March 17, 2009

Help! I'm a prisoner in the library!*

The Guardian Books Blog has an article today on books you couldn't put down once you started, in reference to an article in the Mirror about a man who had a panic attack after being locked in a library when he didn't notice it close, so absorbed was he in his reading.

There are lots of books I couldn't stop reading (most recently Kate Atkinson's excellent When Will There Be Good News?), but I can think of only a few instances of books randomly picked up in a library where I felt compelled to read to the end:

Anthem by Ayn Rand, which I found by accident in Grade Seven when we were given a library period to find a book for a book report. It was on one of those metal spinning racks alongside Gordon Korman paperbacks and copies of Island of the Blue Dolphins, masquerading as a regular sort of YA book. It had a lot going for it: a bleak dystopian future, and a forbidden love story --- the romance between Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000.

I should say that this is the only Ayn Rand I've ever read, and though I certainly found it compelling (it was completely different from anything I'd ever read before), it did not turn me into a little twelve-year-old Objectivist. At least, not that I know of...(*cue ominous music*)

And in high school I was at the Ottawa Public Library, getting books for a paper I had to write, when I started reading a collection of Pinter plays and stayed there for hours finishing it. I'd never heard of Pinter (this seems slightly appalling now, but I hope not terribly unusual), but I was fascinated by the brevity of the dialogue --- just the way it looked on the page -- though in retrospect I think my fascination was fueled in no small part by a major case of procrastination on the assignment I was there to research.

*The title of this post is a reference to a book that I had as a little kid:

Two sisters go in search of a bathroom during a blizzard and get locked in a library. I remember it being fantastically spooky! Not actually scary, but the delicious type of creepiness where you know it's only your imagination but knowing that barely helps stave off the panic.

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