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Spotlight on ... Secrets of the Library

I’m pleased to welcome Lisa Dale to She Is Too Fond of Books!  Lisa is the author of Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier, which was published in April by Berkley/Penguin.  A little about the novel:

Thea Celik has devoted herself to running her Newport coffee shop, to parenting her daughter, and to being a meaningful part of her in-law’s loving family. Her life is mild but satisfying—she’s sure of her place in the community and in her family. But when her childhood friend and husband Jonathan uncharacteristically cheats on her, her certainty about her role in the world is shaken.

Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier is the story of one woman’s determination to rediscover a new life while trying to maintain the old. The book asks, When the bonds of friendship, family, and love are tested, how long will they hold?

Lisa Dale is also the author of Simple Wishes and It Happened One Night.  You can read more about her and her books on her blog, her Facebook page, and on twitter.  She enjoys meeting with book groups via Skype (or even in person in the NJ/NY/CT tri-state area).

When I asked Lisa about writing a ‘spotlight on bookstores’ post, she asked if she could write about libraries instead.  But of course!  A building filled with books … and people who love books?!?  This sounds like a place I could spend some time:

Over the years, I’ve called many libraries “home.” But no library was more important to me than the library in the town where I grew up in northern (rural) New Jersey.

Each day, after middle school ended, I would walk to the library (because the library was closer than my house), and I would hang around until my mother came to pick me up after she got out of work. I spent lots of hours in that library. I mean, lots.

In theory, I was there to get my homework done. Instead, I read novels.

I plucked random books from the shelves and read and read—and sometimes snuck in math and science when I absolutely had to.

I read anything and everything—I found one of my lifelong favorites, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, by browsing (I remember being nervous that it was too “old” for me when I was middle school, but I loved it just the same). I was reading Tolstoy one month, but I was reading the Sweet Valley High series or The Babysitter’s Club the next.

Being alone in a library is a great way to get an education. :) Not only for the brain, but for the imagination as well.

The library kicked my imagining into overdrive. The old building had a staircase that curled majestically up the center of the building—I used to imagine walking up and down it in a giant and gorgeous ball gown, as opposed to my habitual tennis shoes and rolled up jeans.

I used to imagine meetings of war heroes in the upper rooms. I imagined grand parties with glittering people. I imagined what might happen if I got locked in the library overnight.

But for all my reading and writing and daydreaming, I’d never seriously thought about being an author when I was young. People used to ask me if I wanted to write professionally, and I told them “no way.” Even when I was in college and a professor suggested—with dire earnestness—that I should consider being a writer, I scoffed.

I was intensely serious about my writing. But memories of all those books I saw on the library shelves…they were like something out of a dream. Not the stuff of real life.

Now, the release of Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier marks my third novel—and of course it’s a dream come true.

Funny enough, I think that the books I’m writing now are the books I was looking for when I was browsing library shelves as a kid—romantic and thoughtful. Sexy and intensely emotional in a poetic way.

And as for my old library, and all my hours of reading and daydreaming there, I sometimes drive past when I’m back in my hometown. But I haven’t gone back in.

This may be cheesy but it’s the truth: I used to imagine there was secret treasure buried in the basement. Now I know it was always right out in the open, sitting on the shelves. :)

Thank you, Lisa!  Your essay brought back great memories of the many hours I spent in our library after school.  I’m looking forward to adding Slow Dancing on Price’s Pier to my home library, and am going to check to see that this treasure is on the shelves of our local library as well.

9 comments to Spotlight on … Secrets of the Library

  • What a lovely tribute to libraries! Reminds me of Betsy Ray spending hours in the Deep Valley library in Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown. And, of course, of my own blissful hours in libraries. :)

  • Kay

    This was great to find Lisa’s essay on libraries. As it happens, I’m reading SLOW DANCING ON PRICE’S PIER right now. And enjoying it very much I might add. Libraries are like treasure troves to me. I know when I first applied to work in one, I was so excited to think about actually spending my days there and getting paid for it. Now, I did discover that there were bumps in the road, but my library job was probably the best one I ever had. I could always calm myself if there were problems by just walking among the books and taking in the sight of them. :-)

  • I haven’t been to the library in many years, and am not that excited about it because the library closest to my house is very small and has only a smattering of books. It is possible to have book delivered to your home, but I’ve kind of given up on the library. If I had one as beautiful as the one mentioned in this post, I would probably spend a lot of time there.

  • Thank you Dawn and Lisa for this wonderful post. We very lucky in our town to have one of the few libraries in our county open 7 days a week. We also have two other libraries within a 10/15 minute drive. There are few places on this earth that make me feel like libraries make me feel. I can’t imagine a better way to have spent my afternoons. No wonder Lisa became a writer. Slow Dancing has just been added to my TBR list.

  • Were we the same person? I swear you’re writing about me, down to the books discovered and read. That was a magical time for me.

  • I love her last line about secret treasure! What a great post!

  • Great post! I’m also a library lover and would spend Saturday mornings roaming around when I was younger. I remember checking out my first Harlequin romance and being nervous that they wouldn’t let me because I was too young! Do the libraries even still carry Harlequin romances?
    Your book looks like one I’d like so I’ll have to look for it.

  • Hi all! Thanks so much for your kind comments on my essay and also on my novels.

    And, Dawn, Belated thanks for having me on the blog! I’m so pleased that this posted rustled up some memories!

    Libraries are so important–here in NJ where I live they are also quite threatened. When budgets get slashed, libraries go first. I’ve done my best to be part of the Save the Libraries campaign!

    So sorry I wasn’t able to get here sooner! I’m getting married in less than six weeks, so life’s been a bit hectic! I’m eager to marry my honey but I’ll also be glad once we’re resting up on our honeymoon!

    Cheers!

  • Katie – I think so many people reading this will have a similar reaction; Lisa’s post takes us back to our own childhood library!

    Kay – so glad you’re enjoying SLOW DANCING, I must add it to my wish list.

    zibilee – yes, a library is more than just a building full of books, isn’t it. It has to be welcoming, with friendly/helpful staff. A home away from home.

    Martha – a kindred spirit :)

    Michelle – are you and Lisa “separated at birth?”

    Kathy – and since it’s a library, that treasure can be discovered again and again by other patrons/readers

    Stacy – how funny! I remember pulling a few from the “free” pile of books that had been donated and the librarian asking me “is it OK with Mom if you read those?” I told her I could read anything I wanted too (but I did sneak them into the house, she had me wondering then!)

    Lisa – thank YOU so much for this wonderful guest post! So many people connected to your memories of your childhood library, and many are reading/enjoying SLOW DANCING ON PRICE’S PIER. Best wishes to you on your upcoming nuptials — very exciting!!

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