by Barbara D'Amato
Last night I did a program on mystery and crime fiction at the Herrick District Library in Holland, Michigan, with Joanna Carl [Eve Sandstrom], organized by Robin Williams-Voight. We had a good group of people in the audience. Only a couple of them admitted to writing, but the rest were enthusiastic and well-informed mystery readers.
All the nice things happened. A man told us before we started that he had been in a bookstore earlier in the week, had seen two people in the mystery books department, recommended our books, and invited the people to the program. A woman who chairs a mystery reading group came. She had met us before, and is passing on the torch of mystery reading to new group of younger members. Several people brought books for us to sign.
Most writers hope that library appearances will help sell more copies of our books. But I was reminded again of how much libraries can do for people. The reading group is very affirming, giving a sense of fellowship to readers. They have a chance to talk with other people who like what they like. A young woman told me before we left that she was largely shut in and the library group, and reading, were her only outlets.
It was clear from all the various names of writers that emerged in the Q&A—Sue Grafton, Michael Connelly, Robert Barnard, Agatha Christie, James Patterson and many, many more—that these were real readers, and readers who thought about what they read.
As I entered the library and again as I left, I was happy to see how many people were there. After all, this is August, a warm, clear night, and the Lake Michigan beaches were only five minutes away. Chairs were full; a group of children were clustered around a man with a book; the computers were fired up and running.
I guess I’m saying support your local library. This is good stuff.