What I’m Reading | Jo Ann Schindler
Hawai`i State Librarian

Q&A with Christine Thomas December 2007

-Dare I ask–what are you reading?

I am currently skimming several books on retirement since I will be entering that “third age” at the end of the year. Most of the books are about financial planning, which is not surprising. While that’s essential, I am more interested in learning about the personal experiences of those who have gone through this rite of passage and transformation. Millions of baby boomers will be going down that path in the next decades, so retirement will be redefined by — if not the greatest generation — then at least a great big generation.

The books which moved me the most this year included “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd. These authors have the ability to grab readers and immediately pull them into their characters’ lives across time and space. This is also true of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which I re-read, along with “The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan. These books were both candidates for Hawaii’s Big Read project. “The Joy Luck Club” was selected as our State’s title this year, and we invite everyone to read the book, attend theatre performances, participate in facilitated discussions, attend group readings and related programs, watch the film, and listen to director Wayne Wang’s panel discussion during the Hawaii International Film Festival.

A book which I just discovered is “Honolulu Then and Now” by Sheila Sarhangi. It contains side-by-side historical and contemporary photographs of notable buildings in our city. Two buildings which caught my eye are the Hawai`i State Library and the King Kamehameha V Post Office, where my office is located. I’d like to learn more about the architects and the history of the many handsome structures which are sometimes overshadowed by the steel and glass towers in downtown Honolulu.

Ask me a year from now what I’m reading. I’ll be retired and will finally have the time to read the hundreds of books on dozens of topics which interest me. First on the list will be “The Wheel of Darkness” by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, creators of the always riveting Aloysius Pendergast series. BOE member Mary Cochran recommended it to me as a great read set in part on a luxury ocean liner. Sounds like a winner!

-How do you discover and choose books to read?

Some recommendations come from my mom, an avid reader, who introduced me to “The Kite Runner” and Janice Evanovichan—an odd combo to be sure. Another book enthusiast in the family is my husband Mark, a physics and astronomy professor, who has an inquisitive mind, a twisted sense of humor, and a very wide range of interests. Watching Jon Stewart on The Daily Show usually results in one of us placing an online request via the library catalog for a book by one of the fascinating guests.

-How does your personal reading influence your efforts to serve the public and reach new readers, especially at a time when people say no one reads anymore?

I love to read! When my husband came home from work one day, our building manager mentioned that the elevator was stuck for a while. When the elevator doors were finally pried open, there was a lady sitting on the floor reading a book. Mark said to me, “That was you, wasn’t it?” I confessed that it was and that I was disappointed to be rescued.

I am very proud of our library staff, and especially our youth services specialists, who select wonderful titles for their collections and promote the joy and love of reading through story times, book talks, and orientations. With State funding, special funds, and grants from our statewide and local Friends groups, we support library materials purchases, special needs projects, and professional growth through conference participation and continuing education. Reading is one of the greatest pleasures in life, and it enriches, informs, and allows anyone to take part in the world’s collective wisdom and experience.