My mom has been a librarian my whole life. I don’t know if this contributed to my writerly aspirations, but it certainly didn’t hurt. Our quality time often saw us curled up on our respective couches, good book in hand. Who said I needed to move to France to learn about the simple pleasures of life?
Just why it took me so long to go to the public library in Paris, then, I really can’t say. My source of English-language books has thus far been bookstores (and a semi-annual booksale where paperbacks are only a euro! Details below**)
My other English language escape is, of course, the Internet. I am simultaneously in love/in hate with the Internet. Living abroad I’m thankful for how easy it is to stay in touch with everyone and get news from home. But I also fall victim to the web’s siren song. Somehow a 2-minute email check turns into a 2-hour black hole, time disappearing into it.
I have a lot of writing I want to do. Yet my best laid plans are often interrupted by my (almost) addiction. (Or should I say my addiction is sometimes interrupted by writing).
Trying to get a handle on this, I’ve set up lots of little tricks. I’ve gone so far as to install a program called “Freedom” that makes it impossible for me to connect to the Internet for a set amount of time (thank you, Freedom!)
But it’s not only the Internet. Working at home I find a myriad of distractions, even away from the computer screen. (Why do I always decide I must eat when I can’t think of the next sentence?) So yesterday I decided to run away from my house. And the library was my savior.
Turns out you can’t actually run away from the Internet at a public library. (Don’t worry, I knew that. I’m not that behind the times). It does offer a more serious atmosphere, however, and it reminds me that I’m not there to play. (Though in my early Paris days, I was intrigued by the fact that many libraries were equipped with “discothèques”. When I learned this only meant a music collection and not strobe lights and disco balls, I was quietly disappointed).
As I was leaving the library, I noticed a display of women’s titles laid neatly on a table. I’m sure it had been in honor of International Women’s Day on Monday. And then I really noticed one of the books: Le Petit Bout de Bonheur (The Little Tip of Happiness). The extended title: Le Manuel de Clitology.
Now don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I don’t think the clitoris is awesome (it is!). But some measure of American Puritanism must have lodged itself inside me because I immediately looked around, kind of embarrassed, like, um, excuse me, did you mean to leave this out?
Then I picked it up (see, I’m no prude!)…and then took a photo of the cover to share with you. (By this point, the woman browsing next to me must have really thought I was strange).
I just can’t imagine a Manual of Clitology being part of such a prominent display in a library back home – at least not in my hometown library. It was a very, ‘oh yeah, I’m in Paris’ kind of moment. (And really, is clitology actually a word?)
To find your nearest public library in Paris click here.
**Huge English-language booksale coming up on March 20. SOS Help offers an English-language listening line. Living abroad can be challenging, and it’s nice to know there’s a resource out there if you just need to talk. The booksale raises money for SOS. I love walking away with a whole new set of books – last year I walked away with 37 – and knowing I’m contributing to a worthy cause to boot. Info here if you’re interested. (And stock up for me – I have a wedding to go to and will miss the sale!)