|Jinny has been very ill and is currently undergoing rehabilitation in a Bangor facility so she will not be writing her article for awhile. She is making excellent progress and hopes to be able to return to writing her column in the near future... Adele.
There are very few buildings on earth I love to be in more than a library. I am sure that I would love being in the Parthenon or the Colosseum or Westminster Abbey as well, but I haven't gotten there yet. So far, libraries are my favorite places.
I have lived numerous places across this country and I have always made it a point to join the local library as soon as possible. I have been in lots of different kinds of libraries; small ones, large ones, District Libraries, University Libraries, and every other kind of library you can think of. Although some have been better than others, I have loved them all simply because they are full of books.
I don't have a TV, or more specifically, I don't have cable, which means I have no reception and therefore, no TV. When people ask me if I watched some show or other and I tell them I have no TV they look at me as if I just told them that I had no indoor plumbing.
"How do you live?" one horrified person asked me.
"Quietly," I answered.
"But, no TV...that's just crazy," he persisted.
"For goodness sake," I said in exasperation, "it's not like I just told you that when I'm sick I have a witch doctor come in and bleed me. It's just a TV."
"What do you do?" someone else asked.
"All sorts of things," I explained. "But mostly, I read."
"Won't you run out of books?" the first person asked.
I'll admit it, I was getting a little irritated.
"Run out of books?" I asked in a voice about two octaves higher than normal. "Have you ever seen the library of Congress?"
This is the general response to the realization that I live without television, although some people are less obvious about their incredulity and try very hard to be polite while assuming that I am some kind of nut case.
It's not that I dislike all TV. I don't. Just most of it. To me, TV is a lot like a baby's pacifier; no matter how hard you try you aren't going to get anything out of it other than a comforting numbness. You can bite down on it now and then and get a kind of satisfaction, but for the most part it's empty calories.
So I joined the Bangor Library. I really like the Bangor Library; I like the building it is in and the way there are steps that lead up to it from both sides. I like the heavy wooden doors with the big handles and the way you have to step up from the foyer to the main desk. Mostly, I like what I like about all libraries, the countless shelves of books the peaceful, quiet atmosphere, and the way that it smells. There was a small library in the town where I lived in Florida. It was one of the tiniest I have ever seen. It didn't have much in the way of really interesting reading, but it did have every Danielle Steele novel ever published, including some she probably didn't even remember ever writing. Evidently, she was very popular in that town, but I have never read anything she ever wrote and after reading a couple of the fly leaves of her books, I didn't see any reason to start.
Being back in the Bangor library was exhilarating for me. We have a little library in the town where I live, and I know that I can have them order any book I want, but I like to browse. For me, browsing in a library is what shopping is like for a lot of people I know. I could go from stack to stack endlessly, losing all track of time and space. I especially like to go to the stacks where the old reference and historical books are kept and look at all the titles until I find one that really gets me. Then I take it off the shelf and sit down at a table where I can open it up. I love the way the book is heavy and solid in my arms and the way it sounds when I put it down on the table. I love the leather covers and the way that the titles are engraved into them. I love the way the leather and paper smell and that unique sound when I turn a page in the silence. I always pick up the corner of the page and run my hand down the side, turning the page with the flat of my hand. With a very old book, I like to think of all the people who read it before me and turned the pages exactly the same way. To me, reading a book is a visceral experience, a ritual that includes the writer, the publisher, the craftsmen who printed and bound the book, and all those who read it before me.
If I'm a nut case, I'm OK with it. I'll be the best-read nut case in town.