Storytime for Adults by Laura Raphael

While the Central Library is closed for a (much-needed) renovation, many Central employees like me are working at branch libraries. After 9 years at Central, 7 ½ of those in the Readers’ Library department, I’m sad to be away from my downtown readers and fellow librarians. Despite this, I will admit that there is something exciting about being in a new place and learning new things.

Trying to entertain babies and toddlers during a weekly storytime is certainly new!

Most of my library experience is in working with adults, so this has been an adjustment, to say the least. My go-to joke for the past few months is that I will and say to the gathered innocents eager for itsy-bitsy spider or “Green Eggs and Ham” something like, “Boys and girls, today we are going to read Jonathan Franzen’s ‘The Corrections’! Can you say ‘family dysfunction’?”

But it’s made me think that an adult storytime – or an approximation of one, with a spouse or parent – isn’t such a bad idea.

With that in mind, here are a few short books, mostly short story collections, that would translate well to reading aloud – for adults, I hasten to add. (Despite my joke, whatever you do, do not share Jonathan Franzen with anyone under the age of 22!)

The Snapper by Roddy Doyle – Funny premise, short chapters, and snappy dialogue make this a great share-aloud. Bonus points if you can put on an Irish brogue as you read!

Tenth of December by George Saunders – Saunders has an unusual way with language that deserves to be spoken and heard – and he often includes a surprising twist that discussion with another person helps illuminate. This is his latest collection (just long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction), but any of his past collections will do as well.

The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – The poetry of Lahiri’s words make for  lovely bedtime reading, though some of the difficult human emotions she describes might call for long discussions into the night with your loved one.

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