Thursday, July 9, 2009

Six degrees of the Library Collection - From Neil Gaiman to Aravind Adiga

In the spirit of the theory of six degrees of separation - that any two people in the world can be connected to one another through six relationships - we bring you what will become a semi-regular feature called “Six Degrees of the Library Collection”. You might be surprised how your favourite book can connect you to a wide world of reading.

I was recently telling our visiting Library School student Lara about the Six Degrees of the Library Collection feature on The Reader. She was intrigued and wanted to try her hand as well. Here are her connections!

With the release earlier this year of the movie adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novella Coraline, I found myself, like many others, seeking out the original book version of the story. It's a quick read, and like so much of Gaiman's recent work, bridges the gap between stories for older children, and quirky dark storytelling for adults.

One of the fun things about stop motion animation, the style Coraline was filmed in, is in the details. So many items on the set were handcrafted by gifted artists and craftspeople. Did you notice Coraline's blue sweater with stars all over it in the movie? You can visit the website for the film and watch a video of teeny tiny knitting on what amount to sewing needles rather than knitting needles, the size necessary to fit the wee Coraline.

Also on the Internet you can find the free knitting magazine, Knitty. Knitty's editor is Amy R. Singer, something of a guru in the knitting world. Singer is a big Gaiman fan, and got some memorabilia from the actual Coraline set, and recently blogged about getting Gaiman to autograph a piece of it.
Singer has co-authored several knitting books, like No Sheep for You and Big Girl Knits.

Big Girl Knits is geared toward knitters with real figures rather than the waifs who frequently model knitware on the runway. Big Girl Knits was illustrated with the help of artist Erica Mulherin. What do illustrators read when they're not creating art? Recently on her blog, Erica Mulherin mentioned how much she's a fan of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, which is written by Laurell K. Hamilton.

The Anita Blake series now consists of 17 volumes and has enjoyed tremendous popularity with a wide audience. The most recent instalment in the series is Skin Trade. Hamilton is a voracious reader herself. On her blog recently, Hamilton mentions that she just finished reading Jim Corbett's The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag, published in 1948.

Corbett's travel writing about India in the middle of the 20th century can be hard to find; at HPL, we have several of Corbett's books about India and the big cats that used to be found there in greater abundance than today. One of those books is The Temple Tiger: And More Man-eaters of Kumaon.

Reading about far away places is a great way to learn about new cultures and the way people live in other geographic regions. India is fascinating with its wide variety of spiritual practices, spicy colourful foods, and exotic creatures. A book that I would really love to read this summer is The White Tiger, the latest Man Booker Prize winner by Aravind Adiga.

It has so many holds on it, however, that I might try to listen to it instead, as an audio book.

In addition to her library work, Lara blogs on a regular basis for Re:Print, a books blog at, an international magazine of cultural criticism.

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