I realized something tonight. I’m a book pusher. Instead of doling uppers or downers or herbals out of plastic baggies, I give people books.
“Oh, you’re going through that, or into this, or taking a trip there? Here’s _____. You absolutely have to read this right now because it’s fabulous and will change your life.”
I went home feeling awful Friday afternoon and was thankful to wake up to a rainy evening to stay home and read “The Borrower,” by Rebecca Makkai.
If Makkai isn’t the same kind of pusher I am (and she has to be, given all of the literary references), then the book’s narrator most certainly is. Lucy, a librarian in Hannibal, Mo. grew up in Chicago, reading the children’s lit I read. (I loved “The Egypt Game.”) I imagine Lucy the librarian was in “Battle of the Books” as a kid. “The Borrower” centers around a sort of kidnapping of her precocious patron, and it’s a story of fleeing and identity and the experiences (real and literary) that shape us.
I remember the first day I got my library card — how I stood proudly to have my picture taken under the fake tree on the children’s floor. I remember learning to read before kindergarten, and going to the library most days after school, and how cool I felt to be invited in the back desk area of the librarians on weekends when my family would stop in. I helped out putting on puppet shows, and in eighth grade wrote a seriously depressing novella that was hardbound and able to be checked out. I think I saw more of the library’s pet gerbils than my own peers. (File under: Reasons Brianne is kind of strange.) There were no good hilly wooded parks in Lisle, so I will confess that the library parking lot was a very PG-rated alternative to “inspiration point” in high school. The fact that the parking lot bordered the priests’ house kept things in check. Ha!
I never go back to the library when I’m home visiting my family, because I think it would be the hardest to realize how small it really is. I like to keep it exactly as I remember it from growing up. And, truthfully, if I were to go in one day and not have all of the librarians know me by name, and invite me back into their secret staff area, I might actually cry.
If you, too, considered the library a second-home and perhaps used to amuse yourself creating book checkout systems in your room by yourself as a kid, you should definitely read it. Then tell me if it also made you want to listen to Regina Spektor again for the first time in awhile.