National Library Week

OK, so I’m late to the party. I just learned that National Library Week ran April 12-18. Oh, well. I was always a late bloomer.

Libraries hold a special place in my heart. An avid reader from the time I first learned how, I was thrilled to land my first paying job at the main branch of my local library. All those books at my disposal! It was heaven on earth!

I still remember how I’d scour the library shelves after school, at times checking out more books than I could carry the rest of the way home. A wonderland awaited every time I walked through the door. I still feel that way.

A town without a library is a sad place indeed. Where else can kids find the stuff to fuel their imaginations? Video games can’t serve the same purpose as a favorite book that transports readers to distant worlds. They can’t fulfill the same longing of the soul that a book can. My love for classic science fiction began with one book — just one book — by Robert Heinlein. Maybe it’s my generation, but boy, no video game will ever have the same effect on me.

And English literature? One of my high school English teachers introduced me to Thomas Hardy. The Return of the Native remains one of my favorite books to this day. Hardy treated the natural world populated by his characters (the fictional Wessex) as a character in itself. His description of Egdon Heath — the setting of the aforementioned story — captivates.

I think I’ll go re-read that chapter now …

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