In Praise of the Amateurish

Last week I went with a friend to our local library, for a Book Café. It´s a very unpretentious function, tea or coffee in plastic mugs, and one of those flat, long-shaped buns the Swedish call vetelängd.

Two librarians, of two different generations, present reading suggestions to a small congregation of middle-aged and elderly ladies and a couple of culturally afflicted men. One of the ladies was positive to everything, even the fairly large pile of dystopian novels the young guy presented. The older guy was more into local history, as am I, and I did come away with some interesting reading suggestions.

What bugged me a little bit was how they talked too much about the content of the books. It reminded me of when my mother-in-law has read a book that has made an impression on her, she can go on and on for hours, retelling the entire story in detail, as if it´s something that happened to a dear friend of hers. Of course, that is what good literature will do to you, but if not careful, you can spoil a potential reading experience for others. Reading excerpts from the last page of a book is perhaps not the thing to do.

Also, it is a bit surprising that they don´t have a woman librarian there, considering the majority of the librarians are women. But, my impression is that an overwhelming majority of booknerds are very introverted, and perhaps it´s hard to even get anyone to want to do it. Even though we of the audience are so very nice and encouraging.

I will continue to go, awkward as the execution of this Book Café-concept might be. This is probably a surprising statement coming from someone who bloggs about books (mainly), but I am not usually a fan of book talk. I avoid book programs on television, rarely watch interviews and talks given by authors. I prefer to read the books. With a few exceptions. Some writers can really talk and make another kind of art from that, but it´s rare. And I rarely read other book blogs, except for Robby Virus´ Blogging the Canon, which is so unpretentious I can´t help but love him. I´m sure there are plenty out there, if I would just bother looking for them.

Yeah, I suppose I liked the Book Café just because it was kind of faulty and amateurish and didn´t attempt to be anything else. Amateurs are perhaps a bit shaky in the execution, but they have heart to make up for it. A plenty.

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