THE BEST THINGS IN LIFE
I went to a dinner party recently where a few snarky, snorty words were said about regional libraries as being a bit of a waste of space and time.
‘Some people just have nowhere else to go, do they?’ Chortle, snoot.
‘I mean, who really borrows books out there in the boondocks?’ Titter, haw-haw.
Some modicum of politeness prevented me from spitting my chardonnay across the table at these comments with the response: ‘People I love!’ I am grateful I was at least a glass and a half away from adding: ‘You stuck-up, ignorant, middle-class twits!’
Some of my very best and most precious fans are people who visit libraries. Some of these readers can’t afford to buy books, mine or anyone else’s.
But they take the time to borrow and read my stories, and if I’m lucky, drop me a line on the library computer to tell me what they think. When this happens, I am filled with indescribable joy. Whenever anyone reads one of my books and tells me what they think I feel that I have won a little soul-transfer jackpot.
Many stuck-up, ignorant, middle-class twits think that books and writing equal bestseller lists, literary prizes, amazing advances and film rights. Pfft.
For me, the pinnacle lies in the simple and magical exchange between the storyteller and whoever feels drawn to pick up a book, whatever that book might be. For that reader to be transported to another place, another life. To feel and breathe another point of view.
I was one of Mackay libraries’ most popular reads for June this year – check that out here, This fact thrills me no end. I’ve never been to Mackay, up in Queensland. I don’t know anyone who lives there. But clearly a few people who visit the libraries in that district love my work.
So I love them.
Thank you, Libraries Australia, for the priceless space and time you provide to readers and writers across the country – no matter who they are.
When I’m having a shit writing day, library-visiting book lovers lift me up. I lurk among the online catalogues and see what’s being borrowed where and I can’t tell you what a kick-along it gives me to see the words ‘ON LOAN’ next to one of my books.
To know that I am with someone, somewhere, out there… and they are with me. There is no dollar sign on that.