Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Riches of Inter-Library Loan

A few weeks ago, I requested a couple of books through our library's inter-library loan (ILL) system. I don't usually use ILL because most of the books I want to get can be found via the county loan system -- they don't have to travel very far to get here. But ocassionally I will want a book that can't be found at any library in the county, so will request that they find it elsewhere.

I was told it would probably take 4-6 weeks to get the books, and I imagined that they would come at different times so that I could stagger my reading pleasure. So imagine my surprise when I was notified that I had three books waiting for me on the hold shelf this weekend -- the two I requested via ILL and one I'd asked for via the county!

It's an embarrassment of reading riches, and leaves me a bit breathless as I try to find ways to dig through a busy schedule to tackle some books I wasn't expecting to get till closer to Thanksgiving time (when I will, oh blessed thought! have several days off).

The question of "what to read first?" was instantly answered for me by the fact that one of the books, Samuel Crowl's The Films of Kenneth Branagh, is actually due back in slightly over a week. Apparently certain libraries loan for more limited amounts of total time, and the fact that it took me two or three days to pick the books up meant I got less time with the book overall. I really don't think, given my current schedule, that I can read this marvelous book of essays on Branagh's eight major films (films he directed from 1989 - 2000) in eight days -- though I certainly am giving it a mighty try. I'm hoping I can get an extension/renewal and maybe keep it for another week or two, as I'd love to review this one for Epinions.

The other great excitement is Peter Leithart's book Miniatures and Morals: The Christian Novels of Jane Austen. I've been wanting to read this book for almost a year and I'm so excited to finally have it in hand. I've got till November 10th on this one though, so I'm trying to exercise major self-discipline and not open it yet until I've made my way through more of the Branagh book.

The book I got through the county is one I'm looking forward to as well. It's a children's book, Little House in the Highlands, the first in a series of books written by Melissa Wiley about Laura Ingalls Wilder's great-grandmother, Martha. I remember hearing that some books had been written about Laura's ancestors, and I inwardly frowned upon such a notion, thinking perhaps the publishers were just trying to cash in on a wonderful literary series. But lately I've changed my mind. Oddly enough, it's because I stumbled across author Melissa Wiley's blogs. I've been reading her musings about life and art off and on for a few months now, and she's quickly becoming one of my favorite blog-writers. Recently I read over a posting she wrote regarding how she began writing the series, the research she did, and how she wrote this first book during long nights sitting up with one of her own beloved children who was very ill at the time (and now thankfully recovered). She writes with such love and care about her own life that I have to believe she brought that same love and care to imaginatively re-creating the life and times of a favorite author's ancestors. Add to all that the simple fact that I also had a great-grandma Martha (and most of my family on that side came from Scotland and Wales) and you'll see my fascination.

The riches of reading! As it gets colder and wetter outdoors, my inner bear rears its fuzzy, furry head and longs to hibernate -- with a good book or two or three. Yes, I'm a bear -- but a bear who's a bibliophile. My ideal winter habitat would be a warm cave with a toasty fire like the one in Karma Wilson's picture book Bear Snores On, and plenty of bookshelves stuffed with books I love. A pot of tea, plenty of bread, potatoes and butter (okay and some cheese and chocolate) and a few flower bulbs so I could have blooming flowers during the winter. Give me a hobbit hole, perhaps, or Mr. Tumnus' cave, and I would be perfectly content.


Erin said...

Mmmm, that hibernation sounds lovely to me! As do all three of the books you got from the library! There's something very alluring about the highlands... And of course it's hard to go wrong with Kenneth Branagh and Jane Austen! ;)

Beth said...

The Branagh book is wonderful! I stumbled across a reference to it when I was reading a few of the critics on "Love's Labour's Lost" last month -- I had just seen the film and was doing an epi-review. I didn't think I could possibly get a copy this quickly. It's terrifically well-done, and I'm loving it so far. Crowl is a real Shakespeare scholar as well a film critic, or at least that's the way it seems to me. I'm looking forward to reviewing it on Epinions -- maybe sooner than I think. I'm zooming through it, though with Monday almost upon us, and a very, very busy looking week, I suspect my gallop through the final chapters will slow to a walk.

Hooray for hibernation!