Our high school librarian was a charm. We were in admiration of her skills. Not only was she young and very personable, she knew everybody by name. She also somehow knew which class you were skipping if you turned up at an 'odd' hour, or lingered too long. This was not a small school, we were over 2,000 students. But if you asked her about a book for a class, she could probably remember who had it and when it was due back. She was our Katharine Hepburn of Desk Set.
I am reminded of her, and many independent booksellers, when I ask for a book in Chapters or Indigo. Where the staff will immediately walk to a computer terminal to look up the title/author and if you don't remember it, well, it could be a fruitless search with you being ultimately led in the general direction of where you might find your request. My favourite booksellers are the ones who can decipher a "I read a review in the Globe about something about (insert semi-remembered description)" or "I heard a book review on CBC on Sunday..." and they know what you are talking about. These people love books. They breathe books.
I used to buy a lot of books. The cost has made buying sprees a bit more prohibitive than in the past. And I've never bought anything from Amazon. I'm more of a browser. Put me in a room with shelves of books, and I can't help myself. I twist my head to read the spines, I pull interesting book titles down, I fondle covers, I flip pages. I sniff books. There is something about the musty smell of old books that is comforting. And also the still strong ink and paper smells of newly printed pages. To be the first to open a book and begin reading... and to open an old book, especially one of prose or poetry, and have it fall open at a favourite passage of the previous owner, is a silent thrill of discovery. I have discovered great new reads that would never have occurred to me just by being attracted to a title, the first paragraph, a description on the cover flap. And I've even judged a book by its cover. I have not bought books that didn't feel right. I used to have small collections of books that had different covers, because the idea intrigued me of other artists renderings of the tale. If I start a series, I have to buy the rest in the series until it is complete, or it will irritate me, even if I didn't particularly like the third book, or whatever. A teeny, tiny bit of OCD.
A friend and I share books regularly, she more than me, because, I couldn't tell you the last time I read a book in its entirety. I have piles of them gathering dust by my bed. The cat uses them as a stepping stool to get herself up on the mattress (she's a bit lazy, why jump when you can risk falling by climbing). Still, I went to the library last week and came home with several books to rekindle my reading habits.
Which is why I haven't been around as much, or posting as much.
And from the book store, a new release, Sandra Gulland and her tale of 'Louise de la Valliere, the young equestrienne who won the heart of France's charismatic Sun King'.
I have coffee waiting at my favourite coffee house and my book to read so, later......
in honour of National Library Week.