‘America’s Librarian’ celebrates books

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Charles H. Featherstone/Columbia Basin Herald ‘America’s Librarian’ Nancy Pearl was in Moses Lake on Tuesday to talk about books she’s reading and the novel she wrote.

MOSES LAKE — Nancy Pearl wasn’t sure she’d ever write a novel.

“So I wrote a novel. Who knew? I never knew I had a novel in me,” Pearl said.

A librarian, book reviewer for National Public Radio, and prolific author of books about books with titles like Book Lust and Book Crush, Pearl was in Moses Lake on Tuesday evening to talk a little about what she’s reading.

And the novel she wrote — George & Lizzie.

“One night, I had these two characters come into my head,” Pearl said of her titular characters, George and Lizzie.

It’s the story of two people who have very different ideas as to what makes a marriage — George grew up well loved, while Lizzie was raised by two famous psychologists who viewed her more as an experiment than as their child — who then have to come to terms with their relationship after a secret surfaces from Lizzie’s past.

Pearl said she first envisioned her characters meeting in a bowling alley in Ann Arbor, Michigan — Pearl is from Michigan — and then, over the next few years, she told herself stories about them, until she realized she had enough for a book.

“I like character driven books,” she said. “It was all in my head, and it took much long than it should have because I have no discipline.”

She’s not sure she has another novel in her. But as someone known as “America’s Librarian,” Pearl had a clutch of book recommendations, and said that reading shouldn’t be a chore.

“Reading should be for pleasure, a good book is good if you like it,” she said.

Right now, Pearl said she reads for escape, with authors Lee Child and Nick Petrie topping her list.

“Normally, the first book in a series is my favorite,” she said. “After that, they go down pretty quickly. There’s a point where your best book is behind you.”

She said she looks for books that are well-written with compelling characters. Among the books she recommended are:

• The Christmas Crocodile by Bonny Becker. An illustrated children’s book, this is the story of a girl who finds a crocodile under a Christmas tree, and her desire to find the crocodile a family. “It’s the perfect pairing of author and illustrator,” Pearl said.

• Proving Ground by Peter Blauner. The story of an Iraq War veteran who goes looking for the person who killed his father, a civil rights attorney, with the help of a New York police officer. “I could not put it down,” Pearl said. “I sure hope he brings back these characters.”

• A Rising Man by Abir Mukherjee. Set in 1919 just after the First World War, this is the story of an Englishman who joins the Calcutta Police in British India. “I highly recommend this book. It’s so interesting to read a book about India in 1919 written by an Indian from the point of view of an Englishman.”

More than anything, as a former librarian and someone who wanted to be a children’s librarian since she herself was a child, Pearl simply wants to encourage people to pick up books and read.

“I want to pass on the love of reading,” she said.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at countygvt@columbiabasinherald.com.

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