When I was a kid, we lived on the next street over from the library – literally, we lived behind the library. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to live. I learned to read at a very young age, between my oldest sister learning to be a teacher and practicing on me (one of the few things I can thank her for) and my father working as a roofer, which meant he was home all winter and read to me to keep me out of my mom’s hair, I learned that books were magical things. My Uncle Bill had bookshelves all around the living room, my mother loved to read poetry (she didn’t pass that love to me) and my father read western novels. All of us were and still are readers.
We would go to Florida for two weeks in the summer. My parents would drive and I would co-pilot from the back seat, when my nose wasn’t in a book. (I never got carsick from reading, thank goodness!) I was allowed to check out as many as I wanted for those trips. The librarian and I had an understanding. She was a mean woman but she was afraid of my mother – most of the adults in my life were afraid of my mother, she did not mince words, nor did she suffer fools gladly.
When I was 11, I wanted to read Gone with the Wind. The librarian wouldn’t let me check it out, saying I was too young for such a novel. I went home, told my sister, who went to the library and checked out the book, then brought it home and handed it to me.
This same sister now lives 350 miles away, but we talk every week. One of the things we always talk about is what we’re currently reading. Libraries being closed hasn’t been a huge problem for me, Amazon loves me, but it was one of her social outlets. She’s a widow, and is often lonely. Going to the library gave her a chance to socialize with other people, and she looked forward to her weekly excursions there.
My library is finally open for browsing again. Yesterday, I talked to my sister and she told me about two books she has on order, that her library can’t seem to get in. I’ve gotten her hooked on Karin Slaughter, she’s gotten me hooked on the Faith Fairchild series, we seriously enable each other. Today I went to my library to return a book – if I own a book, it can sit unread for years, but give me a library book and that baby gets read and returned pronto. So I went inside because going into the library and smelling books and wandering about is a slice of heaven for me.
I normally limit myself to two books. It’s all my sister’s fault that I came out with three today. The two she couldn’t get were on the shelf and I just have to gloat to her that I got them when she couldn’t, because, after all, we’re sisters! (If you’re interested – The Whistler by John Grisham, The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben, and Broken, by Karin Slaughter. I already have A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter checked out, that’s the next in the Grant County Series)
Going to the library is a slice of normal in this currently crazy world. I’ll turn off the TV, curl up with a book and a cup of coffee, and forget about all the hatred, all the division, and all the other bad stuff going on. Maybe we all should read more and talk more about books and less about politics.