The magic of libraries.

Read of the day, via

“As a child, many of the books I read and loved came from the local libraries where I lived. I can still remember going into a library for the first time and being amazed — utterly amazed — that I could read any book I wanted and that I could even take some of them home, as long as I promised to give each of them back in time. I learned my love of science and story in libraries.”

A Self-Made Man Looks At How He Made It

The rest of the article is well worth a read, I would really recommend that you look at the original post on John Scalzi’s site; it is a case of social welfare being actually beneficial, as opposed to the much maligned view that social welfare feeds the indolent.

It is the library bit that triggered today’s post however, probably because that paragraph resonated within me. It reminds me of my childhood days when my mum would take me out to the library every week or so.

Back then, each library card holder was allowed to borrow up to two books each visit, so it was a struggle between picking the ones I wanted to bring home, and finishing the ones I could not, or hiding them somewhere for the next visit – that strategy never really worked though. The real breakthrough came about, when card holders were allowed to borrow up to four books per visit – four members in the family, four books per member equalled holy Batman SIXTEEN books! Hauling those books home was hell, but well worth it.

Those idyllic days spent in the peaceful confines of the library, looking through shelves for interesting titles and never knowing what treasures one might find. Magical fantasy tales of knights and magic, robots and spaceships, or even teen sleuths solving mysteries; back in those days, I always had this fantasy about being a kid detective.

I feel lucky to have been born in the pre-Internet age, because that was when my love for reading began. And of course, this lifelong habit did inculcate a moderate sense of the rights and wrongs of English, which has helped immeasurably in daily affairs. And more importantly, it provided a foundation for the thoughts I express here; without these tools it would have been a real challenge turning ideas and views into a structured and coherent form.

Reading requires that one concentrate on the reading matter at hand. To appreciate the author’s intent, to lose yourself in the world constructed, and to immerse yourself in the beauty of the written word. That focus is sadly, something the informational overload of the Internet is killing, along with the relentless stream of social media, where distractions and multi-tasking is a given, and people comment in blurps, rather than extended and engaged conversations. The ability to read and focus is deteriorating even for myself; I can only imagine how the younger generation is being affected.

Reality is ugly, but we exist in an era of tragic shorthand where “seriously” becomes “srsly”, “you’re” becomes “your” and “lol” transitioned from an acronym, to an actual word that can be pronounced as “lawl”? I’m well and fine with casual conversations being typed in shorthand, and I mangle the language all the time on instant messaging. Couple this with autocorrect however, results in horrible spelling being the norm for the people of today. Convenience and autocorrect, have become crutches against a cultivated discipline on knowing proper spelling. I could be wrong, but I believe reading creates a grasp of right and wrong, an instinct even.

Moral of the story? My kids are going to the library, period. Hopefully they gain a sense of the wonderment I once had, and grow to love reading the way I do.

2 thoughts on “The magic of libraries.

  1. actually meishan did comment that we should read from real books rather than from a tablet… what do u think abt that?


    1. NZ: I actually agree, hardcopy books are just magical in that way. But books are unfortunately a heavy investment on space for someone who looks to be moving house again, again and again in this lifetime. Hence, the Kindle.


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