1. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Was I being an idiot?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Nicoel, Jan 17, 2016.

    So, I went to my local library to browse for some new books to get into. I haven't read a really good book in a long time. You know what I mean? I also have to write an essay about character decisions for a scholarship essay coming up. I have some ideas of what to write about, but I wanted to read a few more books to make my final decision.

    So, I go to the librarian (seems to be a friendly lady) and first asked her if she had any good book suggestions. She, of course, didn't have any. So, I changed tactics and asked her if she knew of any good character (rather than plot) driven books.

    Her response was a look of confusion and, "I.... don't know what that is? Let me show you some YA novels!"

    Now, I look a lot younger than I already am, so I tried not to let that bother me. Anyway, am I the only one who knows the difference between a character driven vs plot driven book is? I know it's an odd request, but I figured a librarian of all people would understand me.
     
  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You weren't being an idiot, no, but I don't know that I'd expect a librarian to know the answer. Librarians manage and catalogue a variety of works, not just fiction, and in any case I don't think that their job necessarily involves literary analysis.

    Now, the posters here could probably recommend books. :)
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Try "The Girl on the Train", totally character driven, excellent and couldn't be further from YA if the author tried.

    Some librarians are librarians and some are just people that work in the library.
     
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  4. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Thank you! I ended up making a profile on Goodreads. I've heard a lot about it so I figured I'd find out what it's all about and see if I find any good suggestions there.

    That was a bit convoluted, I'm sorry. I've had a long day.

    I think I've been spoiled by the librarian at my college. She has a couple of degrees and she reads frequently. I get into in-depth conversations with her frequently about the latest books we read. I suppose public librarians don't quite have the same background..
     
  5. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Checking it out now! Thank you!
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Not to sound like a train theme, this one is completely different: "The Orphan Train" was another good book I've read recently. The main character is an older teen, but I wouldn't say the book was primarily YA. It's also character driven but not quite as much as The Girl on the Train.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  7. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    Honestly, I don't think librarians would be librarians unless they are, first, bibliophiles.

    However, perhaps that applies only to real librarians and not people who just happen to work in libraries. I know that the public library here has a couple of librarians with expertise in young adult novels and I'm confident that at least one of them (a guy I've had interesting conversations with on the topic) knows his stuff.

    You have to be sure you are talking to an actual librarian and not just a guy who processes books (if that makes any sense).
     
  8. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Suggesting books: I find that I keep suggesting An Episode of Sparrows, by Rumer Godden, but I definitely think that it qualifies as character driven. Pretty much everything is based on the actions that protagonists take because they badly want something, rather than being driven by events external to the characters.
     
  9. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see how you were at fault of being an idiot, at most perhaps expecting too much from a person that doesn't care.

    Though, as a lover of writing. Even I am not completely sure the difference between plot driven/character driven.

    I say this because I expect all books to do this to some degree. I don't care how plot driven a book is. If there isn't some arc or growth to the story, then it bores me.
     
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  10. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    I have a part time job at GameStop. I show up in uniform, on time, everyday. The pay is meh but the schedule is perfect for a second job. I count, catalog, and sort games with an efficiency beyond mere mortals.

    Don't ask me anything about video games. I haven't owned a system since the Nintendo 64.

    People fall into one of three broad categories for me:

    1) People who also don't know anything about playing video games, buying for someone else.
    2) People on limited budgets who need to decide on one game or another.
    3) People who want to talk about the game they are playing.

    My responses are:

    1) Here are our best sellers, does your son like shooting things, racing things, or have a super hero preference?
    2) That's what YouTube is for.
    3) Cool story bro.

    My Librarian answer to both OP questions would be Tom Clancy. Best Librarian ever.

    You are not an idiot. A lot of us are just trying to pay the bills though.
     
  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Samurai Jack is right. If you want to talk about books, get a friend. Most employees aren't getting paid enough for that shit.
     
  12. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There are millions of books out there, and an average-sized library buys thousands of new ones every year. All kinds of non-fiction, every genre of fiction, poetry, children's books, graphic novels, everything. I don't think we can expect librarians to be experts on all of them!

    And I think it makes sense for a librarian to classify things according to her classification systems rather than those that might make sense to a writer. There's no "character driven" section in most libraries!

    So, no, you weren't being an idiot for asking, but I don't think she was being an idiot by not giving you answer you wanted. Sometimes, there are no idiots.
     
  13. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    A lot of people know only 'how to do their jobs,' but not why, and are not curious. Pretty much they are low-life, mono-brow, minion folk dragging knuckles through the supermarket or driving SUV vehicles sometimes, sometimes gun-owners, sometimes librarians, sometimes librarians wielding weapons. I have no prejudice on the matter, though like you OP I have suffered on many occasions with a lateral approach, or interesting conversational gambit. I remember at the checkout that time when I said, 'but no, how are you, darling?' to the tattooed chap, his knuckles bleeding, and me prost(r)ate on the floor, my cornflake packet literally smashed over my head, but still, still I was escorted from the store - a conspiracy of tiny minds, security guards must be included unfortunately, though game store employees might be an exception, I don't really know.
     
