but these posts often touch my heart.
If you're not familiar with Seth Margolis' books, he writes page-turners. His latest, The Semper Sonnet, is a thriller in the tradition of Dan Brown and Steve Berry. Watch for more about his book, and a giveaway, at the end of the post.
Thank you, Seth, for taking time to write this about libraries.
Do you remember Supermarket Sweep? It was a television game show that began in 1965 and has been revived several times since. On the show, contestants raced through an empty supermarket frantically tossing items into their cart. Whoever had amassed the most value during the designated time was the winner.
That was my experience, as a kid, when I entered my town’s public library. I would race up and down the long aisles of bookshelves, overwhelmed by the abundance of choices and (just like on Supermarket Sweep) amazed that it was all free for the taking. Like the show, the town library seemed to exist in a parallel universe in which the normal rules of adulthood didn’t apply. You could take whatever you wanted. As much as you wanted. And it cost you nothing.
I grew up in a suburb of New York City, one of five kids. Each Thursday after school, my mother would pile us into our station wagon and drive us to the library. Back in the 1960s it was housed in the town’s “rec” center – there wasn’t a dedicated library building. I recall that it was dimly lit and very cramped, with shelves that went up to the ceiling to compensate for the limited space available in a building otherwise dedicated to basketball, billiards and ping pong. I think the tight quarters and labyrinthine setup was part of the magic for me, getting lost in a maze of giant shelves crammed with books. In my memories of those afternoons, I didn’t see my mother or my siblings – or anyone else, for that matter – until I lugged my stack of books to the front desk for checkout. This may not have been the case, but it’s how I remember it: a heady sense of freedom and solitude, rare in a family of seven, somehow heightened by the tight, murky quarters.
Like the Supermarket Sweeps contestants, who invariably made a beeline for the meat section to load up on pricey steaks, I tended to reach for the higher shelves, where the books were written at too advanced a grade level, and I grabbed way too many to finish before the next library excursion a week later. But that was part of the joy of our weekly visits: there just didn’t seem to be any negative consequences to reaching too high or taking too much. You just brought them all back the next week and started over.Eventually the library moved into a purpose-built building, which was subsequently expanded. My mother became a library trustee, no doubt at least in part because she and her five kids were such voracious borrowers. It was (and is) a spacious, light-filled building, and I never stopped borrowing books there until I moved away. But my earliest, most enduring association with books, with reading in general, always takes me back to the dark, cramped temporary library in the rec center. It was mysterious and private and unexpectedly captivating, exactly like the experience of reading itself.
Thank you so much, Seth, for taking us into your memories of your childhood library. I'm sure it brings back memories for so many of us.
Seth's publicist is giving away one copy of The Semper Sonnet. Here's the description.
In this stunning thrill ride, perfect for fans of Steve Berry, a poem holds the key to unlocking the past― and to eliminating the future.
Lee Nicholson takes the academic world by storm, seemingly unearthing a never-before published sonnet by William Shakespeare. When she reads the poem on the air, her words are ignored by all but a small group of people. There are the English and literature buffs. There are the curious and those who seek out hoaxes.
And there are men who will kill to keep the sonnet from every being read again.
Buried in the language of the sonnet, in its allusions and wordplay, secrets have been hidden dating back to Elizabethan times, shared by the queen and her doctor, by men who seek the crown and men who seek the world. If the riddles are solved, it could explode what the world knows of the monarchy. Or, it could release a pandemic more deadly than the world has ever seen.
Lee’s quest keeps her one step ahead of an international hunt―from the police who want her for murder, to a group of men who will stop at nothing to end her quest, to a mad man who pursues the answers for destructive reasons of his own. Globetrotting as she pieces together what Shakespeare meant, and what he meant to leave unsaid, Lee carries this intelligent thriller through to its gasp-out-loud conclusion.
If you would like to enter the giveaway of The Semper Sonnet, email me at Lesa.Holstine@gmail.com. Your subject line should read, "Win The Semper Sonnet." Please include your name and mailing address. Entries from the U.S. only, please. The giveaway ends Thursday, April 21 at 6 PM CT.