Wet wool , fines and Mr. Darcy

MMJ_Library1

I’m going to be upfront. This week’s Random Act of Joy involves books. Again.

I know; I know. We had two literary acts in January and a third so soon is bordering on bookish excess but hopefully you’ll forgive me when I tell you that Saturday is National Libraries Day in the UK.

Like most people, I feel the squeeze of nostalgia when I think of my childhood visits to the library. The musty, wet wool smell, the delight at discovering a new favourite and the pleasure of being able to borrow anything I wanted for free, well, except for the odd 20p late fine. With membership of all of the local libraries, not to mention the travelling van, I had safe havens across the county and a wealth of literary talent at my disposal. Even if I did favour The Babysitter Club series and Usborne’s Jobs People Do above the classics. I was clearly unsure about my career path from an early age.

My library attendance has been less consistent over the years. Other than flirting with my friend Jake in the school library (much to Mrs Bowman’s annoyance) and panicked stints at my college library before exams, I preferred to buy my own unstained and sweet-smelling copies of books. If I wanted a reading refuge I would head to Borders, gather an assortment from the personal development poetry section and sit there for hours with a hot chocolate instead. It’s quite possibly people like me who caused the retailer to go bust. Sorry.

These days I’ll borrow a book the odd book from the Barbican library or I’ll spend the afternoon at the British Library in an attempt to feel academic* but I no longer have the same connection with my local libraries that I once did. Perhaps, therefore, it’s hypocritical of me to be so upset at the thought of them closing. But upset, I am. So today’s Random Act of Joy is in honour of the library.

I’ve started a Make Me Joyful library with a catalogue of one: Pride and Prejudice. It may not be the most original choice, but it’s a good way to celebrate its 200th anniversary and, let’s be frank, who can resist Mr. Darcy?

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There is something soul-warming about reading a book that someone has read before you. You’re connected by the same pages, the same scribbles in the margins, the same dog-eared creases where a place has been marked. You can look at the names on the inner cover and wonder whether they pictured Colin Firth when Darcy speaks or whether they hoped for their own happy ending just like Lizzie. There’s no neat isolation of your own copy. It’s messier, but it’s intimate.

The Make Me Joyful library is mobile and there are no risks of fines. All you need to do is leave a comment below and the first borrower will be picked at random. Once you’ve finished you can give the book to whoever you like and so it goes. It’s like a chain letter for books. But I’m not going to put a curse on you don’t pass it on.  I’ll even include the date stamp so that you can play librarian too. For the rest of us, let’s borrow books and visit our libraries more. We will miss them if they go.

So, leave a comment below and I’ll pick the recipient (from anywhere in the world) on Tuesday 12th February.

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* In reality I spent the afternoon moving desks to avoid the slightly too intense man who kept sending me notes across the table.

Library card template courtesy of the wonderful Love vs Design

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    29 COMMENTS

  1. I’ve really enjoyed following your blog thus far, and I’m always interested in any kind of book share so I thought this would be a perfect entry to comment on, plus I’ve never actually red Pride and Prejudice!
    Also, you should check out World Book Night, it’s a night where people give away free books and I think it would be right up your alley.

    Thanks for sharing this blog with us!

    Angie

    • Make Me Joyful

      Hi Angie,

      Thanks so much for the tip about World Book Night. I’ve heard little snippets about it but I’ve never investigated it properly. I definitely will now. Thanks for the lovely comment.

  2. Love the post, Cheryl 🙂
    My best ever library moment was finding 5000 CFP in a random book. It’s the equivalent of about 50 USD now, so it must have been a lot back in the early 80s when I found it! I guess someone must have used it as a bookmark and promptly forgotten it.

    Oddly enough, I’ve never read any Jane Austen.
    When I was a kid I was more into Enid Blyton’s books and I also LOVED La Comtesse de Ségur. I guess you might not know her in the UK. Every time I walk through Jardin des Tuileries now, I’m catapulted back to those magical moments spent in my fantasy world with the very, very naughty Sophie.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Thanks Natasha! Wow that’s such a great find. I’m loving that someone would use hard currency as a bookmark. There’s something amazingly extravagant about it. I’ve never heard of La Comtesse de Ségur but I like the sound of a very naughty main character. Oh I love The Little Prince! The illustrations are beautiful too.

  3. Oh, I forgot to ask: have you read The Little Prince?

  4. Fab post Cheryl. I love libraries. Our local one has not closed, but has downsized.

    My boss in my last cage job is a direct descendant of Jane Austen. and like Jane, she has never married and her surname is Austen. She even looked like her famous relative, with similar features and dark curly hair. I didn’t get on particularly well with her, but I remember her complimenting me on a report I had written about a business trip to Canada. I was delighted that Jane Austen’s relative had complemented me on my writing abilities!

    • Make Me Joyful

      Thanks Sally! Hahah I love that you were delighted by the compliment from Jane’s relative. I would definitely have been the same. Such a great story.

  5. Amy

    [gasp!] I’m in love with your idea for a mobile library! Does it make me a bad person if I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice? I haven’t read a lot of “classics” actually. I find I’m more drawn to modern memoirs.

    Loving the blog so far. Keep up the joyful work!

    • Make Me Joyful

      Thanks so much Amy. I was thinking that if people like the idea I could do a regular addition to the library.

      And as for your admission: That’s terrible! Leave this blog immediately!

