Eight years ago this week I landed the awesome job of being the Library Director. My family and I were still new to town and didn’t know many people, but we were not afraid to jump into what Lewistown had to offer. Namely, the pool. Now, the story I’m about to relate to you is one of my most embarrassing moments, and for those of you who know me, you know I do not get embarrassed easily. However, I feel that after eight years I can air this dirty laundry and come to terms with what took place.
The setting is the pool. My children are young so they are hanging out in the shallow end. I place my towel on the concrete and proceed to recline and read my book. Keep in mind, I am wearing a swimsuit which I am pretty sure, (ladies, back me up) is a garment one doesn’t feel the most confident in. Nevertheless, I am here to relax so on my towel I go, book in hand, sunglasses on. I picked the book up at the Book Station at their monthly sale, and was probably three chapters in. The name of this little gem eludes me now, but it is a historic novel. Well, it’s more of a romance novel. Fine, it’s actually a “trashy” paperback. I’m reading a trashy paperback.
Now comes the interesting part. While I am sunning there, reading my trashy book, wearing my swimsuit, new to town, I get a visitor. Towering above me, a father with children my children’s age introduces himself. Not really knowing what to do in my vulnerable position, I nod and smile, introduce myself back to him. Then he says, “You are the new Library Director aren’t you?” Yes, I say trying to figure out if I should sit up or stay where I am. Then he asks the question, the source of my embarrassment all those years ago – “What are you reading?”
What does a new Library Director say? Maybe “literary criticism,” or “an account of Lewis and Clark’s travels” or even “the new bestseller.” But no, I am caught. I am sure he can see the cover and title of my little paperback, which is probably rated PG-13 at best. I stare speechless in my swimsuit, looking up from a reclined position, holding that trashy novel. To this day, I have no idea what I said, but I remember being so embarrassed that I soon packed up the kids, towels, and that guilty little book and scuttled home.
Years later, after reliving this moment over and over, struggling for closure and forgiveness, I asked this particular father if he remembered the time at the pool. His children come to the Library, the father’s family and my family are friends, and his wife is one of the sweetest people I know. But when asked, he looked at be blankly. “That’s when I first met you? Huh. I don’t remember that.” Glorious readers! What a weight has been lifted off my shoulders! But honestly, I realized I couldn’t stop there. I must be the voice for all those people out there who read such trash and LIKE IT. No longer should people be embarrassed to check out such authors in the library. No more will they return their books to the book drop under the cover of darkness. I say – Free Yourself! Check out those trashy books! And to make it even easier, we have set up a display of our best “romance” novelists, one that covers all areas of the genre from swashbucklers and cowboys to paranormal ghosts and psychics (I just found out about this kind!). Some authors to peruse are Kat Martin, Jaime Rush, Carolyn Brown, Jude Deveraux, Joan Johnston and Diana Palmer. With titles like, “Desert Heat,” “Just a Cowboy and His Baby,” and “After the Kiss,” we hope to take away the stigma of reading trashy novels and put them out in the Library front and center. Check them out – remember, one woman’s trash is another woman’s treasure. Taking a page from Miss Scarlett O’Hara – “As God is my witness, I will never be embarrassed again!”