Books are an incredibly important part of what makes me, well, me. As I have stated many times before, I attempt to read 3-4 books a week. I read a mixture of fiction and non-fiction. Not every book is spectacular, and since I turned 30, I no longer feel the obligation to read the book cover-to-cover if my interest wanes. Several years ago, a brilliant idea (most likely due to no sleep) came to me and I mind-mapped every book I have ever read. I was able to visually recognize how one book led to another book and impacted a new way a thought or interest. This map became my #bookdna and I share the books I add to this map on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
In honor of Museum Week and the corresponding daily theme/hashtag, #BooksMW, I will share a book that has had the most professional impact. The Death and Life of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs and published in 19161 remains the book that reinvigorated my drive to improve and evolve communities (physical AND digital). It is an extremely dense book and may be difficult to wade into as a newcomer to urban planning and community organization topics. I highly recommend reading Vital Little Plans by Jane Jacobs. This is a collection of short works that will give you a hint about the formidable Jane Jacobs (my hero). I like to read (or re-read, in my case), an essay in the early morning before I open my email and begin slogging through the day. Reading these essays helps me get into the right frame of mind and navigate the ups and downs of change management…because these woes are nothing new or extraordinary. I start the day by thinking, “What would Jane do?”
Why is this of interest for Museum Week participants? No matter your role in the museum industry, all are struggling to make our cultural institutions relevant. To look forward and fight our way into securing a place in the physical and digital spaces in the 21st Century, perhaps we should look back to those who have forged a path for us? It is only fitting to recognize a female author since the focus of this year’s Museum Week is female power! Looking outside of our industry and to the people who earned battle scars before our time, may help us find new ways of thinking that may be applied to museums. We are not alone in our fight. And never were. Everyone is fighting their own battles. How can we share and learn from each other?
Happy reading! Crack open a book, turn on your Kindle, or listen to an audio book. Consume books any way you see fit and create your own #bookdna.
(Only fitting I write this post while completing my third annual Museum Studies PhD Research Week at the University of Leicester!)