Friday, July 23, 2010

Library as Lifeline

Continuing the spirit of celebrating books and bookstores and small presses, one should not neglect the equally important need to support libraries. So in that spirit, Dragon's Meow is reprinting this post by KL Pereira from her blog Dead Disciples. (This is the first in an occasional series of posts by guests.)

Reading is Sexy. Yeah, You Heard Me.

So I was on my dear friend Sue Williams' blog a few days ago, catching up on her fabulous posts when another friend commented that financial constraints make them an avid library user and I thought: Damn straight. Libraries are sexy.

What do I mean by "sexy"? Well, not only are public libraries economical, they are revolutionary (two of my favorite things). The idea on which they are based posits this: that reading is crucial to our human growth and that everyone should be able to read (and have access to knowledge) FOR FREE.

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, reading was my saving grace, keeping me sane in a world that was more about survival than about enjoyment.

Not interested in the Clueless age of the early 90s (and being without MTV and extra money for the local Waldenbooks), the library opened up a universe of possibility for me; reading Anais Nin's diaries, Stephen King's tales of grey matter and the macabre, Neil Gaiman's dreamy and dark worlds, and Sylvia Plath's and Anne Sexton's verse kept me sane when I couldn't make sense of what was around me, showed me that there was more to EVERYTHING than what I could see on the surface.

Reading made me question, contemplate, challenge, and DREAM: important skills that have made me the person I am today. I owe all these skills (at least in part) to my library (and the kick-ass librarians who showed me the way).

So yeah. My point: Reading is a revolutionary, sexy act, one that is made possible by libraries. Go support your local library and the awesome people who work to bring you the books.

Also: if you know a young person, give them books. Take them to get their library card. Show them how cool it is to be in control of what knowledge they receive and to be contemplative of how they respond.

Comment on this and let me know which books changed your life and you're reading this summer!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Spending Money

I don't like to spend money. Both the environmentalist and the cheapskate in me like to buy used whenever possible. Many of the books I read are from the library. But I also know that as a writer who cherishes books as objects, not just as text, I should support the book industry (and small, independent booksellers and small presses) as much as possible.

Someone once said it's worth thinking about how much one spends on clothing versus books, if you want to think about how spending reflects personal values. I haven't spend money on clothing in several months, so I guess it's ok that I also hadn't bought any books recently, either, until last week. (Side note: Tin House Books has a new submission policy, where authors submitting manuscripts must also include a copy of a receipt of a book purchase. Now that's doing something for the community.)

So in the spirit of supporting what I believe in, I've resolved to buy one book a month (more if possible, but at least one). I know this is not a radical idea to many of you (and probably would be like a crash diet for certain people), but there you have it. I pledge to buy one book a month for the rest of 2010. I'm excited about the possibilities this will open up.

By the way, this month's book is Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord.