A regular patron was having trouble with her computer’s headphones.
Me: “Do me a favor and go to YouTube.com. Just click on the first video you see, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
She navigated to YouTube and hesitated before clicking on an Eminem music video.
Me: “Go ahead and click it—it doesn’t matter what it is, I just want to see if the volume will work.”
As the music video played, I adjusted the volume controls on the computer as well as on the headphones themselves.
Me: “Hrm…it does seem a bit quiet even when it’s turned up all the way, but I think it might be loud enough to hear what’s going on.”
Woman: “Can we try a Whitney Houston song?”
She searched and selected a Whitney Houston music video.
Me [handing her the headphones]: “Yep, same problem. But see if you think it’s loud enough.”
Woman [holding it up to her ears]: “Oh yeah, that’s not loud enough. Should we try Aretha?”
I mean yeah, I have tons of unread books on my shelf, but do you think that’ll stop me from buying more?
Enter the Librarian, a review by Josh Hanagarne
I visited a book club recently. During some Q & A, one of the readers said “You mentioned that when you were a kid you had a crush on Fern from Charlotte’s Web. Did you, or do you, have any other literary crushes?”
Yes. As an adult, nothing has ever revved me up quite like the possibly imaginary woman from the early pages of The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. But that is a tale for another column. As a kid, Fern’s most serious competition was a bad girl. And a strong one.
The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren, made me nervous. Ever since I read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I always wanted to have the courage to misbehave, but I was too nervous and polite. I tried to play along when I found myself in the company of more rambunctious children because I was a people-pleasing weenie, but I usually just wanted to do what I was told.
Pippi, however, did whatever she wanted. She was such a free spirit that it made me squirm, both with envy and with agitation. Pippi lived alone in Villa Villekula. She had her own horse (it only took one hand for her to lift it.) Her monkey’s name is Mr. Nillson. She was rich, and rich in gold coins, no less. Her father was a cannibal king. She quickly made friends with the slightly stuffy and timid Tommy and Annika, her next door neighbors. I identified with them more than with her, but I wanted to be Pippi.
When I asked my mom what a cannibal was, she said, “What are you reading?”
When she asked why my feet were on my pillow, while my head was at the foot of my bed, I couldn’t tell her that that was how Pippi slept.
When I asked her if she had ever fought a circus strongman, or if she’d ever walked all over the furniture just to see how long she could go without touching the ground, she said “no,” and then told me to stay off of her coffee tables.
When I asked if I could grow my hair out into red pigtails, she said “Your hair is blond.” Then she sat down and read Pippi with me and said “Oh I remember this!”
My mom would say that Pippi kind of reminded her of a female Peter Pan. She didn’t remind me of anyone, and that remains the appeal for me. I recently checked out a big, beautiful, illustrated copy of all the Pippi stories, and laughed myself sick. I was so charmed by the artwork and the storytelling that I contemplated calling in sick just to keep reading. And it’s a kid’s book! My six year old son has been reading it with me, but it’s more for me than for him.
Pippi Longstocking, both the book and the character, are impossibly fun, irresistible, and generous. If you’re a fan of Roald Dahl, The Wind in the Willows, Narnia, and/or Lewis Carroll, there’s a very good chance that you’ll love Pippi.
Now that I’ve overcome my fear of mischief, the book almost makes me want to climb up onto my furniture and try not to touch the ground for an hour. But I’m far too clumsy.