This may sound funny, but recently I rediscovered the library. As soon as I entered the main room that houses the major collection of books, I felt welcome, as if I had arrived home after a long departure.
It seems silly that I was gone for so long. I grew up in the Queens Library, and I remember making a steadfast resolution that one day I would read ALL the books there. (I didn't realize at the time that there were new titles constantly being added to the Children's Room.) I participated in the summer reading contests and fell in love with series such as The Babysitter's Club by Ann M. Martin and the Fear Street series by R.L. Stine. The maximum a member was allowed to borrow was 25 books, and I usually was at the max at all times.
I received books as gifts as well, and one day I stamped all the books I owned with "Jennifer's Library" and glued strips of paper to the back cover where I could stamp a date and loan my books out to my friends. (How fitting that this was one of the first things I photographed with my first 110 speed camera!)
In eighth grade I tutored a first grader after school who was learning English as his second language. Each week I'd bring a new collection of books from the library for us to read together.
In high school I still managed to read for leisure, but not as much as I used to. Even now, certain books stand out to me: I read Into the Forest by Jean Hegland, Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton and The Challenging Garden (a book of fiction which is out of print and I can't remember who the author was, but I remember the green cover and the leaf dripping with a droplet of blood).
When I went to college, reading for pleasure pretty much disappeared. The college library housed academic texts, and that's where my focus was concentrated. But I missed the world of fiction and was estatic when I had the chance to interview Adriana Trigani of the Big Stone Gap trilogy when she appeared on campus. I ate up her stories and advice and began buying books at a steady clip. The buying continued up until last year, when that too slowed because there was no time to read between work, pastry school and sleep.
Now that my schedule has settled down and I'll be making the switch to being a full time pastry chef next week, I decided to give the library a chance. Five years ago I had attempted to get a library card, but being a new resident, I didn't have the driver's license or power bills to prove I was a Connecticut resident. I returned three weeks ago to the library, and received my card. I instantly began to walk around and began collecting books that jumped out at me. It wasn't long until I had an armload and I made my way to the checkout desk. I marveled (and was a bit embarrassed) when they scanned each title I was checking out and printed out a receipt of the due dates. It had never occured to me that the old stampers would be obsolete.
So now I have a new resolution this year- to use the library to its maximum. To help save money, I'm not going to buy any more books, and I'm also going to try and actually read all the titles I acquired but never had time to read while in college and grad school.
And the best part: I feel like a kid again.
*The photos above were taken super quick with my phone. They are some of the books that live in our apartment.