I’ve always loved public libraries. First and foremost, the books, but also the quiet and sense of order one finds there. Breathing in the scent of hundreds of books is a soothing tonic to me. When I move somewhere new one of the first things I do is find and join the local library. Belonging to the library is the first step to belonging to a place.
As a writer, I buy a lot of books. Not only do I love owning the books by authors I love, I feel it’s my “writerly duty” to support the writing community. However, the public library is the perfect place to browse, to see what’s new, but also to rediscover writers I may have forgotten. It’s immensely gratifying to wander in the stacks and see what catches my eye – like a trip back in time.
Recently, to prepare for a class I’m teaching here in Florida, I went to the library in search of some good examples of memoir. I had read favorable reviews of a new book by Abigail Thomas, not available at the library yet, but I came away with A Three Dog Life, an earlier memoir of hers I hadn’t read. I devoured that wonderful book over the course of two afternoons and have put What Comes Next and How to Like It on my “must buy” list.
I also came home with Lunch in Paris, A Love Story with Recipes, by Elizabeth Bard a charming and entertaining book that carried me back to the city I love. I wrote part of my first novel, Capturing Paris there during a dreary, cold February. I still gravitate to all things Paris, fact or fiction.
I never leave the library without sampling a few aisles of fiction. This time I lingered in the “S” row where I came upon Carol Shields, a Canadian writer, I dearly loved. I remember wanting to have this writer as my friend after listening to an interview with Terry Gross taped not long before Shields died. I checked out Unless and The Stone Diaries, two of my favorites. I have a feeling both of these novels will stand the test of time.
If you haven’t lately, go rummage around your public library. Rediscovering a beloved author is like running into an old friend. I highly recommend the experience. Let me know who you find!