I have always loved books. I grew up very blessed. My parents both enjoyed reading and always encouraged me to pick up a book.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is that of my local library. Our household was a family of five, my parents, my two sisters, and me. Mom would go to different grocery stores to get the best prices. I would beg her to leave me at the library while she went shopping. The days she let me go to the library were the highlights of my weeks. I would browse the shelves in awe and an overwhelming desire to read every book on the shelves.
Briggs, our local library, had an amazing children’s section, it still does although it is now on the main floor. Previously, it was upstairs, and I considered it “my section”. I felt like a princess in a castle.
I had a ritual. When I first got there I would drop off my books that I had taken home with me the previous week with the librarian. My next stop was to what I called the “Nancy Drew” section. A few of the Nancy Drew books were always missing and I held out hope that they would be brought back so that I could have my turn with them. If I didn’t find a new Nancy Drew I would start my way through the various sections looking for something to catch my eye. I would make a pile of books, usually around six to ten, and pick which ones I would want to check out for the week. I would sit at one of the little tables and skim through the pages of the books I couldn’t take home, planning my next visit and promising the books that I would be back for them. They were my friends.
It became a challenge. Initially I wanted to read three books from each section that contained chapter books. That quickly became too easy, and I decided that reading every book in the library was a better goal. I never made it through all of the books, but I feel like I came pretty close!
Book highlights for me were the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, Anne of Green Gables, Pippi Longstocking, Sweet Valley High, and Goosebumps. I didn’t enjoy books that didn’t have a happy ending, or books that made me feel sad. I wanted to close a book feeling happy and with a sense of completion. I think this is why I found my niche in writing with romance novels. They evoke similar feelings. Yes, I know, you can read certain romance novels that make you cry. In fact, I have read several. But they don’t leave me feeling helpless at the end. There is a happily ever after in the books I prefer to read, and write.
Fast forward almost three decades and I still go to the same library. In fact, I wrote several chapters of “When Love Finds You” at Briggs. On days that I could not concentrate I would take my laptop and a notebook and drive to the library to hide from distractions. Being around so many books helped me focus. Is that strange? It was an affirmation that I could do this… I could finish writing a book. The thousands of books surrounding me were proof, if all the authors that had books on the shelves could do it then so could I.
And now, three months after my first book release, and halfway through completing my second book, I will be signing copies of “When Love Finds You” at that very library. How very surreal.
Have you visited your local library lately? I know they have changed, especially over the last ten years. But the ambience is still there. It’s a special place, inspiring readers and authors alike.