Listen, do you hear it? The proverbial pin drop that always describes ‘absolute quiet’?
Close your eyes and sniff! Do you smell it, the familiar scent of a room full of books?
It’s the library!
The branch library on Main Street had a special attraction for me, in my hometown of Worcester. If I close my eyes and conjure up that time in my life, I can easily picture it. And, yes, smell it, too!
From the large storefront windows that displayed books, to the sprawling checkout counter, I can see myself there now, kneeling on the carpeted floor, head angled forty-five degrees to the right, reading book spines in the hunt for exciting titles, in the ‘young readers’ section.
The bespectacled librarian, with her laser-like stare that could burn a hole right through you, and a well developed ‘Shhhhhhhh’ that blew through the room like a nor’easter, kept the library orderly and mum. She’s gone, of course, and I doubt the library is still there, more likely a nail salon now, with last year’s magazines. They’re everywhere, salons that is.
The Battle of Britain, Custer’s Last Stand, Ghengis Kahn and The Mongol Horde, as well as other Landmark titles were among my favorite books. I’d walk home with more than I could read in the allotted check-out time. Nevertheless, it was easy to pick one, settle down and get lost in adventure after adventure. Books can do that.
Sure, I have a Kindle and other electronic devices to download stories. And, yes, I can get books on tape, but there’s something special about patronizing a library. You’re among other readers for some quiet socializing, you’re moving for exercise and looking so sophisticated when walking about with your L.L.Bean ‘save the earth’ recyclable tote.
Of course, as a preteen, the library was a place to rendezvous with that ‘special love of your life’ where it was actually okay to say sweet nothings to each other, as long as they were whispered. You got to practice being a gentleman by carrying your love’s books home.
Reading was such a pleasure at that age but changes were about to happen. I hit middle school, then high school and reading books became a requirement for book reports, sometimes orally. The stress caused by a ‘requirement’ put the brakes on reading for pleasure. Landmark became ‘badmarks’ because once reading was required, I lost interest.
Fortunately, as an adult, I recaptured the pleasure of reading. My favorite genre is historical fiction and biographies. My town has a beautiful public library of its own where they have a great selection to satisfy anyone’s reading taste.
Do you enjoy reading? What is your favorite material to read and is there a book that stands out as your most enjoyable ever?
Mark Twain is credited with the following:
A person who won’t read has no advantage over one who can’t read.’
My books are like trophies, they collect dust, but take me wherever I want to go and I proudly display them.
To Jennie and book lovers everywhere, and to Sheila and all librarians who have mastered the ‘Shhhhhh’…