Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Love My School Librarian

Lord! when you sell a man a book you don't sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life.  Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.  ~Christopher Morley

Anytime I find a book title that looks like a book I want to read, I immediately store the title in my Amazon shopping cart, so I don't forget it.  I seldom BUY books from there for myself anymore but it's a good memory jogger of what I want to read.  This past week, I rounded up a bunch of titles from my cart, and sent them to the librarian at my school. In addition to ALWAYS being able to get me titles of books I want to use in class with my kids, which she did again this week, she will also inter-library loan (ILL) books that I simply want to read myself. They come from all over the place - some from college libraries, some from in-state city libraries (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany; I've even had some come from NYC libraries in Brooklyn, Manhattan, etc.)  Since many of the titles I want to read are Alaska books, I have even had books come by ILL directly FROM Alaskan libraries - University at Fairbanks, Anchorage Public Library, etc.  It amazes me that that can and does happen for me. I am amazed and grateful beyond belief that she takes the time to do this for me, and amazed that a book I want to read which is a "local" reading selection, by a "local" author, can wind it's way from Alaska to my hands, for me to borrow and to read, in a matter of days. Right now, it is Christmas in September for me, and I am a wealthy woman, rich with reading material, obtained free, thanks to my librarian.  The titles I have found placed on my desk at school in the morning this past week include:
  • Tide, Feather, Snow     by Miranda Weiss
  • Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs  Family Friendships and Faith in Small Town Alaska  by Heather Lende
  • The Blue Bear  A True Story of Friendship and Discovery in the Alaskan Wild     by Lynn Schooler
  • The Only Kayak  A Journey into the Heart of Alaska   by Kim Heacox
  • Ghost of Spirit Bear (a sequel to Touching Spirit Bear, one of my very favorite YA books) Ben Mikaelsen
  • and a very NON-ALASKA book, Long Walk to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela

In additon to these titles, I also just finished a week or two ago If You Lived Here, I Would Know Your Name, also by Heather Lende, who writes from Haines, Alaska   which was excellent, and therefore the reason I asked for the second book by her, and
The Call of the Wild, My Escape to Alaska by Guy Grieve, which I did NOT like. I thought he was a selfish, self-centered person, who took advantage of MANY people, people he didn't know at all, for no particular purpose other than to follow some self-centered whim he woke up with one day. He also left a wife and two little boys at home for a year, on their own, to follow this whim. NOT a sympathetic read for me, as someone who has deferred MANY dreams of my own, INCLUDING living in Alaska, simply BECAUSE I have children.

While I was waiting for more books to arrive last week, I began one I bought at a used book store this summer, called Kaffir Boy: An Autobiography - The True Story of a Boy's Coming of Age in APartheid South Africa    by Mark Mathabane. I had gotten about 2/3's through it before I put it down to begin The Only Kayak, my UPstairs reading book, and Tide, Feather, Snow, my DOWNstairs reading book which I began and spent an hour with over coffee this morning, in a silent, peaceful house devoid of it's usual Saturday morning television noise.  It's funny that the Kaffir Boy book that I picked off a shelf of a used bookstore in Ithaca when we went to Farm Sanctuary this summer, a totally random selection purchased just because it looked like an interesting read about an aspect of a life and culture I know little about, ended up coinciding rather nicely with the Nelson Mandela book, Long Walk to Freedom, that I requested based on Mandela's unique writing history of this book (and thus, really ordered as a tie-in to my writing classes, to share with them.) I like it when things come together that way, unplanned. Karma. I love it. (When it isn't busy biting my in my hind quarters, I love it...)
I think I have one more coming, in this latest requested batch of books, another Lynn Schooler one entitled Walking Home: A Traveler in the Alaskan Wilderness, a Journey into the Human Heart.
NOW, the only problem I have, just a small one, and a good one TO have, is, where do I make the time to read all of these in order to still accomplish all that is on my to-do list for the weekend and the week ahead?  Today I have a farmer's market and demo to attend, grape jam to make from my neighbor's grapes growing plentifully over MY back fence (they know, and have already offered to share all that I want, so I'm not stealing, just because they are actually in my yard!),a little bit of school work/correcting/grade entering to do, and a whole LOT of housecleaning and laundry and dishes to get done (yuck). Oh, and a lawn that needs one last mowing before I can put the mower away. Oh, and some extra sleep to fight off the wonderful, welcome-back-to-school-head cold would be nice!  Not likely, but nice.
Perhaps I'll just put sleep on the back burner, ignore the mess in my house for another week, and just focus on reading this week. Maybe not the most sensible, but certainly the most fun. 


Jennifer Montero said...

Librarians are the best ( tied for 1st with school teachers ;-)

Our public libraries in the UK are under threat from budget cuts, so I've recently become one of the voluteer librarians, in an effort to help keep our small local library open. But it's kind of like an addict volunteering in a crack den...

Can I add an Alaska title in case you've not read it? Coming into the Country by John McPhee. One of my all-time favorites. And Polar Dream by Helen Thayer. A true story: She walks/skis unsupported through Polar bear alley, with a dog she reluctantly accepted from a native, and let's just say thank god she did..

I know, like you need MORE books. Housework can wait. What's a bit more dog hair around the place?!?

Dog Hair in my Coffee said...

Thanks Jennifer! I gladly accept any and ALL book suggestions! I just added those two titles, plus another one by Thayer that also looked good, 3 Among the Wolves, to my Amazon cart to request from our librarian when I get through with this bunch. Our public libraries are under the same strain here, as well. Unfortunately, our small town library decided long ago that I did not return a book that I did - and has thus kept our family from taking out any more books, which is a totally ridiculous situation (and yes, let's punish the children for the alleged sins of the mother...) so, that is why I am extremely thankful for my SCHOOL librarian. Our town library turns OFF more people than it turns on, which is a terrible shame. Glad to know you are volunteering there, though. Makes me feel good. Thanks again for the suggestions. WIll let you know when I read them!

Jennifer Montero said...

I didn't know about three among the wolves - thanks. I'll add it to my wish list, along with a few others from your post.

I'll be cursing you when my chores don't get done ;-)

Callie said...

Wow! Great books. You are so busy and have so much to do. I vote for taking a rest and reading and letting some of that stuff slide. It will be there waiting. Hope you found an apron you like and thanks for the comments on my blog.