Or just one particular conversation. It is a truth universally acknowledged blah blah anyway I’m writing my dissertation on romantic literature, including Jane Austen, and after meeting with the advisers I made another trip to the stacks to grab a quick nine books to add to my boy-it-would-be-nice-if-I-read-this-one-day collection. I’m at the library more than I would like to admit (but less than I used to) so I know most of the librarians by sight if not by name.
Today one of them asked me, “Do you like to read poetry?” It was a fairly innocent and easily answered question. Two of my chosen books had “poetry” in the title, one was Daisy Hay’s Young Romantics (it was on the NYT’s bestseller list!) and the rest were, well, Romantic. So I said yeah, and she asked “Do you read any contemporary poetry?”
Flash back to my quest to be a contemporary poetry maven. I answered, yes, but I don’t know as many as I would like. She said she liked Adrienne Rich, I said I liked Sylvia Plath, she said, oh, who is that other confessional poet that was a contemporary of Plath?
I had no idea, my Norton anthology fleeing my head as she spoke. Embarrassed, we both did the, “gosh if you had asked me 5 seconds earlier I would know” dance. She said, I’ll look it up and next time I see you, I’ll tell you.
Sure, ok. How many times do we say that in a day?
But to my little cynic’s surprise, there in my inbox were the names: Anne Sexton and Margaret Atwood. Brilliant poets, and just to my taste.
Thus proving that librarians are infinitely more well-read than I could hope to be and also very nice to boot.
Take home lesson: Make friends with your librarians and they will ALWAYS put the right book (or poem) into your hands.
Stay thirsty, my friends.