Fear in Writing: The Library

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Library

I take my kids to the library about once a month.  They pull random books from the shelves and bring them to a round table, where we vet the options.  Usually, Natalie brings anything pink or with a princess on it, and Jake goes for Scooby Doo and superheroes.  He also likes the more artistic books--fictional Da Vinci tales and adventures of musical instruments.

This week was a little different.  I took Natalie to a different library, this one closer to their preschool.  A carpeted, stepped storytelling room gave my 2yo plenty of room to run.  A mentally handicapped volunteer kept bringing her books and making us laugh.  He was so sweet!  Point: it was a wonderful experience.

Then something extra special happened.  Something unusual.  Something very out of the ordinary.

My day usually consists of lots of doing, doing, doing for the kids.  Not much for myself (hence the lack of blogging and commenting recently).  But on this particular trip to the library, I decided to look for some books for myself.
Not my library :)

What?! you ask incredulously.  You took time away from your daughter's education and betterment to find reading material for YOURSELF?

Well, yes I did.

And I found two new authors that I'm currently racing through!  They are writers of whom I had heard, but never read.  The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink (author of book on which Oscar-winning movie The Reader is based) and Take One Candle Light a Room by Susan Straight (who might be the best writer I've ever read...ever).

I finished The Gordian Knot in two days (quite a feat when you have kids) and am half-way through Straight's magnificent book.

The short of it?  I turned my eyes and found two gems.  I had heard how great libraries are for authors, but had never experienced the magic for myself.  This is the same library that sponsored the author night on which I met Elizabeth Spann Craig and heard her speak about her Riley Adams series.  And the impact of librarians was lauded at the Killer Nashville conference I attended in 2009.

Libraries are powerhouses.  What have you found at a library that made an impact in your reading life?  How about as an author?


  1. Michele - I am so glad you found new authors to love! I so richly enjoy that experience. And I happen to absolutely love libraries. I've loved them ever since I got my very first library card when I was, I think, six. I worked in our school library while I was in high school, and one of the first things I've done wherever I've moved is visit the library and get a library card. They're wonderful places to get inspired, to work, to meet new ideas, etc... One of the best things we can ever do for our children in my opinion is share libraries with them...

  2. I joined a Tea and Mystery reading group at my library. We read and discuss one mystery a month. I've discovered new authors through this group that I would never have found otherwise. Plus, the feedback from the group gives me excellent insight into what readers do and don't like in a mystery and why, which helps me as a writer as well.

  3. Libraries are great. I've discovered a couple of good authors by random picks in the library, most important, the South African author Andre Brink, and the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. The latter is one of my favorites (check out books like Wittgenstein's Nephew and Concrete) >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  4. FYI, Trinity University, Dublin, has the awesomest library I've ever seen.

    Nice photo, btw. :)

    And I spent so much time in my local library that I got locked in, more than once, when I was squirreled away back in the stacks, reading at closing time. They turned out the lights and left, and I was all, "Hey!"

    (I left through the emergency exit and ran away as the siren went off. Don't tell anyone, though.)

  5. I wish I lived closer to my library - it's just difficult to get down there! Glad you found some new reads. For YOU.

  6. Hi, Michele,

    As odd as it might sound, my school library has had the biggest impact on my reading to date. It was the gems found there eg. books by James Herriot and Gerald Durrell, that fostered my love of reading.