Grace Notes

a blog about life’s everyday magic

March 31, 2017

Happiness Among the Shelves

Words: Christen Hammons
Photo credit: Janko Ferlic


The first time I stepped foot in the Downey City Library, I couldn’t believe my eyes.


Shelf after shelf was filled with books just waiting to be picked up and devoured, and all you had to do was show the woman working at the counter a piece of plastic? I felt as though I had truly found heaven on Earth. I would load up my book bag with all kinds of stories, read them all, and return so I could repeat the process all over again.


Nearly 30 years later, and I still feel like I’m stepping into a magical land whenever I step inside a library. It’s a monthly ritual of mine. I walk through the doors, armed with a tote bag and my journal where I’ve recorded all the things I want to read, and take in the sight of all the books stretched out before me.


It’s in this moment that I’m my happiest. I walk through the aisles, pulling books that are on my list but also any that catch my eye. I grab a book, and as I do, a paper falls out. It’s the receipt of what the book’s previous borrower also checked out. I suddenly have a pile of books so large I’ll never get through them all in the time allowed, but I check them all out anyway so that I’ll have plenty of options to choose from. I’m still amazed each time I hand my library card to the clerk that I get to read all these books… for free. I say goodbye to Marian, the librarian who always seems to be working whenever I come in and who has the best book recommendations, and tell her I’ll see her again next month.

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Comments ( 6 )

  1. Rhian

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    You have captured how I feel on walking into a library…the glee and joy! Lovely piece of writing.

  2. Warm Quilts

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Love, love, love the Library! Everyone should have a library card.

  3. MariEileen

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Your lovely, joyful story reminded me of a time when, in elementary school, MANY years ago, I was the “odd kid” and didn’t really fit in anywhere. But, the librarian, Mrs. Bennett, took me under her wing and introduced me to the magic of books. It was always a thrill to open a brand new book, delivered to the library that day, that she saved just for me. Happiness, indeed…and continues to this day!

  4. Suzanne

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I was also a faithful library
    patron as a child and loved
    introducing my own kids to
    this unique joy : ) I still feel
    those same emotions that you
    write about when I enter the
    library…..Oh, the possibilities!

  5. Vanessa

    April 19, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    Love, love, love the library. It was my favorite place as a child and its my favorite place as an adult.

  6. Ella

    April 19, 2023 at 4:26 pm

    Yes, yes, and yes….
    So, many happy memories found in the arms of libraries.
    I’m forever smitten with the treasures I’ve found in the world of books~

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