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Librarian and author Nancy Pearl recommends some books.

Readersvoice.com aims to give people a few good reading tips.In books like Book Lust, and More Book Lust, book guru Nancy Pearl recommends thousands of other books.I went along to see Nancy Pearl speak at the Brisbane Square Library, Brisbane, on December 16.And speaking of book recommendations, fans of authors like Hunter S. Thompson might want to check the other story in this issue. It can take years to find books along the same lines as books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so I've listed a few here.

While Christmas shoppers darted around the city on the Saturday morning of December 16, about a hundred people were seated on several rows of chairs on the ground floor of the new Brisbane Square Library.

At least 90 per cent of the audience were women, mostly aged 50-plus.

They watched as one of the librarians welcomed them to the new library, which she said had about 110,000 books.

The librarian talked about Nancy Pearl – the Seattle-based librarian and author – who had travelled by ship from Auckland for this appearance, and who was heading to Melbourne next.

Then the audience applauded as Ms Pearl stood up from one of the seats in the front row of the audience, and went up to the mic.

Ms Pearl told anecdotes about her life as a librarian, broadcaster, and reader.

And she gave a few stand-up style observations about reading: like whether you should bother looking up words you don’t understand or keep reading; or how you can end up mispronouncing words you’ve picked up while reading.

She said one of the roles of a librarian was to preserve the best of the books of the past, and she talked about her books, Book Lust, and More Book Lust in which she recommends thousands of books.

She said she wrote Book Lust after being contacted by a publisher at Sasquatch Books with the idea.

Book Lust featured a list of 1800 books she recommended, in 175 quirky categories.

She said the manuscript of the book went through the usual process of going to the copy editors and content editors, but that she kept adding more books to the manuscript.

Finally the publisher said enough, the book was going to press. Sasquatch Books published Book Lust in 2003.

But Nancy Pearl said that after the book was published, she’d wake up at three a.m. remembering books she’d left out.

And on book tours people would ask her why she had omitted certain books.

Plus the publisher asked for a Book Lust 2, so she wrote More Book Lust which recommended another 1200 titles.

During her speech, Ms Pearl mentioned a few titles of books she’d loved over the years.

She said she had been on the 20-minute bus ride from Seattle to the university for her radio book show when she read the opening line of The Paperboy (1995), a first person novel by Pete Dexter.

She said she literally fell in love with the book, almost experiencing physical symptoms to that effect.

Ms Pearl said The Paperboy had real characters, and was grungy, awful, and scary.

Even though Pete Dexter’s novel Paris Trout (1988) won the National Book Award for fiction, it was The Paperboy she loved, she said.

Ms Pearl also said Rose Macaulay was one of her all-time-favorite authors, and she mentioned The Towers of Trebizond which combined all three of Ms Macaulay’s great loves: travel, the Anglican Church, and animals.

It was Ms Macaulay’s final novel, and strongly autobiographical, dealing with the conflict between adulterous love and the Christian faith.

Regarded by some as her masterpiece, the novel won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1956.

Ms Pearl was also fond of Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson.

And she recommended the Civil War novel Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor.

Also in her speech she talked about the four potential doorways readers have into a book: story, language, character, and setting; every reader will enter through one doorway.

She said books with the most doorways were usually the ones that lasted.

With The Da Vinci Code, story was the entry point or doorway – with lots of action and thrills. The same applied with books by Lee Child or Matthew Reilly.

She said with most literary awards, like the Booker, language was the door to these novels.

But she said the majority of readers entered books through the story doorway.

If you remembered what doorway you liked, it would help you find books you enjoyed, Ms Pearl said.

After the speech, morning tea was served, and people could meet Ms Pearl and buy her books.

Then there was the new library to check out, with its promised 110,000 books.