In preparing to move back to San Francisco from rural Japan later this summer, I’m not just bracing myself for reverse culture shock and all the planning and bureaucracy and ballache that comes with a transcontinental move—I’m also preparing to kiss my disposable income goodbye and go back to living on a student budget and saving every penny. I’ll be living with a roommate (or several), taking public transportation, packing a lunch, and getting most of my books from Project Gutenberg or the public library. Luckily I was also broke the last time I lived in San Francisco (albeit much worse at managing my money), so I’m no stranger to any of these things, and I have a particular love for libraries.
I spent my teenage years in a Sacramento suburb filled with people who had money to burn, but our library was housed in a tiny space in an old firehouse (I used to beg my mom to drive me to the library in a nearby, less well-off, town because they had a better selection). I heard they finally built a new library some years after I moved away. I haven’t checked it out yet, but friends who still live there have told me it’s a huge, gorgeous facility with tons of parking, a coffee shop— and barely any books. Which always reminds me of Priscilla Ahn’s song “Lullaby“:
This old library has 30 books and one dictionary
But that’s okay, no one reads anyway, we all watch TV
Luckily, San Francisco is nothing like that, and just as I was amazed at the literary events and author signings it had to offer when I moved back there, I was in heaven when I first went to the library. Everywhere I’ve lived (and really almost everywhere in the city you could live) has had a branch better equipped than the library I grew up with within easy walking distance, and almost any book I ever wanted to check out was somewhere in the system, available for pickup at my local branch within a few days. Recently I’ve been checking out books on my Kindle with Overdrive (more on that in another post), and when I started browsing the site to find out more about their programs for this blog, I realized that their public offerings are far richer and more varied than I had imagined.
On that note, the San Francisco Public Library has kicked off its summer reading programs for kids, teens and adults, which run from June 1 to August 4. Adults who read for 40 hours between those dates will get a free tote bag and will be entered to win a $30 Books, Inc. gift certificate. There will be one winner per branch, which is not bad for a tiny city with 28 branches! Teens are on a similar system, except they get a free button for participating and must read for 30 hours to get a prize and be entered in a raffle to win movie tickets, iTunes cards or Visa gift cards (again, one winner per branch). Kids (0-12) get a free sticker for participating and a prize for reading 10 hours.
I don’t know if I’ll make it to 40 hours with only 48 days left in the program, but I’ve been thinking lately that I should measure my reading by hours read rather than books completed, and the prospect of that gift certificate is a really good push to do so! Happy reading!