library cards and winter reading

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 9:58 AM

Audrey Godfrey

The Sunday before Christmas I sang with our church choir. We sang a beautiful Austrian carol. The first two lines are “Still, still, still one can hear the falling snow. For all is hushed, the world is sleeping,...” The tune has hummed in my mind ever since, and as I think of it I envision quiet and beauty. I feel contemplative and at peace. Winter provides the perfect opportunity to slow down, to cuddle up with a good book.

I crave books. When I finish one I need another, and soon. Books open new places to me, take me out of my home and set me down on a mountain, or iceberg, or a scene from a century ago. They make me think. An anonymous poet echoes that sentiment. “But words are things; and a small drop of ink makes thousands, perhaps millions think.”

Sarah Bird, who wrote “How Perfect is That?” said, “Every hurdle I’ve faced, I have researched my way over at a library. I’m grateful for that part of the American spirit that believes every citizen should have access to books.” Ever since I could read a favorite site has been the library.

The first one I remember visiting was a branch of the Weber County Library near Five Points. Mother took us kids regularly to choose books to take home and read.

As a college student I researched my way through a bachelor’s and a master’s at libraries. My library cards at the Logan Library and Utah State University’s library get lots of use.

After marriage I was one of those annoying mothers who brought their toddlers to the library. While I searched for the perfect book my child pulled books off the shelf and created havoc. But I didn’t give up taking the children, even when they grew older and caused greater problems.

Picture this. As I read books I tear off pieces of newspaper or whatever scrap paper is close at hand to mark pages I want to refer back to. Now picture a little boy watching me. Now picture me returning a Richard Scarry book with torn pages that marked my son’s favorite places to the library.

Even worse, weeks later when we made our regular stop at the library we saw a display of “How not to treat books,” with the torn Richard Scarry book front and center. We still talk about that experience, but we can laugh now.

One of the joys of reading a good book is sharing it with others. Will Schwalbe’s “End of Your Life Book Club” is an account of a shared reading experience with his dying mother.

He wrote, “Sharing books you love and getting others to read them can create a powerful bond not just between a parent and child, but among thousands or millions of strangers.” My sisters and I share books and its fun to get each person’s reaction to what we’ve read.

For all of my writing, I’ve researched information in various libraries. I probably like researching better than writing. To me, its like putting a puzzle together as I find all the parts of information needed to complete the project.

As I do so, I’m apt to learn many things I never knew before and find adventure through the author.

My greatest such adventure was going to the South Pole with Ernest Shackleton’s explorers in 1914 and being stuck on an ice sheet for many months. The men showed great courage and a will to survive on short rations, wet clothes and a waning possibility of rescue.

I also sailed on the Titanic and survived that catastrophe. I walked the Appalachian Trail with two sisters, and made dresses with an Afghan woman who risked her life to buy material and found a sewing group in her home. Some books are real life, others not.

But a good author teaches readers about people, and cultures, and stories that should be told.

I’m looking forward to starting my next book seated in my favorite chair while the snow falls outside.

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