Yesterday, I met two friends for lunch. We had not seen each other for a while and it was time for us to catch up with one another.
Between the three of us, we have read and/or own quite a few books.
One of my friends had never been to the Stephen Schwarzman Building, which is the main branch of the New York Public Library. My other friend and I had been there many times, mainly to pick up or return books. To be honest, I don’t think about the experience of visiting the library, my focus is the books that I either need to check out or return.
But my other friend had never been to that library. The look on her face was of pure joy and wonder. It reminded me that a new perspective on an old favorite can be an unexpected surprise. Looking at the library through her eyes, I was reminded of the majesty and beauty of this temple dedicated to books, knowledge and learning.
If a book is a treasure, then the public library is a temple with countless and priceless treasures.
Paul Dorr is a Christian activist from Iowa. Displeased with a local Pride event last week, he burned several library books that belonged to the Orange City Public Library. The books were burned because they encouraged the reader to see beyond the stereotypes of the LGBTQ community.
While freedom of speech guarantees that Mr. Dorr can say what he likes without fear of repercussion, he cannot just burn books just because he disagrees with the subject matter. Especially books that are not his.
History has taught us that when books are burned, bodies come soon after.
It’s one thing to disagree with the subject of a book, it’s another thing to destroy it because it does not fit in with your personal beliefs.
200 years ago today, Jane Austen breathed her last breath. No one could have predicted that her immortal afterlife has long outlasted her short 41 years on Earth.
Jane Austen is and will forever be a genius. Her writing is full of human characters who still resonate with readers and audiences 200 years after they were introduced to the Regency era reading public.
Sense And Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are adored the world over. Reading her books is like visiting an old friend, the experience never gets old or dull.
As a woman, a writer and a feminist, I look to Jane for comfort, for solace and for strength. She lived in an era when a woman’s only choice was marriage. Marriage in her time was more about income and status than love, companionship and mutual interests. She could have easily given into the pressure and married to keep a roof over her head and food on her plate. But she chose to not marry and instead, she created her own path. 200 years later, we still walk on the path that she created and we still admire her for being strong enough to create that path.
Thank you, Jane, for your strength, your courage, your wit, your intelligence and your amazing ability to craft a story. My world would not be the same without you.