Taunton Library was my sanctuary when I was 17. It was the place in which I hid from everyone in order to read the books I wanted to read. The place to which I went when I skived off from lessons. My bolthole away from people my age with whom I just could not communicate.
I’d seek out the quietest corner of the YA section, where there was always a comfy chair, take off both my shoes and tuck them underneath and, like an overweight 17-year-old version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, would sit there whole afternoons and pore over any book of my choosing. I hated the books I was meant to be reading – Austen, Chaucer, volumes chronicling the Nazi rule in Germany. I wanted to read teen novels which really, according to my English teacher, I should have grown out of. I wanted to read Point Horror and Romance. I wanted to read The Wind in the Willows and The Railway Children. The aforementioned Roald Dahl. And in the library, I could do just that. I could read whatever I liked, and the only onuses on me were to look after the books and keep the noise down.
And people just left me alone. Sure, there was the odd waif and stray who would sit next to me and eat some rancid sandwich or try to strike up a conversation, or cough their way jaggedly through my precious silence while trying to lose themselves in a Barbara Cartland. But, by and large, I was left to my own devices and I loved it. The comfy chair was my throne, the towering bookshelves were my battlements and I was the queen of my own castle. It was the only place in the whole world where I felt powerful, and as a teenager with chronically low self esteem, this was vital.
Had I not had this amazing, free service to explore my own literary choices, I know I would not be a writer of YA fiction now. Libraries empower everyone who enters them and in my opinion, should be protected at all costs. As Oscar Wilde once said ‘It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.’ A library determined what I would eventually be, and for that I will be forever in its debt.
Thank you Claire for such a wonderful guest post, I for one identify completely with the library as a
Don’t forget to check out Claire’s book Rockaholic
Jody loves Jackson Gaitlin. At his only UK concert, she’s right at the front. But when she’s caught in the crush and sent back stage she has more than concussion to contend with. Throw in a menacing manager, a super-wired super-star, and a curly-wurly, and she finds herself taking home more than just a poster. It’s the accidental kidnapping of the decade. But what happens if you’ve a rock god in your garage that doesnt want to leave? Jody’s stuck between a rock-idol and a hard place!