It is said the library is one of the last places you can enter without being expected to buy something or believe in something. You can access few other buildings free of charge, free of presumptions (like the Tauranga Art Gallery).
While summer in the Bay is beach and barbecue time, it’s also library time. It’s where to find books and magazines to read on the sand, while lying in a hammock, or resting in bed.
Summers growing up in Ohio, USA, involved stacks of books. I’d race to a converted bus called the bookmobile. There, I’d check out as many volumes as my library card – my passport to the world – allowed. Under the shade of an oak or maple tree, I’d devour Little Women, Little Men, and anything by Judy Blume.
When my dad built a tree house, a backpack of books threatened to send me tumbling in reverse as I clambered up the ladder to spend hours reading and re-reading favourites.
Today, Miss 14 reads anything by David Walliams and Roald Dahl.
Master 13 can’t imagine “reading” and “pleasure” riding tandem. “Find something that interests him,” I’ve been advised for years. I ordered a book about Fortnite (the video game that has zombified a gazillion people worldwide) in hopes he’ll read about his latest obsession. It hasn’t yet arrived.
Meanwhile, I steal away to my room around 9pm each night to turn pages of a library book or swipe my e-reader. The past two weeks, Barbara Kingsolver has transported me to Central Africa with her raw, poetic novel, The Poisonwood Bible; Nina Riggs allowed me to step into her home and treatment rooms while living with terminal cancer in The Bright Hour.
At the moment, Brigid Schulte is explaining why I feel like a hamster on a wheel during school terms in Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time.
Hisham Matar shuttled me between Libya and the UK for his Folio award-winning memoir, Returned, about his journey home to find his missing father’s story. Still awaiting my concentration are mostly non-fiction tomes including Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys.
Maybe this book can help me understand why Master 13 insists I don’t love him when I make him do house work and enforce long breaks from his beloved video game.
Readers want to share their passion for the written word. Like evangelists, we spread the gospel by telling friends what we’re reading, by helping newer readers gain competence and confidence, and aiding those who’ve lost the ability to read dive into a story.
I volunteered to read to a blind woman when I lived in Spokane, Washington. Each week, I’d visit Marge, whose 90-year-old eyes were clouded by cataracts and wrecked by glaucoma.
She’d listen intently while I read Tuesdays with Morrie. “I used to love books,” she’d tell me. I pictured her at a summer lake cabin on a long porch, turning pages of a murder mystery.
More recently, students at Mount Intermediate read books to me in 15-minute increments designed to build fluency. I learned about working dogs, fictional football games, daredevils and predatory animals, along with gleaning snippets of the kids’ lives outside the classroom.
They were playing rugby; trying to find quiet time in a house full of siblings; fitting into a new school or a new country. One boy, in particular, charmed me with his enthusiasm for stories, commenting after each page.
Website Goodreads offers a 2019 reading challenge: decide how many books you’ll finish this year, then share your goals and selections with other members. My mission this year is to read 50 books, and read more Kiwi authors.
The only ones I’ve finished on the Booksellers NZ ‘Bestseller of a Decade’ list are Grandma Joins the All Blacks, Hairy Maclary from Donaldson’s Dairy, and portions of the Edmonds Cookery Book. Add The Luminaries and Wish Child to my growing scroll.
Who knows if and when Tauranga will ever get a publicly-funded museum? Thankfully, our libraries continue receiving ratepayer money to grow and remain relevant as not just repositories of books and free Wi-Fi, but as cultural centres and community hubs.
Tauranga’s new $39 million central library is scheduled to open in 2022. Meanwhile, the current CBD library remains in business, along with sites at Mount Maunganui, Papamoa and Greerton. Online, you’ll find the library’s Adult Reading Challenge. Kids can also enter programmes for a shot at prizes and parties. Library holiday programmes
My quiet word party starts each morning when I pick up the newspaper. It culminates in the evenings when, after one chapter or six, I can’t keep my eyes open while propped up in bed.
Books provide a welcome counter to short bursts of screen reading which lately command too much of my attention. The challenge will be continuing the literary festival long after summer’s ease has faded like the vanishing glow of a sinking sun.