The local librarians have begun to comment on how fast I read and how much. I picked up the most recent bounty, and the librarian asked me if I wanted all five books at once, and pointed out that I had just taken three out (which, to be fair, I had just returned).
When I was a kid in Maine, one of the privileges of being a lab kid was being able to take out as many books from the beautiful library as we wanted (other than the new ones, which were as limited to us as anyone else). That place was heaven on earth to me. I loved stepping through the double doors to the marble flooored foyer, and from there, into the library itself, with its glorious gallery above, and…all…those…books.
In that twilight place, no matter how the sun blazed outside, I met Mr. Shaw. Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. Hemingway. Mssrs Chandler and Hammett. Miss Plath. Mssrs Zola, Baudelaire, de Montaigne. Misses Bronte. The Divine Jane. Mr. King. There was no end to the discoveries, the worlds that opened to me.
But the new ones were of less interest to me than the past.
In those days, I was discovering the incomparable E. Nesbit, Edward Eager, C.S. Lewis, E.L. Konigsberg, Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Of course, the worlds of A.A. Milne, Lewis Carroll, Kenneth Grahame, and John Masefield were already well known to and loved by me, and on my bookshelves (built by Dad* at home), but on occasion, then as now, a desire to read certain books and passages would overcome me, and I’d have the freedom to check them out and revel again, or restore my spirit, in the beautiful, familiar prose.
*Dad was streamed into Classics as a boy, but being tone deaf, was a terrible singer. His music master sent him to learn carpentry to spare his own aesthetic sense, and undoubtedly, those of Dad’s classmates. By the time the school figured it out, it was too late. And Dad built bookshelves in every house we ever lived in, including his last home with our beloved stepmother.