I’ve always loved librarians.
I remember my first school librarian. Her name was Mrs. Scheau, and she rode a bicycle to school back when this was still a novelty. She wore a plaid skirt every day, and she was enormously kind.
I had no idea how to find a book I would like to read (and isn’t this still a challenge?). But Mrs. Scheau would always have a suggestion when I walked in.
“What should I read next, Mrs. Scheau?” And she would hand me the next book.
I remember the feeling of getting those books from the library and putting them in my book bag (school backpacks were not yet in vogue). We were not allowed to read in class, and we were not allowed to read at recess, so I had to wait until I got home to open the book. I remember that anticipation, the feeling that there was a treasure waiting for me under the protective plastic cover.
Recently, I noticed I was not reading at all. I don’t know how this happened, but my attention span shortened to the point where I couldn’t seem to read more than a few hundred words at a time. When I was tired, it was so much easier to watch a late-night comedian or a short documentary or browse Facebook. Before I knew it, it was time to go to bed, and I hadn’t watched or read anything I cared about or would remember.
“Does anyone know of a book club I could join?” I wrote on a community Facebook page.
It should not have surprised me that the person who wrote back (within minutes!) was a retired librarian, Katy.
“We have one you can join. I’ll send you the info!”
Just like that, I was the member of a book club. What I did not realize until the first meeting was that this book club was comprised almost entirely of retired librarians.
It’s called the “Any Book Book Club” because there is no assigned reading. Everyone just shows up and reviews whatever book they read that week. Because they are librarians, the books they read are interesting and diverse. An added bonus is that, on Zoom, I get a peek into the librarians’ houses, filled with books. And they are almost always enthusiastic.
“It’s such a good book!” Bernadette, one of the most enthusiastic of the librarians will say every week — sometimes more than once. “And the library has it!”
Katy, the leader of the group, says, “It doesn’t matter what you read, but you have to read something!”
I’m still finding it hard to read. I’ve had to miss a couple meetings because I got no reading done that week. But most of the time now — when I am tempted to watch late-night television or catch up on cat videos — I think of my panel of librarians, earnestly talking about the books they love, and I go to my chair and make it past the first few hundred words until I am happily lost again in a good book.
This week, I am reading a sad book. It is beautifully written and brings me into a world I would never have seen if the book had not taken me. I know I will cry before the book is finished.
I am already looking forward to holding the book in front of the camera on my computer, showing my little panel of librarians the cover, and telling them enthusiastically, “It’s such a good book!”
And then I’ll ask them, “What should I read next?”
Till next time,
Carrie Carrie Classon’s memoir is called, “Blue Yarn.” Learn more at CarrieClasson.com.