My heart hurts with how much I love libraries right now

I’ve been suffering the symptoms of drought since I moved to Israel
three years ago, but
I didn’t know it
until I swam again in a sea of books;
otherwise known as the English Department Library at Bar Ilan University where I am currently studying Creative Writing.

Where my heart is opening faster than my throat can bear. Wider than I thought it could possibly stretch
without ripping apart,
my heart, my throat.

But I digress.

I’m sure — in fact, I know — that Israel is not without books; not even without English books; not even without free English books. But I live far away from the intellectual center of the country, closer to cows than caf├ęs, and although I live among (thank GOD) intellectuals, smarty pants, voracious readers with amazing personal collections of English books in their homes, there is something about deciding today, yes today, yes right now, NOW, to have an Americano and a piece of whole grain toast and then head over to the library and quietly, almost anonymously, browse through the aisles waiting to be struck by a sense of urgency or felicity or naughtiness because

THIS must be what you read next.

The cover said so. The title did. The jacket copy. The reviews.

And then walking out with your newest bed companion without having paid.

For FREE.

Oh, the guilt.

You feel it for half a second and then you do the happy dance.

This is the library.

And this is what I’ve missed without knowing how deeply until just yesterday when I swam again in her sea, when I laid eyes again on my beloved Chabon, when I stumbled upon an older Tartt I’d never known before, when I touched a battered faded green hard bound copy of Frost.

I came alive.

I didn’t know I was dead.

Or, at least, so so thirsty.

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9 thoughts on “My heart hurts with how much I love libraries right now

  1. It’s funny, with the proliferation of electronic media and my love of my Kindle, I sometimes overlook the library. And then I take my kids there, and it hits me – “What was I thinking?!” and I check out more books than I can carry.

    • Jen says:

      I totally know what you mean. The best libraries actually have the adult books within eyesight if the kid section so you can do your own thing while they’re doing theirs. Practically unparenting!

  2. I forget how much I miss the smell of old libraries until I am back in them. It is comforting. Libraries will always be where I feel most at home. So, thank you for reminding me to ditch my kindle and go touch and feel the spines of old books.

  3. Hadassa says:

    Went with Sharon to the Sausalito library. What hit me first was the smell. The familiar and wonderful smell of books, old books.

  4. Britta says:

    I so know the feeling. A few years ago I wrote a love poem for the Richmond branch of the San Francisco Public Library. And I still have the membership card. :-)

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