Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ode to ISBN

While it seems that summer began a while ago, perhaps when my second year of law school ended, the true beginning of summer happened yesterday.

I went to the public library to check out some reading for pleasure books.

I love public libraries. I love the way the books smell. I love the people there. I love the date due stamp.

Mostly I love the whole idea of a library. Free books. Just pick the ones you want, read them, and bring them back. It's genius. And now there are CDs and DVDs and books on CD. It's like a delightful shopping spree with no buyer's remorse. In other words - Heaven.

But that's not all.

There are books in a public library that you would never find in a bookstore. Bookstores stock what people buy. Libraries stock...well, I don't really know what libraries stock. Just lots and lots of books. Yesterday I found myself standing in front of a shelf looking at White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South by Martha Hodes - a book I imagine promises to be either highly informative or highly offensive; Love, Marriage, & Sex in Contemporary Japan by Pink Samurai; To Love Honor & Betray: The Secret Lives of Suburban Wives by Stephanie Gertler - whom I assume is in litigation with the creators of Desparate Housewives; and Family Outing by Chastity Bono.

While the titles themselves delight me, what makes it even better is that I came upon this shelf of books while looking on the adjacent shelf for Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. When in a bookstore would you come up a book about illicit sex while you're standing next to a shelf of books about the life of a plant? Never.

There's one more thing about the MLK Library in DC that I really like. It acts sort of like a shelter during the day. It's chock full of homeless people. They're sleeping in study carrolls, surfing the web, wandering around through the books. But there are also lots of them sitting at tables reading. All sorts of things - mysteries, books on religion, novels. One man, who I think was schizophrenic, seemed to be trying to learn Chinese.

My only problem with the public library is that I really never want to leave.


Anonymous said...

i agree. not all libraries (those in other countries) work like ours, so take great pleasure in our system!
And tell me how the Pollan book is--I've been meaning to read more than just his articles, but that'll have to wait until the big D is behind me.
Happy Summer and Happy Pleasure Reading Time!

Virgin In The Volcano said...

Hear, hear.

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