Because this blog is about stories, I'm going to begin with one. Unlike the fiction we'll normally be discussing, this story is true, but no less magical, and the perfect example of why I have the most wonderful job on earth.
About eight years ago, while I was shelving fiction on the third floor of the library, an older woman approached me. She seemed fragile, pushing a walker on wheels to support her weight, with a basket in front for gathering books and other items too heavy to hold. An embroidered shawl draped across her shoulders to ward off the chill in a non air conditioned library in August. (Thankfully, we now have air conditioning.)
I soon learned she wanted help finding a book.
"I'm looking for a love story," she told me. "Something good."
Not wanting to offend her with the more graphic romances, the kind I read, I gathered a few books by popular christian fiction authors, Lori Wick and Francine Rivers; I might even have had an Amish romance in there for good measure.
As I loaded the books into her walker basket, she frowned down at the books and then back at me. She waved me toward her, leaned forward so only I could hear, and whispered, "I'm looking for something a little more spicy."
A bit surprised, I held back a smile and thought of a good author with a higher "spice" level. "Have you ever read a book by Nora Roberts?" I asked her.
She nodded and seemed pleased as I led her to the aisle of Nora, my personal reference for this amazing author whose books take up an entire shelving unit. As I was gathering some of my favorites, Carolina Moon and Honest Illusions, treasures in my mind, I turned around, excited to share stories that had brought me hours of enjoyment - and discovered the woman had disappeared.
She had wandered off with her silent walker, however she hadn't gone far. I found her just around the corner in the Anne Rice section, holding a copy of An Interview With a Vampire.
At that point, it wasn't so much the book that surprised me but the woman's next words. "I heard this author wrote another set of books, under a different name."
Remember, this was eight years ago, Anne Rice had yet to write her books on Jesus, and the only other series I was aware of was written under the pseudonym, A.N. Roquelaure.
"Anne Rice wrote an erotic trilogy," I told her.
"That's the one," she said. Her voice had become less hushed, her stance less feeble. "Can you get it for me?"
I did, and as I handed this woman a copy of The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty: an erotic novel of tenderness and cruelty for the enjoyment of men and women, I must have hesitated, because she patted me on the hand and gave me a confident smile.
"Dear," she said with a consoling sigh, "I'm ninety-two years old, there's nothing I haven't done or seen. Just give me the book."
I realized then, and am reminded of daily, that I am blessed to work among wonderful people, staff and patrons, many of whom are kindred spirits. So, I will end this first blog post with a wish from me to you...
Don't judge a book by its cover, readers by what they read, and may we all live to be ninety-two and still want something a little spicy in our lives.
Hope to see you in our library someday soon,