We human beings seem obsessed with counting. As a subset of that, we like to rank what we count: prettiest beads first, average beads, demurring beads.
Why we rank things, all glittering aside, seems to be an obsession within an obsession: The Best, The Worst, the Most of This, the Least of That. At the bottom of all this weighing and ticking off seems to be an almost alchemical urge to quantify quality. This, of course, is as absurd, as misguided, as ill-fated an urge as any base metal-into-gold boondoggle man has ever concocted.
One of my own personal obsessions is with the website List Universe. It’s a site that rates things, measures things, compares things, all the while managing to mold them into the ubiquitous end product known as the “Top Ten List.” Generally the site is very informative, occasionally titillating, sometimes downright not-pc. Part of the obsession with lists of these kinds is the fun of disagreeing.
The other day I ran across a Top Ten List from another location, however. AbeBooks, one of the very best antiquarian books sources on the web, recently posted a unique Top Ten List on their “Reading Copy Book Blog: Top Ten Books Written by Librarians.”
Less Deceived by Philip Larkin
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
The Aleph and Other Stories by Jorge Luis Borges
Little Big Man by Thomas Berger
Star Man’s Son by Andre Norton
Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson
The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler
The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot by Angus Wilson
At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor
Eagle in the Snow by Wallace Breem
Being an antiquarian book site, AbeBooks has leaned here rather heavily on older books, two of which are no longer in our library system but might be acquired via Interlibrary loan (WorldCat, an online database that contains citations for libraries worldwide, has links to the bibliographic info you will need here and here). Some other well-known authors who were librarians who didn’t make the cut for this list include Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Benjamin Franklin, Mao Zedong, Golda Meir, Giocomo Casanova, Beverly Cleary, Jacob Grimm, Stanley Kunitz, A . J. Mojtabai, Jessamyn West, Audre Lorde, August Strindberg, David Hume, Archibald MacLeish, and Marcel Proust, to name a few.
So, the next time you come into the library, give us a call, email us, or chat with us via Ask Here PA, who knows, you might be interacting with someone who qualifies for just such a list.
PS Know of any librarian authors not listed above? Drop us a line.