may wonder why I’m going to all this trouble. I wondered, too. I don’t go to this much trouble for much of anything, including presidential elections. Here’s why I am this time.

First, I said I would do it, which means I have to do it. One is only as good as one’s word, right? Second, this time I’m one vote amongst, what, 1,400 instead of one vote amongst millions (with no electoral college involved as far as I know). Finally, in theory, these Anthony award-nominated works should come from our genre’s best and brightest writers, people I can learn something from. These authors can tell me about their cleverness at Bouchercon or show me through their work. I’m a “show me” learner. Always have been.

Now if only I can only reach the top of the library’s reserve list for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.


Alan Orloff said...

Wow, Lisa. You have such determination. Where do you find the time?

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

You're good! I need to incorporate more time for reading into my day.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I am so IMPRESSED! If you can do this, you can do ANYTHING!

Lisa Bork said...

Alan - I'm a stay at home mom. Somedays there's no time; others, nothing but.

Elizabeth - The bad thing is I can't write while I'm reading. I'm sure you're writing your next book.

Sue Ann - You have two successful series. I'M impressed.