Things we found in books

A bus pass.

Rolling papers.

Boarding passes.

Plane tickets.

Gift cards.

Pieces of toilet paper.

Gum wrappers.

Grocery lists.

Family photographs.

Birthday cards.

3 x 5 note cards with study questions on them.

Outgoing mail.

List of errands or chores.

Envelopes with fine money and a note with their library card number inside.

Handmade and store-bought bookmarks, some of which are very old and obviously cherished.

–Medical stuff–
A sonogram.
Doctor’s appointment notices.
Prescription.
Medical test results.

–Money–
Biggest bill was $20.
Checks made out to the patron.
Checks that have not been cashed that are made out to the patron.

–Three dimensional things–
Pens.
Nail files.
Hair ties.

Books are personal

You can’t just recommend them to anybody. You have to know the person, as a person. Not just that they like to read. You have to know –what- they like to read, and sometimes why they like to read what they like to read.

You can’t assume that simply because you loved a certain book or a certain author that everybody will. Everybody doesn’t need to read John Grisham or Neil Gaiman. Not everybody needs to read Danielle Steel or George Martin. The styles are vastly different. Women who read Debbie Macomber won’t read anything by Zane. Note that Zane is not the same as Zane Grey.

Oh, the horror if you mix those two different audiences up.

Books are like shoes. They don’t fit everybody. Also, different books are for different purposes. Just like you wouldn’t wear galoshes while playing tennis, you wouldn’t read an accounting textbook on your vacation.

Or maybe you would.

And that is the point.

Everybody is different, and that is a great thing. There’s a book out there for you, that fits your mood, and your need. It just isn’t what everybody else is reading, because they aren’t you.

I challenge this – On banned books and women’s roles.

I saw this book cover the other day. It is in the “young adult” section.

misbehavingYA

Sure, it is Banned Books Week – so I should celebrate that people have the right to read whatever they want. While I’m OK with choices, I’m still going to question them.

It is the same issue I have with buffets. People can choose vegetables or fried meat. They can choose to eat only one plate of food, or fourteen. But we pay for our choices. And ultimately, society pays for people’s bad choices. My health insurance rates go up every year because people refuse to take care of themselves. Their health gets worse, so the costs go up, so it has to be paid for – by me. Meanwhile, I take care to eat well and exercise. I should not have to pay for their bad decisions, but I do.

We say we are all about free choice, but in some ways we aren’t. Notice light bulbs. We can’t buy regular incandescent bulbs anymore. They aren’t “environmentally correct”. Fluorescent bulbs last five times longer than incandescents. But – they can’t be disposed of in a “green” way. You can’t throw them away legally. You have to take them to a hazardous waste center because of the mercury in them. You can’t even recycle them. So in a way they are better, but in another way they are worse. The strange thing is that we don’t have a choice about it anymore – if we want light bulbs, they are fluorescent.

I’d think that if the government was really concerned about our well-being, they’d ban cigarettes for starters. Then, they’d make sure that all food was healthy – no additives or preservatives. Nothing would have extra sugar in it. We’d have mandatory exercise time during the work day too.

I don’t see any of this happening.

But back to the book cover. I am opposed to this book for several reasons. I’m not going to “challenge” it officially. I’m not going to try to get it banned. But I will bring up questions about it, and wonder why authors and publishers provide this kind of book. I will suggest how this kind of book affects us all.

This book is geared towards teenage girls. Do they really need to be indoctrinated to the idea that they have to be sexual beings? Do they need to be taught that they have to have a boy in their lives to feel complete? Is this a healthy message we need to be promoting as a society?

The “need” to have a mate distracts women from being full people. They spend their energy and money on attracting and keeping a boyfriend to the exclusion of anything else. Perhaps this is part of why women don’t go into science or politics nearly as often as men do. They don’t have the energy for it. They’ve given it all away to the goal of becoming a girlfriend or wife or mother.

Plus, do we really need to get young girls all steamy? They can’t handle the responsibility that comes with sex. Why have books that are explicitly sexual geared to this age group?

