"Books are our friends."

My mother explained this to me at an early age. The pages of a book were not to be scribbled in, torn up, or folded. We visited the public library regularly and books were welcomed as gifts. To me, the feel and smell of a new book still continues to be extraordinary. The promise of what could be discovered inside remains a unique adventure. There’s a strong trend in my life of loving everything related to books.

Photo courtesy of VAAAC

1. Libraries

My first real job after college was with the Anne Arundel County Public Library. I was hired just in time for the opening of the newly constructed Severna Park branch in 1972. As a Young Adult (YA) Library Associate, I worked primarily with the YA collection, but had access to all new books. My duties included going to middle schools to present book talks, enticing students with descriptions of the newest releases. A highlight of my of library employment was a job on the bookmobile. Learning to drive that huge vehicle seemed daunting but I passed the driving test. Bringing books to communities without a library nearby was rewarding. On May 2, 2020, the new state-of-the-art Michael E. Busch Annapolis Library will hold a grand opening on the site of the original library at 1410 West Street. In the meantime, check out the new location and enlarged space of Discoveries: The Library at the Annapolis Mall opening February 18, 2020.

Photo courtesy of the author.

2. Book Festivals

On April 25, 2020, the Annapolis Book Festival will be held at Key School from 10am to 5pm. The event schedule will be posted in March. In general, this annual event consists of family activities, a huge book sale, and appearances by a number of well known authors. We have attended for the past several years and it was difficult toting home our bags of books. Last September, we went to the History Book Festival in Lewes, DE especially to hear Alice Hoffman discuss here latest book, The World That We Knew. Up and down the streets, this waterfront town participated in the festival and it will be happening again in 2020.

Photos courtesy of the author.

3. Book Clubs

Joining a book club is a wonderful way to share the love and enthusiasm of reading. I belong to two book clubs and enjoy the varied experiences. One club has been together for about 8 years. We meet at a round table in a restaurant to discuss the assigned book(s) as well as recommending others. There are differing opinions and everyone feels free to express herself. Some book clubs even dress up or serve food based on the theme of the book. If you aren’t inclined to join a group in person, try an online book club. If you’re on Facebook, check out Women Reading Great Books. It’s an informative and active group of book lovers.

4. Author Appearances

My favorite book-related activity is attending author events. It’s interesting to hear authors speak about their books and writing techniques. Some say they begin by laying out the entire story in outline format, others start writing and see where is goes, while one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Strout said that she “creates scenes with a heartbeat” and puts them together to construct her books. Meeting an author at a book signing and exchanging a few words (memorializing it with a photo) is fun. Watch for announcements of author appearances at libraries, bookstores, and book festivals.