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April 3, 2024 13 minute READ

What's on Your Reading List?

tags Adventure | Inspiration | Mast Family Favorites
locations All
A fun book club meeting

What is a library? It’s a big building with lots of books in it. But wait, it’s so much more. The library is a gateway to your wildest dreams, a place to learn, a place to imagine, a place to make friends. Today’s libraries are repositories of books, but they also are places to get help to learn to read or improve your reading, to improve your math skills, to listen to a performance by a string quartet, to watch a movie, to refine your crafting skills, and to gather with fellow writers. Yes, libraries are SO much more. 

Reading Statistics 

Infographic: Reading For Pleasure Declines in Popularity | Statista

Did you know that just over half of all Americans, 54%, say they read at least one book in 2023? That’s according to research conducted by YouGov, an international online research data and analytics technology group. The same study also reports that 82% of Americans read 10 or fewer books.  

Even in the digital age, most people still do the majority of their reading with physical books, but those who read books on e-readers tend to read more voraciously.  

Do you remember back in school when your teachers – yes, all of them – would tell you “reading is good for you?” As it turns out, and you know where we’re going here, they were right. Reading doesn’t just expand your knowledge, it has even more far-reaching effects.  

An article published by Above & Beyond Therapy reports that reading can increase empathy and emotional intelligence, improve sleep quality, increase vocabulary and improve writing skills, help with mental focus and concentration, lower stress levels, and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  

Set a Goal to Read 

Admit it, many things our teachers and parents told us were true. We just have to “get old enough to realize and appreciate it.” So, how do we read more? It’s all about setting goals, making time, and having some accountability.  

  • Always have a book with you. If you’re going to read, you need the material to do it, right? It’s best to carry a physical book or an e-reader so you’re not tempted or distracted by other applications and services on your phone. 
  • Set aside time to read. It could be right before bed or first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s right after supper. Just put a time on your schedule that will be spent reading. 
  • Tell someone about your goal. Just sharing with someone that you are trying to up your reading game creates accountability. 
  • Talk about what you’re reading. If you talk about the books you’re reading, you are reinforcing your goal and creating excitement for yourself and others to read more and to share what they are reading.  
  • Go to a book club. Not all book clubs are the same. Some clubs will read the same book and lead discussions about the characters and situations contained therein. Other clubs are more freeform. Lillian, who works in Mast Store’s Online Store, said her reading club works a lot differently. “Everyone brings their own book, and at the beginning of the meeting, we introduce ourselves and share what we are reading.” After introductions are over, the group reads for an hour and at the end, club members answer a bookish question like “what are your reading goals for the year” or “what is your favorite piece of literary memorabilia?” If you are looking for a club, start at your local library. Most of them will have a book club or two that meet at the library.  

Start ‘em Early 

Storytime was a favorite time at school. Being read to by a teacher or librarian was cool. To instill a love of reading for young ones, it’s important to start early. Stories at bedtime, even for babies, help make reading time special because they get to do it with their parents. What are some other ways to cultivate young readers? 

  1. Model reading at home. If you want your children to read, you need to show them reading is important to you. They will be likely to emulate what you’re doing – remember? We all want to be like our parents. 
  2. Find books that interest your child. Do they like dinosaurs? What about outer space? Horses? Fairy tales? Adventures? If they are interested in the subject matter, they will be much more likely to read the book. 
  3. Storytime for Fido. Of course, Fido likes a good story. Set aside some time for reading aloud... to the family dog or cat. It will help your young reader gain confidence in their skills, and it may help you discover places where they may need a little help.   
  4. Read with Friends. Everyone loves having friends come over. Maybe mix up playtime visits with a little reading before or after they go outside.  

Having a selection of age-appropriate books is definitely a plus to encourage reading on their own. Make youngsters’ reading shelves easily accessible on their level, so they can pull a book off the shelf anytime they want to. Mast Store has a great selection of books for children and young readers – from the first baby books to first novels.  

