Originally created 02/27/06

Flag down that bookmobile!

My wife needs a fix in the worst way, but her supplier has vanished. You see, JoAn's an avid reader whose public library has closed down.

The library a few miles down the road from our house shut its doors a week ago so its staff could get things ready for moving into a new, bigger, nicer building a few more miles down the road. It will have thousands more books, a new checkout system, a performing arts center, gardens and amenities such as a place to get coffee and a bite to eat. Mostly, though, those thousands of new books.

The trouble with progress is that a few book addicts have to do without while all the moving and improving take place. On the last day the old library was open, my wife checked out about 10 novels to tide her over, but they didn't come close. She needs more - now.

The new library, though, won't be open for a month. What to do?

There are other libraries in the county, but they are even more miles down various roads. There are bookstores, but we quit buying books years ago when we counted the volumes on all the bookshelves at home and multiplied that by the going rate for a new novel. Today, with a book costing in the neighborhood of $25, we get off much cheaper with overdue book fines at the library.

Five weeks without access to the local library: Is this such a big deal? For my wife, yes.

This is a woman who grew up with books. In her preteen years, her mother would punish her by refusing to let her read.

When JoAn was a teenager, she met detective writer Mickey Spillane in a drugstore, and he warned her not to read his Mike Hammer private-eye novels, which were a bit racy for the times. Of course, she immediately bought his books and read them. Nobody was going to tell her she couldn't read.

The only bit of French that impressed JoAn enough to remain in her memory from high school language class is "O est la bibliotheque?" ("Where is the library?"). If we ever get to France, I am certain she will use it.

Her biggest complaint with the world today is not the state of the health care system or the price of gasoline but the steady rise in typographical errors found in books from big-name publishers.

Her first question when she meets an author: "Why are you signing books when you could be home writing another one for me to read?"

Years ago, before our wedding, JoAn insisted that I make one promise to ensure a long marriage: I would not encroach on her reading time. Because I am a reader, too - though nowhere near her speed and patience - I found that an acceptable compromise.

JoAn reads so much that she usually keeps several novels going at the same time. Whenever I ask her what book she's reading, she can't really give a clear answer without pausing to look at the cover.

We're looking forward to the opening of the new library. The next few weeks had better hurry, however: I noticed the other day that JoAn had bought a ski mask and was plotting routes taken by the bookmobile.

Reach Glynn Moore at (706) 823-3419 or glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.


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