An email announcing February is National Library Lovers Month, prompted memories of my favorite childhood book and my lifelong love affair with libraries.
I blame the library for my unfulfilled longing to live in a house with a turreted room crammed with books and a cozy window seat draped with red velvet curtains.
At 10, I checked out a copy of “The Velvet Room” by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I quickly lost myself in the world of Robin, the middle child in a family of migrant workers traveling across California in their Model T during the Great Depression.
When her family finds work on a ranch, Robin is befriended by Bridget, a kindly old woman who gives her a key to an old, abandoned house. There Robin discovers a beautifully furnished library with a window seat. She gathers books, curls up in the window seat, pulls the drapes around her and finds respite from the harshness of her unstable life.
The book captivated me so much, I begged my parents to buy me a copy when I found one at the Scholastic Book Fair. They agreed, but foolishly as a teen, I gave my treasure away to make room for more sophisticated fare.
That email about Library Lovers Month came from Brainly, an online learning platform and homework help community, and it also featured fun bookish words, like the following:
Bookarazzi: A book lover who excitedly takes photos of the books they read and posts them online. (That’s what #bookstagram on Instagram is all about.)
Shelfrighteous: The feeling of superiority about one’s bookshelf.
Readultery: When a book lover cheats on one book by reading another book simultaneously.
Bibliobibuli: Not a “book bully” just a person who reads too much. (Pretty sure there’s no such thing as reading too much.)
While searching for a replacement copy of “The Velvet Room,” I came across the perfect quote from it for Library Lovers Month.
“There was that special smell made up of paper, ink, and dust; the busy hush; the endless luxury of thousands of unread books. Best of all was the eager itch of anticipation as you went out the door with your arms loaded down with books. Libraries had always seemed almost too good to be true.”
I guess I did find the velvet room I longed for as a child – it just wasn’t in a boarded-up mansion. Instead, I discovered it among the shelves, in quiet corners of public libraries.