This week I was invited to Molesey Library near Hampton Court to speak about my book. It was my first ever library talk and I have to admit I was nervous. I wasn’t sure the average library visitor matched the demographic of my readership. It must be at least twenty years since I borrowed a book myself and I kind of assume that most library users are over eighty or under eight.
But the people of Molesey have done a marvellous thing. They have fought to keep their library open in times of stringent cuts. And, bless them, they had used some of their limited budget to buy four of my books. They were laid out on a table in handsome plastic dust jackets although that, of course, made me even more nervous. Would anyone really want to borrow it, let alone come out on a Tuesday night to hear me speak?
But gradually people arrived and one by one they took their seats. Then John, the charming chair, introduced me and I was off the starting blocks. I began by explaining that my book covered a rather ‘niche’ subject and I hoped that in a place surrounded by so many wonderful writers and committed readers, I wasn’t going to disappoint.
I needn’t have worried. They listened attentively. Only one person nodded off at the back (and that was ok because I’m the sort of person who nods off at the back). But when I finished and everyone mingled for drinks, what happened next was truly astounding. One by one people came up to me and shared their own stories. People who were parents who had children that were struggling to conceive, people who had siblings who had never had a child, and people who were childless themselves and now facing a future without grandchildren. I realised that I was wrong about my book and my library talk. This is a subject for everyone. 1 in 6 couples have trouble conceiving and whatever your background, whatever your age, we all know someone who has been affected by it.
So the moral of my blog this week is this: love your local library and don’t assume anything about the places you go and the people you meet because, if you let it, life will always surprise you!
Very moving, Jessica, it moved me to tears to read this. Alison
I hope they were good tears Alison. Those are the ones I like! Jessica x
Lovely article Jessica, thanks so much for sharing.
Isn’t it so hard when we think that we’re alone? .
I find the same thing happens when I speak out, everyone knows someone who is childless or struggled to get pregnant so when we speak out we empower others to do the same and therefore we all feel less alone. Thank you so much.
Thanks Lesley. Maybe we’ll have everyone talking about it soon. Can you imagine? What would happen next!?!
Lovely story – indeed, as reading material becomes increasingly accessible electronically, libraries and bookstores will have to find a new raison d’etre — and one is surely as a meeting ground for people who share a love of books — and make connections through that love. I’ve used our local library as a wonderful base for leading a creating writing group. So glad that you’re finding ever better ways to make your story meaningful.
I totally agree. The reading world is changing but I really hope that libraries, even the really small ones, will find new ways of working to ensure they can continue. At Molesey Library their authors event programme has been one way of doing that and they’ve had some much much bigger authors than me. It was lovely to be invited! Jessica x
So glad this topic is moving out of the niche and into the mainstream. You were brave to accept the invitation not knowing how the audience might react. It makes my day to hear how you are making such a difference in our world. Very proud to know you and look forward to one day meeting in person. xo
And I feel proud to know you too! You led the way and I’ll always be grateful for your support! Just read the interview you did for Lesley Pyne back in May. Such a beautiful piece. Jessica x