10 February 2011

how the library changed my life

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Yesterday I finally got a card at our town's public library.

This is how I felt:

Being back in a (non-academic) library was awesome. Wandering the aisles, I couldn't believe I'd forgotten the thrill of snatching up a good book like it's the last cookie on the platter.

See, so many of my childhood summers were spent visiting the sun-drenched shelves of our tiny town library, a picturesque former train depot. I'd cart tall stacks of books from the library to the car to my room, sharp cover corners cutting into my arms, before climbing under the covers and reading through the rest of the day.

I miss that.


Browsing through the endless books yesterday also reminded me how much I crave stories, and random knowledge. And gasp, I don't have to be in school to learn! I don't have to rely on Wikipedia to study elephant behavior, or astrology, or Marie Antoinette, and I needn't beg Flickr for gorgeous vintage photos.

I've decided that even though I have a draining job, that's no excuse for me to spend weeknights on the couch eating fried egg sandwiches and watching Law and Order: SVU. Now somehow I finally feel motivated to make more of my weeknights, and pursue my interests in a novel way (ha).

I should balance seeing friends, baking, running, catching up with my Netflix queue, and now, reading and learning. I've even been inspired to start volunteering at the animal shelter again. I just feel re-energized for some reason, awakened from my job-induced torpor.

The library put me on probation -- since it was my first time, I could only check out three books. Oh the agony!  I chose:

Garlic and Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.  As the title suggests, this is the memoir of a food writer for the New York Times, who would often dine incognito to get a feel for restaurants' true natures. Apparently her descriptions of food are riveting, so my foodie brain is looking forward to this one.

A Natural History of the Senses:  One of my absolute favorite things to study about psychology was sensation and perception, and all of the beauty and problems our senses can create in the human mind. This book looks like a fascinating collection of essays and stories about each sense: synesthesia, food taboos, why we kiss on the mouth, the emotion of music, "the psychopharmacology of chocolate," and more.

Sharp Objects:  This is a dark crime story about a Chicago reporter who must return to her hometown to research the disappearance of two little girls. Disturbing skeletons from her own past are unearthed as she digs through the town's secrets, searching for an answer.

I'm excited to read these, but also looking forward to what's next on my list:  the history of fashion, children’s Victorian fantasy, Nick Hornby’s new books, perfumery, circus lore, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, American dialects, the meaning of dreams, Expressionist art, cookbooks, The Little Prince, and that amazing tome on 1960s style I spotted on the shelf that was twice the size of my head....

What have you been hankering to read lately?

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