the lie-berry

a former colleague of mine at our city's art museum, who subsequently worked at a public library, would mockingly refer to his place of employment with a child's pronunciation. call it lie-berry, or library, i love ours. located only about a thousand feet from my front door, i frequent it often. 

last weekend, perusing the nytimes book review, i noticed that e books have joined print books in the best seller lists. i realize that digital publishing is revolutionizing the industry and downloading books on one's e reader is the new norm. 

but i guess i'm old norm.   (just don't call me norm ;-)

not only do i love hard copy books (until recently, that would have sounded completely redundant) but i love library books. 

case in point: 
swamplandia! by karen russell. 

published only last month, i promptly went to the lie-berry to check it out. 

no luck. long wait list. they had me down as number 30 (the book was the cover review of the nyt book review, after all)

but the other day, i got my robo-call to let me know it was waiting for me. i guess the other 29 read fast.

not only do i love reading the book itself, i enjoy reading all the appendages: the back flap, 

with the acknowledgements 

but especially the curious library of congress scribblings. 
just a perusal of them alone tells a tale in itself:

1. Girls - Fiction.  2. Mothers - Death - Fiction.  3. Motherless families - Fiction.  4. Amusement parks - Fiction.  5. Alligators - Fiction.  6. Everglades (Fla.) - Fiction.  7. Ten Thousand Islands (Fla.) - Fiction. 

speaking of books, a few months ago when visiting my son at college, i came across a strange one. we had gone for breakfast at a local pancake/pie house, and while waiting to be seated i noticed a table in the reception area. upon closer look i saw it was a book sale - old paperbacks, some hardcover, a messy mix of genres. but among the peeled back dustjackets and pile of bad romance pulp an eye-grabbing cover peered back at me; a bold fauve landscape with a 50s vintage automobile cruising along a road lined with spiky cypress trees and the title "appointment in samarra" emblazoned across the scene. it was so appealing that i almost bought it - i like to think 50 cents was penciled on the first page, but i honestly don't remember. 

last weekend, on the back page of the ny times book review, an ad for bauman rare books caught my eye. smack dab in the middle of the page was
yep. you got it.....


so the next time i visit my son you can bet your lie-berry card i'm making a beeline to the pie hole paradise to see if it's still there. 

back to russell's book. i'm only on page 113, but suffice it to say, it's a deliciously squishy evergladian mud-between-your-toes mangrove swamp of genres. one reviewer said it best and i completely agree: put to kill a mockingbird's scout in the midst of garcia marquez' 100 years of solitude, and you're close.

but don't take my word for it. go check it out for yourself -- 

at your local lie-berry.


  1. What a catchy, witty title! It got me over here!!

    I do like my eReader, my Nook. I can afford to buy more books this way. But I'm with you all the way with this post. I love printed books; these are the kind of books I've read my whole long life. And my daughter and I LOVE Lie-Berries!! I hope they never die. How wonderful that you live so close to one. We did before we moved to Virginia, which was lovely for Jen. That has been a loss, plus the fact that the one in our somewhat small city isn't very wheelchair accessible; nor does it have the ambiance our previous once did.

  2. Oh Amanda, I haven't visited the library in years. I miss it so much but i do not have time to read like I used to. When I pick up a book, I get carried away and sometimes I cannot put it down. You can't really do that with a 5 year old around the house :)

  3. Mine is only a twenty minutes walk away (up the church hill, down the church hill, past a hotel where you can watch well-clad guests breakfasting), situated in a park, and it`s a lovely old villa with squeaky floor boards. You must consider the few opening hours, and they still have no computers but write everything by hand - the whole library is a wonderful old-fashioned adventure! What would we be without them. May they never die!
    I hope you can still get that book!

  4. still love the library. you know what i miss? the library cards--the ones you would fill out in pencil. aw....good library memories. thanks for visiting and following my blog, allowing me to follow you:)

  5. Send your son! Now. Get off and call him, get him to go after that book.


    how do you smell an e-book? mark a page? hold what others have held? the word belongs on paper. i'm pretty sure i'm turning into an old person 'cause i'm already sure i'm not gunna change. gunna stay in my ways.


