by Robert Gillis
Published in the Foxboro Reporter, 8/1998
So, read any good books lately? Have you been to the library lately?
I read a lot these days, but it wasn’t always so. Nope, if you go back to the summer I was 12, it was very much the opposite. I remember that hot summer day, and a friend of mine had his nose in a huge library book. I’d asked him if it was a school book, and he said he was reading just for fun.
“You’ll never see me reading in the summer!” I exclaimed. “I read what I have to in school, but that’s it!”
Ah, youth. Stupid youth. That was me.
Fortunately, junior high and high school soon illuminated me to the concept of the “Summer required reading list” and I was introduced to a great many books that I would normally never have looked at. While Homer’s “Odyssey” proved extremely challenging (we’re talking serious drowsiness) for the most part I liked the assigned books, although I always disliked being quizzed on things later (i.e., “Explain in 900 words how Tolkein uses metaphors of Death in “The Hobbit.”)
But something sneaky happened during that time I was reading all those assigned books – I was also reading for fun. Reading a lot.
I look back now and reflect how happy I am that I read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “A Separate peace,” “Call of the Wild,” “A Christmas Carol,” “Death of a Salesman,” or Lee Iacocca’s “Talking Straight.” Sure, many assigned books were, shall we say, snoozers, but many were very enjoyable.
One thing I wish we had back then is what I consider my best find of recent years: “Audio novels,” also called “Books on tape.” What a concept! On audio cassette you have someone who reads the book to you. Many of these are enhanced with sound effects and music, and the speakers often do a great job. For example, I just listened to Carl Sagan’s “Contact” (one of my all time favorite books) read by Jodi Foster, who starred in the movie. Marsha Clarke’s recounting in her own words of the OJ trial was very compelling as well. John Grisham’s “The Firm” was much better than the movie. General H. Norman Schwarzkopf’s impressive autobiography, “It doesn’t take a hero,” was unforgettable.
Audio novels are great because when you’re busy (and who isn’t these days?) you can simply snap one into the cassette deck of the car or the boom box while you’re working. You pass boring driving time not listening to the same music or same news, but by enriching yourself.
Audio novels also have another great advantage – you get the chance to listen to books you might normally not pick up. For example, I’m a big Tom Clancy (“Hunt for Red October” and many others) fan, but the 500 pages of one his recent novels was just too time-consuming. So I listened to the audio novel instead – turns out it wasn’t one of the better ones. Sometimes you listen to an audio novel and decide to go back and read the book; other times the audio is quite enough.
Which brings me to my point. Have you been to the library lately? Boyden Library has audio books – a lot of them. You can borrow them for free.
And did you know you can borrow movies – yes, movies – at the library? A lot of them. Not the most recent blockbuster, but a lot of movies. Everything from exercise videos to travel to documentaries and a surprisingly large number of recent hits.
Did I mention that this is all free? yes, your tax dollars pay for it, but it is effectively free to all!
Boyden is linked up with many other libraries though a computer system. This remarkably user-friendly system allows you to peruse the area library’s full catalog easily. For those of you who remember the dreaded library card catalog system, this is a great example of how technology has made life easier. It’s much simpler to find what you are looking for.
Here’s an example. After seeing Titanic, I jumped onto the system and punched in “TITANIC.” There were videos. Books. Audio Books. The ABLE system told me what library they were located in, and if they were available. With a few keys pressed, I reserved a few – and days later, I received a call: “This is the Boyden Library, your books have arrived.” And this is all free!
And of course, the library contains more books than you could read in a lifetime on every subject you can imagine. The classics to the most recent best sellers are all available. You can find just about any book in print through ABLE. There’s even large type books. There’s newspapers going back a few months for research projects, too.
But wait, there’s more! Our library offers free (or greatly discounted) passes to many local museums, such as the Museum of Science, Museum of Fine Arts, JFK Museum, Children’s museum, and many others. You can reserve these passes for a day and see these great places for a fraction of the cost. Many of these include bonuses such as discounts at the museum gift shop.
There are also several New England Aquarium passes.
And this is all free!
There are frequent exhibits at Boyden, as well as regular activities announced in this paper. Our library offers a great deal for everyone – not just for school kids writing papers!
Have you been to the library lately?