If you regularly read this column, you already know that I spend a lot of time between the pages of books or deeply engrossed with something I have downloaded to my Kindle. I am particularly fond of detective whodone its.
Since having a stroke two months ago, my reading time is up to more than eight hours per day because I am unable to do much of anything else. Normally I would be gardening, but running a tiller is out of the question at this time. On the other hand, running said tiller again provides much incentive for regaining use of my southpaw.
Anyway, to get back and try to stick to one subject, I tend to get hung up on particular writers and read everything they have written. I love British and Italian mysteries. I developed this habit/ love when I discovered Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, Dr. John Watson, many years ago. Today I will read anything that even mentions Scotland Yard. It would take the rest of my allotted space in the column to list all the authors I have read in this genre.
It would also take far more money than I have to spare if I had to purchase everything I read. My kids give me gift certifi- cates to bookstores and Kindle at Christmas, birthdays and Father’s Day but I go through them like a dose of salts. Sometimes I can find incomplete collections by a particular author on ebay where I have purchased as many as 20 titles at a time for a pittance — often as cheap as 50 cents per title, including shipping.
Lately, however, I have been using the public libraries. I have rediscovered just how wonderful the library can be. In fact, I told the ladies at the Garrard County Library last week that if they’d put me up a bed, I’d go ahead and move right in.
I don’t know how or why I had forgotten that if the library doesn’t have whatever title you may be looking for on the shelves, that’s no problem. Give them a couple or three days and they will find it for you.
Ngaio Marsh wrote Scotland Yard mysteries from 1931 nearly up to her death in 1981. My fellow mystery snob, Linda Caldwell, first suggested I give Marsh a try last winter and I was hooked before I’d finished the first title. I managed to find a “lot” of 12 or so titles on ebay for 10 bucks, but Marsh’s Inspector Roderick Alleyn series contains 32 books and it is much more interesting to read them in the order in which they were written so that you can more or less grow up with the principal characters and their families.
I had printed off a chronological list of the books and found a few more at used book stores and another three or four on the shelves in Berea, Richmond and Lancaster, but I was still missing over a dozen titles.
So one day I showed my list to Laura Williams, the Garrard County librarian, and she wanted to know why I hadn’t asked her to track down the ones I wanted.
The short end of the longer story is that I have now read everything Ngaio Marsh has ever written and the books have come from libraries all over the state. The books are delivered to Garrard County and now, at least once a week, Laura, or one of her cohorts, calls to let me know that my books are in.
Loretta usually picks them up and returns them for me because I still can’t drive, but I now have the library staff hard at work finding Ruth Rendell titles for me. Previously they have tracked down Donna Leon and P.D. James titles that I could not have read if not for this incredible service.
I am ready to petition the Kentucky State Legislature to declare a hug your librarian day.
Ike Adams is a native of Blair Branch at Jeremiah. He now lives in Paint Lick.