A Library of Friends

When my husband and I moved into our house two years ago, we knew had a lot of books to box up. But after packing everything in our apartment up for weeks on end, we realized that we had at least 30 boxes full of books!

On moving day, our movers dutifully carried the couch, television, tables, chairs, and other furniture to the moving van, and then readied themselves for the mound of boxes. Wrinkling his nose when we told him that the large stack in the dining room contained our library, one of the movers asked us, “what do you do with so many books?”

“We read them, of course,” we replied.

He shook his head, then muttered something about having to carry all of those books down three flights of stairs.

Book artBut what else would you do with books than to read them? I’ll admit, my husband and I are somewhat book hoarders. If there’s a sale at a bookstore, you can bet we’re there. When we moved to the house, we also acquired four brand new, seven-foot tall bookshelves, to contain our growing library. We currently have 11 full bookshelves, two short shelves, and a cube unit. They aren’t all full, but there’s room to grow.

Guests often ask us if we’d read all of our books. I don’t know about my husband’s collection, but I’ve probably read about 60 percent of mine. But there’s always room for more!

Unless you’re a book lover, you don’t really understand the lure of library full of books. When I see my shelves full of books, it’s like walking into a room full of friends. Some of them are dear to my heart, because I’ve read them so often, such as my original copy of Anne of Green Gables, while others are casual acquaintances that I may glance at but probably only skim if I open their covers again. And as for the books I haven’t read, they are strangers that I can’t wait to get acquainted with!

One thing I DON’T have are books that I didn’t like. I have a rule: if I know I will not read a book again, I won’t keep it (Twilight, anyone?). I usually either donate them to the Goodwill, or trade them in at my local Half Price Books.

I may also be a harsh critic when it comes to books. I have a friend who will finish a book no matter what, but I refuse to continue reading a book I’m not enjoying. My motto is, “There are too many good books out there to waste on reading a bad one.” The comparison there is don’t waste time on people that bring you down.

So, what books do you consider good friends, or perhaps strangers you can’t wait to get acquainted with?

Biblio-Vacation!

 

I spent my childhood summers in the city. Both my parents worked so my sister and I were ‘latch-key’ kids. Long, lazy days of zero parental supervision. Oh, sweet bliss!

And even better – I had a wonderland of excitement waiting for me just ten blocks from my home. I made the trek every other day; my arms plied high with books. Where was I heading?

The public library, of course.

The musty smell of  old books was as welcoming as any tangy sea breeze. And the cool clamminess of the children’s section located in the basement was as refreshing as dabbling your feet in a cool brook. And talk about summer friendships! Hundreds of them awaited me on those packed shelves.

I usually checked out twelve books a visit. Six books for each arm. It took a bit of juggling to get through doorways but once I was on the street I could manage just fine. And if my arms got tired, I’d just drop to the ground wherever I was and start reading until I felt rested again. Of course that meant the trip home took a lot longer but since there was no one waiting on me that didn’t matter.

If I’d only read those books I might have to end this blog post here, because really, what more can be said about spending your whole summer reading? B-o-r-i-n-g, right? Not if you were a kid with a runaway imagination who lived what she read. It’s a miracle I survived my childhood.

When I read Five Children and It by E. Nesbit, I immediately went on my own quest to find a psammead (sand fairy) who grants wishes. Of course, I didn’t achieve quite the same results. First, I needed sand – not an easy commodity to find in the city. I finally settled on the baseball diamond in the Junior High schoolyard. And since there were five children in the book but only one of me I improvised with a few dolls and a teddy bear. Then I needed a picnic. I crammed some Cheese Whiz crackers and my china doll’s tea set into a pillow case and then added a spade because everyone knows that psammeads bury themselves under sand in order to avoid pesky wish-demanding children.

Alas, it wasn’t long before I discovered that the sand in the baseball diamond was packed so hard it might as well have been cement. I could barely scratch the surface let alone dig deep enough to unearth a sand-fairy. Determined not to let this disappointment scar the remainder of my day I got a scathingly brilliant idea.

