The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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January 21, 2015

Lunch, with books

When I first moved here, all those years ago, I got into a lovely Saturday morning routine of going to the Cambridge Public Library.  OK, to be honest, I'd go to the Cambridge library, which opened at 9, because if you got there right at 9 you could get a parking spot, then I'd go to the Starbucks across the street, then I'd drive back home to the Brookline library, which opened at 10, because if you got there right at 10 you could get a parking spot. Lovely, but geeky. At the time, your library card let you use the libraries in most of the towns around your own, and I liked going to different ones.  Some had a lot of new books, some had a lot of cookbooks, one had audiobooks (on cassettes!) long before any of the others really did, etc. etc.

Over the years, they organized themselves into a network, and now you can request a book online and get whichever library's copy is available first.  It's an amazing service, but it has also meant that I've stopped going to those other libraries, and there's less of a need or a temptation to just browse. In any event, I hadn't been back to the C.P.L. in years, though I vaguely remembered that it had undergone some renovations.  When I finally figured out (a month or two ago) that it's not very far from work {I used to drive to it from another direction, so I didn't have my bearings}, I wasn't prepared for how magnificent it is now.  You used to walk in through the two arches on the left; now they're glassed in, there's a beautiful modern addition on the right, where the tiny parking lot used to be, and the old first floor, where the new books were, is filled with cookbooks. :)

The C.P.L. is only about a 10 or 15 minute walk from my office, so going there is a nice way to spend a lunch hour (I've also been trying to get myself away from my desk a little more often).  The other thing I like about this library is how they handle their new books.  Many (even most) of them are on 'express' loan for two weeks, no reserves, no renewals, which paradoxically means that I almost always find something on the shelf that I've been waiting for, or looking forward to, or never heard of, and wasn't expecting.

Last week, it was this:

It's a little coffee table book showing 200 years of book covers, from the first edition of each novel to covers for teenagers, pulpy paperbacks, bodice-rippers, books for babies (I love those!), some that sex Jane up, some that are a little bizarre, some in translation, and some that are a combination :).

I saw some editions that I recognized, some covers that made me laugh, and many that could tempt me to buy another copy of one of the novels.   If you come across this book, it's a lot of fun to look through.

In the meantime, here's to libraries, and our librarian friends!


Lisa said...

I bought that book as a Christmas present for a Janeite friend, but I had the hardest time actually mailing it off.

JoAnn said...

Express loans haven't hit our library system yet, but I'd love to take a closer look at that book!

Cosy Books said...

Our express copies are 1 week and oh, the pleading when customers come back and beg to renew. They are both a blessing and a curse...the books, not the customers.

Libraries are the best!

Mystica said...

No library in my part of the world but I do so love reading about them. Actually we do have libraries but they are totally devoted to schools!

Karen K. said...

Our library got express collections a couple of years ago and they are a brilliant idea.

And I confess to having checked this book out in December and have hardly looked at it. I seriously covet my own copy, though. I do have a birthday coming up in a couple of months!

Lory said...

This looks like a lovely library, I must give it a visit some day. The architecture reminds me of the Northampton library which was one of my favorites of all time.

Thank you for visiting!

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