You might be surprised to hear that any avid reader wouldn't have a library card, which was one of my cherished possessions as a child. Upon growing up and eventually being able to buy my own books, a trip to my local library became less and less of a thing to do.
Thanks to my younger sister(who is developing her own interest in reading), I was encouraged to visit one of the libraries in our area on Saturday and while she offered to get me anything I wanted with her card, I thought it best to have one of my own again. Not only was it easy to do, I enjoyed having a shiny plastic card that would hold up much better than the pale cardboard with metal bar inserted ones that were available when I was a kid.
A good portion of my childhood and teen years were spent at the library, a place that allowed me a real taste of what freedom of choice was like. My parents never had any problems with what I read but still, being able to pick and choose what I wanted by myself was a sheer joy:
What makes this card extra special is that it is the first New York Public Library card that I've ever had(my previous ones were from Westchester County). The branch that I went to is small but charmingly cozy, trimmed in dark wood with a pair of sleeping lions at the front door.
This card does allow me to visit other branches,of course, and kind of makes me feel very cosmopolitan. The NYPL has a vast collection that includes art and literature from various points in history, along with opportunities to see authors, check out specially themed exhibits and learn so much more about the world of books and their influence upon society from one generation to the next:
Curtis Settenfeld's Eligible is the fourth(and most likely last) entry in The Austen Project, which tapped modern day authors such as Joanna Trollope, Alexander McCall Smith and Val Dermid to do their own take on Jane's work.
Settenfeld was given Pride and Prejudice, no doubt to the envy of some, and she really makes this version of that well known story sing. Here, the Bennet family is set in Cincinnati, with Jane and Liz being well over thirty.
The older girls live and work in New York but come home when their father has health troubles(not to mention financial ones), doing much more than their younger siblings as Kitty and Lydia are mainly devoted to CrossFit training and Mary prefers to take online courses that take her no further than her own room.
P&P is a novel that Austen fans love to have new versions of, so it can be daunting to take this particular classic on. Sittenfeld wisely allows herself to have fun with the basics of the plot and characters while also allowing these versions of Elizabeth Bennet and Darcy to have depth and charisma of their own.
So far, I'm really enjoying Eligible, which was also smart enough to give itself a new name, and looking forward to more page turning delights to come from it. Out of all of the books written for The Austen Project, Eligible promises to be this series' crown jewel:
Having a library card does feel very fulfilling and it will expand my reading access greatly. Whether you buy, borrow, download or receive books as a gift, reading is one of the few habits that improves over time and can never have too many ways to engage in it. To read is to live, in my opinion, and my new library card will be all the more appreciated for reviving my literary spirits as an essential part of my life: