Date: 24 January 2014
Location: Coffee Culture, Rangiora (South Island, New Zealand)
Protagonists: Sally Pewhairangi and Paul Brown
Reality: Not quite the same as it was this month back in 2013
And so here we are, back where it all started.
Sally: Wow, what a year (and a bit with GST).
Paul: So Sally, will you be irretrievably lost without 1Q84 consuming your life?
Sally: In a way yes, but mostly no. I’m glad it’s over and I’m glad we did it. It was intense and a challenge finding books to meet the high literary standards of 1Q84 but in the end I’m pleased with my selection and I think it looks awesome!
Paul: Yeah, 1Q84 does not lend itself to the same lazy ‘let’s all go to the goodreads.com mall and shop for a bunch of read-a-likes’ style of librarianship.
Sally: You’re right. You’ll never see this kind of selection anywhere else. It’s handpicked for a specific audience, not generic subject headings you can find anywhere for any kind of reader.
Paul: Yep, having consulted numerous online resources to produce my intelligent (?!) bundle of linked reading to 1Q84 I think the exercise has reinforced for me the not-quite wholesale failure of algorithms to get to grips with the meaning of stories NOR be able to match the abilities of a librarian at the top of his or her game.
Sally: I also looked at heaps of online resources and was disappointed by how little there was that truly showed the breadth and depth of themes found in 1Q84. Most online resources were based on subject headings such as ‘man-woman relationship’ [even the flies in the café chuckled when they heard that one] or existentialism, and 1Q84 is so much more than that.
Paul: I’ll admit that the paint-by-numbers formula can be sufficient for a half-decent bookmark, but interpretative world-building around a genesis book demands far more creativity and perseverance, ensuring that books are not included due to their convenience factor (i.e. what appears in a reading map is on a first-come-first-served basis). And the books that are selected for inclusion must be intimately known to the librarian.
Sally: [moves Paul along] Are we going to talk about the content of the reading maps here?
Paul: Yeah, nah, no. I don’t intend to, well, not yet anyway, because I’d like anybody who wants to view our reading maps to see them first without being influenced by the decision making around what titles were included and excluded.
Sally: So what are we going to talk about here?
Paul: Ta da!! Here are our reading maps. Plain and simple. If there are inquiring minds that want to know why we made the selections we did, and how we arrived at our choices, then they can just ask the super friendly ‘Her’ and/or ‘Him’ and we’ll answer those questions in a subsequent post. If people would like to know about the resources we consulted, the decision making processes we employed and any handy hints and tips I’m sure we can reveal the science behind the ‘magic’.
What this project has provided me with is considerable hands-on experience; enough to allow me to start cobbling together ideas for development of a reader’s advisory module looking at reading map construction.
Sally: Oooh. That sounds interesting.
Paul: So it’s ‘sayonara’ Haruki and hello George Orwell for my next reading map project.
Sally: Are you going to do a reading map on 1984? Really?
Paul: Yes. I might appear to be stuck in an alpha-numeric groove here but 1984 is going to follow 1Q84 and it will be my ode to one of the most influential cultural pieces in Western society of the past century. After that my intention is to do a series of “Bad” reading maps each one themed around books and movies based upon designated locations possessing sinister content. E.g. ‘bad roads’, ‘bad western’, ‘bad science’, ‘bad circus’ and ‘bad ice’.
Sally: That’s a bit of reading. When are you going to get these done by?
Paul: Oh no, the project manager is back. She wants a timeframe, she wants a deadline, and she wants commitment. She can’t have these things. But all these maps will have blokey appeal and will champion ‘man versus wild’ reading interests as opposed to the nice-nice of ‘library card holding man meets mild’. Think UFC fighters hitchhiking and being picked up by Top Gear on their way to participate in a South American revolution. The maps will be fuelled by some kind of dangerously inflammable Mad Max high-octane substance abuse. [The previous sentence was proudly sponsored by 10 year old Talisker Single Malt whiskey. As with a lot of great artists, and a lot more drunks, Paul finds a lot of inspiration from a bottle of stuff which goes really well with smoked salmon – according to the label on the bottle – and chocolate raisins – according to Paul.]*
Sally: [Rolls her eyes] Whatever. I’m doing a Year of Romance Reading with a head-to-head LoveMatch between New Zealand and The World. I want to focus on a genre that is more popular than any other, yet dismissed by many librarians as ‘unworthy’ reading.
Paul: Ooh GRPs [Genre Reading Programmes]. Jing’s and cribbens-oh-mighty, GRPs are part of the magnificent Holy Trinity of 21st Century Readers’ Advisory you know. I have taught you well Sally-san. [Paul is now having one of his David Carradine Kung-Fu influenced moments, believing his gibberish to actually be some kind of ancient Oriental wisdom. Knob. Which must mean…]
That now, the time for talking is over.
Ladies and gentleman.
For your pleasure.
May we present.
‘His and Her’ reading maps.
Of Haruki Murakami’s [almost magnificent?] 1Q84.
Paul: Oooh, look up at the sky Sally. There’s only one moon.
*[Note from Sally – ‘man vs wild’ was originally sponsored by Vodka Lime Cruisers, but they don’t mix well with chocolate raisins…]