The 1Q84 Files: An RA Investigation

Date: 1 January 2013
Location: Coffee Culture, Rangiora (South Island, New Zealand)
Time: 11.37am
Protagonists: Sally Pewhairangi and Paul Brown

Napkin artist coffee cup with handle on the right


[In which Paul only gets slapped once.]

Sally: Hey Paul. Happy New Year! What about this for a project? Some of my friends on Twitter have been doing reading challenges last year, you know, where you read 366 books in a year and record them. Well, there’s no way I can read that many books, but it got me thinking about a reading challenge idea. What do you think about making a reading map?
Paul: [Warning! Warning Paul Brown! Additional workload approaching!] So with everything else that you’re doing in 2013 you’re now planning on giving up sleep? Okay, okay, given that I’m failing on my man reading project of 1Q84, [don’t ask folks] that book would make an excellent choice for a reading map project.
Sally: Are you serious? Are you going to do this with me?
Paul: I’ll get a slap if I don’t.
Sally: [slap]

And so the project begins.

Napkin artist Dinner plate and friends

[In which Paul uses a lot of big words to impress Sally.]

Paul: This offers huge possibilities in terms of…’Project Scope’ [he says, seeking to impress the accredited project manager sitting in his company].
Sally: ooh ooh Paul. What if we had a His and Hers reading map. Your interpretation of 1Q84 may be different to mine and it would be really interesting to see if it really is.
Paul: Crikey, you know that this ties in nicely with the maxim that no two people read the same book. And that it might even extend to a gender interpretation of a magnum opus like Mr Murakami’s.
Sally: What do you mean no two people read the same book?
Paul: Hhhhmmm, readers’ advisors understand that the personal preferences, personality types, reading and life experiences which the reader brings to the book means that they will interpret and appreciate the story in a completely different way to anybody else.
Sally: Huh.
Paul: Okee dokee, a couple of things. And what good luck that someone has rolled this mobile pulpit up to our table so that I may step right up and deliver one of my infamously frightful sermons. It goes like this: one of the reasons I would particularly like to test 1Q84 in this type of project is that it presents me with an opportunity to read a piece of Japanese literature where I don’t have to start at the back page and read towards the front; that should make things easier for a traditional-post-Gutenberg-old-style-front-to-back-type-of-reader like myself.
Sally: [Rolls eyes, back to front – Japanese style.]
Paul: But what makes this project really exciting is that reading maps comprise part of the Holy Trinity of 21st century readers’ advisory work. If a public library is advancing towards becoming uber-professional in its RA accomplishments it will take up the challenge of excelling in all three of the following areas.

  1. Reading maps
  2. Contextual reading products
  3. Genre reading programmes for staff professional development

Sally: Yeah but we’re not going to do all of that aye? Just the first one.
Paul: Whatever is the right answer and helps me to avoid another slap.
Sally: So we’re just doing reading maps.
Paul: A His and a Hers baby. Yeah, a His and Hers.

Project: His and Hers reading maps of 1Q84 are officially signed off.

Napkin artist sandwich with multigrain bread no pickle


[In which some project definition is achieved much to Sally’s relief.]

