|BBQ cookbook display |
in the window of
my local library
At a time of austerity, I had to face up to the fact that I had a serious addiction. A book addiction. A dependence that in frugal times I could no longer afford to support. I would rather feed myself than feed my habit.
It wasn't just the cost of buying books; I was also running out of space. I can't keep moving house in order to provide more room for bookcases! You might say "well get a Kindle". You are entitled to say that, but frankly it is not the same. You don't get any of the sensuous pleasure of reading a real book or newspaper. Of course it would solve my storage problems but might lessen some of the enjoyment.
Obviously I am not going to stop reading. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to curl up with an interesting book. I sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I had lived the life of my ancestors. I find it very difficult to imagine what could possibly have stimulated my mind in my world without books or newspapers. Although looking at my family tree, I suspect I would have been too exhausted after a day out in the fields or looking after a large peasant family to care about reading!
It occurred to me that an alternative to cold turkey would be to visit my local library. Now I relish a good bookshop browse; picking up a book and getting a feel of it, as well as the anticipation of what's actually inside. It can be a very gratifying experience, which is one of the main reasons that you will never find me reading a Kindle. My trip to the library was a very pleasant surprise, because it had such a large range of books that I actually wanted to read, I was like a kid in a sweetshop.
My small local library in Kentish Town is a truly fabulous place. By using the library I can take more risks with my reading since it is not costing me anything (except in fines, when I forget to renew!) I have ended up reading a whole range of authors and genres that I never expected to enjoy. A trip to library feels like an adventure and a bit of a thrill, (although these days I need to find my thrills where I can get them!)
Which brings me on to cookbooks. When I hear or read about a new cookbook that sounds interesting, I can now order it online from my library (getting books from the wider London borough and across England for a small fee). I am even able to put in suggestions for books the library should buy. By getting the books from the library I am in a position to "try before I buy"; to discover new authors and enjoy old favourites and to find out for myself whether the recipes really work. So in this way I have discovered some real gems - books that I must buy and add to my collection, but also a couple from some well-known cookbook authors that I wouldn't touch with a wooden spoon, despite the rave reviews.
So combined with all the books, newspapers, journals and music CDs, there is also free access to computers and the internet. My library has several book clubs, a writing group, a summer reading challenge for children and other activities for the very young, the elderly and the creative (such as a knitting group and jewellery making).
At the centre of this hive of activity are a wonderful bunch of librarians, who must have one of the toughest of jobs - part computer expert, tourist guide, teacher, social worker and all-round-good-eggs.
So please support your local library. They inspire and empower people and are a wonderful and very valuable resource. In these times of austerity and public sector cuts, they are a resource that we really cannot afford to lose as well as being a source of some fabulous books!