Of libraries and books
This year I resolved to read more books. While I usually read about one or two books a month followed by a lull and a ravenous devouring of books again, this year I decided to go slow and steady – with no lulls.
So far I’ve read The Casual Vacancy which, took a while; a couple of chick-lits, mostly to get over the heaviness of The Casual Vacancy, a few Graham Greene stories and most recently, The Hobbit, a book I could not put down.
Now I’m tackling a tome, The Pillars of the Earth.
My husband gave the five out of five stars. It was recommended to him by a friend, and my husband being a voracious reader got the book at the local library, dived into the 900+ page volume and emerged three days later saying he had never read anything as fascinating. He followed it up with World Without End and is eagerly awaiting Follett’s sequel these books.
I’ve heard someone describe books as clothes – not all of them are the right fit for everyone. While you may fall in love with a book, another person might it frightfully boring.
And hence the need for libraries.
Not everyone can afford the luxury of electronic gadgets, which some people seem to think of as obtainable as the air we breathe. While about 80 percent of the US has internet access, not all of them have access to tablets and e-readers.
Sadly, internet seems to be the new divide.
This is where libraries help.
While you and I browse the net to get our news, read Ken Follett’s new book on our tablets and mobile phones, someone out there will walk down to their local library and pick up a copy or place a hold on the book and wait for weeks, sometimes even months, to read it.
Then there is the economic aspect of it. Books don’t come cheap. So what happens if you don’t like a book after you buy it? Well, you can always donate it to the local library but in the long run it does become a tiny bit expensive.
E-books don’t come cheap either. Besides, there’s that whole other debate whether you truly own your e-book.
So especially for people like me, who love the smell and feel of a book as we turn page after page or go back and highlight an especially interesting word or phrase or paragraph in a bright neon color, libraries will always be our sanctum sanctorum.
Yes, you can always go to your local Barnes & Noble and browse through a book but you can’t sit on your bed or couch with a cup of tea or glass of wine and read it at leisure. But you can always check out a number of books, “try them on” in the comfort of your home and then enjoy them at your pace (you can always renew a library book). Thus, libraries.
And if you truly like it, you can always buy a copy at that bookstore. Or even a used copy at the library. And when you outgrow that book – it happens – you can always donate it to your library.
Now, excuse me while I get back to my used copy of The Pillars of the Earth.
And oh, Happy Reading, everyone!