The Kiss o’ Death, Part I

Some books practically weed themselves.  In weeding the fiction collection, it was not a difficult choice to let go of Freddie Freightliner despite its riveting plot about bad guys “from another country” attempting to steal the parts of a space shuttle. They are foiled because the truck has learned to talk, and confers with a limo who informs him, “I was stolen by my driver!” No, that one wasn’t that hard to weed.

Other books break your heart and make you feel like a terrible librarian for letting them go–titles by Alan Garner, Virginia Hamilton, and Anne Fine all went away today, after years of giving them another chance, and another chance, and another chance. Sometimes the good books just stop circulating.

Still, now that I’ve been a librarian for a lot of years, and a librarian here at this library for over ten, it’s gotten easier to let some books go. At your library, other things may qualify for the Kiss o’ Death, but here are a few things that at my library mark a book as doomed never to circulate here.

KoD #1: A bad spine. You can have an awesome cover but give a book a bad spine and it is just not ever going to go out. A bad spine is one where the type is unreadable against the background, or in pale letters, or too fancy to read. Maybe it is a reinforced paperback with no room for info on the spine.  Bad spine = no browsability = never circulating. Bye!

KoD #2: A dated cover. I realized this go-round that I had saved a lot of books in the past out of respect for the authors, and/or because they are local authors. But as I pulled them out, certain covers are simply never ever going to go. You know how these days there are lots of covers showing someone without their head, or as a silhouette? In the 70s and 80s, the style apparently was for a misty view of someone looking pensive. It makes you realize that the current body part book covers are an attempt to avoid having someone look at the cover and hate the character portrayed because they look stupid and mopey.

KoD #3: Hey, Book Title! You Are Trying too Hard to Be Lively! It sometimes works initially, but ten years down the road the Fun and Lively book title has become not fun, not funny, and kind of embarrassing. Hello? Is Anybody There? was one from today. It usually involves punctuation and a character’s name, like Giff’s Tootsie Tanner, Why Don’t You Talk? or Gregory’s Happy Burpday, Maggie McDougal!

That’s just a few of the Kiss o’ Death markers, with more to come.

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3 Responses to The Kiss o’ Death, Part I

  1. Veronica says:

    Ah, weeding. A topic near and dear to my heart. Sometimes the kiss o’ death is a delightful combination of title and cover which is the case with “Terry’s Turn-Around: A Story About Obedience” where Terry is shown on the cover standing all alone at the edge of a cliff. Or “Bestiary Mountain” whose cover is adorned with a stylized mountain topped with a panther’s head. And let’s not forget, Phyllis Naylor’s classic, “Jennifer Jean, the Cross-Eyed Queen” the cover of which has a black and white line drawing of a green eyed girl from the 60’s who is clearly cross-eyed.

    • sdlempke says:

      Veronica, I think I kept Bestiary Mountain and got rid of all of his others! Jennifer Jean, the Cross-Eyed Queen is a beautiful example in so many ways.

      Faith, lol! That is so true!

  2. Faith says:

    One of the things here that is the kiss of death is an unpronouncable word or character name in the title. Who wants to make the effort to read a book if you can’t even read the title?! Maybe it’s made worse by our ELL population. Julie Edwards should be really grateful for parents and teachers, because if it was up to kids, The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles would be toast.

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