10 July 2013

Stacks of Austen and Some Jam

I went to the university library yesterday because I had some holds in. Even though I'm taking my degree through a distance ed university, I get to use the library of the local uni. That deal is called COPPUL, the Consortium Of Pacific and Prairie Libraries; they have an agreement to let each others' students use their libraries. So I get to take out whatever I want - and boy, do I ever!

I've always said that the library is the one place you can impulse-shop with impunity. Whatever catches your eye and strikes your fancy, grab it and take it home. The worst thing that could happen is that you forget to renew it and get hit with overdue fines, or perhaps that you spill your tea over the book and have to pay for it. But in the latter case, you usually get to keep the book, so if you liked it enough to take home, you might not mind owning a copy, albeit a somewhat tea-stained one.

So I had five holds in yesterday - and I walked out of that library with twenty-seven books altogether. Ahem. Well, they made me take them out! C'mon, wouldn't you grab a copy of Jane Austen's letters, or James Edward Austen-Leigh's memoir of his aunt Jane, or Jane Austen on Screen (with a lovely picture on the cover of Kate Winslet smiling winsomely at Allan Rickman)? You wouldn't? How strange. Well, I did.

The thing is that there's a real head rush about browsing the stacks in the library, something that only real bookworms understand. Collecting books with shameless abandon, and only stopping because you can't carry any more - I haven't done that in quite a long time. In fact, it was having a job at the library that made me stop doing that. When you work in the place, you don't browse the stacks any more. You take out what comes across the desk, and what you've ordered in because you found it in the catalogue. And then when I quit my library job, I never did go back to browsing, at least not in the public library. But now I'm doing it in the uni library, and it's lovely.

So am I actually going to read all twenty-seven of those books I took out? Nope, not on your life. I will flip through them, and pick out the bits that interest me and are useful for my paper. But there are some that'll be keepers. My favourite of this lot is The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay and Diaries by Emma Thompson; I already have a copy on order through ABE books. I've always liked Emma Thompson, ever since I first saw her in that movie (she plays Elinor, as well as having written the screenplay), but reading her diaries of the filming, oh my. She's utterly hilarious. And after reading that, I'll be watching the movie with rather different eyes. For example, when she gets up from Marianne's bedside after her night's vigil and rubs her   stiff neck - that's for real. She really did have a sore neck that day, and put it to good use in her acting.

In other news, we got four pounds of raspberries off our bushes in the garden yesterday, which made me quite happy. I only planted those vines two years ago; they were hand-me-downs from when my sister-in-law was pulling out her raspberries. So this morning I made jam, eight jars worth of lovely ruby sweetness. And being afflicted these days with early-waking insomnia, I was up in time to get it done by 9:00 - that's a record, for me.

Life, the Universe, Browsing the Stacks and Raspberry Jam. The small pleasures of life.

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