From a young age, if my eyes were open you could bet there would be a book in my hands. I grew up in a rural area. We were surrounded by numerous small townships, and books were so plentiful it could make an avid reader weep. They could be purchased from an independent bookstore, the five and dime, and the neighborhood drug store carried a small collection of paperbacks or they could be borrowed from the local library. It didn’t matter. If I could get my hands on a book, it was mine to read.
It was in one of these townships that I found my very own small library. My mother dropped me at the entrance. I stood in front of it, an eager eight-year-old, admiring the welcoming brick exterior.
I paused at the door, reading the “open” sign hanging at an adults eye level. I entered the establishment. The friendly toll of a bell announced my presence. As I stood in the doorway, the aroma of aged literary treasures wafted over me. It was at that moment I knew I had entered the hallowed halls of the written word just primed for the taking, not to pilfer or misuse, but to carefully choose and nurture each volume.
A friendly librarian bade me hello. She was able to spot my curiosity immediately and helped me procure my first library card. With card in hand, I set off to explore the mysteries of the ages. I tend to lean more toward science fiction, fantasy, and adventure novels so as I made my way down each isle, in between towering bookcases. I was amazed at the offerings and the many genres to be had. Well worn shelves sported a slight sag from the weight they were asked to bear. I ignored the then popular Dewey Decimal System determined to seek out my treasures unassisted.
I lost track of time perusing the inventory until deciding on several titles, I made my way to the front desk and concluded my business. I bid the librarian farewell, picked up my bag, and reluctantly exited the library, the same bell offering a fond ado and an invitation to return. Much the same can be said about independent book shops. They possess a warm and welcoming environment that doesn’t exist in the mega book stores.
During the intervening years, my love of books has not ceased. The area in which I once lived has grown considerably and I have moved away, but I am heartened by the libraries and independent book shops that continue to spring-up and thrive.
Now I am a published author and for my own reading pleasure I still seek out the smaller mom and pop bookshops and local libraries. They all share a love for the written word and a deep, abiding respect for the power of storytelling. I am now proud to say that my humble novel lends it weight to those sagging wooden shelves that populate community bookstores and small libraries. Even though I occasionally visit the mega stores, I will never forget the experience of that safe literary haven that inspired me so many years ago.