Being thankful for free and independent public libraries

Being thankful for free and independent public libraries

(Nov. 21, 2023) — I’ve reviewed Truman Capote’s “The Thanksgiving Visitor” many times, using it as an intro to holiday book reading and collecting. But this year, I wanted to talk about how thankful I am that readers of the The Pioneer still have public libraries without restraints.

I am grateful that California is a state that trusts the intelligence of its readers. A reader doesn’t have to be a liberal or conservative, young or old, gay or straight, degreed or non-degreed. But in today’s world, librarians are often being told which books they may shelve, in other words, which books are available to you in your public libraries and public school libraries as well – libraries paid for with your tax dollars.

As a bookseller for more than 12 years, I grew to respect all readers. I might shake my head at titles that I wouldn’t look at twice, but there were a lot of folks who looked at my personal choices with derision or disbelief.

The key words are “personal choices.” Which books a citizen chooses to read, buy or to encourage others to read is, or should be, a deeply held right in a civilized society.

If you are a parent, grandparent or relative of a young reader, it is always your right to choose books you believe to be worthwhile for that child to read. However, in our society, no citizen has the right to tell me, my children or grandchildren what they can and cannot read.

Deeply grateful

Being thankful for free and independent public libraries
Pleasant Hill Library. (Pete Cruz photo)

So, I am deeply grateful that books of my choosing, and yes, yours too, are still available in my favorite libraries. I feel just as strongly about the books available to children in public schools. If I want to understand difficult or, frankly, abhorrent subjects, I am grateful for public libraries that have not fallen prey to the politicians and activists who dishonor readers and fellow citizens.

Not all of us can afford to have a favorite bookstore, and we don’t need to. Libraries are the last free bastions of public education.

I am also grateful that The Pioneer continues to grow its readership. Contra Costa County is wonderfully diverse, economically, ethnically and sexually. The books I review are my choice. I may no longer live in California, but I am excited to see Contra Costa’s growth and to know that there is still a local newspaper reporting on both sides of local issues.

I also enjoy the advertisements, because each ad is proof that reading, yes, even the ads, is good for business. And what’s good for local businesses is good for everybody.

I am grateful for the right to read newspapers and books. I’ve always measured a person’s intelligence not by the level of their education, but the level of their depth of curiosity, to read, to learn, to think.

You can read Solomon’s review of Capote’s “The Thanksgiving Visitor” on her website at Sunny Solomon is a freelance writer and head of the Clayton Book Club.

Sunny Solomon
Sunny Solomon
Freelance writer at Clayton Book Club | Website

Sunny Solomon holds an MA in English/Creative Writing, San Francisco State University. She is a book reviewer for “The Clayton Pioneer” and her poetry and other writing has been published in literary journals, one chapbook, In the Company of Hope and the collection, Six Poets Sixty-six Poems. She was the happy manager of Bonanza Books, Clayton, CA and Clayton Books, Clayton, CA. She continues to moderate a thriving book club that survived the closure of the store from which it began. Sunny currently lives next to the Truckee in Reno, NV.