Confession Time

I have a deep dark secret. Promise you won’t judge me.

Okay, don’t judge me too harshly, at least.  ‘Cause to be honest, I kind of judge myself.

Ready?

*deep breath* I’m not a member of my public library.

I know. I know.

I love the library. I do. It’s just not something I’ve gotten around to doing. I’ve only lived in my current city for…um…three years.

I know.

I’m a writer, who is not a member of the library. In my defense, I joined the library in my previous city, and I was a member of my hometown library for as long as I can remember growing up. I just never did it when I moved. Actually, this past Monday was the first time I’ve even been to the library here.

It’s really pretty, and fairly good sized. Although it seems like there are more seating and study areas and local exhibits than books. I tried to join Monday while I was there, but I didn’t have my license on me. Hubby did. My engineer husband is now a member of the library and I, the writer, am not.

But, here’s really why:

I’ve mentioned this before, but my family was pretty poor when I was growing up. I mean, my parents always made sure we had enough food, and they sacrificed a lot and worked really hard to make sure I got a good education and had a roof over my head. We didn’t have money for many extras, though. One of my favorite luxuries was books. It was a luxury, though.

Most of my books came from the library. I could spend hours there. Narrowing down my choices to the two or three books I was allowed to get was the most agonizing decision ever. I haven’t stepped foot in my hometown library in at least ten years, but I remember everything about it. At least, how it was when I was a kid. The big rug in the kid’s section, the carpeted cubbies along the back wall where you could crawl inside and curl up to read, the computer area (I could never figure out why people played computer game when there were so many books!). I remember how mature I felt when I started getting books from the adult section, and how boring the Heritage Room was. I have a newspaper clipping with a picture of me and my parents unpacking boxes for a book fair the library was having. I think I was in the fifth grade. The library was one of my most favorite places in the world.

But the books were temporary. Each one had to go back when I finished. It always made me so sad to return a book. Even if that sadness was quickly replaced by the joy of a new treasure.

Owning a book, though. Actually owning one. Wow. There was nothing like it. (Okay, honestly, the giant refrigerator box my parents let me keep was pretty awesome, but it eventually got kind of busted and had to go in the trash. Bonus, I could read in there). But not even their permanence was guaranteed. We had this great used book shop in town (actually, it was the only book store I remember going to until I got older, and even then the closest big store was a Books-a-Million forty minutes away). It was basically a maze of old shelves and tattered covers and amazing musty book smells, and was right up there with the library in terms of great locations of my childhood. Maybe even a little higher. Because I could keep these books. Well, some of them.

These books cost money. Granted, they were less expensive than buying one brand new (which was virtually unheard of and usually only happened at that fantastic wonder of wonders called the Book Fair at school. Holy crap I loved the Book Fair SO. Much.), but still, like I said, a luxury. So, like the library, most of the time if I wanted new book, I had to trade in an old one. I only kept my absolute favorites. The ones I would re-read over and over. (We also had a small collection of the books my mother taught to her classes, but those were mostly boring to a kid. Like ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN. Bleh).

What does this have to do with not joining the library? I’m glad you asked!

Itsy bitsy me promised myself that one day, one amazing day, I wouldn’t have to give books back. I would keep them, forever. In my own library. And it would be glorious! Alphabetically arranged by category, then by author last name, with my own card catalog system, and rich wood and deep, comfy chairs, and great lighting. Oh, and cats, I could always have cats in my library. Sitting in my lap in said comfy chairs.

As I grew up, each book I kept became a trophy. On Christmas and Easter and my birthday and Book Fair days I would get brand new books to go with the myriad of used ones. It broke my heart to leave them all behind when I moved away for college. Then it drove me crazy when I went home and found them in my brother’s room! (Dirty little thief). I worked in the law library in law school, partially because it was an easy way to get paid and study, but also because I was surrounded by my people–books. Then I got married, and some of my books moved in with me and my husband.

Then. Then. We moved to our current town and we bought a house. A house in which I made certain had a spare room for a library. I kid you not, on my list of house requirements was “library room.” And allllll my books finally came home with me. Even the ones my brother had thugged. The ones that fit on shelves were organized alphabetically by category, then by author last name, and I set up a card catalog to track who I loaned books to and when. Hubby is supposed to build me more shelves because I’m out of room, and I’m still working on the deep wood and thick chairs, but it will get there one day.

All these years, I have been carefully accumulating. Buying books when I had extra money. Some girls buy shoes and purses. I buy books. And I can keep them. And it is glorious. The dream of little girl me has come true. I have a library, and my books never have to leave.

Which means, I’ve had no reason to use the public library here. I worked hard in college and law school and can finally afford to buy the books I want to read and support the authors I want to support. However, I realize how important the library was for me as a kid, and how important it is for other kids who can’t afford books, and it’s high time I support my local library.

So, dear reader, I am going back to the library. This time I’m taking my license, and I’m going to get a card, and I’m going to wash this dark shadow off. Maybe, when the budget allows, Hubby and I will become Friends of the Library and support it by more than just our patronage.

Do you use the library? If not, what do you do with books after you read them? Pass them along? Or are you like me, slowly trying to accumulate a library to rival Belle’s?

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The Great Readomise

My husband and I are both readers. I don’t think I could’ve married someone who didn’t understand my love of books.

However…

We don’t always read the same things. I love mystery, suspense, horror, light sci-fi, light fantasy, contemporary, classics, literary…okay this list could go on and on.

Hubby is hard to keep up with. His tastes change all the time. Nonfiction has always been pretty consistent, but the topics vary. He went through a business book phase, a biography phase, a theology phase, a math book phase, I forget what dorky book he read last. He likes higher fantasy and more literary fiction than me, LES MISERABLES, DON QUIXOTE, ATLAS SHRUGGED.

There’s some cross-over, but mostly we keep our books separate. We’re constantly trying to get the other to read the books we love, though. It seldom works. I got him to read A WRINKLE IN TIME, I read LES MIS. But usually, we fail.

Until today.

226 years ago, our forefathers entered the Great Compromise to bring the Continental Congress together in agreement, and they ended up forming the branches of our government. Hubby and I came up with the Great Readomise to bring our books together. Not as dramatic, or important, but maybe it will bridge the gap of literary taste and tear down the walls that have divided our books for so long. (You can’t ever say I don’t have a flair for the dramatic, haha).

So here’s the deal: We each picked ten books we want the other to read. Both of us have a long lists of books we want to read, so we’ve agreed to alter between our books and the others’ picks. We have to read at least 50 pages, and then can veto. The other person then has the chance to replace the vetoed book with another. They don’t have to be read in order, as long as they’re all given a chance.

The only problem is I could have listed books all day and he only came up with five. So I stopped at six (I’d already drawn from a balance of genres and categories and couldn’t figure which one to cut, so my sixth stays in case he vetoes one).

What are the books? I’m glad you asked.

Hubby’s List:

ATLAS SHRUGGED, Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged

BONHOEFFER: PASTOR, MARTYR, PROPHET, SPY, Eric Metaxes

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

THE FOUNTAINHEAD, Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead

THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, J.R.R Tolkein

The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

NO COMPROMISE, THE LIFE STORY OF KEITH GREEN, Melody Green, David Hazard

No Compromise

My List:

GONE GIRL, Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS, John Green

The Fault in Our Stars

AND THEN THERE WERE NONE, Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None

A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

LISEY’S STORY, Stephen King

Lisey's Story

I’ll update and let you know how this project goes. I already foresee some vetoes, but I promise to keep an open mind and give them all a fair chance. At least for the first 50 pages. ; )