Actually, the Leeds Library is my luxury!
I signed up to join The Leeds Library on 5 March 2008 and have never looked back. In fact I don’t know why I didn’t do so decades ago but there were several reasons for this. Membership was a bit more restricted in the old days, one had to buy shares. I thought I would never manage to get into Leeds every week or so. And I thought it would be outrageously expensive. But it’s turned out that none of those reasons apply now.
Each time I push the door open I enter a paradise – the smell, the smiles of the counter staff, the walls and walls of books, the lovely solid polished library furniture all combine to give me the most uplifting feeling imaginable. And I’m there almost every week.
I think there are rules but I have not yet fallen foul of them. I currently have 15 books on loan one of which is a 12 week loan and has been renewed 13 times! If another borrower requests it I’ll take it back straight away but I need time to read these huge tomes – there’s a time and a place for Orlando Figes’ ‘Natasha’s Dance’ and Edna Healey’s ‘Coutts & Co.: a portrait of a private bank’. I’m still working my way through the 8 times renewed ‘Queen Mary’. I have another 2 books brought up from the depths of the basement stack especially for me: Joanna Cannan’s ‘Little I understood’ and Sarah Orne Jewett’s ‘The Queen’s Twin and other stories’. Waiting patiently to be read are some brand new books (Jane Brown’s ‘The omnipotent magician’ and ‘The Maids of La Rochelle’ by Elinor Brent-Dyer) which I’m the first person to borrow. I have several other books, taken straight from the shelves, (‘Pushkin’s Button’ by Serena Vitale, ‘A literary pilgrim’ by Edward Thomas) or the waiting list has finally got down to me (‘We are Besieged’ by Barbara Fitzgerald, ‘Hidden Treasures of England’ by Michael McNay).
In addition to books we can borrow magazines and DVDs. I’m on the list for The New Yorker which has at least one long article well worth reading alongside a couple of shorter ones and I absolutely love the cartoons. On the back page there is a competition – a new cartoon with no caption, a cartoon with 3 selected captions for readers to vote for and finally the winning caption with its cartoon. Never a dud! The other weekly magazine I’m on the list for is Country Life. This is because they often feature old houses, buildings, gardens and sometimes Landmark Trust properties. It’s almost as entertaining looking at the property pages in Country Life as it is studying the cartoons in the New Yorker!
Who needs Lovefilm? I don’t. On Friday I will be returning ‘Mildred Pierce’. Over the years I’ve caught up with missed TV programmes like ‘Who do you think you are?’, ‘Any human heart’ and the complete ‘Pallisers’ and I see from my Reservations List that ‘Daniel Deronda’ is waiting for me to enjoy on a winter evening next week. Now how civilised is that?