Don’t steal library books. Please. Just drop them back in the metal book drop at the Lennoxville Library’s front door.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s a fun book about a very bad boy who obsessively steals from libraries and book shops. It’s The Man Who Loved Too Much: The True Story Of A Thief, A Detective, And A World Of Literary Obsession, by Allison Hoover Bartlett (2009, on five CDs in the Lennoxville Library’s audio book section, read by Judith Brackley).
Why bring up a man who gives librarians nightmares? Because it’s a great tale. But maybe buddy would have had time to carefully consider the books, then sign them out properly, rather than stuff them down his pants helter skelter in a panic, if library hours had been different. More convenient, say.
It’s all about The Hours, isn’t it? Check out Michael Cunningham’s 1998 stunner, The Hours (in adult fiction), a novel inspired by Virginia Woolf’s classic Mrs. Dalloway, itself a 1925 tome (available online at Project Gutenberg Australia) that focuses on a single day in the life.
In his award-winning novel, Cunningham interweaves three stories, including an imagining of Woolf in the hours which led to her walking into the surf, her pockets filled with stones.
Fast-forward to Laura Brown, a 1940s housewife reading Mrs. Dalloway in the run-up to her husband’s birthday. He’s a good man, yet Mrs. Brown is dissatisfied, though unsure why. Then zip forward again, to modern-day writer Clarissa Vaughan, who is planning a party.
For each of these lives, a day. And as Woolf peevishly asked as she was writing Mrs. Dalloway, “But can a single day in the life of an ordinary woman be made into enough for a novel?”
Cunningham proves how a day matters; and perhaps more importantly, how one day can echo another’s life. How each day can be put to use.
All to say, gentle reader, that the Lennoxville Library’s opening hours have changed with the new year. That is:
◦Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 8 p.m.
◦ Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
◦ Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Now some may prefer to lend books directly to each other. The bored 1960s housewives of The Ladies Lending Library (by Janice Kulyk Keefer, 2007, adult fiction) do just that. Their husbands are away at work while they spend weekdays in summer cottages with children, racy books hidden in the laundry hamper, gin and gossip right out in the open. This is another novel about women in a slightly different time, trying to find their place in the world, living their drudgery and minor dramas that can nonetheless trigger change and understanding.
Of course, if no one in your circle of friends has the book you want, you can try a book shop. Such a creature appears in Donn Kushner’s children’s tome, a mix of history, imagination and love titled A Book Dragon (1987, orange dot, suggested ages 9 to 12). It follows the very full life of Nonesuch, one of the very few dragons who has survived into the modern era. Indeed, dragons are so low profile that “it is easy to believe that they never existed at all,” Kushner notes.
Everything starts to change in 1460, with the War of the Roses (and the slow disappearance of the dragons). Nonesuch seeks a new purpose as he is stripped of his pretty, shiny things: “A dragon without treasure has part of his soul missing: his heart is hollow.” Hundreds of years later, he finds a monk who makes illuminated manuscripts, and is himself carefully drawn in. That beautiful Book Of Hours becomes his treasure, and Nonesuch safeguards it all the way into the 20th century – and, I believe, beyond.
But in the end, there is always the library. It’s more than just shelves, it’s also a place where you can chat about books (the next Books and Brown Bags lunch is the 22nd!), get great reading suggestions, or hang out and meander through a great selection of magazines. There’s story time for the kids, too. And did we mention the free thing? Membership is free to all Sherbrooke residents.
The Lennoxville Library doesn’t have a cat, but we do glory in the spirit of Dewey Readmore Books, who was, yes, a cat. Dewey (also a book by Vicki Myron, 2008, available in French and English editions), was almost dead when found frozen in a library book return box.
Little Dewey, who died at the ripe old age of 19, was “a cat that somehow, from inside the walls of a small Iowa library, managed to touch the world.” He was curious yet patient, and snuggled everyone around him — patron, staffer, and the saddened passer-by who found that a simple purr could help, even if just a tiny bit.
Now, in the New Arrivals shelves, you’ll find a second volume, Dewey’s Nine Lives: The Legacy Of The Small-town Library Cat Who Inspired Millions (by Myron and Brit Witten, 2010, filed at 636.8 and gifted to the library by Liz Sprenger through our annual Adopt-A-Book campaign). This is a series of short stories, three about Dewey and six profiling other beloved cats who also changed the lives of humans.
There’s no word in that book about John Gilkey, the kleptomaniac who could not control his obsessive need for rare, first edition books that he would lift from the library: Perhaps a cat would have helped him just say no. As a judge said during the thief’s sentencing hearing, stealing a book is “stunting the growth of human knowledge” by keeping its contents away from others.
Of course, in the Middle Ages, books were burned outright. If you look at it that way, at least a stolen book still exists.
– Eleanor Brown, January 10, 2014