We don’t give full driving privileges to young drivers. They have graduated driving licenses. There are certain hours they can and can’t drive, and certain limitations as to who can be with them in the car. They don’t have the maturity to be able to handle the full responsibility of driving when they get their license, so we control it for them.

Sadly, sex isn’t that way. Once you figure out how it works, you can do anything, and anything can happen. Sadly, young people are still growing up themselves, and are almost never mature enough to handle the overwhelming responsibility involved in being a parent.

Sex is like playing Russian roulette with your life.

With this kind of book we are handing young girls a gun and telling them to put it to their heads. Either way, their own life will end. They’ll either get pregnant or distracted. Their energy will go into being a mother or a girlfriend. Their energy will be in relation to someone else. They won’t be their own people – strong, independent.

We all pay for this. We pay for it in teenage girls who get pregnant, who become single mothers and can’t afford to take care of themselves. So they get government assistance – which we pay for. Our taxes go up because of other people’s bad decisions, just like with health insurance. We pay for it in women who have spent their lives taking care of a house and home rather than fulfilling their dreams of being engineers or astrophysicists or diplomats.

How much have we lost as a nation, as a world, because we keep teaching young girls that their only value is to be found in their bodies, and not in their minds? We are prostituting our girls. We are selling them as surely as if we put them on the street.

More musings on romance novels – Power

I’ve noticed a trend with romance novels. The man’s economic or social position is always higher than the woman’s. He’s a duke, or a CEO, or something similar. He’s never an average guy.

Now, of course, this is fantasy – but notice that women are being told in these books that they are supposed to go up in status. They are never supposed to “settle”. Equal or lesser than them isn’t OK.

She’s a secretary, and he is the boss.
She’s a nurse, and he is a doctor.

It plays out, over and over.

Meanwhile, guys don’t read these books. They aren’t getting the script.

Perhaps they don’t need to read it. Perhaps they just know, based on our society’s expectations, that they are supposed to marry “beneath” them.

Men are supposed to be the breadwinners.

She’s the artist, and he is the neuroscientist. She’s the amateur writer, and he’s the professor. It is never the other way around.

She has the “fluff” job, the one that doesn’t pay the bills. Her income is extra. He’s the one in charge, and his way goes.

When one person controls the income, they have all the control.

So this is “fantasy”? This is ideal? Why would anybody want to dream about a passive life, where they have no control, no authority? Where things are done to and for them, instead of with?

Goose, gander

“What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

While this phrase actually refers to sauce, it can also refer to life. If you want to learn if something is sexist, put each gender’s face on it and see what it looks like. If it seems odd, then maybe something is up.

I’m specifically thinking of books right now, but you can do this with anything.

Teen girls are bombarded with books about how to get and keep a boyfriend. How to lose weight. How to do their makeup and hair. How to dress.

There are no similar books for teen boys.

If they read at all, the books they read are science fiction. Boys rarely read books for fun. This needs to be addressed, but it isn’t the topic of this post.

So if it is OK to teach girls that their focus in life should be on their image, and subsequently, how to catch and keep a mate, how come it isn’t something we teach boys?

Maybe we shouldn’t teach girls this at all. Maybe we should teach them good character skills rather than good cosmetic skills. Maybe instead of teaching them how to dress for success, we should teach them how to be a success. Maybe instead of teaching them how to find a mate we should teach them how to find themselves.

Funny library stuff.

Filed under the “I can’t make this stuff up” category:

Dog training books that come back dog chewed.

Books on how to curb procrastination that come back late.

Books on how to get organized that come back late (if at all) because they got lost under a pile of other things.

Books on Wicca that come back with red stains.

Go get a library card…

Having a library card is like having a gym membership. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it.

There are plenty of people who come in every four years to vote in the Presidential election and they feel that they have to get a library card. Our library is an early voting site, and we have people come in that normally never go to a library. They feel that it is part of being an American to have a library card, so they sign up. Four years later, when they come in to vote again, they ask if their card is still valid. It isn’t. If you don’t use it in a couple of years it expires. So then they sign up again. Every now and then I’ll ask them if they want to go and find a book first, to see if they NEED to sign up for a card. Nope. They want to get a card. They just don’t want to use it.

