Monday, June 30, 2008

The Library by Sarah Stewart

Football and soccer. Sunshine. Wife and children. Teaching. These are the things that keep me from becoming eerily similar to Elizabeth Brown in The Library by Sarah Stewart.

(Okay, with a few differences. I did not enter the world dropping out of the sky. I'm generally not "skinny, nearsighted, and shy." My childhood was not filled exclusively with reading and books. And that whole girl/boy thing, of course.)

But Elizabeth Brown has books, and she continues to acquire more. When she goes to school and unloads her books, they collapse the upper bunk - under the disapproving glare of one Leo Tolstoy, looking on from a poster on her wall. Virginia Woolf, sharing the wall space, simply looks away.

Elizabeth loans her books to friends, then collects those overdue on midnight raids. (Which I have never done, but ask my students, and they wouldn't put it past me.) While others go on dates, Elizabeth finds reading until the wee hours a more satisfying use of her time. She didn't spend much on snacks or clothing or other trivialities. Just books.

As Elizabeth grows older, watch the pictures of the interior of her house. The piles grow. There are books in corners, on desktops, in chairs, and in the hallway. Larger ones make great end tables. Eventually Elizabeth Brown comes to a grim realization. She simply cannot have one more book. Not one.

So what's a book lover to do when said book lover is no longer able acquire more books? Only a true book lover, fed for years by the creative ideas of the greatest authors, could come up with a solution that not only solves her problem, but allows countless others to share in the truly great treasure she has amassed over the years...and, of course, allows her to happily continue reading page after page after page.

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