Day: August 23, 2008

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It\’s been some time since I did any Booking Through Thursday memes. I wasn\’t going to do this one, since I feel I\’ve already talked about the library I visited as a child here. But I really enjoyed reading about others\’ library experiences, so I wanted to share a few more (even though I\’m several days late). Here\’s the BTT question:

What is your earliest memory of a library? Who took you? Do you have you any funny/odd memories of the library?

I don\’t remember when I first visited a library. My mother always read to us daily as children, and I\’m sure she took me to the public library before I could do more than chew on board books. It seems like we went almost every week. There were always library activities: storytimes, crafts, puppet shows, summer reading programs, etc. I remember two that were particularly cool: one where we made dragons (or dinosaurs?) out of clay, and then next week picked up them up baked and glazed from a kiln! I kept mine for the longest time before it broke. Another where we made Ukrainian easter eggs with a method that uses wax. Very cool!

But of course, the main memories of library visits are about books. When I was very small, I tried to remember the shelf locations of my favorite picture books, since I couldn\’t remember (or read) author names. I still know the layout of that library better than any other I\’ve ever used. I remember the first time I went from the children\’s and juvenile fiction side of the room to browse the adult fiction. I felt so brave! I was nervous someone would tell me I wasn\’t old enough to read those books.

My sisters and I used to take piles of books home at a time. Even back then I liked re-reading my favorites. My mother would recognize which books she\’d seen me read before, and make me pick out new ones as well. I remember protesting one time that I\’d already read them all! Can you imagine how presumptuous I sounded? All the books in the entire library? I don\’t remember exactly what her reply was, but I felt sorely chastised for my ridiculous statement.

There was a time when my older sister and I read a lot of Chose Your Own Adventure books. We would first read them picking our natural responses, then try and read every possible combination of choices. I can\’t remember how many variations we got out of those books, but it was a lot. For some reason, my mother disapproved of them. I think they\’re pretty silly now, but back then it was highly entertaining. I\’d like to think these books help get some kids interested in reading, because of their interactive nature.

I can\’t think of any funny stories from my early library visits. But thinking about the Burien Public Library I recall one of its most attractive features. Just inside the entrance there is a lobby/courtyard with a little glassed in atrium that has no roof. It was always full of plants, and I think there was a small fountain. I always remember the pleasant sound of dripping water (but that could just as well have been rain). It was so pretty.

My Life as a Multiple
by Cameron West

I thought this book looked interesting. Picked up from the same time and place (probably the same shelf even) as Aftershock. It\’s a firsthand account of a man suffering from dissociative personality disorder. He had twenty-four different personalities. I read almost sixty pages before the first suggestion of child abuse arose, that of incest. From his grandmother. I knew there was going to be more, and probably more graphic, descriptions of the incidents from his childhood and I just didn\’t want to read about that. It\’s too much for me. Plus, I was bored by all the descriptions – by brand name- of his expensive possessions and the flat, uninteresting writing style. Curious what others had said about this book, I looked at some of the Amazon reviews. This one describes it pretty well: \”This book must contain the largest collection of bad metaphors ever published.\”

Abandoned                     319 pages, 1999

the Story of a Psychotic Episode
by Ellen Wolfe

I picked this book up at random when visiting the Book Thing one day. First glance at the title I thought it had something to do with earthquakes; was I ever wrong! Aftershock is set in New York during the 1960s, the story of a woman who had a nervous breakdown and spent a month in a mental hospital, where she received electroshock therapy. The book begins at the end of her stay in the hospital, and describes in a quiet, conversational tone her attempts to resume normal life at home. It\’s very difficult, because her memory is in a terrible state. She can\’t remember who she spoke to yesterday, how to make breakfast for her children, that she and her husband are about to buy their first house. She can\’t even recall the incident that led to her admittance in the hospital, and is constantly afraid of running into people who know what happened, while she has no idea who they are or what she might have said to them while in her prior \”manic state\”. Following through her days of bewilderment and frustration, I was waiting for the revelation of what had led to her nervous breakdown. It wasn\’t what I expected at all, and for several pages the book became a discussion of morality and abortion.

It was very interesting to me to see how this book reflected its times, especially the attitudes held by and towards women. I was rather dismayed to see how prevalent the use of electroshock therapy was- one statement said that this book details an experience faced by millions of families every year. That seems like a high number to me.

Rating: 3/5                   216 pages, 1969

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All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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