Tag Archives: Barbara Samuel

Books in an Economic Downturn

Hi, my name is Mary Beth and I’m a bibliophile.
I love books. Love the smell, the fell, the sound of books. I love old books, new books, electronic books, paperbacks, hardbacks, Trade.
It doesn’t matter.
If it’s a book, I love it.
The love affair started almost before my memories start. Maybe it’s because I was a late reader. I don’t know. But for as long as I can remember, trips to the library have made me happy. Bookstores equal hours of fun. And old books…it’s crazy how happy holding an 1880 Shakespeare textbook signed with perfect penmanship by its first owner with paper soft from age, almost to the brittle stage really, makes me. Last year my mom gave me an original copy of The Marvelous Land of Oz, the second of the Oz books. It was the perfect gift.
Unfortunately, my book habit took a hit when it no longer fit in the budget. And the budget rules now that we’re moving toward cash only and debt-free.
I could give up Audible. It’s $15 a month. But I love listening to books on my summer road trips. I could give up the Y, I don’t really go all that often, but it’s $15 a month, and I plan on going. I could give up coffee shipments, but that’s coffee for my whole department, we love it and so many people contribute, it only costs me around $10 a month, so no, that’s not the key. Those are the things that went through my brain when I realized I had to stop signing on to Fictionwise and using the all-powerful Paypal and browsing through the book aisle at Wal-Mart when I bought the weekly groceries.
Enter the Wichita Falls Public Library. A place I used to love, but kind of forgot about for anything other than the monthly writer’s group meetings held upstairs every second Saturday of the month.
WFPL is amazing. They have a fabulous selection. And I can sign up online to hold books already checked out once they’re checked in. Best of all, all it costs is a little of my time. I’ve found so many amazing books at the library the last few months, books I probably never would’ve read if I were just buying instead of browsing. Books like Bujold’s Sharing Knife series (how did I now know about these books?!?) and the YA’s like If I Stay and Looking for Alaska.
This week while snowed in I read the first of The Sharing Knife books. I’ll be getting the second when I return the books from the holiday. Bujold builds an amazing world where magic makes sense and the battle of good verses evil has real consequences. I’ve not been a big fantasy reader, but that’s changing as I find more awesome books in the library.
I also read Barbara Samuel’s Madame Mirabou’s School of Love, a book about the heartbreak of starting over when it wasn’t something you wanted. The books is actually a lot bigger than that, touching on domestic violence, race relations, sex, parenthood, divorce, military wives left home alone, conquering fear, rediscovering lost dreams, life, love, hate, acceptance, moving on. The book packs a big punch. And it helped me realize that I want to write books that ring emotion from you while reading, not just books that provide escape. Actually, several of the books I’ve read the last two months have served to tell me this, but Madame Mirabou really made the case.
I highly recommend both The Sharing Knife and Madame Mirabou. And I recommend checking out (haha) your local library.

One of my Shakespeare textbooks (I have the whole set), The Land of Oz and several library books from this month.