It's National Library Week, the perfect time for Tony Hays' guest blog about reading and libraries. Hays' third Arthurian mystery novel, The Beloved Dead, was just released a couple weeks ago. Hays received his third starred review from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal for The Beloved Dead. According to Publishers Weekly, “Both Arthur fans and historical whodunit devotees will be more than satisfied.” Library Journal writes “Many complex plot threads and believable characters make this a series to be savored by historical mystery and Arthurian fiction fans.” Hays previously received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Library Journal for The Divine Sacrifice and The Killing Way. Here's Tony Hays, talking about libraries.
My daddy just didn’t seem to like reading. He just didn’t. He didn’t say exactly “don’t read,” but he grumbled. And that led to my first love.
I love libraries. I do. They took me to so many worlds, so many times. Libraries brought me to Troy. They brought me to the Civil War. They brought me to Camelot.
We were not poor, at home. But there was little left over with which to buy books. Daddy seemed to grumble when we did buy them. Of course, he also grumped when we read them morning, noon or night. And we read them all the time, all the time – in the tub, on the toilet, at the dinner table. But we ignored him as much as possible.
But the library! The library was Heaven on Earth. Daddy couldn’t fuss on us there. Those books didn’t cost us anything. They were free. (Well, sort of, but we didn’t understand taxes then). I read Ellery Queen and Agatha Christie (though I found her less to my liking). And the magazine section was incredible! I gloried in Punch and Time. I stayed in the school library as much as possible. That’s where I first read To Kill a Mockingbird and hope for more from Harper Lee. That’s where I picked up the Time magazine that had the article on the digs at South Cadbury, excavations that would eventually lead me to my new Arthurian series.
That was far in the future though. I still had hours of Civil War history, British history to learn. And I gloried in true crime – Lizzie Bordon, Bonnie and Clyde. My school library was the greatest place in the world. It took me to Heinrich Schliemann’s discoveries to London and Rome. It gave me my first gleam of the world beyond Nashville, TN. And that was worth all the stolen hours on its couches and side chairs.
While, as I grew, so did the spendable cash in my pocket, and I spent it at the local bookshops. I never gave up my love affair with my library. Daddy still grumbled some, about how I spent my hard earned money. But I found the public library and loved that too. It was a tad more risqué than the school library, but that was okay.
Time passed. I was to become a bit of a writer myself. Not published, of course. But I was submitting stories. Daddy had a heart attack. I went to college. Daddy died.
I kept submitting short stories. Kept getting rejected.
Until that beautiful, flat envelope showed up with that equally beautiful acceptance letter. No cash. But that would come later. I wondered what Daddy would say about that acceptance. Probably not much.
Years later, a couple of books, a hundred newspaper and magazine articles under my belt, I was having dinner with my uncle. He asked about my latest book, and we talked a bit about its success. “Daddy wouldn’t be impressed,” I ventured, absently.
My uncle snapped his head up. “What you do you mean?”
“Oh, Daddy hated it when we read, grumbled about it all the time.”
My uncle chuckled. “Your daddy read everything he got his hands on. Why, I know for a fact he once spent the last dollar he had for a book. We didn’t have much of a library at school, but he gobbled it up like a Christmas turkey.”
“Then why did he grumble so much?’
Daddy’s brother just shook his head. “I don’t know, son. Probably because if he encouraged you, you probably wouldn’t have done it. Besides, if he complained around the house, that would just drive you to the library, and that’s where he did most of his reading.”
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
My reviews are only my opinion, and do not reflect the views of the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library.
I will not review self-published books, and, at the present time, do not accept books in e-book format.
1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book
Book: 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book Author: Dianne Moritz Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell Pages: 36 Age Range: 3-6 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea is a nice lit...
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.