Emergency Books


I’ve seen this meme thing floating around on social media for a while, now, but my friend Bill sent it to me last night, saying it reminded him of me. Since he’s seen what my library used to be… yeah. He’s not wrong! But it makes me happy, because I was that little girl coming home from the library with as many books as her arms could carry. I was the kid who was allowed to take books from the back storage room, or from the archives, since the librarians were either fed up with my wanting more books than they had shelved, or they knew I’d take care of them. Or some combination of both. I definitely got a sense of exasperation from the Alaskan librarian who let me into the storage room, where I discovered all of Edgar Rice Burroughs books, in hard bindings and possibly original editions. She was, I suspect now looking back, frustrated with my asking to go get books from the main collection, when she was supposed to keep me in the children’s room. 

But I digress. I’m older, now, and the library is no longer part of my routine. I’m not sure when it stopped being a vital stop on my errands, possibly when I moved to Ohio and had the university library and no time nor energy to explore what was a wealth of information at my fingertips. Perhaps it goes back further than that, even, to the explorations of ebooks when I couldn’t leave the house, nor reliably check out books when I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I could return them. It wasn’t just that I could nurse a baby in one arm, and turn pages on a computer with the free hand (this was long before ereaders were more than a wild rumor. I can remember online discussions of e-ink paper…) it was also that I really had little freedom, and the freedom to get in the car and go to the library, or a bookstore was certainly not a thing I could think about. There were rare outings to bookstores, but the money to buy all the books. Ok, I don’t have that even now. There’s a reason my Amazon wishlist is as long as it is! 

Because now, when I have the means, and the transportation, and maybe even the time to go to the library or a bookstore, I haven’t got the time to read. I sit here and look at my art bookshelf and note how many titles on it are as yet unread. So many. I know the main library out in the rest of the house is the same way. Most of my reading time is taken up with ebooks, for ease of access. But still. I want more books. Who knows when there will be an emergency? I have to have enough reading material to get me through that. 

What sort of emergency? I don’t know. But I am sure that such a thing exists. Because I have the emergency books all prepared for it. 


6 thoughts on “Emergency Books

  1. or a power outage. so I have to read a paper book by lantern light. I’ve only got a small selection at the house, probably only 300 or 400 hundred left now, so really only a small stock for emergencies. But the Kindle unlimited monthly has been good for my addiction. I can have 10 at a time, but read as many a month as I want, for less then the cost of 1 paper book. lots of new names and authors and many that I can’t even read the entire book (some are so bad), but I’ve found some good ones also, where I look for that author again.

  2. I was that kid too… never had enough books. I didn’t always read all of them, admittedly. Looking back, I think I found comfort in their concreteness, their sheer “volume” ready to be absorbed. Knowing they were there in the stacks… diversion and escape were never too far away.

    Something I’m working on this year is limiting my “screen time”… but that’s a complex issue as you can imagine. While I’m not personally into e-books (tires my eyes out and I really miss the whole tactile thing more than I thought I would), I work at a computer for my day job. That, right there, is a pretty big chunk of screen time I can’t reduce if I still wanna eat and pay bills. Then, as a writer and composer, a lot of my creating is done on a screen… avoiding screen time is like an artist avoiding easel time!

    So far, eight whole days into this new year :-D, my takeaway from this little self-improvement experiment has been the shocking discovery that screen time in itself isn’t a bad thing. What is bad is my apparent abuse of screen time. My personal area of weakness in the area is my tendency to squander untold minutes/hours on social media, Pinterest, or YouTube — not even enjoying myself, mind you, merely wasting time as a means of procrastination… avoidance of more important, usually more abstract challenges making up my goals and aspirations.

    Now, after eight days of forcing myself to read, write, practice, exercise, pet a cat, or sleep instead of zonking out with my iPad has drastically altered my perception of time… and I didn’t expect this! Suddenly there are more hours in the day than I realized. Allowing myself the space to become “bored” has been surprisingly beneficial and yet being bored is a literal chore. It’s so much easier to be passive and allow the interwebs to wash over me and wash away time and care. But, it’s amazing the places the mind will wander when faced with the beauty of an empty stretch of time with no screen to stare at and no adverts.

    May your new year bring you lots of the same (if you wish): time, boredom, & creation!

  3. AS a kid, I was often admonished for reading the labels on a ketchup bottle in response to a rule banning books at the dining table. That said, my “emergency books”are largely ebooks. Power outages are planned for by copious UPSs and mucho backup batteries. I can read for two weeks, I estimate, before I run out of capability. A power outage longer than that means I have more important things to do besides reading.

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