I would hold my picnic on top of the backstop!

It was a bit of a climb, made more difficult since I had a booty-filled pillowcase clutched in one hand but I made it! And what a thrill it was to look down at everything from my perch above. I set out the dolls and teddy bear, passed around china plates laden with crackers and had the most thrilling tea party of my life. I felt adventurous and daring and equal to any literary heroine …until it came to climbing down when I found myself inexplicably frozen with fear.

Unfortunately, the sheer terror of my situation precluded my enjoyment of the subsequent police rescue. My parents were just getting home from work when the cruiser pulled up. Imagine their horror and shock! I’d been stranded on the backstop for hours in the blazing sun. Dehydrated and sunburned, face streaked with tears, I didn’t resemble the child they’d left that morning.

That wasn’t my last brush with the law either. Later that same summer, I had to be rescued off a cliff by a park ranger. My family spent every Saturday of the summer at Boyd Conservation Area — 991 acres of trails, picnic areas and river swimming. There was even a man-made beach with lots of luxurious sand. But my psammead digging days were over. I had moved into the mystery section of the library and had just discovered Phyllis A. Whiney and was reading The Mystery of the Haunted Pool.

Our park routine was always the same: my parents would lay out a blanket, plunk down the cooler and set up for a day of sunbathing. My sister and I and any friends we brought with us were allowed to simply roam free. And roam we did. I’m sure we covered every square foot of that park by the end of the summer.

Which was how I stumbled upon the Haunted Cave. I knew it was haunted because I could hear the most unearthly moans coming out of it.

Of course I had to explore. Trouble was the ‘cave’ was way up the side of a cliff. So up I climbed and, you guessed it, got stuck. Petrified, I clung to the side of the cliff like a squirrel monkey until some hikers noticed me and alerted the park rangers. Imagine my parents’ reaction when I showed up by their picnic blanket with my ranger escort! Actually better not to!

Then there was the orphan craze I went through. I LOVED books about orphans. Such a romantic, exciting life! Think Anne of Green Gables and Pippi Longstocking. And then I got my hands on a copy of Nobody’s Girl by Hector Malot. It was written in the late 1800’s in France and reads like a soap opera.

When Perrine’s mother dies she discovers that she has an estranged grandfather. I was captivated by the 300+ pages that told Perrine’s harrowing search for someone to belong to. Sniffle. I identified with the heroine so much that I took her persona upon myself. I stopped eating breakfast and lunch so that I would know what hunger felt like. I teased and tangled my hair, ripped my clothes and rolled around in the dirt to give myself the look of a lost waif. Then I walked down the bustling streets of Toronto looking desperately at every kind elderly face wondering it belonged to my very own long, lost grandpappa. I won’t mention the time that I was escorted out of a department store by a security detail – the very one my own father worked at!

By, by now you’re convinced I’m mad as a hatter and ought to be locked up. In fact, you’re probably wondering if I have a juvenile record. All I can say is that I may have grown up but I still live every book I read…and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

How about you — any books from your childhood you just had to become a part of?

 

NEWS FROM LIBRARYLAND

News . . . I’m one of those people who avoid the news every chance I get. My favorite parts of any newscast? Human-interest stories. Not the “48 Hours” or “Dateline” stories that get me sucked in and then never really have a conclusion. That just makes me mad.

So, I look for stories that interest me. Maybe they’re about libraries, schools, or churches. Those, I understand.

Library stories particularly interest me, because, as a librarian, I feel that we are too well-known for “shushing,” and too little-known for the cool things that happen in library land.

What about Dewey, the library cat? Not only is there a bestselling book written about him, but here’s a story from CBS Morning News that gives you an idea of what can happen in the library . . .

