Culture Family Life

A love letter to libraries

I know that I am not alone when I say that we, as humans, find a lot of solace in libraries. They are temples of knowledge, housing collections of stories and dreams alike on their shelves. Libraries are as much a part of our culture as anything else. People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries. In a way, they hold the key to all of our stories,

I love libraries, and I am terrified to see their eventual demise, especially as our world becomes almost entirely digital. They are gems from the past that have maintained vitality no matter the circumstances or happening outside of their walls. Not to mention they are the cornerstones of entire communities, maybe even countries, granting light and stability to people when nothing, or no one, else seemed able to. They offer more than just books; they offer entry into a space that seems more like a sanctuary run by people grounded in compassion, commitment, creativity, and resilience.

People have relied on these spaces for warmth, insight, and marvel for centuries.

I used to go to the library near my grandparents’ house every other Friday. For the most part, my mom took my brothers and me there to get a new book for school or to see what DVDs we could bring home to watch that evening. But I remember roaming around, starstruck, in between the tall shelves, wondering about the people who wrote each and every single one of those books and how long it might have taken to get them all here.

Most weeks, my mother let me get two books instead of one. I could spend hours there if it was permitted. I always liked watching my mom pick her books for the week, too. She seemed so sophisticated and gentle while scanning the shelves, yet she never knew exactly what she was looking for. If it was winter, afterward we would all pile back into the car with our hardcover books and grab a slice of pizza. If it was summer, we would walk to the Italian Ice shop down the street for some cream ice – those were the best days. 

I fear that libraries have been taken for granted, even in my own life, and am always spellbound to find them chock full of unexpected people, doing unexpected things, with unexpected passions. There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling, the pure excitement in my stomach, that erupts every time I am searching in a library for the perfect tale to dig into. A trip to the library seems, to me, to be enchanted. I become whimsical, enveloped by the completeness and simplicity of the entire journey.

Even the smell of a library is impossible to replicate because of its specificity and poignance. I am reminded of sandalwood, dusk, and a particular, antiquated, dampness. Its familiarity is beyond comforting. The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination. 

I feel at home while pattering around and tracing my fingers between the shelves of books. I fall in love while blowing the dust off of the covers, revealing bright colors and exquisite lines. I spend hours crinkling through the aged, already yellowing, pages of novels wondering which I will pick this time. It is never an easy decision, and I always leave with dozens underneath my arms wondering if the others will still be there when I return the next week. But, that’s the beauty of libraries, isn’t it? Every visit is entirely different from the last and there is no telling what you might stumble upon. Yet each visit is also starkly familiar. 

The air itself seems to be saturated in possibility and imagination.

Books have changed so much of my life, with plotlines, characters, and lessons that have been woven into nearly everything I do – that is every decision, every consideration, and everything that I have grown to appreciate or even pay a little bit more attention to. Books are there to remind me of what’s important, and when I’m not so sure, they’re there for me to lean on. Without libraries, though, I might have never been allowed membership into such a world of splendor. 

Books Pop Culture

How to keep your reading habit alive in a world full of streaming services

Reading is one of my most prized habits. It always has been. But over time, the definition of reading has changed. A couple of decades ago, if you said you loved to read, it was assumed by default, that you meant novels. Which meant that you would need to focus for hours at a time on reading a long text. With the number of things vying for our attention these days, reading is a lost art, nay a skill. Add to that the advent of micro-fiction and we can now give our short attention spans the gratification they crave. While ‘Too Long; Didn’t Read’ is actually considered cool among younger generations now, I’m sure I’d have gotten a smack on the head if I ever said that something was TL; DR.

Don’t get me wrong, I like micro-fiction too, for its brevity. It takes an enormous amount of skill to be able to bring about a conflict of emotions or even an effective twist in the storyline, when all you have is a few lines. But I miss the joy of sitting for hours to read a novel and relish its characters and their exploits.

So, for those of you out there who’d love to get back to the yesteryear joy of reading, here are a few of the ideas I use.

1. Start small: read articles

Person sitting at a table reading a newspaper via Pexels
Person sitting at a table reading a newspaper via Pexels

If you’ve totally lost the hang of reading more than a paragraph at a time, you’ll need some practice. Start with news articles, and no, not the snippets, the actual long-form ones. Focus on the article itself and not in trying to get the gist so you can move on.

2. Subscribe to newsletters

A girl reading something on her phone via Pexels

This is another way to find topics of your interest and exercise your reading habit. You could subscribe to news agencies or even individuals who choose articles of a certain type, thus saving you the trouble in having to look for them. However, if you find they are not what you signed up for, don’t be afraid to unsubscribe, instead of feeling pressured to keep reading.
You can start by subscribing to our newsletter 😉

3. Utilize non-reading, non-sleeping time

Man reading while sitting among others as a subway passes by, by Robert_z_Ziemi via Pixabay
Man reading while sitting among others as a subway passes by, by Robert_z_Ziemi via Pixabay

Honestly, all the time that you’re not sleeping can be utilized to read. Eating a meal or listening to music? Read something light. Waiting line or commuting? Read. The idea is to get the habit ingrained to the extent that a book is your default go-to.

4. Always carry a book AND e-book reader (or an e-book reader app)

Girl reading a book by a pool via Pixabay
Girl reading a book by a pool via Pixabay

So, it’s a moment in the day when you’ve got time to spare. You’re waiting in a long queue and you’ve realized you have time to read. What now? Thankfully, we have technology. If you have an e-book reader, carry it along. Several of these available today are waterproof (!), so imagine reading while lounging in a pool (or your bathtub), without the fear of the book falling in. If not, there are free apps that you could download and use on your smartphone. Personally, I’d prefer a paperback or hardcover, but sometimes, the app is so much more practical. It lets you carry around a library worth of books in your pocket, so you’ll never run out of stuff to read.

5. Choose wisely

Rows of books in shelves via Pexels
Rows of books in shelves via Pexels

When you have limited time in which you can read, it makes sense to read good stuff. When I first started exercising my reading muscle (yes, you need stamina to get through a book), I read any novel I could get my hands on. There are millions of books out there. So look up reviews before you read, especially if you get spooked by a challenge easily.

6. Experiment with some new stuff

Person reading using an ebook reader via Pexels
Person reading using an ebook reader via Pexels

If I had to only stick with known authors, I’d have never discovered several gems. The trick here is to read an excerpt or the back of the book and see if the premise of the story fascinates you. What may seem interesting to me, may not be to you. Alternatively, look up reviews of people you trust, not random strangers (only because these could be bought).

7. Have daily reading goals

Girl reading a book with glitter coming out of it via Pexels
Girl reading a book with glitter coming out of it via Pexels

Tell yourself that you have to read at least 3 pages a day (to begin with) before you sleep. Keep a book by your bedside, so you don’t forget.

Once you’ve done all this, you’re ready to deep dive. Pick a hard copy over a soft copy to minimize distractions. Switch off notifications on all devices for a few hours. Sit in a comfortable location with ambient sounds and surrender to the joy of a digital detox. Happy reading!