Reading My Book in My Neighborhood Library

I have a favorite branch of the New York Public Library in Manhattan: the Jefferson Market branch on Sixth Avenue in the Village. I love the winding stone stairway, the high ceilings, the cool and airy rooms, and of course the selection of books. They have a great fiction section and a wonderful YA room. The place also has some fascinating history.

I’ve been visiting this particular branch of the library for years—and in fact I’ve blogged about it before.

This branch of the library has felt like home to me for a long time. On days when I feel gloomy or frustrated or stressed I’d find myself walking up Sixth Avenue and making an excuse to go up to the fiction section and just look, just to see what new books were in. (It’s rare I come home without at least one.) Just being inside the library could calm a foul mood within minutes. Sometimes, some days I used to get off the subway on the north end after my day job and go drifting through the stacks and tell myself—silently, it’s a library after all—that I’d be a writer one day and one day a book I wrote would be here. How silly it sounds to tell you that I did that, except here I am typing this and… it’s come true.

I admit I’ve fingered the place in the stacks where I might be one day… and gave a glorious yelp in the children’s room upon finding Dani Noir. I can’t wait for the day I see Imaginary Girls (I hope I hope I hope) in the YA room upstairs.

But tonight Imaginary Girls will be there for sure. And I’ll be with it.

I’m one of the readers at Teen Author Reading Night at the Jefferson Market branch of the library TONIGHT, Wednesday July 6. Here’s the lineup:


6–7:30 pm, Jefferson Market Branch of NYPL, corner of 6th Ave and 10th St

Tara Altebrando, Dreamland Social Club

Matt Blackstone, A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie

Christopher Grant, Teenie

Alissa Grosso, Popular

Sarah Darer Littman, Want to Go Private?

Blake Nelson, Recovery Road

Gae Polisner, The Pull of Gravity

Nova Ren Suma, Imaginary Girls

Melissa Walker, Small Town Sinners

Maybe I’ll see you there?


Dispatch from the Library

I have a friend at work (if she’s reading this, she knows who she is) who shares my intense love of the library. She’s a much faster reader than I am, though; the books she can read in a week! I envy her speed. The good thing about her quickness is that she’s always up for a trip to the library… So today we went to our usual Midtown library during the afternoon to return books and get our fix—it’s under construction and the long line to get to the checkout desk would have turned most people away, except for us. It might be physically impossible to leave a library without at least one book. So we braved the cramped stacks in the basement, the long line, and I came away with two books and two films. Enough for one day, no?

Not so.

After I headed home, on the way to the post office to mail my workshop story, I happened to pass by my favorite neighborhood library, the one that used to be a courthouse, and I couldn’t not go in.

I’m typing this post from inside.

What is it about the library? I’m looking out over an airy room, people scattered about reading. The spines of the books catch the sunlight. Some are grimy and wrinkled and look like they’ve been read hundreds of times. The windows are stained-glass, the clock stopped (no, really, I think the hands are stuck), and just ahead of me an old woman with a bamboo sun hat and a bubbie cart for all her books peeks through a stack of novels, trying to find just the right one. She reads the first page, and a page from the middle. I notice she doesn’t dare steal a glance at the end.

You know there’s no way I’m walking out of here without at least one more book. It’s unthinkable.