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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: One month is too small to hold all the love readers feel for libraries

It’s not February anymore, so technically Library Lovers Month is over, but I didn’t have enough space in my last column to highlight reader responses.

That’s the thing about book lovers – we always have something to talk about. From childhood classics to current bestsellers to the comfort books we turn to when times get tough, readers enjoy sharing their favorite stories.

Lisa Meiners reminded me of one of a series I adored as a kid: “The Borrowers” by Mary Norton.

“It was the first of a series and I read,” she said. “Much to my delight, this past fall I found an old copy of ‘The Borrowers’ in a Little Free Library! Naturally, I brought it home with me. I will save and read it with my granddaughter when she’s old enough (she’s 9 months old). Hopefully, she’ll enjoy it as much as I did.”

Bernadette Powers was delighted to discover another reader loves “Half Magic,” by Edward Eager as much as she and her son.

“When my son went off to college, he appropriated the book. When I saw it on his bookshelf, I appropriated it back. We stole it back and forth for many years. Several years ago he moved to California. There’s a part of me that thinks he did it so the book was out of reach,” she wrote.

Fellow book lover and “The Velvet Room” fan Lorrie McLaughlin remembers shopping at Clark’s Old Book Store downtown.

“I have memories of my Dad reading from our set of Anderson’s and Grimm’s fairy tales. I still have those two volumes,” she said. “He would browse the used bookstores for books he thought would interest me. We had a really nice local library just below the corner of Empire and Nevada. Since I lived within walking distance from there, I spent a lot of time there, too.”

Not all libraries are brick-and-mortar. Gail Justesen and her siblings eagerly awaited the arrival of the Bookmobile during the summer.

“A five-minute walk from our house, we never missed a visit as we climbed aboard to peruse its shelves filled with volumes of adventure,” she wrote. “I was so fortunate to have a mom that read to us almost every night!”

Her favorites included “Now We are Six,” by A.A. Milne, “Uncle Arthur Bedtime Stories,” and the Childcraft Volumes, especially volume 2 “Storytelling and Other Poems.”

“The section of humorous poems brought giggles as she read, ‘Eletelephony,’ ‘Purple Cow.’ ‘The Camel’s Hump,’ and ‘Rebecca, Who Slammed Doors for Fun and Perished Miserably,’ ” Justesen recalled.

Kenyon Fields’ love of libraries led to an enduring affection for “The Name of the Rose,” by Umberto Eco.

“I have seen one of these exquisite handwritten books at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles,” Fields wrote. “I still remember the awe I felt going into the graduate reading room in Suzzallo Library at UW – a cathedral to reading and education.”

John Riley wrote that he became a devotee of “Star Wars” novels when George Lucas allowed America’s best science fiction writers to craft them. He owns 170 of them and is still adding to his library.

“A universe of stories all different from the movies, all over the galaxy,” he said.

Indeed, reading opens new worlds and galaxies to explore, which is why Mike Storms was eager to start first grade so that he could learn to read.

“As soon as I finished, I went to the city library to get a card,” he said.

He continued the tradition with his daughters.

“As each of our girls finished the first grade, we made a ceremony of going to the library to get their library cards,” Storms said. “They’re both avid readers.”

Books we read as children can sometimes affect the course of our lives. Karen Buck thinks that may have happened to her.

“I loved a series of books, the first of which was ‘Sue Barton, Student Nurse,’” she wrote. “Those books may have led me to become an RN. I get twitchy without books on hand, REAL books. A Kindle just doesn’t have that wonderful aroma!”

I’m solidly in the print book camp as well – even to the extent of packing at least three books when I travel because I can’t bear the thought of running out of something to read.

Someday, my aging eyes may require me to purchase an e-reader, but for now, I’ll happily inhale the heady scent of paper and ink and enjoy the whispery, crackling sound of turning each page.

Cindy Hval can be reached at Hval is the author of “War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation” (Casemate Publishers, 2015) available at Auntie’s Bookstore and bookstores nationwide.

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