Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Quick Trip To The Library

One of my errands this afternoon was a quick trip to the Provo library.  Quick is something of a misleading term, because anytime you get me in a roomful of books, there is nothing quick about to happen.  Even when I try to be brief, something in the time/space continuum shifts, causing what to me feels like a five minute peruse to turn into at least thirty minutes.  At least my family wasn't waiting in the car for me.

I had one book to get, called "The Lost City of Z," and it was even on hold for me, so I could have walked in, grabbed it, and walked out in less than a minute.  But where's the fun in that??  I probably spent 15 minutes there instead, and the one book turned into 7.  

I walked past the checkout place and instead of veering left to the hold shelves, I went straight to the new releases area.  One of the reasons I drive an extra 10 minutes to go to the Provo library instead of the closer Orem library is the way they display new releases.  Provo's got a big four-sided display table which is usually packed to the gills with new books.  And not just random new books, but frequently books that I've heard of, that are popular or on best-seller lists.  Orem doesn't seem to update it's selection as frequently, and their display of new releases holds about 20 books.  It's kind of sad, actually.  Orem is the old fuddy-duddy, the kid in class wearing their much-older sister's hand-me-downs, while Provo is the fashionista, on the cutting edge. 

I didn't find any gems on the fiction new release table, as it was kind of picked over, but I snatched a fantastic find off the non-fiction table.  Listen to this title and tell me you wouldn't have grabbed it, too:  

Have a New Kid By Friday - How to Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior, and Character in 5 Days

Now that's ambitious, seeing that it's already Wednesday, but I'm totally going to take the author up on the challenge!  The magical 5 day plan only takes 78 pages to explain  I have a feeling that it's going to be more about parents changing the way they react, which is a less disturbing way of saying, "It's really all your fault, anyways."  Nobody is going to buy the book called, "Why You're a Crappy Mom and What You Could Do About It But Probably Won't." 

I also got a book called "The Book Whisperer" which is about how to instill a love of books in your children.  Since I can only handle one set of new parenting instructions at a time, this one will get skimmed and the salient facts hopefully remembered for a later date.  

Then it was over to the hold shelves, to grab the book I came for.  "The Lost City of Z" is a non-fiction book about someone exploring the Amazon for a lost city.  I love true life adventures and this is supposed to be a good one.  But the other thing that I just adore about Provo is their hold shelves.  Instead of keeping the requested books behind the counter where only the staff can get them, Provo has a set of shelves where the books are labeled with your name, so you pick it up yourself.  I suppose there might be people who grab a book that doesn't belong to them, thus cutting to the front of the nerd line, but it would be so easy to track down the culprit that I can't imagine it's too big an issue.  

That only serves to illustrate just how fantastic the shelves are, though - these books are the cream of the crop.  They are the most popular books being checked out; so popular in fact that people are willing to wait weeks, sometimes months, to get their hands on them.  If Provo is the fashionista, then these books are supermodels.  I love to stand in front of this section of pristine, new books and write down the titles of all the ones that strike my fancy, so I can go home and reserve them myself.  The fact that someone else already deemed this book worthy of reading substantially increases the likelihood that I, too, will like it.  It's the library's version of natural selection.  These books don't even make it to the new release table - they are too elite for just anyone to be reading.  You have to put some effort into obtaining these books - they're playing hard to get.  But they are soooooo worth it.

I was ready to checkout, probably should have checked out, but I remembered just then that I wanted to see if the sequel to "Rabbit, Run" by John Updike was on the shelf.  "Rabbit, Run" was an assigned book in my English class last semester, and while it was a semi-disturbing book, I find that I can't stop thinking about the characters.  And knowing that there are three more books about these people makes me want to read them, if only to find out how wretched their self-absorbed lives turn out.  All the while hoping that they have some revelation that causes them to mature and become responsible human beings.  So I got to the "U" section, found "Rabbit Redux" and a couple other Updike books, since I was there.  I had read a short story of his called "Separating" about a father telling his children that he and their mom were getting a divorce.  It was so moving and powerful that I am willing to give Updike several more chances.  

That brought my book total up to 7, and I checked out and went home.  There is nothing more satisfying than a bag of books from the library, handpicked by you.  It is a bag of potential - is there a book in this bag that will make me call a friend and say, 'You HAVE to read this!'  One that will make me cry, or better yet, laugh?  Is it possible that this bag contains the secret to raising happy and contented children, who might grow up to say that they want to be just like their mom?  Or if not, could the bag hold a book that will let me escape my life for a little while?  Do authors know, when they write their books, that this is what I'm looking for when I go to the library?  I ask a lot from the books I choose, I recognize that.  But it's absolutely the best feeling in the world when a book delivers, as they frequently do.  And that's why I can never make it a quick trip to the library.

No comments: