confessions of a truthbrarian
To all the kind friends who have shared nonamerah’s A Girl You Should Date on my fb wall or spread it across the interwebs for the promotion of reading and librarianship, to those who may be reading my blog or following this truthbrarian in hopes of literary comradery, I confess. I can relate to nonamerah’s post perhaps only in its painful description of my own young dating failures. I think I was nerdy and pretty enough to attract suitably interesting and intellectual boys, only to disappoint them with a lack of disciplined bookishness. You see, I am one of those librarians who doesn’t really read a lot of books — mostly nowadays, I claim, because I’m too busy. But the whole thing has got me thinking about my entire literary past and inspired me to take stock.
Past elementary school, I couldn’t tell you my librarians’ names, and I don’t recall story times or visits to the public library that involved anything more than a place to do homework and have fries at the Hardees next door. I actually did. not. believe. my college voice professor who told me the library had books with the full English translations for the various language arias I was working on. “It can’t be that easy!”, I thought. And since I never recall seeing what might have been a librarian anywhere in that college library, I never followed up to verify this outrageous claim.
What?! I know!
As a truthbrarian, I’m obviously not proud of this. And it’s not even that I have trouble reading or that I don’t enjoy it as a pastime. I do! In fact I boast at home that among the larger tomes in our recently reestablished home library, I’ve read the largest of them in their entirety. My husband, the main collector for the library, has read some or all of more of the books and is certainly the more read in our family. Our eldest daughter is not far behind. But I am a late (or perhaps, interrupted) bloomer.
While I don’t remember my parents reading to me at home, I do have fond memories of my elementary school librarian and that library. I can still picture the reading bathtub, where the Judy Blume books were located, and what a big deal it was to have visits by author/illustrator, Tommy de Paola, and also Jose Aruego, who showed us step-by-step how he illustrates animals. Fascinating! I can also recall my mom supporting our local bookstore and my particularly intense preteen reading spree of the entire Sweet Valley Twins series and Garfield comic books – don’t judge. I also loved my church library, but only have 3 solid book memories:
- The Giving Tree (and other Silverstein poetry)
- Joni, an autobiography of diving accident victim turned artist
- a crazy cartoon book about a boy who got bit by a dog with rabies.
My current reading choices retain this pattern for creative humor, biographies, and a touch of morbidity. But what I remember having an even greater fascination for in these libraries was the organizational system of the books, the act of checking out books, and wanting very badly to stamp and sort.
Many librarians, of course, share this organizational proclivity. But, I’ve always felt that every other librarian must have always loved books in a way that I never fully grasped. I now know, that truthbraries give you more than books. They give you the ability to seek, discover new things, be curious, and seek even more. This has always made me a good problem solver and information organizer/seeker. But that seeking within books and stories in the traditional sense has been late to bloom in my life.
The problem with lackluster seeking (as opposed to desperate seeking) in books is not just less reading, but that my bibliography relied almost solely on the recommendations of others. This, for better or worse, boils down to the company you keep. My first recommendation I count as a plus. My big sister gave me Catcher in the Rye, which led me to inquire and read the entire Salinger bibliography, articles about him, and his daughter’s biography of him. However, in my high school naivety, I once settled on a recommended Danielle Steele novel for a book report, making me reading adverse for quite some time! However terrible that reading experience was, though, I see now the silver lining was a new-found appreciation for its opposite — good writing, and the skill to critically evaluate for it. Today, I love to edit and to write.
I recall one more remarkable recommendation through a senior English reading essay (not really recommended as much as part of the reading requirement of the class). It was a timed essay exam where I nailed a comparison of themes in the Red Badge of Courage. I remember being super energized by a feeling of discovery and impressed with how quickly I organized my ideas on paper. This probably speaks again for my analytical skill and enjoyment of writing than it does for my love of reading. But it is certainly connected, and I can see, through nonamerah’s A Girl You Should Date, how those who have immersed themselves more fully and regularly into reading would develop a self-perpetuating love of it. I am also totally into the concept there that exposure (through reading) to a variety of both creative and factual stories will only make one a better and more creative thinker, conversationalist, writer, and even lover. This truthbrarian seeks all of these adding mother, friend, and leader. A tall order!
While I’ve got a late start to it (overall and in this late 2012 new year’s post), I have recommitted to the avid reading side of my dear profession. This new year, I firmly resolve to a reading regimen and welcome suggestions for its structure and content. You can keep up with my #2012resolutions progress by following me (@atruthbrarian ) on twitter.