      No. I shall be similarly open and confess that I did a three year English Literature degree at Cambridge University without ever reading Pride and Prejudice. Or Jane Eyre. I know. I’ll be returning my degree certificate forthwith.

  6. Heather

    Cheryl, I love books and libraries as well. There is something too clinical about a Kindle or a PDF book. I prefer to turn the pages and feel them, as though they impart magic. They seem alive. Some of my own books just demand that I take a pencil to them to mark something wonderful, informative, or thought provoking.

    I have an old copy of Pride and Prejudice. I picked it up at a book shop before my wedding last year. It became our guest book with signatures and little words of blessing strewn throughout. We read the messages on our honeymoon. I shall cherish it always!

    Have a weekend that smiles and brings smiles to others! Or maybe a giggle or two.

    • Make Me Joyful

      You write about reading so beautifully Heather. And I love your wedding guest book idea. So special!

      Have a wonderful weekend too.

  7. I have a stack right here from my library! I always go on Fridays so that I can have a nice selection for the weekend. 🙂 I would love to get this book and then keep passing it on, what a lovely idea! And I am ashamed to admit that I have not ever read it! Ack!!
    Have a great weekend!

    • Make Me Joyful

      Ah Jennifer, I love the sound of your stack. Perfect! I’m so glad that I’m not the only one who came to Pride and Prejudice late. Definitely worth waiting for though.

      Have a wonderful weekend too.

  8. Hannah

    Loving the idea of your mobile library Cheryl – it’s wonderful!! Pride and Prejudice is one of those books I keep meaning to read and never have time to – bit like a few of the classics!

    Loving your blog – keep up the good work 🙂

    Xx

    • Make Me Joyful

      Thanks so much Hannah. I know what you mean about some of the classics. I’m embarrassed to say I only read Jane Eyre this summer. Whoops! Here’s to more lazy days reading to catch up. xx

  9. Roxanne

    I would love to borrow your book. And really….can one HAVE too many books? I think not.
    I hope you have a lovely day.
    Roxanne

    • Make Me Joyful

      I agree totally Roxanne. My dream house would include a library just so that I can have all my books in one beautiful room. Perfect. Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend.

  10. fliss

    Who dosnt love Darcy!! Xx

    • Make Me Joyful

      I can’t argue with that! xx

  11. I miss my libraries terribly! Back in my childhood in Germany I was v fond of my local library, which was not totally free for me, as I was notoriously late with returning the borrowed books. I read the hole section of horse stories, very popular in Germany, nearly always involving a girl, horses and some fabulous adventures. When I went to high school there was a marvellous library right next to a heavenly tea shop. I went thre nearly every day with my book bag, borrowed ten books for a week and later stashed them next to my bed. Eve n if I wasn’t going to read them all, it was still good to knowtheh were there, whispering their stories to me at night. And finally, at university, our library served as a haven from all the craziness off everyday student life, was the stage for one of our Shakespearian theatre workshops and some friends and I were even allowed into the dark and mysterious library cellar to sort and adopt some old books. Now I don’t use libraries, but I still like to lend books to friends and family or to buy second hand books, which also have that used cosiness.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Natalia, your library tales are fabulous; thanks for sharing them. I used to love horse stories too. We had a series called ‘Jill’s Gymkhana’ which were in a little pony themed library at the riding school we went to. Bliss. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who used to borrow far too many books; there’s just something comforting about having them there.

  12. tracey

    I am having a rough day today. one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be at peace with my choices. I am questioning them all right now. Can you please pray for me to find a little joy today? (I know it will actually be tomorrow with the time difference but that is okay) thank you.

    • Make Me Joyful

      Hi Tracey,
      I’m so sorry to hear you’re having a rough day. I really hope that you are feeling better today and more at peace. I am sending you the most joyful thoughts from London. I’m sure others reading will do the same.
      Lots of love,
      Cheryl

    • tracey

      thanks for the good thoughts Cheryl. I found the color pink cheered me up, wore a pink sweater and bought some pink tulips. (I also walked over 14k steps in the sunshine which probably didn’t hurt my mood either!)
      I am a book lover too and am thrilled to see other like minded folks. I am a big user of the libraries here. I love the fact that I can go on-line and reserve a book anywhere in the city and they will deliver it to my local library. All the benefits of a really big library found in my nice small local branch.
      Keep up the good work of spreading some joy!
      tracey

    • Make Me Joyful

      Brilliant. You’ve got to love pink (and exercise) as a mood booster. Your library sounds great too.

  13. Janie

    Hello – I am a new reader here and I absolutely love both your blog and the Joyful Revolution! I think this is a really wonderful idea and might try something similar myself – I’m an English PhD student so all about sharing the love of books. Keep up your excellent and truly joyful work!
    Janie

    • Make Me Joyful

      Hi Janie,
      Thanks for such wonderful comments. The perfect antidote to the slushy, grey, Monday morning weather. Do start your own version of the Joyful Revolution and then let me know all about it!
      Have a fabulous week,
      Cheryl

  14. Alicia

    I know it is not a book but there is a film called ‘the jane austen book club’….a group of 5 women and 1 man get together to discuss the novels of Jane Austen….really sweet film! have a lovely day, Alicia

    • Make Me Joyful

      I’ve heard of that film Alicia, but have yet to see it. One to add to the list for the next rainy day. Thank you! Hope you’ve had a lovely day too.