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Flight or Fight: An Open Note on the Role of Reading
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I find that writing doesn’t really take me into another world. Rather, it helps me navigate and decipher this challenging one we find ourselves living in. I appreciate the ability–this gift–of spilling words and arranging them into sense. And I do occasionally enter a flow state that approaches transportation. But to be fully gone, to find myself lost in a different existence? That’s the role of reading in my life.

I am the daughter of a librarian, and for that I am eternally grateful. I used to go to work with my mother on Saturdays when I was a child and teen so I could immerse myself in books. The scent of yellowing, musty paper. The crack of bindings and spines. The immense compendium of possibility stored in the card catalogue. The shuffle and whisper of pages turning. The hushes and shushes. The stacks reaching to the rafters, groaning under the weight of tomes. I relished it all. And I miss it.

Given that our libraries have become frontlines in the culture wars, I am seriously considering a career change. I want my second professional act to be at least volunteer, but also perhaps full-fledged “information technician.” I honestly worry for my mother: every purchase, every recommendation, every loan–all are now political acts. It’s inconceivable to me that a cadre of small-minded, ill-informed people would protest what some write and dictate what others read. It’s plainly unconstitutional. And common sense says that if you don’t like it, don’t read it yourself. But to deny others escape, education, and development of a full range of emotions including empathy? This is anathema to me. It makes me want to slip between the covers of banned books and find myself in another world…

…but that is not the answer. The answer is to fight.

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