What’s On Your Shelf? An Interview with Librarian Marion Wells


March is National Reading Month and the George School librarians encourage everyone to check out a book during spring break.

Want a little reading inspiration? Here is what George School librarian Marion Wells tells us about her reading interests and habits:

Do you enjoy reading? Why or why not?

I love to read and am so grateful that I have the capability to read. Reading informs me about the world around me and helps me to navigate life. The National Center for Education Statistics conducted a survey in 2003 to assess the literacy rates of adults (anyone over the age of 16 and living in households or prisons) and one of the findings indicated that 30 million people function below a basic literacy level, meaning, among other things, they have difficulties reading the newspaper. This is a significant problem in our country that needs to be changed through education and social welfare advocacy. Reading is a basic right, which should not be seen as a privilege.

Do you prefer books, books on tape, e-reader books? Where do you get your reading materials?

I prefer print books and print newspapers for general reading, but I also read articles online from news sources, magazines, and journals. I’m a big supporter of libraries, so I borrow print books from our library here at George School, as well as from the collections of the Bucks County Library System. Occasionally, I will purchase a book, but I make a point of buying materials from independent bookstores.

What kind of reader were you when you were in high school?

I was an avid reader in high school and always had a book on the side that was not considered “required reading.”

Has your pleasure/displeasure for reading ever changed? What/Who was responsible for that change?

My pleasure for reading changed once I realized that there is a community of readers everywhere. “What are you reading?” is a question I get asked quite frequently, and often by strangers. Reading becomes a social equalizer, an icebreaker, a conversation starter, a point of contention and debate, and a way to bring people together. Book clubs are a social construct that have been around for hundreds of years where people come together to talk about a book. I think that bodes well for the future of books!

What are you reading right now?

I am reading Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

When and where do you like to read?

I love to read books in the mornings, and you will often find me in any one of the area coffee shops with a book and a cup of coffee. I read online materials throughout the day and evening.

Who are your favorite writers?

My favorite writers are those writers that I keep going back to, and they are: Willa Cather, David McCullough, John Cheever, Anna Quindlen, James Baldwin, Tracy Chevalier, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Sebastian Barry, Sarah Orne Jewett, Chinua Achebe, James Michener, J.K. Rowling, Nathaniel Philbrick, David Guterson, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Sebastian Junger, Frank Delaney, Geraldine Brooks, Penelope Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, Pete Hamill, Pearl S. Buck, Markus Zusak, Colm Toibin, and E. Annie Proulx

What was the last truly great book you read?

John Adams by David McCullough

Are you a fiction or a non-fiction person? What is your favorite lit genre? Any guilty pleasures?

I’m a big fan of historical fiction, especially pre-19th century. I like regional fiction, too, as long as it truly evokes the time and place of the region. I never feel guilty about reading.

What book had the greatest impact or influence on you?

O Pioneers! By Willa Cather is my absolute favorite book. The protagonist, Alexandra Bergson, embodies all the characteristics of a strong and resolute woman who defies conventions to achieve strong family ties and, ultimately, love.

What book did you feel you were supposed to like and didn’t? What was the last book you didn’t finish?

American Pastoral by Philip Roth. This American classic was so depressing and hopeless and if it hadn’t been for his superb writing, I would have put it down.

I tried reading The Lives of the Saints by James Martin, but I couldn’t get through it. I’ll try it again in the future.

What book might we be surprised to find on your shelves?

First edition of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, c. 1926

What do you plan to read next?

I want to read Cape Cod by William Martin. Hopefully, the story takes place in the summertime!


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