Posted on

A letter about Libraries We Love

It’s such a pleasure to hear from readers–it doesn’t happen enough with encyclopedias–and Prem Kishore has given me permission to quote her letter here. Her reference to “read your heart out” is a line from Henry Winkler’s foreword to the book, which we published early last year.

Greetings Karen Christensen

When I saw this book in my local library I was excited. On reading it I was spellbound. Libraries with haiku gardens, hot chocolate, author readings, works of art, internet, apart from offering the joys of reading. I am filled with so much beauty and memories as I turn the pages.

I am from South India and when I was growing up I was obsessed with books. And we hardly had any at home. There was no library either in my town. At school 10 books-Enid Blyton, Angela Brazil and the Katy books were there. You could get to read them only if you came first in the class. I was very good at studying so I would take the books home and cherish them and read them over and over again. Aunts and uncles from the big city would bring me glossy books and adventure stories for Xmas and birthdays. I loved reading so much I would read the newspaper over and over again pretending I was reading it for the first time.

Years later at the university I found a veritable treasure of books. I was ecstatic. And then there was the British Council and American States Information Service who loaned magazines and books. I would stagger with the huge tomes of Hemingway, Herman Wouk, James Michener, books f poetry and drama in the sweltering heat down streets that almost burned the soles of my sandals , totter into 2 buses and get to the libraries. But it was worth it. I even entered a poetry speaking competition at the British Council and won first prize! Later the library was our meeting place for me and my husband to be. Since we belonged to different communities and religions, we were terrified that someone would spot us together .What better place than the cool library with its cold drinking water from faucets) a novelty to us), and whisper or exchange books or notes. This was in the late sixties. When the children arrived, we became members of a lending library also and nights found all four of us on a huge bed lined up under the sheets reading .Thankfully , my husband loves to read too. He is reading 4 books at the same time. The last thing we do before going to bed is read a library book!

Now we live in Los Angeles. I am always in love with libraries, volunteer for one of them am a Friend of the Library and would love to be a more active participant later in the year. I still totter with my books , but to my car. I read to my grandkids, we always have tons of books all over the house and my children , one in Zurich and the other in Los Angeles have the passion for books as I did.. I have done poetry readings at a museum reading poems from the time of the Vedas and the Iliad to the contemporary poets. read stories to children at another museum and all this came about because of my addiction to reading. I always keep books in the car and a few stalwarts in the dicky incase we make a speedy getaway if the Big One-the earthquake hit and we would be stranded without a book!

Oh yes, my love for reading made me a lecturer of English, a writer and a radio professional. Today I write on books, music, dance, travel and am writing my second book on Regional Cuisine of India- a book not just of recipes but essays on food rituals, and food culture interlaced with my connections with foods of India.

My first book all those years ago was the magical key that opened up diverse worlds. Since then I “read my heart out.” What suggestions do you have for a bookophile? Sadly they are cutting down on funds in California and fewer books are being acquired attended a fund raiser for Book Ends yesterday. This is an organization that encourages children to donate books to children’s libraries in areas where a child does not have access to a book or a library. I hope to get involved. Oh by the way, I love the power of the word so my personal license plate of my car is WRDSTRK. (wordstruck)


One thought on “A letter about Libraries We Love

  1. My daughter who lives in Santa Monica is just like you, reading books even when she has a final exam in law school. She likes to buy her books and magazines and wish she would use the library more.
    I love reading but my work on Rural Development and Environmental improvements in India keeps me very busy. I get to read on my vacation trips. Would love your feedback and how you can help our organization after you see our website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *