It became startlingly clear when I could no longer afford to buy books. Not for a lack of funds, but rather a lack of space. My bookshelf was maxed out and there are only so many stacks of books you can scatter before it starts to look crazy. And yet, my constant hunger for books was growling. I needed something to read.
The New York Public Library
I knew the answer to my quandry – go to the library. But to be honest, I had not been to a library to happily obtain a book since I was a child. Even then, I knew the beauty of Barnes and Noble, but somehow my parents managed to convince me that the library was fabulous. Since childhood, the last time I used a library was not a happy occassion at all; it was to write my senior thesis in college. One thing lead to another and I was banned from both the university’s library and the county library. I don’t want to talk about it…
Despite my love of crisp books in Amazon packages, and my trauma in recent years with the library, my real issue was whether the library was refined. Was it glamorous and elegant? My kneejerk reaction was no – order the damn books off Amazon. And then a vision flashed into my mind – Carrie Bradshaw at the New York Public Library. Then, a woman on a French cobblestone street, two library books peeking out of her Céline tote. Followed by myself, smug look on my face, boasting about how elegant and chic it is to check out library books.
Despite my preconceptions of seventies carpeting and dim lighting, my local public library was beautifully sculpted and well decorated. I went up to the desk and asked for a library card. I plopped my oversized Burberry tote on the counter and dug around for my ID and a piece of mail. When I left the house, I grabbed the first letter I could find in the mail tray. Imagine my embarrassment when it happened to be my (rather high) Bloomingdales AmEx bill. Nevertheless, I handed it over and my application process began.
The woman who was assisting me brought over two cards for me to choose from. One was a golden shade of taupe with the library’s name in brown, and the other was shimmering black with a diamond on it (to commemorate the branch’s diamond anniversary). Naturally, I chose the diamond card, and the woman winked at me and said “diamonds are a girls best friend.” Oh, yes. This place was refined already.
I hadn’t done much research or selected a book beforehand, so I wandered to one of my guilty pleasure authors – Sophie Kinsella. I was perusing the titles I had read and the few I hadn’t – about shopaholics, workaholics, Londonites, and brides. As I slid a book out of the shelf to take home with me, another book fell over. A book by Rudyard Kipling. Here I was in a vast library of some of the greatest literature of our time, and the first book I pick up is about a girl suffering amnesia. Hm. Okay. Maybe something more cultural.
I wandered through the stacks looking for something more substantial. I stumbled upon Julian Fellowes’ Snobs. This seemed like the perfect book for this situation. It was in mint condition, and in my giddy excitement over snagging such a find in the library, I went back and grabbed that Sophie Kinsella book, too. I feel its what Rudyard would want. Imagine my giggle when it dawned on me that these books were free. Free! Free books! The feeling was akin to picking up much needed facial cleanser and finding it comes with an elaborate gift with purchase.
So I took my two books and headed into the glorious sunshine, pleased with my experience and anticipating my next trip. Now all I need is a Céline tote to carry them in…