Paradise on the Bookshelf
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”
- Jorge Luis Borges
I had to visit my local library last month to pick up some tax forms. Now there’s a word you don’t usually hear in this age of e-gizmos and gadgetries—library.
It’s been years since I’ve been to the library. I used to depend on it for so many things: important documents, research for a term paper, legal advice, an old newspaper clipping, a quick answer to a perplexing question. I remember when I was growing up, our library was the only place in my hometown where you could find a copy machine. Now, between my computer and Google, I have more information than I’ll ever need. And I don’t even have to leave my chair to get it.
When I walked through the front door of the Oceanside Library, I felt that little ping in my heart again. It was the same feeling I used to get when my parents brought me into this giant vault of countless treasures as a child. Back then, choosing a new book to take home was like being at the candy store—only so much better. Here, I could take a magic carpet ride on a set of printed pages that would send me anywhere I wanted to go…I could explore the banks of the Mississippi with Huck Finn. I could take an incredible journey in the Canadian wilderness and help Luath, Bodger and Tao find their way back home. I could solve a mystery with Nancy Drew, go on a quest with Don Quixote, and hunt for breaking stories for the school newspaper with Donna Parker. And it was all for free—as long as I brought my book back on time!
I headed up to the second floor, which was filled with rows and rows of computers—all occupied by students, Facebookers, and job hunters. I tiptoed past them and strolled down the first few aisles. Philosophy and Psychology, Social Sciences, Arts and Recreation, Literature. No need for a GPS device to find a book here. The Dewey Decimal System is still the library’s most trusted compass.
Surrounded by overflowing bookshelves, I became lightheaded with memories. I slowly breathed in the warmth and wonder of my old friends—the storytellers and inspiring writers from my past. . . and present: Jane Austen, J.D. Salinger, Carl Sandburg, Stephen Crane, Edgar Allen Poe, Margaret Mitchell, Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ray Bradbury, Anne Tyler, Louise Hay, Fannie Flagg, Wayne Dyer, Marianne Williamson . . . .
How good it felt to reach up, grab some of these volumes, hold them in my hands, dust off the pages, and read some of the familiar words again—words that helped shaped me into the person I am today. It was paradise.
When I sit in meetings here at Hay House, listening to talk of increasing eBook releases (Click here to see the latest titles) and the progress on our upcoming line of Vooks, I am content knowing that this massive hunger for digital information only proves that an addiction for reading still runs rampant in our culture. Perhaps as more eReaders emerge, it will spur more young minds to look beyond their intoxicating video games and forage for a stirring novel or heartwarming classic.
For me, I always imagined paradise will be a kind of library where dreams in the shape of books—printed or electronic—will only be a few pages away.
How about you?
I invite you to get out and visit your local library this month. Reread a chapter from the book that ignited your passion for reading. Browse a particular section to get ideas for your next e-purchase. Borrow an audio book. (You can now get them on mini MP3 players called Playaways.) Then, turn off your television set an hour earlier tonight and revisit your favorite author.
Remember, there’s no place like the library.
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