Friday, April 9, 2010

Love Your Local Library

I love to read.

I mean that. And I don’t mean People magazine, or Reader’s Digest; I love books. Big, fat, heavy books. Not only are they great for smashing spiders, but they can transport you to anywhere in world; any time in history; and you can be whomever you wish.

My father loved to read and I think that he passed that love on to my sister and me. He was always reading; he read stories and poetry to me almost every night until I was about 12. I miss that. I still have two of the poetry books that he read to me out of, and I treasure them.

When I was a kid, I loved trips to the library with Dad. We would hit the door and go our separate ways and then meet up an hour later. Sometimes I would beg to stay a little longer, and sometimes we would. There was something so profoundly satisfying about leaving that musty old place with armfuls of books.

I like to read a variety of stuff; I’m not a huge fan of non-fiction for some reason, and I don’t care for romance novels either. I went through a stage in junior high with one of my best pals where we read every single Barbara Cartland romance we could get our hands on. We collected them and traded them, dreamed about them, and talked about them until I thought my mother would lose her mind. Eventually I caught on that there were only about six different plot lines; dear Barbara just changed the countries, names, and hair color of the people involved and just kept cranking those suckers out! I love mystery novels and collected Agatha Christie novels too. I still have a bunch of them. I also read her biography and loved it! I have that book and will always keep it on my shelf. I love anything having to do with psychology and forensics. I find both fields to be extremely interesting; if I had gotten the opportunity to go to college, I would have studied both of those subjects. I also like horror – Steven King is a favorite, but he can get a little too…out there…for even me sometimes. I am not a huge fan of ghosts or anything dealing with the occult; I do like ghost stories to an extent, but not if having the book in my possession is going to start rearranging the furniture in my living room, you know what I mean? Yeah. That’s not fun. Having said that, I just finished one and am starting another ghost story novel. And I do not care for vampire novels at all!! You aren’t going to see me roped into the Twilight series. Period.

I do like monsters and space aliens too; and I love it when I read a book and think to myself, Wow – that would make a great movie, and then POOF! I’m at the movie theater a few weeks, months, or a year later and there it is – the book I read and the previews for the movie. I had read Jurassic Park almost three years before the movie came out; my sister and I had both read it and thought it would be the most awesome movie, and when we saw the previews for it we nearly beat each other to death with glee. It was one of the few movies made from a book that I thought really stuck to the original. It is so incredibly disappointing to love a book then see a movie that doesn’t live up to it. The Da Vinci Code was definitely one, and I never saw Angels and Demons but I heard it was disappointing as well. Sometimes I just know that a movie isn’t going to cut it so I won’t bother; but sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. Which can be awesome. The Relic was an awesome book, and the movie did pretty well at sticking to the basic plot. The DVD of the movie is in my collection.

I am also more drawn to paperbacks rather than hardbacks. I love a paperback because I can stick it in my purse and joyfully carry it around with me. I rarely buy tiny purses; any new purse must be large enough to contain at least one paperback book. I read them everywhere: work, restaurants, movie theaters, in traffic. I read them at restaurants because it makes me feel less alone, and I find that if I don’t have any company to share the meal with, reading is a good substitute. And it keeps me from looking at all the happy families and/or couples and feeling sorry for myself for being there alone. The same with movies; I don’t often go the theaters anymore – they are too expensive, and who wants to go see a movie all by themselves? But I believe that some films must be seen on the big screen to be fully appreciated (like the Star Wars films, or 300, etc.) so I will suck it up and go. I like to arrive early so that I can sit in my favorite spot (in stadium seating, top row, dead center) and I don’t miss any previews. So, during the 10-15 minutes of uncomfortable dead time, I read. It makes the wait go by faster and I don’t obsess about whether or not people are staring at me and wondering why I am there alone. And, if you are stuck at a red light that seems to take forever? Whip out your book and read one sentence -I guarantee the light will change; this also works for slow moving drive-thrus. The other reason I like paperbacks is that I refuse to pay $25 for a hardback. Unless it’s something I know I will treasure and want to keep forever.

In these…let’s say challenging…economic times, I have found myself returning to the library more often. I can check out armfuls of hardback books for free. I love to go onto my favorite bookstore site (Powell Books in Portland, OR) to snuffle around and see what books are out there that I might like. When I find something, I flip over to my local library’s website and open the catalog to search for it. If they have it, I make a note of the call numbers and when I have a few on my list, I make a library run. It’s been great – I had forgotten how great. If I hate a book, I can just return it. No questions, no refunds, no problem. I can check out whole collections of a single author’s work and read them back to back in order. I can check out cookbooks and copy just the recipes I like instead of buying an entire book with 892 recipes that I hate and will never make. Sometimes doing that will lead me to a different book by the same person that I will purchase for permanent residence on my cookbook shelf. Sometimes I will preview a book this way, and if I like it enough I will go out and buy my own copy.

Love your local library. If you haven’t been there in a while, check it out (no pun intended). Turn your kids onto the miracle of reading. It’s not just for billboards and menus these days.


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