Friday, August 24, 2012

Summer Library Series: Library as Locus by Heather Anastasiu

This week's edition of the Summer Library Series comes from Heather Anastasiu who grew up attending the Buda, Texas public library and, like many children of small-town libraries, found herself leaving the children's section early to mingle among the adult books.  With their scent of past and page, and the columns of date-due stamps, the physicality of the books themselves led her into imaginative explorations.  


by Heather Anastasiu

I’d  . . . try to imagine all the other people 
who’d held the same book in their hands.

Public Library, Buda, Texas
The Buda Public Library stands out as a landmark of my childhood for reasons more than just my love for books. It was this great building right in the center of Main Street, within walking distance of my elementary school and my church. I’d often walk the couple blocks to the library and have my mom pick me up there if I had to stay late after school or for church choir practice. There was a gazebo off to the side that I’d sit in while I read or journaled or just sat thinking about things while I waited. Annual outdoor town fairs were held in the strip of land between Main Street and the railroad tracks, with the library as the locus. I sang carols at Christmas with my choir there and played the piccolo in my marching band as we’d parade down Main Street right past the library.

Photo by Calsidyrose, 
used under CC license
Then, of course, there was the glorious insides of the building. Growing up, especially in the long summers, I often spent more time with books than I did with people. I can remember walking through the few stacks they had and running my fingers over the spines of the books on the shelves, one by one. They didn’t have a very big kids book section, so I was reading all the Mary Higgins Clark and Robin Cook and Danielle Steel novels they had.

I liked how cold it was inside the library, a safe haven from the Texas summer. I liked the way the books smelled. That library gave me a great love for the physicality of books—the worn spines, the sometimes coffee-stained pages, the feel of the paper between my fingers. I’d pull out the little check-out cards in front of the book and look at the dates stamped on it and try to imagine all the other people who’d held the same book in their hands.

That love for the feel and smell of books stays with me still. In fact, when I got a finished copy of my debut novel in the mail last week, one of the first things I did was crack it open and inhale.


Heather Anastasiu

Heather Anastasiu lives with her husband and son in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she is at work on a fantasy trilogy for young adults. The first novel in the trilogy, Glitch (St. Martins-Griffin, 2012), debuted this month.  Anastasiu is currently on her online book tour. 

Check out to find out whether your local library has works by Anastasiu.