  6. I work with small children and I hear the word, "lie-berry", quite often. I love it. Thanks for this book suggestion...will be checking this out soon.

  7. I love lie-berries and printed books (sorry - NO to kindle!). I love turning those pages and the smell of books...
    Can you imagine my dismay when one night, on my way home, I stood infront of a bookstore (few blocks from home) with a big sign on the door (BOOKSTORE CLOSING SOON!).
    Broke my heart!

  8. Panda-loved the "lie-berry" post. Just a quick shout-out for the e-book-which you sibs were so dear to gift-me. It brought me back to the enjoyment of reading-which I thought I had lost-without all the eye strain to mention-too! But just like movie theatres are still around to celebrate the movie-going experience that we still enjoy-libraries must be maintained in our communities to celebrate the same experience for the book-hardcover, paperback and yes-even room for the e-book, too. Thansk for reminding us of that.

  9. amanda, we should have got you into one show of the Reading Between the Lions series. It's about a family of muppet-lions who run a library. "Get yourself a card and you've got yourself a key," was part of a recurring song.

    And did you phone your son to go get the book?

  10. Mine is a ten minutes walk, friendly and lively. I love old bookstores, those with piles and piles of old books. Have you ever been to Powells in Portland?

  11. Yes, I also prefer old-fashion books and searching in "regular" libraries for something that is interesring for me
    anyway I find reading from screen a little bit tiring

  12. We've called it lie-berry ever since one of the kids first called it that years ago. Moral of the story: if your gut feeling tells you to grab an old book for 50 cents, do it.

  13. I adore books and when we built this new house (10 years ago) we built our own Lie-berry room, which is full to the brim and books all over the floor already. But...i have gotten hooked on my iPad kindle for some books but not for all books. it's not for the quirky, or out of print, or unusual - it's mostly for popular books.

    And I want to read that swamplandia - and am off to find out about it.

    You DIDN"t buy the book??? 50Cents??? yikes....

  14. Great post Amanda. How lucky to live so close to a library. And i'm glad your name came up so fast! i've had the same thing happen, i guess they must have several hidden copies.

    It breaks my heart to see book stores closing, and i did read too that ebooks had surpassed hard copy books in places like Borders and Barnes and Noble.

    Both of these closed here in Santa Barbara this summer, right on State St. we were shocked. I won't download a book to my ipad, as much as i appreciate the technology. There is NOTHING like a real book.

    And i bought Swamplandia in NYC! at the independant Shakespeare on Lexington, but i've been saving it, have to finish the Wilbur Smith (old africa) i'm reading now.


  15. first of all, amanda, it amazes me that lori bought swamplandia already and i had not even heard of it! i am a bad writer that i do not keep up with wonderful new books. :(

    this is a great post. i've enjoyed every word and picture. maybe you should call the diner and see if they still have the book? maybe? right?

    i would!!!!

    love to you!

  16. These days I’m more likely to buy an ebook of adult literary fiction because it’s half the cost and a fraction of the weight, now that I have a Kindle. I still buy mostly physical books in YA because they are less pricy, and I want to share them with my daughter. If I adore a book, though, I want a hard copy to revisit. There was an interesting article in the NYT recently about ebooks in libraries and publishers wanting to have them expire in a year because they don’t wear out.

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Swamplandia and planned to buy it, but after reading a couple of chapters in the bookstore, I changed my mind. Alligator wrestling is just too cruel for me to consider even in fiction. Our library is slow at getting new releases.

  17. Nothing, nothing, NOTHING beats holding a real book in one's hands, savouring the smell of really old ones (I am the proud owner of a first English edition of Voltaire's Biography of Charles XII of Sweden - a hero of mine.) I belong to Blackwell's Book Store in Oxford. The surprise as you turn a page and find an illustration - or a previous reader's scrawled note.... it's mysterious and romantic - and no plastic tablet can compare!

    I am sorry you missed that chance for the 50 cents know another one will come along!

    Your Twin - in literature too!

