improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy.[from, Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming]
Reading's ability to beam you up to a different world is a good part of the reason why people like me do it in the first place---because dollar for dollar, hour per hour, it's the most expedient way to get from our proscribed little "here" to an imagined, intriguing there". Part time machine, part Concorde, part ejector seat, books are our salvation.
Libraries are sanctuaries from the world and command centers onto it: here in the quiet rooms are the lives of Crazy Horse and Aung San Suu Kyi, the Hundred Years' War and the Opium Wars and the Dirty War, the ideas of Simone Weil and Lao-Tzu, information on building your sailboat or dissolving your marriage, fictional worlds and books to equip the reader to reenter the real world. They are, ideally, places where nothing happens and where everything that has happened is stored up to be remembered and relived, the place where the world is folded up into boxes of paper. Every book is a door that opens onto another world, which might be the magic that all those children's books were alluding to, and a library is a Milky Way of worlds.
John Armato, a Public relations executive, cherishes his growing Library of Candidates. When people ask him if he's actually read all those books, he asks them if they've actually eaten all the food in their kitchen. "It is good to put up a supply of books; it increases the odds that you'll have what you want when you're hungry for it," he says
Forgive, I hope you won't be upset, but when I was a boy I used to look up and see you behind your desk, so near but far away, and, how can I say this, I used to think that you were Mrs. God, and that the library was a whole world, and that no matter what part of the world or what people or thing I wanted to see and read, you'd find and give it to me.
INTERVIEWERYou’re self-educated, aren’t you?BRADBURYYes, I am. I’m completely library educated. I’ve never been to college. I went down to the library when I was in grade school in Waukegan, and in high school in Los Angeles, and spent long days every summer in the library. I used to steal magazines from a store on Genesee Street, in Waukegan, and read them and then steal them back on the racks again. That way I took the print off with my eyeballs and stayed honest. I didn’t want to be a permanent thief, and I was very careful to wash my hands before I read them. But with the library, it’s like catnip, I suppose: you begin to run in circles because there’s so much to look at and read. And it’s far more fun than going to school, simply because you make up your own list and you don’t have to listen to anyone. When I would see some of the books my kids were forced to bring home and read by some of their teachers, and were graded on—well, what if you don’t like those books?I am a librarian. I discovered me in the library. I went to find me in the library. Before I fell in love with libraries, I was just a six-year-old boy. The library fueled all of my curiosities, from dinosaurs to ancient Egypt. When I graduated from high school in 1938, I began going to the library three nights a week. I did this every week for almost ten years and finally, in 1947, around the time I got married, I figured I was done. So I graduated from the library when I was twenty-seven. I discovered that the library is the real school.
The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.
And for the next long years of my life, I tried to remember only the reading, not the terrible things that happened to me as I came and went up and down the stairs. The library became my sanctuary. I loved the ways the precious stories took shape but always had room to be read again. I became fascinated with how writers did that. How did they make a story feel so complete and yet to open-ended? It was like painting a picture that changed each time you looked at it.
We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's Carrie, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.)
Those who spend the greater part of their time in reading or writing books are, of course, apt to take rather particular notice of accumulations of books when they come across them. They will not pass a stall, a shop, or even a bedroom-shelf without reading some title, and if they find themselves in an unfamiliar library, no host need trouble himself further about their entertainment. The putting of dispersed sets of volumes together, or the turning right way up of those which the dusting housemaid has left in an apoplectic condition, appeals to them as one of the lesser Works of Mercy. Happy in these employments, and in occasionally opening an eighteenth-century octavo, to see 'what it is all about,' and to conclude after five minutes that it deserves the seclusion it now enjoys, I had reached the middle of a wet August afternoon at Betton Court...-the beginning of the story "A Neighbor's Landmark
Literature is impossible, in exactly this sense: every new generation has so much 'catching up' to do that the real choice that presents itself soon is the following one: one either spends ones entire life just reading all the classics, or one pretends to be 'contemporary and hip' and never reads any of the classics because in order to pretend to be contemporary one has to at least superficially read the works of contemporaries. Hence the dilemma: one either does not care about being fashionable, or one is fashionable and just learns to mimic some knowledge about the classics. As time develops this rift just becomes bigger, because the amount of books written grows and grows to insane proportions. Conclusion: one can only be hip in the future if one does not read at all, which is a phenomenon I am already witnessing in the media.
[W]hat people truly desire is access to the knowledge and information that ultimately lead to a better life--the collected wisdom of the ages found only in one place: a well-stocked library.To the teachers and librarians and everyone on the frontlines of bringing literature to young people: I know you have days when your work seems humdrum, or unappreciated, or embattled, and I hope on those days you will take a few moments to reflect with pride on the importance of the work you do. For it is indeed of enormous importance--the job of safeguarding and sharing the world's wisdom.All of you are engaged in the vital task of providing the next generation with the tools they will need to save the world. The ability to read and access information isn't just a power--it's a superpower. Which means that you aren't just heroes--you're superheroes. I believe that with all my heart.
If you`re wondering how you`ll find time, it means you don`t really want to read. Because nobody`s ever got time. Children certainly haven`t, nor have teenagers or grown-ups. Life always gets in the way. Time to read is always time stolen. Stolen from what? From the tyranny of living.”- p.125
As soon as I got into the library I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I got a whiff of the leather on all the old books, a smell that got real strong if you picked one of them up and stuck your nose real close to it when you turned the pages. Then there was the the smell of the cloth that covered the brand-new books, books that made a splitting sound when you opened them. Then I could sniff the the paper, that soft, powdery, drowsy smell that comes off the page in little puffs when you're reading something or looking at some pictures, kind of hypnotizing smell.I think it's the smell that makes so many folks fall asleep in the library. You'll see someone turn a page and you can imagine a puff of page powder coming up real slow and easy until it starts piling on a person's eyelashes, weighing their eyes down so much they stay down a little longer after each blink and finally making them so heavy that they just don't come back up at all. Then their mouths open and their heads start bouncing up and down like they're bobbing in a big tub of of water for apples and before you know it... they're out cold and their face thunks smack-dab on the book.That's the part that makes librarians the maddest. They get real upset if folks start drooling in the books