April 02, 2009
Rows and rows of books
When I was a kid, my mother would bring us to the library every Tuesday. We kids would run into the brick building ahead of my mother, and whatever argument we’d gotten into in the car would disappear as soon as we went through the door. You spoke in whispers in the library. In the hushed atmosphere, I’d go over eagerly to the shelves and shelves of books. I can remember having fantasies about getting snowed into the library, with all those books just waiting to be read.
My mother would go off to find books for herself, which gave me time to browse through the kids’ books and make the agonizing choices. An old favorite? Or do I take a chance on a new book? I’d take an armful of books over to the wooden bench and set them on the wooden slanted shelf so I could look through them. We were each allowed to take two books home.
How exciting Tuesday evenings would be. I’d read my own two books first, of course, and then I’d find the books my siblings had taken out, and read them. If it was summer, I’d stay up all night reading. For the rest of the week, I’d keep rereading my books until Tuesday came, and we could go back to the library again.
As an adult, I tend to buy books rather than use the local library. That explains why our house and both my offices are so cluttered with books. But still, I love the library. Just walking into the little library in Traintrack Village makes me think of Francie Nolan from A Tree Grow in Brooklyn, who was going to read all the books in alphabetical order, and Betsy from the Betsy-Tacy books, who went to the library on Saturdays because she knew she was going to be a writer.
Sometimes I take the little neighbor kids to the library, but I’ve also gone there during my sabbatical to write. I carry in my laptop, smile at the woman behind the desk, and then sneak down the rows of books until I find the chair hidden in the northwest corner of the building. It’s an overstuffed chair, next to the window, where I can sit and write without interruption. The lack of wireless helps immensely. And those rows of books keep me focused.
That's Ponytail, the five-year-old neighbor girl, in the photo.
Posted by jo(e)