A letter to Nora Roberts

December 30, 2005

Dear Nora,

I am embarrassed to say that I am not one of your regular readers. The truth is, I read “Irish Thoroughbred” back in the 80’s and really, really, liked it. What a great story. And I meant to read more of your books.

And then, I fell a little behind…

Whether I like it or not, I have the anal retentive librarian gene, and want to approach reading in an organized fashion, get all the books an author has done and not miss anything. But whenever I look at your bibliography, I start to hyperventilate, and the little black dots before my eyes make it hard to read anything at all.

The libraries I’ve been working in for the last several years are academic. Not much fiction at all, although I’ve been slipping romances in on the side. And since it is me who is in charge, the rules of the library are fairly loose. No whispering necessary. Food allowed as long as you don’t spill on the computers.

And yes, despite what they say at the front office, you may order in a pizza while you study. But it is always polite to offer a piece to the librarian, even if she turns you down.

But, I’ve recently picked up a side job in a small public library. I am back to following the rules.

Leave your food outside, please.
Handle DVDs by the edge.
Be kind rewind. Or we will fine you.
If you are late with those books, we will fine you.
No, you didn’t already bring that book back.

You think you did, but you didn’t.

Really. Trust me. It’s not on the shelf.

It’s not. I know. I checked.

Look under the seat of your mini-van, OK? And behind the couch. Come back with the books. And a dollar for the fine.

Sorry for the digression, Nora. That wasn’t directed to you. If you lost a library book, you’d probably just write another one. And we’d be square.


My first job was as a page in a public library, back in high school. And I learned librarianship in the same way I learned Catholicism. It is better to do things the right way, than the easy way.

This means that you shelve non-fiction by number and fiction by author’s last name, and then alphabetically by title. I may have allowed pizza in my little academic library, but my shelf reading was top notch.

But in the public library in which I am now working, either they don’t shelf read, or they don’t sweat it. I can look over and see the Evonovich books, organized by series number. Which is not alphabetical. I know, it makes more sense to the reader.

But that’s not the point. ONE for the money must be after HOT six. Screw the reader. I know the alphabet.

I had to shelve some of your books yesterday, Nora. This is a small library. You take up a lot of it. And I was industriously alphabetizing, to set my mind at rest. And stepped back from the shelf, satisfied with a job well done. Only to see another entire shelf above it that needed to be interfiled. And then I realized that I hadn’t even looked at J D Robb.

The whole thing made me kind of depressed.

So, could you please take a couple of weeks off, and not write any more books ’til I get caught up with this?

Or maybe you could try to be a little bit more like Sue Grafton.