Bookish social gathering, Book’d in Burbank, returns Thursday, April 23rd! If you’re in the Los Angeles area you won’t want to miss this evening of author readings and literary entertainment. In anticipation of the event, the participating authors share their favorite memories on the book they checked out and remember most from every bookworm’s favorite place — the library!
In grade school I read the library book Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel and illustrated by Blaire Lent. It is a retelling of the Chinese folktale about the boy with the very long name who falls down a well. When his younger brother with the short name, Chang, goes for help, Chang has to repeat his brother’s long name, which slows down the rescue party with disastrous results. This story is meant to explain why Chinese people have such short names, although its original roots are in Japanese culture.
As a girl, I was fascinated by this story and the culture that would name the first son a long name and the second son a short name. As my family’s fourth child, I would have been lucky to even have a name in China. This book sparked my interest in other cultures and led to a fascination in travel, foreign languages and cross-cultural understanding. Thanks for having it, Library!
The library book that’s changed my life the most is Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel Amen. What can I say? It changed my brain, and changed my life. In 2009, a car knocked me off my bicycle and gave me a nasty head injury; I wore a helmet but my chin took most of the brunt. After that brain-rattling encounter, I had trouble with fatigue and focus. While researching ADD for a character I created, I learnt I had developed symptoms myself. Change Your Brain, Change Your Life helped me make lifestyle changes that fixed the problem. Now I have more energy and focus than before the accident, and it definitely helped me write and publish my novel.
There are so many to choose from, but one particular library book that changed my life was Dorothy L. Sayers’ Gaudy Night. It wasn’t my usual style—or so I thought when it was first recommended by a librarian 20-something years ago. First of all, there was no murder. And it was English, of course, during a time when I was reading nothing but hard-boiled American PI novels and police procedurals. It also wasn’t the first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series—it’s number 12—and I had always been a stickler for reading series books in order. But none of that mattered as soon as I opened the book and started reading. Gaudy Night was simply brilliant from page one, the writing so smart and wonderful and the characters fascinating and mostly female. All of the books in the series are entertaining and well written, but anyone who’s read them will agree that Gaudy Night stands out as the best of them all. I finished the book in one day and went back and checked out every Lord Peter Wimsey I could get my hands on! I’ve since bought them all for my home library and re-read many of them at least once a year. And I always feel smarter and happier for having done so.
It wasn’t your typical Holocaust diary—the siblings on the cover were beautiful, thoughtful, sexy even. I remember the shock of discovering it in the stacks at the Tel Aviv University library and renewing it for months just so I could stare at its black and white cover. They were cool. She looked like my best friend back home, and he, well, what can I say? I was 17. He was gorgeous. And a true rebel. I’d wished I had a time machine to rescue them from their fate. At the Heart of the White Rose: Letters and Diaries of Hans and Sophie Scholl, were the writings of a brother and sister who were eventually killed for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets. Until then, I hadn’t known that there had been Germans—young, Christian looking and sounding like my own friends—who had rebelled against the Nazis. Their passion and commitment were familiar. I found myself profoundly grateful for their sacrifice and moved by their humanity. The cover haunted me, as if it were the only photo I had left of a dear friend.