The Library Book
A couple weeks ago I finished a wonderful book by author Susan Orlean – The Library Book (2018).
I’ve loved public libraries since I was a kid and still do (just see my series of posts The Library Stack).
This non-fiction book uses the backdrop of the 1986 Los Angeles Central Public Library fire to share the history and glory (and challenges) of public libraries. She shares her historical research as well as interviews with many library staff throughout the country. This book also pays homage to public libraries and their importance in our communities. Just listening to a day in the library of various public library staff is pretty awesome and gives you perspective of how library staff serve our communities.
I borrowed this book as an audiobook from my public library, and I loved it so much I bought a hard copy of the book from a local independent bookseller.
Early in the book, this passage about the author’s trips to the library with her mother on page 7 really captured my heart:
…my mother and I walked in together but as soon as we passed through the door, we split up and each beaded for our favorite section. The library might have been the first place I was ever given autonomy…Our visits to the library were never long enough for me. I loved wandering around the bookshelves, scanning the spines until something happened to catch my eye. Those visits were dreamy, frictionless interludes that promised I would leave richer than I arrived.
There is a lot more to this passage and I highly recommend this book if you love libraries!
One of things I missed during the first couple months of the pandemic is being able to go to my local public library and browse for new books. The local library near my home is still closed but I do have access to a neighboring town’s library online and they do curbside pick up (see my post The Library Stack Is Back!)
If I’ve wanted to read anything, it seems like I’ve always borrowed it from my local library. Well this whole pandemic experience has made me think about having a book collection of my own (beside my crazy collection of crafting books) and building a home library.
To get this started, my partner John and I decided to designate the front room (sort of like a small formal living room) as “the library” and rearranged the furniture.
John, who loves Pinterest and is crafty, found an industrial pipe bookshelf image on Pinterest, figured out how to recreate it and built two bookcases near the window opposite each other.
Here is the first bookcase completed:
I am still working on arranging books on this bookcase. John has built the second one across from it and we plan to put a writing desk next to the two windows that are between the bookcases. I will share a photo in a future post once we get our library finished!
We’ve been building up our collection of fiction (primarily science fiction since we are both science fiction nerds) and non fiction books by finding them at thrift stores and independent bookstores (which have recently opened up again, see my post A Friday Frolicking Adventure) which we are trying to support.
Speaking of home libraries, I recently finished a book I borrowed from the library called For the Love of Books: Designing and Curating a Home Library by Thatcher Wine.
What is discovered is that there is a wonderful sounding bookstore in Boulder, Colorado called Juniper Books which sells beautiful book collections. Here is an example – their “Influential Women” collection:
The book, was essentially a beautiful advertisement for Juniper Books but it was a delightful advertisement! The custom book collections (with covers that form images, etc.) displayed in the book are amazing and dreamy.
No plans for an expensive custom book collection in my future but I plan to visit their shop in Boulder and have fun browsing!
“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” – Anne Lamott
And speaking of books and libraries, I hope you are listening to my blogging buddy Tammie Painter’s: The Book Owl Podcast. I’ve been catching up on episodes when I walk my dog and I appreciated she mentioned my blog on the third episode of her podcast.
Tammie shares wonderful stories related to books and libraries (well researched with lots of humor). Most recently I enjoyed the story of Barter Books in the U.K., the iconic poster it is responsible for rejuvenating and the train that runs through it!
Feature Photo by Janko Ferlic on Unsplash