Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Confessions of a librarian

It is often (and generally, correctly) assumed that librarians love to read, or that people who become librarians are people who love to read.  Now, given the title, some of you are probably expecting me to say that I confess, I honestly hate to read.  Thankfully, this is not true.  In fact, my idea of a perfect day is one that involves hiking, reading, and good coffee (not necessarily in that order).

However, this has not always been the case.  There was a time in my life (sorry, but "when I was your age") when I really did not like to read that much, at least not the kind of books that actually require much reading.  I would spend hours looking at books about World War II, or aircraft, or submarines, or castles, but chapter books, not so much.

This all changed when my parents gave me a copy of Robinson Crusoe for Christmas one year.
Robinson Crusoe is the story of a man who is shipwrecked on an apparently deserted island. Bereft of all human society, he relates his slow descent into despair, forestalled only by his determination to survive.  Stripped of nearly all distractions, amusements, as well as the meaning-giving elements of society, Crusoe is forced to confront his inner psyche, his most-essential self.  Although certainly an adventure story, one might suggest that the heart of the adventure lies within the protagonist himself; that the adventure is psychological, or even spiritual in nature.  And Defoe presents his story in such a compelling manner that the reader cannot help but be drawn along with Crusoe on this adventure.

In a way, reading itself is a kind of deserted island; we are drawn into worlds not of our own making, and although we may enjoy the company of such characters as Robinson Crusoe, ultimately, even the most compelling and believable character materializes only within the confines of our minds.  It is all in our heads. And that is the power of reading.

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