Free stuff, who doesn’t want it? I am always on the lookout for the best Free Stuff, but believe it or not, I was not always this way. Money used to just disappear from my wallet like so much magical fairy dust, but there was rarely anything of substance left over when the money disappeared. Oh, pretty candle, I’ll take five. Nice dinner out with wine with friends, okay, let’s add dessert and more wine. For all! Fascinating carved gourd handmade by a little-known tribe in Kenya, oh YES I must have that for my collection of, um, stuff.
Yes, I was a terrible manager of money. I have improved in leaps and bounds, coupon-clipper and bargain-hunter, frugalista (is that a word?) extraordinaire, that is me. But oddly enough, there is one habit in which I partook (is THAT a word? past-tense of partake?) even in those days of glorious excess, and that is the greatest freebie of all, the LIBRARY. No matter where I have roamed, one of the first things I have sought in every new town has always been the library. As a result I have a fine collection of library cards from a number of different provinces and cities across the country. I see libraries as a tourist attraction of sorts, a place to visit when we travel and a comfortable place to hang out whether for reasons of rainy weather or homesickness. When we travel, one of the best free attractions we have found is the local library, and along with our daughters we have enjoyed free programs ranging from the typical story time to poetry readings and classical music concerts. We return to one particular library in Nova Scotia so frequently that I finally got a library card, which we use when we are camping in the area to get fresh reading material for all.
I guess it was inevitable that I would end up working in libraries myself, being such a fanatic. Now I am officially a library cheerleader. Give me some pompoms, ’cause I am shouting it from the rooftops, people. The library is the best free thing ever.
Books are the just the tip of the iceberg. Rent movies or pay for Netflix? Why would I do that when I can get thousands of free and current titles at the library? Yes, I just watched Hanna (oh, so gripping!) and the new version of Jane Eyre with Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender last week. For free. And I didn’t have to illegally download them either. Watch television, with all those annoying commercials? Why torture myself? I just get it from the library on DVD and watch when I want. E-books? We’ve got that, free, just download them from home with a library card. Music? Yup. Board games? Check. It is like Amazon. Only FREE. I guess now wouldn’t be a good time to set myself up as an Amazon associate with a store widget, would it? I should have a library widget. By the way, I am not getting paid extra for this.
Anyhow, the best thing about my work is the book talk. The book talk is like a fantasy for a bibliophile such as myself. So I work in a public library, a branch where I am the one and only employee and therefore the sole source of book chit-chat for the many patrons of that sophisticated little branch. I know, some people think working in a library would be SO BORING. But to me it is a dream job. Handle books, advise readers, talk about books, all of this for a paycheque? Oh, YES. It is good. It’s like my own personal ginormous book club. I have a constant running list in my head of authors that people suggest I try, and I TRY. I like to think of myself as a book diviner. I talk to a patron, ask them a few questions and then go to the shelves, kind of wave my hands over the books and then a book I think they will love just speaks to me. Fun, eh?
So, now I am going to do a list. It was going to be a top-ten list, but I think I will just do five. Something about top ten lists just sucks me in every time. It can be a top ten list of just about anything and I will read it, just because for some very bizarre reason I need to know what the number 1 reality show in Korea is, or the top destination for skinny-dipping in Canada, or the pinnacle of rotten movies over the last decade. Who would not want to know these vital facts? Now I am going to add further to that lovely statistical clutter by creating my own top five list of books. But, let’s be clear here, this is just top five I have read (or re-read) lately, and is totally dictated by my own occasionally odd taste and sometimes just by what I stumble upon in the course of my week.
ANYHOW. Using a lot of all caps today. Down to the list of just a few books I recommend everyone crack this year.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I love this book. Jane is a fantastic heroine, even for modern times. My daughter’s middle name is Jane, for her and Jane Austen.
Shutter Island by Dennis LeHane. Scared me much more than the movie. I could not put it down.
The Woefield Poultry Collective by Susan Juby. Fun!! I love an undiscovered jewel, and when my friend loaned me this one I had no idea what it was. City girl dreams of starting a farm, and then does, only it is quite pathetic. Great characters, very funny.
Got any other great books for me? I would love to read your list…