Forgive me as I go on a happy rant. Today was a fairly good day, as I lived today. Living, as opposed to what, you ask? Well, reading and writing about living. I think it’s very important that we writers know when to stop and take a break, and man, I needed a break. This week was a bit stressful at work because I’m still learning the ropes. I was invited out last night by friends and co-workers, but since the bar scene isn’t really my scene, I stayed home and finished reading Almost a Gentleman by Pam Rosenthal. I’m hoping to write one of my old book reviews about it because I enjoyed it so much.
Get on with it, Belinda, is this your happy rant?
No. It is not.
Libraries are AWESOME
I ran a number of errands this morning, and visiting the library was one of them. I encourage all writers to be regulars at their local library. I go there when I want a fix of Writer’s Digest, The Writer, and Poets & Writers magazines.
I’m blessed to have a library that is always buying new books, so I make it a point to check out the new historical romances to discover trends. You know, like cover imagery, blurbs, topics, etc.
On my way to the new books section, however, I glanced at the mini-book shop they have in the library. This shop is really just a book shelf with a desk in front of it with a donation box. The books are donated by people in my community, and the library sells them for a profit.
Wait for it, this is where my happy rant really picks up.
I found the entire Little House on the Prairie books for $2! TWO DOLLARS. That’s eight books. EIGHT BOOKS for TWO DOLLARS.
I remember wanting these books when I was young. I grew up reading these books. These books are what turned me on to historical fiction.
I picked up the boxed collection and walked it over to the sweet old lady who was reading a letter from 1966. She seemed very shocked by what she was reading, and didn’t notice I was hugging a box of books to my chest as if I knew there was a bandit around the corner waiting to snatch them from me.
You may think I’m exaggerating. Sadly, I am not.
After a couple of minutes she noticed I was standing there, waiting for her to finish reading. Which, by the way, it was fascinating to watch her. She reads letters line-by-line. The handwriting on the page was large, with constrained flourishes, and healthy spaces between each line. The paper was yellowed, but didn’t look fragile. I wanted to smell it—I’m that weirdo who smells old books for fun. I wish I had thrown my camera into my purse because she really made such a lovely photo with her white hair and white cardigan draped over her shoulders.
“Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t even see you there,” she said, flustered, when I placed the box of books on the little desk. She fluttered her hands and tucked the letter in its envelope. “I was just reading an old letter I found, it’s from 1966, and I was just shocked at what I was reading, I couldn’t believe it…”
She didn’t continue, and I felt it would be rude to press for more, but can’t you imagine a wonderful story springing from that one little interaction? What do you think she was reading? Why did it shock her so much, reading it almost fifty years later? Where did she find it and why was she reading it in such a public place like a library?
“Oh, that’s okay,” I said, smiling. “I didn’t want to disturb you.” I motioned to the box. “Is this priced right? It must be wrong.”
She adjusted her glasses and peered at the little white price tag. “Why, it says it’s only two dollars!”
“I know! It’s got to be wrong.”
“Well,” she said with a little frown, “if it’s marked two dollars, it must be two dollars.”
I shook my head. That was just outrageous. I wanted that boxed set my entire childhood and never received it. I managed to collect all the books over the years, but deep in my heart, I still wanted the boxed set. That boxed set. It was imperative that I owned that set.
“Well, I don’t care. I’m going to give you ten for it.”
“Oh no, you can’t do that, the price is for two dollars.”
I have to admit my mouth sagged open a little. “I saw one of the books, a hardcover version, priced at two dollars by itself. Someone mislabeled this.”
“Well, then that’s their fault, isn’t it? We get such nice discounts in the general stores these days, and you don’t apologize for that, do you?”
A smile was starting to creep back onto my face. “Well, no.”
“Take it and run with it. And enjoy it! That’s a treasure you found there.” She accepted my cash, and as she tucked it into the cashier’s box, asked, “Are you a teacher?”
My smile turned sheepish. These were children’s books. It made sense that she thought I was a school teacher. I was young enough to seem right out of college and looking for books for my students. I was far too excited to not be a teacher looking for a cheap boxed set of books.
“No, but I grew up on these books.”
She nodded, understanding me. “Today is your lucky day, sweetie.”
I grinned. Yeah, it was. And I couldn’t have had it if I’d stared at my computer screen all day.