Paul: Reading maps seem non-existent as part of RA in Australasian public libraries but I’ll be getting stuck into this project with some kind of missionary zeal. [Sadly, Paul starts humming the Eurythmic song Missionary Man.]
Sally: So it’s a chance to lead by example and show others how it can be done. Shall we have a reading map framework or shall we keep it fairly loose?
Paul: [Paul is busy singing to himself…and anybody else in the café who has tuned in, “Don’t mess with the Missionary Man, yeah, don’t mess with the Missionary Man”.] The project will have more tangible benefits if we document our progress and cite resources which we have used to manufacture our respective reading maps; by the time we get to the end of the project we could come up with a useful tip sheet for reading map design and application.
Sally: And it also means that if there are His and Her differences we’re free to reflect that.
Paul: Well, there are some loose and fast rules around reading maps [Sally rolls eyes, and thinks ‘loose and fast’ is not a framework]. When I’m asked about templates for reading maps in my workshops I generally show the image of Albert Einstein pointing to his noggin. Human imagination is the template. Reading maps allow us to break free. [Sally wants to break free] from the usual diktats and boundaries which are telling us “How to” and “How not to do” things. If we are truly a profession that craves imagination and creativity then this area of work offers up fertile ‘new’ ground for those up to the challenge… however, many will fall [Yeah, you read it right, this kind of stuff is not for the lazy librarian who has retreated from exploring more creative and exciting ways for our profession to champion their communities reading habit. Back to your meta-process-shackled-shelf-tidying-desk-roster-dull-world, and… shame!]
Sally: [Lost for words.]
Paul: [Who is seldom lost for words] Hey, I’ve found the words you’ve lost and they’re are just spilling out of me now.  The brilliant thing about reading maps, Reason #137 [Sally is bored and checks Twitter] is that they go far beyond the narrow task definition of reading which recommendations and Top 10 lists tend to have become limited to. Sally it’s okay if you’re now focussed on Twitter because I am so enthralled with my own man-speak that I am my own captive audience of one and I don’t want to disappoint him/me. [Sally is no longer listening].
Paul: [Who knows a trick or three to get her to re-focus]. Hey you there! Yes you, Sally P. I can see you from up here in my pulpit checking Twitterpedia or whatever and not listening to these gems of genesis-book-reading-map-making, so may I ask you: What is our deadline for this project, dear?
Sally: [Sally hears a keyword!] Somewhere near the end of the year. Not too close to Christmas though.
Paul: And with occasional His and Her updates on this blog?
Sally: Yeah, separate updates. Do you wanna put it on here, or create a new one?
Paul: Nuh, I don’t want to create any extra work for you. Let the project begin and live here.

Gee, you know what folks; it actually looks like this might work: His and Hers Reading maps by end of 2013 with occasional blog updates during the year.


 Suggestions welcome


[In which you are invited to get all jiggy and involved with us…in a professional capacity of course.]

Paul: Plus, as some kind of bonus added feature let’s make this project, jiggy-licious and invite the beautiful and excitingly smart people out there to submit suggested titles for inclusion in our reading maps.
Sally: Good idea!  Ladies can add comments to this blog, tweet me at @sallyheroes or send an email to:
Paul: And the lads can also add comments to this blog or send me an email at Woo hoo, crowdsourcing!

Forthcoming Attractions:

  • Readeriums from Mr Murakami’s Banquet
  • A Perfectly Rational fear of Tokyo Taxi Drivers
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Reading Maps
  • Heroes Inside. Not as Bright as a Thousand Suns…More a
    Place Where Heroes Shimmer
  • Confessions of a Murakami Virgin
  • A Profession Requiring Specialised Techniques and Training
  • Objects of Desire


Paul Brown
Paul has been providing Sally with eye-rolling practice on an almost fulltime basis since 1997, at other times he is an’ adventurer’ in Readers’ Advisory work; since 2008 he has facilitated numerous workshops for public libraries across New Zealand and Australia, as well as undertaking speaking engagements at various industry conferences and hui in the subject area he takes a very Zen-like approach to, preferring to nominate himself as a ‘perpetual beginner’ rather than an ‘expert’. His investigative journey through the places where libraries and the human ‘storytelling’ experience intersect has led him to his ‘Very Next Big Thing’: something Paul likes to call ‘Contextual Readers’ Advisory’. He’ll be offering the sliver of a glimpse at this ‘Everest of readers’ advisory challenges’ for attendees at this year’s ALIA Online Conference in Brisbane. An ‘Auroran’ (Class of ’03) and occasional independent training consultant, Paul works in Auckland Libraries [Mighty] Training and Development Team with his portfolio focused on Readers’ Advisory & Reader Development.

Sally Pewhairangi
Graduating in the early 1990’s and with over 15 years library experience in a range of New Zealand libraries, Sally is the Strategic Services Development Coordinator for Waimakariri District Libraries. As you might have noticed, Sally is pretty familiar with Paul’s monologues, loves the thrill of projects and the opportunity of sharing them with others. This project enables Sally to see how much work is involved in developing a reading map before actually trying it out at work. Sally has written over two dozen articles for LIANZA’s fortnightly newsletter, is a LIANZA member and Aurora Alumni.


  1. Briar Milligan says:

    Awesome! I’ve been trying to find an excuice to get throguh 1Q84 and now I might have a reason. I’m listening to an audiobook version, which is sort of cheating but also heaps more fun.

    1. Sally says:

      Thanks Briar. We’d be keen to hear what you think about it and your thoughts on our upcoming blog posts.

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