What better way to rebound from a somewhat belligerent (though I would still argue justified) rant about a place that made me feel like crap as a mom than to talk about a place that makes me feel wonderful every time I set foot in it?
I am, of course, referring to my local library.
The library was one of the first places I ventured with The Baby during maternity leave. Ever since then, it has become a routine destination for my attempts to leave the house on a daily basis.
Of course, perk No. 1 of the library is that it’s free (or, really, really, cheap, if you tend to have overdue books here and there…) Now that I’m no longer in a super walkable neighborhood (frown), I can’t just throw the baby in a carrier and take a walk around the block to count as my outing. Generally, I have to run an errand, which almost always means going into a store of some sort and spending money. And as a post-Great-Recession, one-and-some-change-income family, we don’t go shopping just to shop.
The Baby isn’t quite big enough that places specifically made for kids (children’s museum, playground) are a worthwhile trip. Right now he’s basically just psyched by anything that isn’t our house. But I know when he does start to get more interested in play and exploration, my library’s children’s section is a great place to spend some time!
Another great thing about the library is the great sense of possibility I feel every time I step inside. Thinking about raising goats? Pick up a how-to book. Itching for a good conspiracy? Read about the JFK assassination. Etc. ad nauseam. While the Internet is a vast resource to learn about anything I could possibly imagine, you can’t beat the feeling of wandering the aisles and coming across something you weren’t looking for that piques your interest.
I find myself unintentionally choosing books around a theme almost every trip. My last library haul centered around ghost stories and, more practically speaking, raising goats. (That’s still in the works, though slow-going.) In the ghost story genre, I read The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce and I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir. I love a good ghost story, and while neither of these was life-changingly good, they satisfied the part of me that gets a thrill from a few chills down my spine.
(For those of you following along, I haven’t finished Cannery Row yet. I returned Doubter’s Almanac unfinished because I always read too many books at once, it was due back at the library and it didn’t hook me in the first three chapters.)
I’ll spare you the review on the goat raising book.
Today’s haul was exclusively nonfiction. (I have another randomly chosen novel I renewed from the last trip, resting unread under by bed still.) Anyway, I picked up two books on writing fiction, something I did obsessively as a child and teenager but haven’t touched since then but have been daydreaming about. I’m hoping that reading about writing will give me the little nudge to try it out again (though I will keep those exercises to myself and stick with the real-life navel gazing for this particular outlet.)
I also got Baby Knows Best, a parenting book about the “RIE way,” which I’ve never heard of. But I like reading about child development and don’t know that much about it, so it’s always interesting to broaden my horizons on that front. I’ll either learn some knew ways to help The Baby grow into an awesome Kid and Adult, or I’ll find something else to call bullshit on and get sanctimonious about. Win-win.
Finally, I got On the Move, A Life by Oliver Sacks, whom you’ll recognize if you’re a Radiolab fan, as he was a beloved neuroscientist who explored some amazing facets of the human brain and struggled with his identity and love and human mortality and who was a beautiful storyteller on top of being a brilliant scientist. He died not too long ago and Radiolab gave him a beautiful tribute, and I can’t wait to read this book.
So there’s an update on what’s on my nightstand, and a reminder to my fellow new moms to go feed your soul at the library!
One more parting tip: Libraries usually have a shelf of used books for sale for CHEAP (a “Friends of the Library” fundraiser type deal), and it’s a great place to pick up children’s books, especially board books because you can clean off the pages before you hand them over to your baby. I picked up a few gems today for a buck!