Lake Waban in Massachusetts June 2017

My favorite place to walk in the Boston area

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Let's Play Library"

Playing "Library" was one of my pastimes over the weekend. The weather has been abysmal. Hot and disgustingly humid--even a walk at a slow pace leaves us dripping and soaked through. And it keeps raining from time to time. The long-range weather forecast is only reservedly hopeful for the future, as in maybe late this week. Fortunately air-conditioning makes indoor life tolerable.

So back to "Let's Play Library." On my older brother's vacations home from school, we would play this game in foul weather, or whenever we had a spare couple of hours. Doug had scads of books. Many of his books were at college with him, but he kept lots of bookshelves full at home as well. Yes, he was an English major. And after that, he got his masters in English and American Lit.

I raided his bookshelves constantly. That's where I found A.J. Cronin's novel The Citadel, about an idealistic young doctor braving the medical establishment (oh, I loved this book!), Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, George Orwell's 1984, The Red and the Black by Stendhal, lots of Dostoyevsky, The Stranger by Camus. I can see those shelves before me now.  I loved most of the books I read, and puzzled over parts of most of them, because I wasn't reading them as part of a class and I had no one to answer my questions. And because the Internet was decades away from being public, I just tried to figure the books out on my own, which was fine with me.

How to "Play Library:" Don't use us as models, but we would move books from shelf to shelf, from bookcase to bookcase, according to a never-endingly whimsical variety of semi-organization. Doug would talk about the books and then put aside the ones he thought I would like. We talked about the ones I had read in his absence. It was a literary mentorship, for certain. He was five and a half years older, and I took his words about literature as gospel. 

So foul weather upon me in 2013, I pruned and weeded and reshelved and literally gasped when I found book upon book that I must read, all of them nearly forgotten. How does that happen? So for that reason alone, I'm so glad I decided to play. I must confess I was just a tad lonely without a bookish companion to help me make decisions, but most of the time I was overwhelmed by the fact that I have too many reading interests. Yes, I'm a Reader LOST in her Wilderness of Books!

Do you Play Library too? Do tell!


  1. I can so relate to this post. I think I do play "Library" but not so much when it is raining but when I am very sad or very stressed. I go into the front room of the house which houses all the books and I rearrange the shelves and revisit the titles I have. I, also find so many books I haven't read and it is like being in a book shop all over again and thinking "OOOOh this looks good , think I'll buy this one" . Cheers me up immensely and calms me down. NOthing else in the world has this power . Loved your post!

    1. Hi, Pam--
      I'm so glad you've chimed in on this one. I've added "Play Library" to my actual hard-copy list of things to do when down and out depressed. Yes, I actually have an index card that I turn to because sometimes when I'm feeling badly, I don't do anything, which, of course, is worse than nothing at all!

      I'm still organizing my shelves--I don't think I realized I have such riches in books.

      Thanks so much for writing about how you "Play Library!"


  2. No, I didn't have anyone to play library with, my siblings had all left home while I was young. Lots of my books are packed away at the moment, hopeful of moving elsewhere, but I do have a copy of The Citadel handy, I've been meaning to re-read it. Cronin was a doctor in the town I grew up in (Dumbarton) - long before my time of course.

    1. Oh, I'm so pleased to hear that you have a copy of The Citadel! And to think that he once lived in the town where you grew up!
      Did you read The Green Years? I absolutely adored this book. I saw the film first, but I found the book to be so much more fulfilling emotionally. I read it when I was 14, but within months of reading The Citadel. I learned so much about relationships from his books.

      Thank you, Katrina,

  3. Yes. I do. Now and then I wipe entire shelves clear.