Hungry for Books

After I learned to read, I became a regular library user. The library was within walking distance, and I often visited, especially in the summertime, with family or friends. A redheaded librarian worked there. Sometimes I felt sorry for her because she was always rushing to answer questions and retrieve books. (Many years later, after I became a librarian, I was surprised to see that same redhead at a workplace function. As viewed through my childhood eyes, she had seemed an old lady, and I’d expected that she would have already retired or passed away.)

One hot summer day, my friend Donna and I ventured to the library to cool off and search for good reading material. Feeling ambitious, I pulled four big books off the shelves in the adult section. (For some reason, I thought I had outgrown the juvie area.) I can’t recall the titles or subjects of those books, only that one had pirates on the cover.  (I know. That statement makes me sound like a typical library patron.) When I left the library, I clutched the pile of books to my chest (no breasts, yet) and looked forward to losing myself between the covers of those tomes.

When Donna and I arrived at our neighborhood (she lived in a house across the street from ours), my brother, cousin, and a couple of other boys were standing on the front lawn, yakking. My brother asked to see my stack of books.

He: “You’ll never read all these books!” He and the other boys laughed.

Me (indignantly): “Yes I will!”

Brother: “No, you won’t.”

Me: “I bet you a dime (big $$ for a kid back then) I will!”

So the bet was on and I was determined to win. But I didn’t get more than five pages into the “pirate” book before realizing I was in way over my head. Sheepishly, I offered the dime to my brother who waved me away. Without his buddies to egg him on, he wasn’t going to give me a hard time about losing the bet.

My little ego suffered, but I learned a lesson. After that incident, I stuck to the books in the children’s section until I was ready to tackle the adult-level reading. This is one of my fondest memories of my childhood. I was an ambitious reader, and it’s a good thing when a child is hungry for books.

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