The Book Lovers’ Ball was fantastic. I met several of my favourite writer friends there and we had a great conversation before dinner. Great conversation continued during dinner at my table with the collections manager, planner, and other delightful librarians, as well as the couple who won the best first line for a book contest.
There was high fashion, literary icons, notables, elegant food, and more importantly a lot of money was raised for one of the best causes around: books, more specifically, the free availability of books in the public library system. And that brings me to the most memorable part of the evening, which was the taxi ride to the Book Lovers’ Ball. I described it to to the other guests at my table, and as their faces lit up, I knew that the evening wasn’t really all about what was on the stage at the far end of the vast dining room but about this story I’m going to share with you now.
The driver was a woman, the first female taxi driver I’ve ever ridden with. When I told her that I was on my way to the Book Lovers’ Ball, which was raising money for the public library, she was delighted. After berating our mayor for cutting funds to the library, she spent the rest of the ride telling me how important the library has been for her and her two children. She’s an immigrant from Ethiopia, and a single mom. She took her son, now 8, and daughter, now 16, to the library every weekend, pulling them away from TV and video games. She worked hard to support them and, exhausted, she’d sometimes put on dark glasses and rest while they read. Other times she’d read to them and help them pick out books. But always, she knew that the library was a good place for them to be as a family, a place for her children to develop and grow with books.