“I want to find my way back to her,/to help her, to grab her hand, pull her/up from the wooden floor of the stacks . . .” – Gail Mazur, “Girl in a Library”
At times I think of going back to the little girl who lived inside of books. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Jane Eyre. The Hobbit. Half Magic. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. A Wrinkle in Time. She sits on the floor of the library, reading.
Living inside of books helped me feel like there was more to my life. There were undiscovered worlds beyond my little home in Seattle, my back yard with a swing set, rimmed by blackberry bushes, the bedroom I shared with my sister. I would walk into the my neighborhood public library, or into the little school library, and inhale the smell of books. It’s a sort of half-musty, half-expectant smell, a kind of smell that entices you into something new. Crinkly spines of plasticene protective covers line up on the shelves vertically like ribs of corduroy, and if you slip one book off the shelf and open it, the pages float open, rough and absorbent to the touch, ready to read.
After I grew up I lived outside of libraries and outside of books for many years. Work, marriage, children all drew me away from those worlds inside a library that I had discovered as a child. One day I remembered how much I loved reading books, how thrilling it was to be lost inside the whole new undiscovered world of a library book. That memory drew me back to the library and back to those lovely enticing shelves of unread books and undiscovered worlds.
How about you? What is your favorite place to read? Do you have a connection to your library? What books, if any, did you discover from the library?