For two straight weeks I have witnessed events that have restored my hope in literacy. Because of my vocation I hear kids whine about having to read, brag that they don't ever read and strategize how they will avoid reading. I pass this off as adolescent rebellion. I know they read. I know they would read a good book. I also know good books exist. What I don't know is how to get those good books into the right hands. At times it may seem like hope is lost. Seems is the key word and October 5 and October 12 are two reasons I still have hope that people are readers and will continue to be readers.
The Library Book Sale:
Recently the Clinton Macomb Public Library and the Mount Clemens Public Library both had book sales. Because I'm cheap I never attend day one or day two of these sales. I hold out. I know that day three promises rich reading rewards for minimal costs. At the Clinton Macomb Public Library, I paid $5.00 to fill a bag full of books. Oh, the giddy joy of finding six copies of Seabiscuit, one copy of Bernard Goldberg's 100 People who are Screwing up America and Al Franken is #37, The News about the News, The Perfect Storm, A Civil Action, High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Night Shift - a compilation of Stephen King short stories. Like I said, oh, the giddy joy. At The Clem Public Library all the books were free! FREE! I''ve never been to heaven but Sunday was as close to heaven as I could get here on earth. Every book I wanted was free. I found two more copies of Seabiscuit, Laura Ingraham's Shutup and Sing and I even found a book entitled, The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank.
This book is just odd but it will be the first one I read over Thanksgiving vacation. Apparently, Robert Graham, a California millionaire attempted to create cadres of baby geniuses with his Repository for Germinal Choice, better known as the Nobel Prize sperm bank. It opened in 1980 and closed nineteen years later. The donors were made up of brilliant scientists, mathematicians and Nobel prize winners.
This is weird because it's just weird and true and weird. Like a gawker driving by an accident on the side of a highway, I just have to slow down and read this book. Who were the donors? Who are the offspring? Is this a covert governmental program gone awry? How many pages will I read before Hitler's name surfaces? This is better than any CSI, FBI, CIA or EIEIO television show could ever create.
This, however, did not restore my hope in literacy. The crowds of people who were shoving me away from books and into coat racks left me slightly bruised but full of hope. I had to assertively nudge Agnes and her walker away from the box that contained Tom Brokaw's Letters from the Greatest Generation...large print version. Our eyes spotted the book at the same time and walker or no walker I was walking out of that room with that book. In addition to Agnes' sharp elbows, I could also feel the excitement of books, of reading, of literacy. The packed room was teeming with life because books mattered. I'm not sure what's going on with all the free copies of Seabiscuit but I am sure of something...
Books matter. Hope is restored.