As I helped set up the kid’s movie at the library recently, a boy filed in with his family, his nose in a graphic novel. Moms chatted, kids flopped on cushions, and this kid kept reading his book.
Ninety minutes later the movie ended, and we turned on the lights. When I noticed the kid again, he was standing among the other kids, book open, looking down. It was seamless, as if he’d never closed the book since I turned out the lights and hit play on the movie. And maybe he didn’t– maybe he read straight through, more interested in what he could read then what he could watch. Or maybe once one form of entertainment ended, he slipped back into the other one at hand before I could even see the transition.
I was the girl who read Animorphs on my lap between lessons, who couldn’t leave the house without a book in my bag, who couldn’t handle a trip to Maine until her mother took her to a bookstore to restock. So kid, I relate.
When I used to work at the used bookstore, I had a real problem — too many books! Every day new (to me) books passed through my hands, so it was inevitable that some of them never made it to the sale shelf, winding up in my house instead.
That is a time when my tsundoku got really out of hand, so that many of the books I gave away when I moved had never been cracked open by me.
But, I work at a library now. Things are better now. Right?
Well, a little better. Now when I get out of hand and bring home a huge pile of books I’ll never read, they go back to the library a couple weeks later with nothing missing from my wallet, and my shelf space still intact.
Of course, being a library, people like to give donations, these donations being piles of books they don’t want anymore. Sometimes these donations are…less than savory (Encyclopedias from 20 years ago! Worn out mass markets that reek of smoke, and sometimes cat pee!) But sometimes these donations are great. Really great. Like, books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages so maybe I should bring them home in case I get a chance to read them great.
So, maybe tsundoku’s not as bad when you work in a library. But I love books — I love to touch them and smell them and have them in my home, almost as much as I love actually reading them. So if I’m unpacking a dirty box, and something shines out at me, or if a coworker picks up a donation and presses it into my hands telling me I must read this, then you can bet I’ll put a crumpled dollar in the money drawer, stuff the book into my purse, and sneak it onto my shelf or into my pile, where it will wait for me.
I learned on Kathy Temean’s blog yesterday that out of the top 17 bestselling, top earning authors, 6 of them are YA or children’s authors. Obviously J.K. Rowling’s there, I’m sure she’s been there for ages, but there’s also Veronica Roth, Jeff Kinney, and, of course, John Green — who knew you could make so much money off bringing legions of teenagers (and adults, ahem) to tears? — among others. As Kathy points out, it’s inspiring to see people writing in my age group genre making that list. But, it’s also a little overwhelming. Oh, all I have to do is sell millions of copies and nab a movie deal? On it.
I also found on The Mary Sue that millennials read books. Also, they use the library! Yes, I could have told you that, with the weekly teenagers I see come up to me at the library desk with a book stack so high they could topple over. Still, I like hearing proof of these things. I don’t consider myself a millennial, exactly (am I? Am I just outside of it? I really don’t know what the cutoff is), but I find millennial bashing massively annoying, so I like proof to the contrary.
What do you think of the articles? Did you hear any interesting book news this week?
I open my freshly checked out library book and prop it flat on the table. A few pages in, a chocolate stain appears, like a light thumbprint smeared across the words. Disgusting, I should think, annoying that someone should be so careless.
But I’m too absorbed in the words. Absently I eat my brownie, flicking crumbs off the stain and away from the crease of binding and paper, giving the book a light cleansing shake before returning to the story, and my snack. I think I’ll like this book.
When I came back from my week at Lesley, I was happy to see that my order from Thwipster, a daily deal website for comics and nerdy things, had come in, and I got my copy of the manga A Drifting Life.
This manga is an autobiographical work by Yoshiro Tatsumi, chronicling everything he went through to become, and continue to live as, a manga artist. On the one hand it doesn’t seem that Tatsumi had a terribly difficult life; though he had jealousy issues from his sickly elder brother, his family as a whole seemed very supportive of his dreams. But as a writer, I find it really inspiring to see how he dealt with his creative ups and downs, and his insecurities as he inevitably compares himself to people he believes are better. It’s also amazing to see just how much work he was able to produce as a high school student, and then as a young man! It’s certainly gotten me up from the book and in front of the computer to finish a chapter, or start a new story idea. A Drifting Life is a pretty big honking book (over 800 pages!), and since I’ve only been reading a couple chapters at a time, I’m just barely past the halfway point.
I also spent a day last week in the children’s section of the library. As I mentioned earlier, I’m doing a picture book interdisciplinary study with Lesley this semester, so I can learn how to write picture books. And to learn, you have to read. I need to read a lot of books for this, and picture books aren’t the cheapest, (and even buying them used, I don’t have the space for them) so the best thing to do is plop down in the library and read for a couple of hours. Among the books I read were Miss Rumphius and Snow. I can only assume I looked really weird, if not downright creepy, reading and rereading my little stack. I’ll have to get over that, though; I’ll need read quite a few more books before this semester’s over. Guess the librarians are going to have to get used to me.