I started this summer with great aspirations from a reading standpoint. Stonington has a fine public library, and I hoped to don my mask, browse through the nifty collection, and find some interesting stuff that I wouldn’t have read otherwise, but for a random examination of library shelves. And things started off strong when I finished the books I brought up from Columbus and found a library copy of Mary Beard’s SPQR, a 2015 history of ancient Rome. It was an ideal choice, because I love history and I’ve been wanting to brush up on my knowledge of the first great empire that has been the source of so many of our modern words and governmental concepts.
But life sometimes has a way of interfering with our lofty aspirations. It’s been a busy summer from a work standpoint and for me, at least, that often has an adverse effect on leisure reading. Although SPQR proved to be a very interesting read, by the time I was finished with squinting at the characters on my laptop screen and tapping away at my keyboard on weeknights, I often didn’t feel like picking up a book for yet more reading. With my leisure reading largely confined to weekends, and with SPQR tipping the literary scales at more than 500 pages, it took me a lot longer to get through the book than I expected.
But here’s the great thing about the Stonington Public Library: if you need more time to finish a book, it’s not a problem. The librarians aren’t there to crack your knuckles with a ruler and start assessing overdue fines. In fairness to big-city libraries, part of the challenge is managing the collection, and if you don’t keep track of your books you will soon find yourselves with empty shelves. But in a little town like Stonington, the library is decidedly a more relaxed affair. You give your name when you check out your selections, they enter the borrowing on the library computer, and they expect you to return the book once you’re finished, without imposing some arbitrary reading period before the renewals and fines start kicking in.
I enjoyed SPQR and would recommend it to anyone who’s interested in ancient Rome. But I also really appreciated having the freedom to take my time in reading it without trying to cram the reading into a mandatory period. Thanks to the Stonington Public Library for letting me borrow a good book that was a pleasant part of a busy summer!