Libraries are the most amazing thing ever about America. They present a free exchange of information. With a library card you can unlock any door. You can learn how to do anything. Going to the library is the best way to improve your mind and your life. It is the way out of a bad situation. It levels the playing field.

There are books at the library for everybody. Every now and then they get challenged but they usually get to stay. A book is “challenged” when someone tries to get it removed from the library. It is very hard to remove a book from the library. People don’t understand that just because they don’t like a book doesn’t mean they have the right to prevent another person from reading it. Thus, libraries have a huge variety of books to accommodate the varying needs of the community.

Yet this means nothing if they don’t use their card. What is the point of getting a library card if you don’t use it? There are plenty of countries around the world that don’t have libraries. Just being able to read is something you shouldn’t take for granted.

Plenty of people take the amazing resource that is the library for granted. If they use it at all, they will fill up on movies and fiction. That is just the icing on the cake. There is so much more to the library than this. The most amazing thing about the library is that if you want to improve your life or your community or the world, you can learn how to do it at the library. It is free to everyone.

I feel that Americans take the library and free public education for granted.

I know a lady from India who was a patron here and then went back home to India. She told me about how there were no free public libraries in India, or at least where she was. There were libraries, but you had to pay to be a member, and there weren’t that many books. Thus, people don’t really read very much.

A community that doesn’t read is a dead community.

Having a card isn’t enough. You have to use it.

If you are poor, education is the way out. Plenty of people will say that the schools are bad in their area, but this means nothing. You can have your education spoon-fed to you, or you can go hunt it down yourself. It also doesn’t matter what your local library is like. No matter what library you use, you have access to the inter-library loan system. Whatever you want, if it isn’t at your library, they can get it for you from another one. So if you don’t get a good education, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

Go get a library card. And use it. The mind you save will be your own.

Book sniffer

I am a book sniffer. The older, the better. Perhaps that is part of why I chose to work in a library. I love the smell of books.

Now, I didn’t get hired at an old library. It was new when I started. You could say it and I started at the same time. It is now 13 years old and the books are just starting to smell pleasant. Fortunately we are part of a system and we get old books in on hold all the time. Every now and then there will be a special one.

A good book smells like fall leaves raked into a pile. It smells like the pile of leaves after you have jumped into it.

A good book smells a bit like vanilla pound cake, fresh out of the oven and cooling on the windowsill.

A good book smells faintly of pipe smoke from your grandfather, while he is warming up by the fire after coming in from the rain. He is sitting in a soft worn leather armchair, wearing his tweed jacket. It is a little bit of all these smells.

A good book smells comfortable and friendly. These smells are the smells of safety and home.

There was a coworker once who shared my love of smelling books. When we’d find one, we’d share it. We’d take the book in our hands, admire the cover and the patina of age on the pages, open it up and have a good sniff.

The branch manager saw us doing this once and openly wondered about our mental health. But, then again, she never read a book to our knowledge.

Now, not all books smell good. Some smell of feet, and cat spray, and the sad sickly smell of too many medicines and ointments and not enough fresh air. Way too many books smell like cheap cigarettes.

But it is the good smelling books that I cherish.

How can you spot a potentially good-smelling book? Covers like this are a sure thing. The original covers have been taken off and the book has been rebound in this amazing stuff. It is beyond the hardness of a hardback. This kind of stuff is going to last forever.

1

6

The spines are embossed, either in gold or silver.

2

7

The edge of the book looks like this. Note the worn nature and the color.

3

The corner edge is rounded. That is always a nice touch.

5

All these different bits point to really old books. That is what you are looking for. Smell the edge, and if that is OK, then open it up and smell the gutter (the inside, opposite the spine) of the book.

Modern books with their fancy ink and high quality paper just won’t do. You are looking for old books with old-fashioned paper.

Happy sniffing!

Library card

Having a library card is like having a gym membership. It doesn’t mean anything if you don’t use it.

