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  • ellenwohl712

SNAP! Once Upon A Time

Updated: Nov 14, 2022

Reading takes my mind off whatever tense situation is happening around me. I easily get sucked into the plot while the character's exploits relieve some of my stress. I can focus on a distant land with a story that takes twists and turns far away from where I am.

Among my favorite childhood memories are the weekly visits to the East Cleveland Public Library. The way I remember it, Mom, my sister Paula, and I walk up the steps of the brick mansion with triangular cookie-cutter trim hiding the slate roof. Entering through the heavy double doors is like passing through a gateway, quietly awakening my wildest dreams. I can't wait to take a right turn in the main lobby and sink into the hushed sounds of the children's reading room with its enormous fireplace. The ceramic tiles adorning the wooden mantle are decorated with storybook characters. I'm always attracted to the figures, wishing I could be one of them.

Maj Lindman's funny stories about the little Swedish boys "Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr" and their female counterparts "Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka" delight me over and over again. If only three-year-old me could be as confident and courageous. Mom must know every story by heart by the time we return the books to the library and get more.

In a time when television is still a novelty, my sisters and I gather in the kitchen around the gray Formica table, eating Franco American spaghetti as Mom reads Louisa May Alcott's classics to us. She chooses books like Little Women and An Old-Fashioned Girl, with strong female characters to inspire us, her impressionable young daughters.

At last, in first grade, I learn to read! My teacher stands at the front of the classroom with a huge book, big enough for the entire class to see. She eagerly opens it, revealing the first page. There we see a little girl with curly blond hair, sitting under a big umbrella, putting her feet into Father's huge black galoshes. And below is my phenomenal very first word, "Look."

It's no wonder that in all my years moving forward, that first word still inspires me to search for information, inspiration, escape, comfort, and happiness. And I can find it all in the pages of a book. Years later, I wrote a public service announcement for the American Library Association. "Get into a good book and read" was not only their slogan, but it is the advice that saved my sanity time and time again.

Nowadays, libraries offer so much more than the old mansion with its dark paneled walls and massive fireplace. As physically welcoming as it was, I can now lose myself among the virtual shelves of the local library.

Download the County Library or the free Libby app, and the library virtually unlocks its doors. All I need is a library card, which I easily got online. I could immediately borrow eBooks and audiobooks. These apps are invaluable when I find myself stuck in a hospital waiting room or behind a curtain, crunched in the corner next to a hospital bed. With the walls closing in and my shoulders hunched in the vice grip of anxiety, I frantically look for a mental escape plan. It's in a book.

I like to take my time browsing until I find just the right book. I can refine my search to select the theme I want: Romance, Historical Fiction, Self Help, Cookbooks, and so on. I can even waitlist a bestseller or select books "available now." Anything in the library is accessible no matter where I am. And I'm usually in some remote location desperately needing a book. All this and no "SHHHUSHing." If concentrating on a suspense-filled mystery is too hard, short stories and poetry are better distractions. They all sit on the virtual shelf in my device, available with a simple click.

I joined a wonderful Facebook book group, Friends and Fiction, hosted by five popular authors. It has introduced me to many exceptional books and writers I had never known before. Engaging with other readers and sharing some of our favorites is fun.

When it comes to eBooks, I can upload with the best of them. My tablet is small and slim, so it fits right into my purse. It's like the American Express card. I don't leave home without it.

As much as I enjoy reading on my tablet, there's just something I love about the feeling of an actual book in my hands. I like to follow words on the page and use a homemade bookmark to save my place. I went wild when Lindsay told me about an online used bookstore. The first time I logged on was pure exhilaration. I found a treasure trove of books in excellent condition. Plus, the prices are extremely discounted.

Online used bookstores like DiscoverBooks, BetterWorldBooks, and ThriftBooks have a stockpile of favorites that sometimes I have to wait weeks for on the library's site. I can hold a good book in my hands for less than five dollars and share it when I'm done. The avid readers I know love passing along a great story. And everyone needs to feel the love.

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