Read a New Book Month

Posted by Jeff Pauls on 9th Oct 2018

Read a New Book Month

Even though last month was officially Read a New Book Month, “Read any good books lately?” is always a great question. It’s a fun way to get to know another person. Some people only read fiction. Others read only nonfiction. Some read mainly mysteries, while others only read history. DIY books are very popular, as is fiction featured on the NY Times bestseller list. Point is, if you like to read, there is something for you. And what you like to read--says something about you. When you ask someone what they’re reading, they get a chance to show you a side of themselves you may not know.

Discussing books is also a great way to broaden each others’ interests and add to reading lists. When you know someone, their recommendation carries more weight. You at least have a place to start. All the choices can make it hard to know where to start. There’s so much out there. At the same time, searching and access has gotten much easier. Just a couple clicks, and finding and acquiring a book can be quite easy.

With the age of the internet it would seem that traditional books might be on their way out. It was once said, with the advent of computers, that we would become a paperless society. At one point it looked inevitable. Case in point, when I first moved to Lancaster County (1988), one of my favorite pastimes was to browse the bookstores in Lancaster city. I found some real treasures. But alas, they’re gone. They were squeezed out by the ‘fresh’ look and feel of the mega bookstores and then the internet. It appeared that paper was on its way out. But in the last few years, the page has turned once again. In fact, independent bookstores are making quite a comeback. Ryan Raffaelli, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of an upcoming study on the independent bookstore business says, “From 2009 till today, they've seen almost now a 40 percent increase in their numbers.”

This is encouraging news for people who like to read. Because readers, while they’re not opposed to reading from an electronic device, still appreciate traditional books and magazines. Some of this appreciation has to turning actual pages, holding your finger where you’ve been reading while flipping back a page to check a name, or just feeling the weight and size of a book. But it also has to do with physically going to a place and being able to browse stacks of books. Proprietors and librarians are often very helpful and the conversations that can ensue are an added bonus (or maybe even the real appeal).

Even as I miss the old bookstores I used to browse, there are a number of bookstores that have sprung up in the last few years. Moyer’s Book Barn is a unique favorite of mine that actually survived. It’s in an old red barn and carries a wide range of titles. It’s just a couple miles west of Strasburg on Village Road. “With over 35,000 hardcover books - first editions, signed editions and rare books that you won't find anywhere else -something for everyone young and old!” Others that have appeared in the last few years are Aaron’s Books, The Rabbit & Dragonfly, and DogStar Books. They’re all on my ‘to visit’ list.

Another wonderful thing about traditional books is...libraries! As a kid, our public library (Dallas, OR) was a favorite on a hot summer afternoon. Roaming from shelf to shelf, it was easy to lose track of time as the exploration lead from one topic to another. The books I brought home filled many an hour under a shade tree. Another fond memory is my school library. That librarian was great at reading to kids. Her name was Mrs. Smith. She had been my teacher in third grade. When she took over the library I was pretty excited, because I knew how good she was with books.

Every day after noon recess, Mrs. Smith would read to us. It was truly magical. No one held a candle to her reading of Pippi Long stockings. When Pippi yelled, Mrs. Smith yelled. When Pippi made a face, Mrs. Smith made a face. I know, right? This was 1973. Teachers were adults. Seeing this side of any adult outside of our parents was a rare thing. Even as she was stern and commanding, we also knew she cared for us. She was my favorite teacher ever. She’s the one who noticed I needed eye therapy. Getting that help changed my life. Reading became a joy and not a headache (literally). Because of her I found my confidence and my love of books.

So anyway, back to libraries, our Libraries in Lancaster County are excellent. They are well staffed and excellent for browsing, doing research, and great for kids activities. And of course, Pequea Valley Library is just down the road from Kauffman’s Fruit Farm. The staff there is very helpful and knowledgeable. They have a wide selection and a great reading area.

So, whether you read traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks, why not pick up a new book today? It’s a great way to expand your mind and keep yourself mentally fit! And who knows, it might give you and your friends something to talk about.