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?

Back in Black

And I’m back!  After the doctor fixed two meniscus tears and performed a lateral release of my knee cap, I’m finally off the couch and on the road to recovery!  Okay, so maybe I’m only off the couch long enough to sit with my leg propped up at work, only to return to the couch in the evenings, but at least it’s a change of scenery. I’ve got a leg brace for five weeks, which won’t be fun, but hopefully after it’s all said and done I’ll be better than ever!

Thanks for the book recommendations and the well wishes.  Unfortunately, my pain meds kept me too high to concentrate on reading over the week.  However, I did rediscover the joys of old school Super Mario (we downloaded it to the Wii) and I discovered there isn’t much on tv during the day except for marathons of House Hunters, et al on HGTV.   Coincidentally, I could tell you how much a house will run you in pretty much every part of the country now.

I’m super stoked to be coherent again and I’m ready to resume writing.  I’ve recently resumed edits on the first book I wrote.  By resumed edits, I mean I realized the whole thing was crap and I’m rewriting pretty much the whole thing.

I added a new feature to my blog.  Yes, I bit the bullet and got a twitter.  You can see recent tweets over there on the right.  See it…down…no up a little…there!  Follow me! (Yes, I cringed a little while writing every word of this paragraph).

You Don’t What?!

I never cease to be astonished when people tell me they don’t like to read.  I just don’t get it.  There are so many amazing books out there!  So many styles, genres, and subgenres.  You’d think there would be something that would appeal to them.  To me, there is no greater joy than curling up with a cup of coffee or a chai tea latte on a rainy afternoon with a great book.  My mother teaches English and Literature, and she hates reading.  Can you believe it?  I never could.  She reads the Cliffs Notes.  Occasionally she’ll read an actual book, but it’s rare.  To me, not reading is like not listening to music.  Or not liking chocolate.  How do you get through life without reading?

Everywhere I go, I have a book with me.  Usually more than one.  I keep one in my purse, I have a Kindle app on my phone, and just in case I’m still caught book-less, I have a copy of Dante’s Inferno in my trunk (I just can’t bring myself to take it out, you never know when you’ll need a book!).  I pull my book out constantly.  At lunch, at the mechanic, at the doctor, in traffic jams, or just waiting for my husband to get off the phone.  For really good books, I literally read every chance I get.  My husband gets frustrated when we’re at dinner and he returns from the bathroom to find my nose in a book.  When he’s out of town I read during every meal.  We were at a good friend’s wedding this weekend and my husband was an usher, so I sat on the back row reading until time for the wedding to start.  He couldn’t believe it, but what was I supposed to do?  Stare at the chairs in front of me?  (Coincidentally, that same friend is someone who doesn’t read, which prompted this post).

I would rather read than watch tv, or movies, or do much else really.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some shows and movies that I absolutely love, but it always feels lazy to me.  Like someone else is doing all of the work.  I like imagining how people sound or how they look.  It’s one reason I hate books on tape (or cd/mp3 nowadays).  I hate for someone else to read to me.  I can’t hear the character’s voice, I can’t let my imagination really play and fill in the gaps.  Which makes me wonder: do people who don’t like to read lack imagination?  Do they need someone else to create for them?

Maybe that’s it.  I myself have an overactive imagination.  It’s one of the reasons I like to write.  There’s so much going on in my head that needs to be set free.  Perhaps they don’t have the imagination to read?  Or they claim not to have the time (which is just silly, I’ve already proven there are tons of opportunities!) Or maybe they lack the attention span?  In today’s generation people have to be constantly entertained, do they find books too boring? 

Like my mother, my sister doesn’t like to read.  Every one in a while she’ll finish a book.  When she does read, she only picks up books that are close to reality.  Give her fantasy or something science fiction-y (even Harry Potter) and she’ll turn up her nose.  In her case, I can definitively state it’s because she lacks imagination.  Once, when she was five or six, I tried to pretend with her.  We sat on this rug with a picture of a house and I pretended it was a real house.  She absolutely wouldn’t budge and maintained that it was a stupid game because it was a rug  not a house.  I might add I’m fifteen years older, so I was about twenty at the time.  Twenty years old and I had more imagination than a five year old.

What do you think?  Why don’t people like to read?  Lack of time, imagination, or energy?  Something different altogether?  Or have they just not found the right book yet?