This is a special treat among the honeymoon fare: A guest blog! Inspired by my personal history of libraries post, my friend Laura Lee decided she wanted to write her own entry. She has kindly offered to allow me to post it here as a honeymoon gift!
It was my favorite day of every month. Our class would line up, get on the bus, and drive 5 minutes down the street to the library. I always had two arms full of books to return in exchange for an equal-size load I planned to check out. It wasn’t a big, impressive library. But to elementary-age me, it was Heaven.
I have always been a reader. In elementary, I read every Nancy Drew book I could find (all but one from the original series) and most of the other major series – The Boxcar Children, Ramona, Little House on the Prairie, and a healthy dose of Goosebumps and Hardy Boys. My classmates often made fun of me for the amount of books I read (I won the Book-It pizza award every time!) or the titles I chose (“That book’s about fifth graders and you’re in sixth grade! Why would you read THAT??”), but I didn’t stop.
The bigger library in Macon, GA, was the downtown library. I remember that going there was a treat. It was large with huge bright windows and extremely high shelves of books. I say they were high, but I was also under five feet so perhaps that was just my point of reference. I would sit on the window seat and read for as long as my grandma would stay.
During this time, someone had very kindly given me a set of abridged classics as a kid. I read a few, but I didn’t really like the fact that I was reading only part of a book. That was my springboard. I didn’t really go to the library much again until college because at this point, I started collecting books and beginning my own library.
In seventh grade, we had an assignment to read a book of at least 200 pages and write a book report on it. I looked at the 200-page books. I wasn’t impressed. Everything I wanted to read was at least 400 pages. Deciding it was “go big or go home,” I chose A Tale of Two Cities, a book title that had interested me for some time. My classmates mocked me for “overachieving,” but honestly, it wasn’t that at all. I just wanted to read! “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”
A Tale of Two Cities hooked me on the classic novel. I began devouring others: Lord of the Rings, Jane Eyre, Les Miserables, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Pride and Prejudice, and so many others. While I wasn’t accepted among my classmates for being a nerd, I reveled in the magic and adventures of faraway lands in my books. I went to Camelot, to Space, to the heart of Africa and Victorian England. I traveled to the North Pole and sailed on the oceans, exploring.
Now, at 28, I have collected hundreds of novels and read most of them. I don’t visit the library anymore, although I do still love them. Instead, I peruse bookstores and purchase books for my own library. Within arm’s reach of my desk are 2 books from the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Howl’s Moving Castle, The Great Gatsby, and a handful of Charlie Brown collector books. While others enjoy their e-readers, I resist the technology. I appreciate it and its many uses, but I maintain my habit of collecting books. One day, I hope to pass these along to my children. Will they read them? I hope so. I hope that libraries and bookstores are still around. But if they aren’t, at least I know my library will still exist.