A Library Love Letter

I had an hour’s vacation the other day. While I live about
four minutes from a public library that I regularly visit, there is a much
larger regional branch about seventeen minutes away from my home. When I was
actively home schooling, the kids and I went there often, but in the past year,
I haven’t been.

Last week, I treated myself and visited the large library. I
enjoyed browsing the biography section and finding tales of fascinating people
whose names I didn’t recognize. I meandered through the fiction section,
looking not only for well-loved authors, but also for books whose spines cry
out, “I’ve been on this shelf for a very long time.” Not all these books are
gems, but they are almost guaranteed not to be filled with profanity and TMI
about the protagonist’s sexual activity.  If the book is boring, the gift of the public
library kicks in. I can read a few pages and decide to go no further.
Borrower’s remorse is never as painful as buyer’s remorse. I lingered by my
favorite Dewey decimal numbers. After all, any number that identifies Cheaper
by the Dozen
must shelter more treats as well. 

This library has what I consider the best books in the
system, the ones I’m afraid are going to be culled out and replaced by a DVD
selection. As the libraries, at least in my city, try to make themselves more
‘user-friendly’ with current books, computer monitors and movies to check out
or download, I worry that diamonds and pearls will be cast aside. David
and Little Women aren’t going anywhere soon, but what of
less classic, though perfectly enjoyable tomes? Not all older books are good
and some newer ones are wonderful, but in general, it I find it sad that the
modern selection edges out the more traditional—and often
character-building—choices, particularly for children and young adults.

If you’ve been reading my Musings for any length
of time, you know that I adore books. If you do as well, are there any volumes
you cherish that you can no longer find on the shelves of your local library?

9 thoughts on “A Library Love Letter”

  1. Not only Belles on Their Toes, but there is also Time Out for Happiness, which is a biography of Lillian, the mother. I haven’t read Daddy Long Legs and will add it to my list. I just finished The Family Nobody Wanted (it might be ‘no one’. I don’t have the book in front of me) which was next to the Gilbreth books on the shelf. Lovely story of a family in the 50’s who kept on adopting children, especially multiracial ones that no one else wanted. The author is Voss.

  2. One of the best books I ever read was written in 1912 by Jean Webster called “Daddy Long Legs”. I was thrilled to find the sequel “Dear Enemy” and had a brief moral struggle about telling the library I lost it so that I could own a copy. I did the right thing and returned the book; a year later, my sister sent me a copy she found at a thrift shop!
    And did you know there is a sequel to “Cheaper by the Dozen” called “Belles on Their Toes”? It was written by Ernestine, one of the “dozen” in the first book.
    Thanks for the idea of looking for the Dewey decimal number for books I love to see what is located next to them.
    I agree with Lynn Perrizo that a list of books you love would be a real treat. Thanks for all that you share with your readers!

  3. Oh I now feel certain that we are kindred spirits. I am blessed to have a small university based town nearby. Some of the books on the shelves there are dated mid-1800’s! I love to wander the shelves from fiction to biography and everything in between and indeed there are wonderful books tucked into most of the shelves.
    I am drawn to authors from the 1930’s, ’40’s and 50’s. One of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Goudge whom I discovered in the high school library. It’s been a wonderful thing to go back and re-read her works as I enter another decade of life. What I found fascinating and lyrical at 17 is still so, but the depth of the books grows as I age.
    I enjoy reading your weekly posts, Susan, but I especially appreciate this one!

  4. Dear Susan,
    I have been a book lover all of my life. I had trouble reading as a child but after “getting the hang of it” so to speak, my love affair with books began and so far continues to be one of real enjoyment. Recently, I heard that some books by Mark Twain (one of my all time favorites) was being removed due to the “N” word. I couldn’t believe that someone would do that to such a literary giant. While I do not use that word or think it should be spoken by anyone, the fact that it is used in a historical/social context in Twain’s books is no reason to take them off the shelves. I have to admit while I do have a Kindle account for my tablet that turning a page still gives me a thrill.

  5. Susan, One of my favorite books of all time is by Bess Streeter Aldrich, “Song of Years”. I read it to my children when we were homeschooling plus several others by Mrs. Aldrich. She writes beautifully but sadly, it is difficult to find any of her books on library shelves but she wrote some wonderful stories. A very old book that my mother in law, who was born in 1903, told me was her favorite was titled, “Early Twilight”. Sadly I don’t recall the author’s name. It was an novel written about the time that the Twin Cities were being first settled. I wish you would put out a list of some of those books you love. It would be fun to see if they could be found in our local libraries. One of my 84 year old mother’s favorite things now is when the book mobile from her local library comes and she is able to pick up as many books as she can for the next few weeks! Blessings!
    Lynn C. Perrizo

  6. In college years ago one of my guilty pleasures was sneaking down into the bowels of the university library. Down in the stacks I excavated a seemingly Druidic “Celtic twilight” tome with ornate leather binding from the 19th century resplendent with fine etchings of monuments and standing stones. This book contained passages, believe it or not, demonstrating parallel verses, Biblical as I recall, purporting to demonstrate word-for-word, consonant-for-consonant correspondences between Welsh and Hebrew!
    Since I had so little time for such inquiries off my beaten path of study, I took few elaborate, concise notes, thinking that I could return on day. One day about ten years later I did return to the stacks and the book was nowhere to be found, leaving a Dewey Decimal void.
    You are so right, Ms. Susan. Alvin Toffler in Future Shock warned us in the early 1970’s that future change would be exponential. Still more ominous: the RATE of change will be exponential. Nowhere does this show more poignantly than in the direction of human knowledge and inquiry. In earlier days there was less rocket science, less nuclear physics, less DNA and RNA, yet infinitely more humanities, classical language and history.
    Alexander Pope said, “Presume not God to scan. The proper study of mankind is Man.” Yet today the focus and slant have so shifted, and the sheer volume of technological study is mind-boggling. Science is being commandeered by abject materialist technocrats unlike the great founding scientists of this world, who would reject or deny the Divine component in God’s creation. As a result, much scanning both of God and of Man has fallen from today’s curriculum and from cognizance. Knowledge of old times is oft regarded as pitifully irrelevant in the face of “modern” science. And in ignoring the lessons of history’s errors, we will be doomed to repeat them, to our great peril.

  7. though you may not personally consider it a Gem.. one of the early works of Stephen King, writing under a nom de guerre, Richard Bachman.. wrote a book called “RAGE” and another called “the Long Walk”. I happen to read them in highschool many years ago.. and lo and behold, I still roam the free world without shackles. the first is out of print and hard to find and even the author regrets printing it, but i do not regret reading it..and the 2nd, a prophetic fortelling of extreme “reality TV”.
    Either one will shock you, make you think, but are still worthy of reading.

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