Recommendations for Summer Reading 

The folks who work at Mast Store are a pretty diverse and interesting bunch. We asked them to share what they’ve been reading lately to get you started on your warm weather reading list. 

The Last to VanishBook title: The Last to Vanish 
Author: Megan Miranda 
Suggested by: Olivia at Mast Store Greenville 
Plot: The Last to Vanish is a mystery. It follows the main character, Abby, while she works at a resort in a fictional town in North Carolina. The resort is located near an entry point to the Appalachian Trail. It ties in disappearances into the story including her helping or at least trying to help one guest find answers and closure to his brother’s disappearance. 
Why I recommend: It is a pretty good mystery/thriller. Just when I thought I had figured it out, the plot took another turn. Enjoyed a mystery with places that are kind of familiar. It was interesting knowing that part of what inspired it was so close. 

Better Living Through BirdingBook title: Better Living Through Birding: Notes from a Black Man in the Natural World 
Author: Christian Cooper 
Suggested by: Anna at the Mast Store Home Office 
Plot: Christian Cooper, a self-described "Blerd"(Black nerd), shares the story of his life through the eyes of a birder. He discusses the beauty of observing birds while weaving the intersections of race, sexuality, and identity into his story. It culminates in an amazing story of self-acceptance. 
Why I recommend: It's a truly wonderful book about self discovery and observing the natural world through birding. I think it's a great read for anyone who wants to learn the joys nature. 

The CaretakerBook title: The Caretaker: A Novel 
Author: Ron Rash 
Suggested by: Lily at Mast Store Waynesville 
Plot: In a small mountain town in North Carolina, only so much of your life can stay private. A couple, always facing others’ opinions, set out to spend their life together. But as we know, nothing always goes according to plan. 
Why I recommend: This book is by a local author who sets the story in Western North Carolina. He builds characters beautifully and anyone with a heart will grow attached to them. The story has something for almost everyone. It is a book you can sit and read in one go. 

Ranger ConfidentialBook title: Ranger Confidential: Living, Working, and Dying in the National Parks 
Author: Andrea Lankford 
Suggested by: JD at the Mast Store Home Office 
Plot: The author was a National Park Service ranger in the biggest and most notable National Parks for 12 years. The book is a collection of stories, told in her voice, of the adventures she and others experienced on the job. 
Why I recommend: Being a collection, this book is easy to pick up and put down whenever you feel like a short story. It’s the perfect book to take on a trip, especially to one of our national parks. 

Understanding ComicsBook title: Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art 
Author: Scott McCloud 
Suggested by: Mackenzie at Mast Store Waynesville 
Plot: Understanding Comics is a wide-ranging exploration of the definition, history, vocabulary, and methods of the medium of comics. It is written and illustrated by the author, in a comic format. 
Why I recommend: This book is great for anyone who is interested in art history, especially the history of comics, and how it has been implemented as a story-telling method. First published in the early 1990s, it also highlights the transition of comics into the digital age during this time period. 

VerityBook title: Verity 
Author: Collen Hoover 
Suggested by: Jessie at Mast Store Columbia 
Plot: Verity by Colleen Hoover is a suspenseful novel about a struggling writer who takes on a job to finish the bestselling series of acclaimed author Verity Crawford. As she delves into Verity's notes, she uncovers dark secrets that threaten her sanity and safety. 
Why I recommend: This book is a nail-biting thriller with a little dark love story. Each chapter uncovers a new plot twist that kept me wanting to read more, it is impossible to put this book down. The best part of this book is that there is not a definitive ending. It is up to the reader to decide which side they believe in a book full of lies. If you want a book to think about for days afterward, this is the book for you. 

