Monday, May 11, 2009

The Books That Came To Me

Nixy Valentine wrote about what makes libraries special today. It brought back such a flood of memories I couldn't contain them in a comment on her blog.

When I was growing up a Bookmobile parked three doors down from my house, every other week. I am always surprised when someone doesn't know about bookmobiles, so let me explain.

Our bookmobile was a mobile library that moved throughout our area in order to bring the library to the people. I've always assumed they were intended for rural communities where access to an actual library was limited.

I grew up in a mid-western suburb about 3 miles from the nearest public library branch, so I've never understood why we had a bookmobile, but was elated that we did.

It was a converted small bus with bookshelves lining the sides and a single shelf down the middle. Small and cramped, but to me it was paradise. I grew up in a house full of books, they were usually the most common gift we received at birthdays and Christmas. Plus, we made regular trips to the public library and my schools had well stocked libraries.

Still, the bookmobile was special. It came to me. And if I told the driver what I was looking for, the next time he came, he would hand it to me, holding it back from everyone else, just to grant my request.

Through that bookmobile I devoured the entire series of Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Donna Parker and Cherry Ames. I owned some of the books in the Little House, Anne of Green Gables and Louisa May Alcott series, but the bookmobile provided me the rest.

Besides the more recent series, the bookmobile introduced me to so many classics, The Little Princess, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms, Hans Brinker and Heidi. As I grew older it introduced me to Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, The Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice.

My bookmobile gave its greatest gift to me by introducing the book that is still my favorite today - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. That book speaks to me in a way no other book ever has. I read it again every three or four years. But I will never forget the first time I read it, selecting it from the bookshelf in the cramped bookmobile, walking up the street to my house, I was so excited I couldn't even wait until I got inside. I sat down on my front porch, opened the book, and fell in love.


Nancy J. Parra said...

Fabulous post. Reminds me of being a kid and getting to go to the library-coming home with new treasures that smelled of exotic places with wonderful pictures and fabulous stories.


dan powell said...

We had these in the UK. Not sure if they are still in use, probably closed down like most of our post offices. Our Library van was parked outside the primary school in our village every other Friday. Treasure Island is the book that stays with me from those days. I have had a copy on my book shelf ever since.