Our basement is closed

Public libraries are closed in Scotland. We opened last summer for PC use and doorstep pickups but closed again at the start of this year. I understand why we had to close, but I’m still sad that we have. I think we’d all hoped to be in a better place by now.

Due to the ‘samey’ feelings I get every day, and have since lockdown 1, I’ve struggled at times with reading new books. I did a good bit of reading over the summer, but since getting my own copies of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising books for my birthday I’ve been rereading those. I took a break a few weeks ago to read Peter May’s Lockdown, as I asked for it for Christmas, but I didn’t enjoy it and couldn’t wait to get back to the worlds of Red Rising: gravBoots, starShells, spaceships, tough fighting and fast action. I generally don’t read crime, and that book just confounded why I avoid it.

Rereading gives me comfort, and I always discuss this habit with a work colleague who’s also obsessed with books (you might be surprised that not all library people are readers! But rest assured, we all love our readers). There are so many books in the world, so why reread? she asks. Because that’s how I learn, sometimes it’s how I survive. I know what happens but I also relive little things forgotten amidst bigger plotlines; nuances of language that make a sentence more significant, more beautiful. A character I love becomes stronger.

Rereading is also how children learn to read, and use and understand language. So many parents would come back with their wee ones’ books and laugh about how they’ve had to read the same ones three times a night for weeks. It’s funny how many parents hate Horrid Henry! And it’s lovely how so many children marvel at the beauty of illustrations by Shirley Hughes and Heather Kerr.

I love getting lost in a good picturebook. Look Up! by Nathan Bryon was one of last year’s highlights, and getting to catalogue wonderful books like this is a real perk of the job. I have to disagree with parents who say picturebooks are only for babies as I find them enlightening, clever and hopeful. I get the point that parents want their children’s language to develop, but imagination is important too. And at the heart is, of course, the story. There’s something to learn from everything we read, even if it looks simplistic.

I’ll review Lockdown at some point. It’s just another chore to add to my list. But for now, I’m reading, and learning. And surviving.

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