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Circulation March 15, 2017

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

How can I read what I want to read without purchasing another book that will take up space in my house but still hold a physical book in my hands?

A year ago, my book group read the first in Elena Ferrante’s Neopolitan Novels (a series of four). I really wanted to read the whole series, but I didn’t want to purchase the whole series. I solved this problem by purchasing them all for my sister for Christmas, thinking she would like them (she did) and thinking she could loan them back to me (she has). I thought I would just skim the first novel to remind myself what was in it, but I ended up being sucked in, and I read it again, which is good when one wants to read a series straight through.

Meanwhile, my book group has decided on a couple of tempting titles, which is annoying because I want to read the Neopolitan series uninterrupted.

The first of these, which I must finish by tomorrow, is Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. Of course, I used to have a copy, and I got rid of it during my first successful fiction purge. I did not want to purchase the book, so I went to the library. The library! Imagine!

Amazingly—given that the book group is local and the library is tiny—I found a copy. It’s a fabulous old hardback that physically reminds me of my childhood reading. There is a due-date card pasted in the back with the author/title typed onto it and due dates recorded in rubber stamp.

What surprises me the most is that it looks like this book has been checked out only a dozen times since it was put on the shelf in 1979: twice in 1979, and once each in 1981, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1992, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2013, me now. See?:

There is something nostalgic about reading this rubber-stamped list on a due-date card. These dates represent my last year of high school, some college time, camp counseling, celebrating a first anniversary, living in DC. Between the two November 5 dates, I moved to Vermont. By the next November checkout, I’d moved into this house. I’d turned forty by the first May date and fifty by the second. It’s been almost four years since someone took this book home, but once it sat unread for a decade.

It turns out that maybe, despite having an old paperback copy on my own shelf for years, I’d never read The Bell Jar. I don’t remember it. It’s fantastic.



1. Dona - March 18, 2017

I hear you. Of course I am an avid Kindle user, but I still tend to buy books and subscribed to Powell’s Indiespensables a few months ago.

What wonderful memories that stamped card must have brought you.

2. Mali - March 25, 2017

A year or so ago I discovered that I could my library also had an e-library. Once I figured out the software on my iPad, I’ve never been without a book. I often find I have too many and can’t read them all. And it has saved me a bomb! Yet I don’t think I’ve borrowed a physical book from the library in over a decade.

Sad though that the book has only been checked out so few times, even in a small library. A friend of mine who lives in a small (wine) village adores her local library. She’s an avid reader, and the librarian appreciates that, and will get her anything she wants to read!

I do however have a copy of The Bell Jar I could have sent you! I took a course at university – “American History and Literature” – and was introduced to Sylvia Plath and Bernard Malamud and a bunch of other writers that we just didn’t otherwise study here in NZ. (Or we didn’t in the 1970s and 80s.) I only did the Literature half of the course because I wanted the History part. I’m glad I did now.

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