National Library Week was “Eclipsed” today

Clouds rolled in just as the partial eclipse began in North Carolina. But they held a silver lining. I sat in the yard, felt the temperature drop, and listened to the birds (and a few crickets) as they reacted to the diminished daylight. The cloud cover waxed and waned, obscuring the sun to varying degrees. At a certain point between blinding and invisible, I stole a few quick glances and observed the phenomenon without safety glasses. Foolish, I know, but at my age I take a few risks. It was amazing. Still, I’m glad I witnessed totality during the 2017 eclipse, shown here in my picture as it passed over Nebraska.

Also eclipsed today is the start of National Library Week. If you haven’t visited your local library in a while, think about doing so. Libraries across the country are kicking up their tomes and spreading their knowledge.

Award-winning author Meg Medina is this year’s Honorary Chair. “Libraries connect our communities and enrich our lives in ways we may not realize,” she says, “and one of my greatest pleasures is discovering the unexpected and beautiful things libraries offer. From book groups to lending sports equipment to providing a safe after-school hangout space and so much more, libraries support us wherever we find ourselves on the roadmap through life’s journey.”

My own love affair with books is no secret. Many of my blog posts literally scream it—with good reason. Without my life-long passion for books, I’d just be a shadow of who I am and what I can become.

I had my first library card before I learned to walk. During my childhood, every time I turned up missing, my parents knew where to look. If not physically at the local library, I’d be hunkered down in a quiet corner or up in my favorite tree, turning pages.

My reading tastes traversed all the phases—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Nature books pulled me out in the woods, onto the beach, into the desert, and up to the mountains. Youth fantasy and fiction primed my already overactive imagination. And, of course, what kid doesn’t love to scare herself silly with ghost stories? As I grew older, both ancient and modern history hijacked me, and what a wonderful perspective history provides as I follow current events.

Reading is addictive. The more I did it, the more I wanted, and the more certain I was that someday I’d be a writer. That part took about half a century longer than I expected, not counting the gazillion newspaper articles and technical reports I prepared during my professional career.

Two years before I retired, I published my first book, and I’m proud to see it in my local library. My next effort should be out later this month. And I’ve got at least two more books in me after that, but they are still in the early stages. Life is good.

I worry, though, that future generations may not have the opportunity I did to read widely and freely. If they don’t, humankind is in trouble. We must be aware if we hope to survive.

It is, apparently, becoming fashionable to micromanage the kinds of books readers can access. I remember reading, in the 1960s, George Orwell’s 1984 (written in 1949) and thinking, “There’s no way that can happen here.” Then, in 2020, I read Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 book, It Can’t Happen Here, and I thought, “Is it happening here now?”

Book-banning efforts reached the highest level ever documented by the American Library Association last year, according to a new report. In 2023, 4,240 unique titles were targeted for censorship in schools and libraries across the country—a 65 percent increase from 2022.

It’s interesting, and perhaps fortunate for humans, that banning things can lead to increased demand. I wonder if any of my upcoming books will be banned. I hear it’s good for sales.

#eclipsed #solareclipse #bookworm #NationalLibraryWeek

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