Dewey The Library Cat

 

Speaking of book drops, here’s a headline I’ll bet you’ve never read: “Woman Pleads Guilty in Ketchup Attack on Library.” Yes, a senior citizen, angry about something, decided to take her revenge by dumping various items in the book drop, including ketchup, maple syrup, and the one that got her caught after a police stake-out, an open jar of mayonnaise. Total damages were over $1,000.00. Wow. I’m glad she’s not in my library district. Of course, she’s been banned from having anything to do with Boise area libraries for two years . .

But on the bright side, there was the gentleman, Stanley Dudek of New Bedford, Massachusetts, who turned a book in to the library. It was only 99 years overdue when he turned it in! He found it among his mother’s possessions after her death, and the date due was May 10, 1910. At a penny a day fine in 1910, the fine would have been $361.35, but he was not asked to pay it. Instead, the library plans to display the old book in a special collection. When asked, he stated that he decided that even if it was overdue, returning it to the library was just the “right thing to do.” I love that.

Oh! And did you hear about the hawk that somehow gained entrance to, and was trapped in the Library of Congress? What a hoot! (pun intended) See the story from CNN . . .

Library Of Congress Hawk

So, whatever line of work you’re in, and whatever interests you or “floats your boat,” look for stories that are connected. It will brighten your day! Really!

 

But What About the Happily Ever After

I have a confession—I’m not a book buyer. I can’t help it. My mom reads at least forty books a week, so I grew up as a library patron.

Lately I decided that if I expect people to buy my books, I need to be a book buyer. I made several purchases and haven’t had a chance to read any of them. But at least my to be read pile is physical now.

Contemporary romance is always my first choice. I read to relax, so I want to know there will be a happy ending. But I love all the complications that keep me reading. Romantic suspense is usually my second choice, but I have to be in the mood because it keys me up. Women’s fiction is usually my third choice. I love the depth, but I’m always worried about the happily ever after.

Most of my recent purchases were women’s fiction which I’ll be delving into as soon as I get the chance. It might be a while since I’m once again on deadline overload. God is good.

So here are my purchases:

Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes

Not many people can throw on a cape and save the world. Isabella, however, I could rescue. This was my final chance to be a hero, even if I was the only one would ever know it.

Jenny Lucas promised herself the day she left home, pregnant and alone, she’d never look back. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, nearly six years later, she returns to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. While she still can, she’s determined to have a say in who will raise her little girl when she’s gone—the father she hasn’t spoken to since she left or Isabella’s dad—who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.

The remarkable story that unfolds will bring a family back together again to discover the kinds of love that save us when nothing else can.

In Search of Eden by Linda Nichols

A fractured heart… A hope renewed…

Today is your birthday… I want you to know that you are in my heart, as you always have been. I pray for you every day. I pray I did the right thing…

Thus wrote Miranda DeSpain on the anniversary of the day that changed her life forever, the day her heart was torn in pieces. Ever since that wrenching event, she’s been unable to settle down, embrace life. She finds herself starting one adventure after another, trying to forget. But she never can. As she approaches her twenty-seventh birthday, she determines once again to reinvent her circumstances, to start anew. But there’s one loose end to tie up first…

Joseph North, chief of police in Abingdon, Virginia, has always tried to do what is right, to perform his duty and protect those he loves. He is suspicious of the new woman in town and, checking further, discovers she is a person with seemingly no history. Then he finds a baby picture of his niece in her possession….

A story of law and grace, of forgiveness and redemption, of finding joy and rest in a broken world

They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti

She would leave her husband. . . if she could find him. 

When Libby’s husband, Greg, fails to return from a solo canoe trip to the Canadian wilderness, the authorities write off his disappearance as an unhappy husband’s escape from an oatmeal marriage and an unrewarding career. But was it? She can’t leave him if she can’t find him. With the help of her father-in-law and her best friend, Libby plunges into the wilderness to search for her husband and the remnants of her flagging faith.

He was supposed to be fishing. He was supposed to come home. And she was supposed to care.

I’ve mentioned the last book before as being on my to be read list, but at least now I actually own it. I’m making progress.

Have you read any of these?