Last weekend I found myself in a truck stop in central PA with a fiendish problem. What to choose?
Louis L'Amour? A volume in an endless fantasy series? Or a grit-filled true-life testosterone-fueled story by a marine or a special-op or a terrorist fighter? Which book could I take to bed? What book could I count on to get me through the night when I found myself awake at 3 am?
This was my biggest book disaster in years. Love's has a bigger selection of ready-to-eat franks, wieners, hot dogs, cheddar wursts, brats, kielbasy, and smoked sausages than books. How could I have left home without something to read?!? Then, behind Sand and Blood: Fighting for America's Freedom in a Godless Country*, I saw it. My salvation. Something I could read -- Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August. Okay, sure, it was about war. Not my favorite subject. But at least it didn't glorify war. I could read it. I could. The clerk at the counter said, "Great book!" I was set.
That night I hardly got through the opening materials (preface, foreword) but I was pleased to read this in the Author's Note:
"I should like to express my appreciation of the unsurpassed resources of the New York Public Library and, at the same time, a hope that somehow, someday in my native city a way will be found to make the Library's facilities for scholars match its incomparable material."
Thanks, Barbara. We're still working on it. This story has a happy ending, but please, for your sake, visit the library before you travel and take out something good to read.
*Don't try to find this. Title made up.