I just finished leading my adult book discussion for the month, and what an amazing discussion.
We were discussing Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking (in which Didion chronicles the year after her husband of 40 years suddenly passes away, and her daughter battles illness after illness), and as we were settling down we kept filling up chairs...old members of the group and some new faces as well.
We discussed the writing, the background, the meanings, the reasons, the family, the past and the present. There were some personal stories, and some compliments and critiques of the memoir. Some people loved the book, and some hated it, but that's par for this group.
Midway through the discussion, one of the new faces decided to speak - and said that her husband had only died a few months before, and that she needed to read this book when she heard about it through our publicity.
Her insights were valuable and thoughtful, and the dynamic of the group changed with this new knowledge of our new member.
The discussion came to a close, and I had a chance to talk with a few people as I was tidying up. Everyone always stays late to grab another slice of cake (it's not a discussion without cake!), to catch up with each other, and to trade book titles.
Finally, everyone was gone but our new member...she lingered behind so that she could speak to me about her life the last few months, her reading of the book, and her need for a little time to herself to get outside herself. We just sat and talked - it was clear she needed someone outside her usual circle of family and friends to confide in, to talk to, and to cry with. We sat and just talked for a few minutes, and she promised me she would finish the book in time, would read our next title, and would be back for the next discussion, because everyone needs "me" time, and if you don't take it, you can be swallowed in the hurt of the everyday.
Though I was sad for her, I walked out of the room with a smile, as this was the perfect reminder of why I do what I do...for every reader a book, for every book a reader, and for anyone who needs it, a librarian willing to listen, to commiserate, and to support. I hope she walked out of the room tonight with a lighter step, just as I did, for finding a group that gives her what she needs.
Days like today, I know without a doubt I'm in the right profession.