Lost that lovin’ feeling

The last thing you’d expect to read is that one of your local librarians has lost her zest for reading. It’s a perplexing problem because I have always been a huge consumer of the written word, in all its manifestations-books, magazines, newspapers, advertisements, etc. I’ve been known to read the cereal box when nothing else is at hand.

At a moment when I finally have more free time in the evenings than ever before, it seems like this would be the perfect opportunity to hit the books. Because reading means different things to different people, I tried to figure out what it is exactly that reading does for me and isn’t doing now. I realized I largely read to escape, to go into another world, with the idea that I will enjoy my time there and make it out more or less unscathed. I may hope to be enlightened or learn something new along the way but I don’t expect to become depressed, fearful or haunted when through.

That makes picking something to read these days problematic. I still start my day by reading The New York Times in print. The other morning, I scoured the newspaper for something light to accompany my breakfast of eggs and oatmeal and had to dig deep into the interior, past the scary news, to find an article about the annual weigh-in at the London Zoo, which offered a much more pleasant start to the day. 

I usually read fiction, with mysteries at the top of my favorites list. However, right now that genre is in the midst of a very dark and twisted era so I can’t read too many of them in succession. I do read the cozy ones, but they are more like dessert and most of the time, I like a bit more substance. Contemporary fiction, with its focus on themes dealing with modern social woes and the ongoing foibles of human relationships, sometimes hits too close to home for comfort so does not offer the escape I am looking for. Not to sound too flippant about it, but I can’t even begin to deal with popular non-fiction with its topics of climate disasters and devastating economic predictions, so many of these books are off the table too.

I want to recapture the wonder and magic of books, similar to the nightly ritual of reading to young children. Back when my kids were small, I remember looking forward to the evenings, snuggled up on the sofa or someone’s bed, with a warm, sweet smelling little body, fresh from the tub, pressed close, avidly watching the pages of the book turn, wiggling with excitement about what could be coming next, scrutinizing each and every beautifully illustrated page, down to the last little detail, all the while whispering, giggling, happy. A peaceful ending to the day.

How can I get back the joy that reading gave me? What books would give me this peace and comfort and sense of wonder, a chance to relax after a stressful day? And then it dawned on me.  The answer was literally right in front of me all the time. I see them every day as part of my work at the library. Coffee table books!  Big, glossy, and gorgeous,  they are the books you see prominently displayed at the bookstore but don’t want to buy because there is no room on your shelves at home and you are most likely only going to read them once, maybe twice. These are about as close to a picture book for adults that you can find. The library is chockfull of these,  just waiting for you the check them out and take them home.

I just spent a very pleasant hour compiling a list of ones that are sure to please, trying to include at least one title from each of our 19 non-fiction neighborhoods.  If you don’t see something on the list that catches your eye, please come pay us a visit on the second floor.  You will see lots of “eye candy” for book lovers all around.  And if you need help finding your way, stop by the Information Desk and we’ll be happy to help.  Happy reading!

Blog post by Gayle Stratton.

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