Books, Books, and More Books

Last week, I did something I haven’t done since early 2020.

I went inside my public library.

During the pandemic, I was lucky enough to still be checking out books from my library, but through a system of reserving specific titles and arranging a day and time to pick them up.

But the library is open again. Open for leisurely browsing. For stocking up. For being in awe of the sheer number of books I have yet to read.

I first thought I’d go into the library with no plans. Just me, my library card, and my empty tote bag. And I’d stroll among the shelves, picking up books, reading the summaries on the back cover, and bringing home as many books as I wanted. (Or as many as I could carry in my bag.)

But then that thought made me feel a bit overwhelmed. There is such a thing as too much choice. 

So I handled the visit to the library the same way I handle my grocery shopping.

It’s considered foolish to grocery shop on an empty stomach. I thought the same rule should apply to me in a library. I was hungry for books. For the freedom to walk in and pick up books because something — a cover, a title — caught my eye. 

So I made a list.

I went online and accessed the library’s catalog. And wrote down the call numbers for books that had been on my “want-to-read” list. I limited myself to eight books. (I’m not sure how I settled on eight, except that ten seemed too many, and eight seemed close enough to ten.)

I went to the library and made my way around the shelves, gathering my books, until my bag was heavier than I expected (I didn’t realize one book was a hardcover and over 400 pages long). 

And I came home happy. With eight books including memoir (Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood), poetry (Mary Oliver’s Devotions), and fiction (Linda Holmes’s Evvie Drake Starts Over) to name a few.

Libraries are open again, and in case you couldn’t tell, I was smiling under my mask.

(The public library still requires patrons to wear masks in consideration of the younger readers who don’t yet have access to a vaccine.)

Lists, Lists, and More Lists

I’m a list-maker.

Daily to-do lists. 

Grocery shopping lists. 

Writing assignments lists. 

Gifts list (gifts to buy, gifts already bought). 

And, of course, my A to Z Lists.

(Check out my Published Work page to be re-directed to some of my published A to Z Lists including “The A to Z List of Verbs Teachers and Students Practice Daily,” “The Alphabetical Prescription for Living with a Chronic Medical Condition,” and “The A to Z List of Boys,” to name just a few.)

And then I discovered Twenty-One Truths About Love, a novel written by Matthew Dicks. 

A novel written entirely in list form. And through these lists the reader learns about Dan – a former teacher, current bookshop owner, a husband, and soon-to-be dad.

These lists are honest. Charming. Amusing. Authentic. 

Here are just a few tidbits from the book’s lists I’d like to share with you this week:

Reasons I quit teaching

– Couldn’t continue to witness bad decisions at the expense of children

– Couldn’t stand one more minute of professional development that was neither professional nor developmental

“My teaching beliefs

– Teachers must be reading and writing on a regular basis in order to be effective teachers of reading and writing.

– Teachers must think of parents as full and equal partners in the eduction of the child.

– The most important lessons taught by teachers often have little or nothing to do with academics.”

“Words that belong on a child’s T-shirt

– Are you really going to rob me of my precious childhood with this meaningless worksheet?”

“21 Truths About Love

– To truly love someone, you must love the person you never knew, the person you know today, and the person that will someday be.

– Love does not make everything better, but it makes everything a little easier.

– ‘I love you’ are three simple words that we whisper to lovers in the dark, say to dogs that don’t speak English, cry out during sex, speak to the dead while standing over their gravestones, tell parents before hanging up the phone, and repeat again and again to the people whose lives are gloriously intertwined with our own.

– Love makes you do the stupidest, bravest, most ridiculous and idiotic things in your life. It makes you scared and crazy and crazed and joyous. Love is all the feelings.”