Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sweet Smell of Summer Reading

Before there were public library branches in every neighborhood, there was, in my town, a privately-organized volunteer-run library. Located in the basement of a nearby old building, this library provided my first summer reading experience. I remember with fondness sitting in the street level basement windowsill on summer mornings while my mother did her volunteer shift. The quiet (yes, libraries were deathly quiet in those days...sigh) and the musty smell of a library book imprinted me.
One year I went through about 20 Nancy Drew books, and my mom continued to buy them as quickly as I could turn the pages. In recent times there have been periods of Agatha Christie. No debate, mysteries rule.
Every year I try to reproduce the summer reading feeling...the laziness...the late nights. In June, I scored a 1941 hardback novel. Murder Gives a Lovely Light. The author: obscure. The "Crime Club": now defunct. The smell: that wonderfully musty, library-book smell drew me in again.

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