I’ve always been a reader, and have always been proud of such. If I don’t have a book permanently placed in front of my face, then it’s probably in the car in or in my bag waiting to be cracked open and consumed. After all these years, my love for books hasn’t changed, but the way I get a hold of them has.
Book fairs in elementary school were not only my favorite time of the school year, but also my first book-buying experiences. Held in our small library, the metallic carts carrying the latest fantasy and young adult chapter books possessed me and my classmates, inducing us to forget recess to browse for written adventures. And even though I left elementary school and it’s book fairs, the appeal of examining endless stacks of crisp paperbacks and glossy hardcovers only carried over to Borders, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and other bookstores. The thought of owning my own books took over my mind, convincing me that buying was my only option.
Now this doesn’t seem significant since we live in a largely materialistic society and culture where we are defined by our purchases. But, looking closer, I found that the pride in owning my own books blinded me to the treasure trove of plastic-covered library books that were just behind the book fair carts and across town from the bookstore.
“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your questions answered.” – E. B. White
While I was combating emotions in bookstores with classic retail therapy, I’d forgotten the cherished childhood memories and nostalgic comfort that libraries always afforded me. I’d forgotten the summer reading challenges, and picture book readings I used to participate in at the East Shore Library. I’d forgotten the crackling plastic covers and the shelves marked with the dewey decimal system and the silence (apart from the occasional beep of the check out scanner).
“A good library will never be too neat, or too dusty, because somebody will always be in it, taking books off the shelves and staying up late reading them.” – Lemony Snicket
Now, the East Shore Library may not be the biggest or the most beautiful. It’s not the New York Public Library with it’s stone columns and engravings, but it’s still a house of wonder.
On a mission to acquire Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, The East Shore’s dark wood stacks, didn’t let me down. Checking out the book made me remember a time before the bookstores and book fairs, a time when I didn’t have to own a book but could enjoy it in the time that I had it, a time when the librarians knew my name, a time I hope to recapture by going to the library more.