In these dismal economic times, I find myself searching for some cheap thrills.
In my quest, I rediscovered the library.
I have to say rediscovered because I have always been a friend of the library. A library lover. An appreciator of literature.
When I was little I decided to card catalogue my own books. That’s right. My own books. And my grandmother (a teacher and reading encourager) bought me a stamp bookplate that said “From the Library of ___,” and I proudly printed my name in all of the inside book covers in my collection. I even had a sort of lending library system with my gal pals. I also begged my parents for a set of encyclopedias when I was in the 4th grade.
I never got those
My grandmother (the teacher one) said I loved books so much it started to become?ridiculous. She said I would brandish a book in the air and exclaim “read me!” And I knew when my Dad skipped pages in Go Dog Go.
So I really love books. And I really love the library.
When I went to college, I could hole myself up in the library for eight to 10 hours at a time. My favorite was the Clark Science and Engineering Library (since renamed to Brown), which was renovated right before I entered school. The domed ceiling in the entrance hall featured a lovely mural and stone flooring that led the way to the study area. The main area housed several banks of computers and beautiful large mahogany tables with actual chairs, not ugly plastic chairs, but real high-back fabric-covered chairs. The room even had a fireplace. Ah, I would spend hours at dear Clark. I liked to be surrounded by books, even if they are science and engineering books for which I have no desire or use. I went there every chance I got. In fact, I am certain I spent more time basking in the gloriousness that is Clark than I spent at college parties. Sometimes I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Clark.
I wish I had a Clark here for me to idle away a weekend afternoon. Sadly, I do not have a Clark, but I do have the public library, even though they pale in comparison to the loveliness of Clark. You can eat at Clark. You could access wireless internet at Clark. You can sit in lovely high back chairs and sit a latte while you read at Clark. No angry librarians wonder around are mean at Clark. But, I suppose the public libraries will do since truly nothing can compare the wonder that is Clark. (It should come at no surprise that several people thought the library should actually be named after me.)
So, even though nothing compares to the majesty that is Clark, the public library system has provided me with many fabulous books that are so good I just have to pass them on:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: While darker than I anticipated, I stuck with it after the first chapter, and I am glad I did. A young girl narrates this story as she follows her family members? lives after her violent death. It is not a sunny book, but I would not say entirely gloomy either. The girl?s thoughts and her narration of her family?s life are deep and introspective.
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen: I could not put down this story about a young man who joins the circus back in the 1940s. The tales of his days on the circus are full of turmoil, and the characters are convincing. What makes this story rich is the way Gruen switches between the narrator as the young man and the narrator as an old man.
Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sofia Kinsella: Yes, it is silly. Yes, it is 99.9% unrealistic. Yes, it is chick lit to the extreme. But, there is something endearing and fun about the main character, Rebecca Bloomwood, which makes her relatable and fun. I recommend the entire series.
December by Elizabeth Winthrop: I happened upon this book because of the Real Simple magazine?s No Obligation Book Club (the magazine announces a book to read and discuss on the blog, so you can choose to follow or not, and if so, at your own pace). Not knowing much about it, I did not have any expectations. It is the story about an 11-year-old girl who has not spoken in nine months and how her parents deal with her lack of communication. At first, I did not think that was much plot to go off of, but I was pleasantly surprised by the richness of the characters and the how the story really pulled me in.
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult: I have read several other Jodi Picoult books, and she is good at crafting stories that seem pretty out there and making them more realistic. In this book, a baby is found dead in a barn in an Amish community, and the Amish girls suspected of the crime refuses to acknowledge that the baby is hers, even when she is charged with the crime. The girl comes to be represented by an attorney who also happens to be her distant relative. I found the details about the Amish community to be interesting and especially enjoyed the relationship between the girl and her attorney/distant cousin.
So there you have it, some literary gems to put on hold at your public library. Now I am off to discover another fabulous read, and as I stand in line with the masses at my local public library, I will close my eyes and pretend I am in Clark