There are plenty of people who come in every four years to vote in the Presidential election and they feel that they have to get a library card. Our library is an early voting site, and we have people come in that normally never go to a library. They feel that it is part of being an American to have a library card, so they sign up. Four years later, when they come in to vote again, they ask if their card is still valid. It isn’t. If you don’t use it in a couple of years it expires. So then they sign up again. Every now and then I’ll ask them if they want to go and find a book first, to see if they NEED to sign up for a card. Nope. They want to get a card. They just don’t want to use it.

Libraries are the most amazing thing ever about America. They present a free exchange of information. With a library card you can unlock any door. You can learn how to do anything. Going to the library is the best way to improve your mind and your life. It is the way out of a bad situation. It levels the playing field.

There are books at the library for everybody. Every now and then they get challenged but they usually get to stay. A book is “challenged” when someone tries to get it removed from the library. It is very hard to remove a book from the library. People don’t understand that just because they don’t like a book doesn’t mean they have the right to prevent another person from reading it. Thus, libraries have a huge variety of books to accommodate the varying needs of the community.

Yet this means nothing if they don’t use their card. What is the point of getting a library card if you don’t use it? There are plenty of countries around the world that don’t have libraries. Just being able to read is something you shouldn’t take for granted.

Plenty of people take the amazing resource that is the library for granted. If they use it at all, they will fill up on movies and fiction. That is just the icing on the cake. There is so much more to the library than this. The most amazing thing about the library is that if you want to improve your life or your community or the world, you can learn how to do it at the library. It is free to everyone.

Well, I take that back. Everybody can come in and use the library. Not everybody can check out. You have to get a library card to check out books and apparantly for some people that is very hard. The rules are slightly different for certain libraries, but in ours you have to provide proof of who you are and proof of where you live. If you live out of county, there is a fee because this library system gets its money from property taxes.

For some people, just being able to prove where they live is like pulling teeth. They will want to show their driver’s license that is from three years ago. They have moved three times since then, and not gotten the ID changed. They will point out that the address on the ID is in this county. That isn’t the point. It isn’t their current address, so it doesn’t count. Every now and then they will get huffy and say they should just have lied and said it was correct. It is very frustrating dealing with an adult who just doesn’t get the value of being honest – and the importance of having the current address on their ID.

I feel that Americans take the library and free public education for granted.

I know a lady from India who was a patron here and then went back home to India. She told me about how there were no free public libraries in India, or at least where she was. There were libraries, but you had to pay to be a member, and there weren’t that many books. Thus, people don’t really read very much.

A community that doesn’t read is a dead community.

Having a card isn’t enough. You have to use it.

If you are poor, education is the way out. Plenty of people will say that the schools are bad in their area, but this means nothing. You can have your education spoon-fed to you, or you can go hunt it down yourself. It also doesn’t matter what your local library is like. No matter what library you use, you have access to the inter-library loan system. Whatever you want, if it isn’t at your library, they can get it for you from another one. So if you don’t get a good education, the only person you have to blame is yourself.

Go get a library card. And use it. The mind you save will be your own.

Book addiction

You might be addicted to books if you understand this –

That feeling to get when your book runs out before your lunch does, and you forgot to bring a back up.

When you finish a book and you don’t want to start another because you are still in the world you were reading.

That delightful feeling when you find a new-to-you author who has a lot of books in a series. Finding a series means you don’t have to get acquainted with new characters.

That feeling when you really love a book and you realize there isn’t a series, so you will never learn anything more about those characters.

Not wanting to finish a book because you don’t want it to end.

Always having a spare book in your car just in case.

Having more books on your to-read list than you have time.

Going to used book stores when you are on vacation in the hopes you will find a new favorite book.

You have library cards in vacation places you visit regularly.

You talk about book characters as if they were real.

You have flashbacks of what book you were reading the last time you were in that restaurant.

You get your friends to read the same books you are reading so they will understand what you are talking about.

You have an understanding with your spouse that you will both be reading books when you go out to eat.