Finding Her VoiceBook title: Finding Her Voice: The Saga of Women in Country Music 
Author: Mary A. Bufwack 
Suggested by: Rosalie at Mast Store Asheville 
Plot: This book traces the long history of women's involvement in country and bluegrass music, beginning with the integral role of women in writing and transmitting Appalachian folk songs. These songs often featured stories of betrayal, murder, cheating, revenge, and other themes that would become mainstays in the genre. Long before Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn, women were heavily involved in the creation of what would become country music - a factor which is often overlooked by historians. 
Why I recommend: Despite its cheesy title, this is the most fascinating and comprehensive account of women in country and bluegrass I've ever read! It's incredibly well-researched, but not overly dense and academic. It also lends a lot of insight into how the lives of women in the 17th-20th centuries were reflected in the stories they chose to tell through music. 

The Story of Edgar SawtelleBook title: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle 
Author: David Wroblewski 
Suggested by: Susan at the Mast Store Home Office 
Plot: Edgar is a mute teenager, but his story deals with grown-up themes: loyalty and betrayal, and the power and limits of words. Wroblewski, whose parents ran a kennel in Wisconsin, lets the dogs in his novel share in the narration.  It is a modern twist on Hamlet. 
Why I recommend: This is a long novel that is compelling and slightly mystical. The story is tragic but leaves you with a lasting impression. 

Persepolis: Book OneBook title: Persepolis: Book One 
Author: Marjane Satrapi 
Suggested by: Mackenzie at Mast Store Waynesville 
Plot: An autobiography of the author in a graphic novel format, it tells the story of the author's childhood before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is published in either two parts or as a collected edition. 
Why I recommend: I first found out about the book in middle school, from a now-defunct pop culture magazine I used to check out at my local library. It was probably the one book that changed my perspective of what life was like outside of the United States, as well as broadened my understanding of living in an interconnected world and having more context of the conflicts in which the U.S. was engaged during the early 2000s. I definitely recommend this book if you are interested in reading a graphic novel with a more global perspective. 

And Then There Were NoneBook title: And Then There Were None 
Author: Agatha Christie 
Suggested by: Eli at Mast Store Columbia 
Plot: A group of strangers, who have all gotten away with different kinds of murders in the past, are invited to an anonymous millionaire's island where they are offered a holiday stay. Shortly after their arrival, they begin to get mysteriously murdered one by one, serving as justice for their pasts. The guests frantically try to figure out who is behind the murders before all of them are killed. 
Why I recommend: The plot of the novel is put together very strategically, making it an amazing thriller. The interesting part of murder mysteries is trying to figure out who the killer is, and the reader has a very difficult time doing so with the work of Agatha Christie, adding to the mystery. 

The Last AirshipBook title: Sam Reilly Book Series 
Author: Christopher Cartwright 
Suggested by: Sheri at the Mast Store Home Office 
Plot: This book series has been described as James Bond meets Indiana Jones, and I would agree with that description wholeheartedly. When I was introduced to Sam, I started with a book later in the series – I believe it was the Vostok Enigma (Book #26) - and I enjoyed it so much that I started with Book #1 and am now up to Book #10, The Ironclad Covenant. Sam, who is the son of a kabillionaire, and his best friend from childhood Tom have a series of adventures that would truly make James Bond jealous. Their assistance is called in by the Secretary of Defense to run covert operations from time to time or sometimes they stumble on a mystery that becomes more entangling and far-reaching than they imagined. They are treasure hunters who hunt treasures more for fun or the story behind them than for having any monetary gain. Their cast of characters is wide with others coming into and out of the picture as books come and go. There is always a bit of a historical hook for each book – once you get to the end, you’ll see how everything is connected. It’s a fun book series to take for a ride. 
Why I recommend: I love action and adventure movies, and I love to read mysteries and thrillers. I also enjoy investigating ideas that may be beyond the realm of believability but are somehow also believable. This book series checks all those boxes and more! They are my first experience with audio books. The narrator, David Gilmore, is a perfect pick for the series.  

Well, that’s a good list for starters. Happy reading this summer! 

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