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  14. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Possibly it would serve us best, as writers, to try to understand our planet-mates, rather than judging them too harshly?

    Kinda hard to use our compassion and understanding to write a flawed character when we don't feel those emotions for actual human beings...
     
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  15. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    or insects.
     
  16. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yup, them too!
     
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  17. Robert Musil
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    Do you have any non-chain bookstores in your town? Not the Barnes and Noble type places but a mom and pop storefront. I don't know why this is, but I feel like I've always had better luck asking the folks who work there for recommendations than with librarians. I mean it's not like the independent bookstore business pays really well these days, so maybe it attracts folks who are powered more by passion than the "just a paycheck" type jobs, idk.

    Not that librarians aren't passionate often, but as someone above said, it is a really different job. Especially since booksellers need to be able to recommend stuff to make money, whereas libraries don't have to turn a profit, etc.
     
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  18. Samurai Jack
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    Samurai Jack Active Member

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    My personalities had a debate. We like you.
     
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  19. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    You weren't being an idiot.
    A lot of "librarians" who work the circulation desk don't actually have degrees in library science. They're regular people just like you and me. Next time you have a question ask for a specific librarian, like, "I have a question for your reference librarian," or "could you tell me how to get in touch with your children's librarian," or "Is there anyone here who could help me choose a good translation of . . ." Phrases like that will get you referred to one of the mystery librarians that hide in offices in the attic or basement, or wherever, managing a catalogue specific to your needs.

    And don't pass over something just because it's YA--there is a lot of good stuff there too. There are excellent authors in every genera, targeting every age group. One of my favorite authors, Neil Gaiman, writes for children, YA, and adult; I read it all.
     
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  20. Nicoel
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    Nicoel Contributing Member

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    Ah. So, indeed, I was just expecting too much.
    I read YA without any problems. I was irritated with her for two reasons (neither of which is purely her fault). One, I had just been told that I looked like I was 6 or 7 years old. I'm 19, and also have to face people assuming I've got mental problems to begin with. So, I kind of took that as another insult, though I'm sure she didn't mean it that way. It really didn't help when she brought me two books with a cartoon lion and princess on it, WIZARD OF OZ style. Two, I've read so much YA, that I get a headache whenever I pick up a book and the blurb says something like, "In a post apocalyptic world, Lacy, age 16, is faced with a world altering dilemma. If she opens the can of peaches, the world will forever be without peaches. If she doesn't, then the world ENDS. Complicated by her romance with her best friend and that mysterious asshole, she also must deal with the problems of being a princess!"

    For the record: I don't actually have any mental problems. I'm just 4'2" and in a wheelchair. Which, for some reason, translates to: Child with mental problems. Which, if they would just look me in the face, they would see that I wear makeup, look fine, and can hold a conversation.
     
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  21. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't help it! I must reply! Because well. People say my work is YA and well. The start contrast that my plot has makes me must tell you. Actually we are talking about it in a PM but still I must reply. I can't help it.

    "In a mostly utopian world, Jackie, age 33 is faced with a completely self-centered problem. How can she finally open up her emotions after hiding them away so long. Complicated by not realizing how to externalize her feelings infatuation she has for a married man does not help her situation either. ... I don't really have... a line I can sub princess with(which is funny because she is actually from a notable home and is the most highly valued girl from that home, but princess isn't a word that applies to her and she would probably reach through my word document and punch me if I dared to call her one.). She must in addition to infatuation learn how to deal with the even harsher emotion of grief."
     
  22. Sack-a-Doo!
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    There was a time when that was true, a time when libraries were funded properly and had more staff. Any librarian you approached could help or would know which librarian could.

    These days, with skeleton-crew staffing, they can just barely keep up with managing the catalogue.
     
  23. Tea@3
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    Tea@3 Contributing Member

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    Actually, they do. I think you just asked the wrong person.

    So what are your tastes? You looking for something recent or does it not matter?

    I recommend 'Ellen Foster' by Kaye Gibbons, and 'Charms for the Easy Life" also by Kaye Gibbons.

    An older one you may try is 'Terms of Endearment' by Larry McMurtry.
     
  24. HistoricalScience
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    HistoricalScience Active Member

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    Perhaps have more questions/specific guidelines for what you're looking for beyond just "character driven".

    I'm a level 1 certified Sommelier and work at a liquor store. I'm no expert on wine but I know a thing or two and something that always bugs me is when people come in and ask for a "red wine". My response to this is a series of questions because that is incredibly vague and no real suggestion can be made from just that. Most people stare at me glossy eyed when I ask said questions (even simple terms like dry, fruit-forward and earthy go way over people's heads) and I usually just give up and sell them a blend that floats in the middle of everything - probably not at all what they're actually looking for.
     
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