Hello, friends. I arrived back in Kingston late on Friday night, simultaneously exhausted, thrilled be home, and full of euphoria. Carrie Kitchen, the Youth Services Librarian at the Calgary Public Library, did an absolutely splendid job organizing my visit, and it was a genuine pleasure to spend time with her and her very welcoming colleagues, especially Courtney Novotny and Anne Hill. Thank you, librarians!
I feel privileged to have met so many bright-eyed readers. We had some really lively conversations about books, and they asked absolutely terrific questions. I’ve always enjoyed book festivals and talking to fans, but I had a bit of a revelation this trip about how much I truly love talking about books with young people. It’s the best.
The technological highlight of my trip was definitely this Automated Materials Handling System that I saw in action at the Crowfoot Branch.
Newly returned books enter through that small hatch at the left of the picture and glide along the green conveyor belt. The machine then sorts each book by genre and branch, pushing it off the conveyor belt at just the right moment so it falls into the correct bin! I could have watched this machine for hours, I really could.
As for my travel reading, I ended up bringing this at the last moment: William Leith’s Bits of Me Are Falling Apart.
I first started it a few years ago, but gave it up after a couple of chapters. I loved Leith’s first book, The Hungry Years, but for some reason I found this one diffuse, self-indulgent, and (completely) paranoid. And then I guess I aged into it because this time around, I really, really liked it. As in, I woke up in the middle of the night with jet lag and read it for two hours. It’s funny and prickly and random and pessimistic and then, suddenly, intensely focused. Everything comes together. And while it’s mostly a tragi-comedy (it’s about reaching middle age, after all, and the end of one’s biological destiny), Leith manages to make that okay, too.
That was my week. How was yours?