    ♥ Robin ♥

  18. ann - libraries do vary widely in ambiance, so i feel lucky indeed to have such a gem nearby~

    loree - with a 5 year old, you pretty much have your hands full! maybe read a book together, though? ;-)

    geli - oh! a library where they still write everything down!! how quaint! and i thought they had all given over completely to computers -- your library is a treasure indeed~

    deborah - i remember those written cards and pencils well -- and the old card catalogues, too - always a worry that they would tip over and the contents go spilling out on the floor!

    thanks for dropping by!

    erin - yes. of course! the idea that a book has been held by others.... i hadn't thought of it that way -- e books are yet one more opportunity for human connection to be erased and sanitized. books hold not only words, but memories. i guess i'm gunna hold onto my ways, too, dear erin. xoxo

  19. farmchick - let me know if you like swamplandia!

    girl - oh, that's so sad........every time a book stores closes it feels sort of forboding. esp if it's an independent bookstore.

    hey, thanks for visiting!!

    famous - as long as we don't get rid of libraries, i'm all for e-readers, as i know you have really benefited from yours. our local library has also become a meeting place for people and hangout for students to do their homework after school - so it serves many purposes.

    thanks for commenting, dear sister ~ xoxo

    rob bear - i would love to see reading between the lions- what a cute title!

    and no, i haven't told my son to look up the book because he's home on spring break - but will ask him to drop by on his way back!

    rosaria - not only have i not been to powells, i've never been to portland! rest assured that when i do visit, it will be on my must - see list!

  20. ola - that's interesting that you find reading on the screen tiring -- you have to wonder how it effects the eye differently than reading the traditional page?

    tess - you can bet the next time i come upon a book and that 'gut' feeling kicks in, i'm forking over the 50 cents ;-)

    mim - oh, what a dream - to have a library in one's house --- do you have one of those tall ladders that slides along the walls as well?

    lori - i thought i saw the shakespeare bookstore in one of your fotos you posted on your ny trip! hey, let me know how you are liking swamplandia! - we can hold our own little book club (hehe)

    that is amazing that both barnes and borders shut down on state street. if santa barbara can't support those stores, who can?


  21. kj - i may just break down and call tomorrow instead of waiting for my son to drop by next week -- and you have to wonder what other possible gems i passed up on that table?!

    (yes - what a funny coincidence that lori and i are both reading the same book - why don't you as well and we can hold our own long distance book club???;-)


    sarah - expiration in a year? i'll have to look up that article - one thing is for sure, it's a whole new world for publishing.

    it makes sense to buy a book both you and your daughter can share - but i do wonder how nice it would be to have an e reader on a long trip and not have to carry all that weight in books.....

    the gator wrestling didn't bother me so much as they don't hurt the creatures -- but it's the main character that i'm really worried about....

    robin - woweee -- voltaire's biography of charles xii of sweden -- you are the most esoteric reader of all!! and just now i'm remembering i've been to blackwells -- verrry long time ago (i was a girl) but it's coming back to me -- thanks for that memory dear twin!!

    p.s. you are right - nothing can duplicate holding a real book in one's hand. as long as e-readers can coexist with good old fashioned books, we can breathe a sigh of relief ~

  22. I miss library books. I love the smell and the plastic covers.

  23. Dear Amanda,
    I am returning your very kind visit of yesterday and already your profile description caught my interest in the most profound way.
    Your life experiences must be one of a kind - when I was a child, I dreamed about being an archeologist. I was and am still intrigued with ancient Rome and Greece and history overall.

    As for your post - it truly brought on a a sense of the fact that there are no coincidences.;)
    So, I guess you could have made a fortune, but now you can only smile at the fact that you did not and next time, when you experience an urge to do something, I am sure you will go for it.;) A lesson learned.;)

    I love libraries and the idea of books in print. Libraries had a very important part to play in my childhood when I was a kid of immigrants.

    Thank you again for your visit and a very kind comment.
    Greetings from Denmark,

  24. I'll join you in the "old school" category. Although I generally like paperbacks better than hardcovers, I still prefer anything printed to an e-reader. :)

  25. I join you in your love of 'real' books. To me, it's not just the information contained in the book, it's the book itself, as well.

    I've struggled with this for a while now ( but I see the writing on the wall...or the Kindle as the case may be. Books are an endangered species.


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