My audio book’s 2,000-mile journey

2015-01-28 07.30.07My next audio book traveled a long, long way to get to me.

First, some background.

A few months ago, when I found out about the One Book One Community program at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership — where I’m about to get my master’s degree — I thought it would be fun to participate. I like reading, and it could be fun to be in a community-wide book club!

The book they chose was “The Family: A Journey Into the Heart of the Twentieth Century” by David Laskin.

A few weeks later, Temple Jeremiah announced that they’d be bringing in the author for a program in February, and the women’s book club would be discussing the book in December. I better reserve the book from the library, I thought.

I reserved the book, but for weeks, it did not come, until finally it did; but in paperback and not my desired audio book. The librarian re-reserved the book for me about a month ago, and yesterday, I got the notice that the audio book arrived.

Here comes the story.

At the library, there was a Post-It Note on the box of 11 CDs. This book arrived from an inter-library loan outside of the Winnetka-Northfield Library’s region, and so I needed to make sure to return the book on time or at least request a renewal well in advance of the due date. Why the fuss?

On the cover of the book, we see “Timberland Regional Library.” Hmm, never heard of Timberland. That must be really far in Illinois, like near Aurora!

Nope. Timberland Regional Library is in Washington state, about five miles south of Olympia and 65 miles south of Seattle. “The Family” — a book chronicling a family’s journey across oceans and through generations — traveled more than 2,000 miles to get to me.

Was there no library in the Midwest that had this book? Had Spertus and Temple Jeremiah’s focus on the book cleared out every copy above the Mason-Dixon Line? Was this book just yet another hipster trend that, like grunge, started off on the west coast and hasn’t arrived in Chicago?

I could only think of this poor book. Did it travel on a train? A mail truck? Or was it a passenger airplane? I’m imagining the book sitting in a middle seat, 16B, with “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” on its left and “Abraham Lincoln: A Life” on its right. “So, where are you headed?” my book would ask another. “I hope it’s a big library in a big city,” one would say. “I hope it’s a place where there aren’t too many e-readers,” the other would hope.

“Goodnight Moon,” sitting behind it in 17B, tries to stay calm, secretly hoping for a better life with a more caring foster owner / library patron.

All the books, exhausted from checking their bags, waiting in the security line, and a long, uncomfortable flight, try to get some rest before they’re put to work. Once the plane’s seat belt light turns on, do these books relax by reading themselves?

So, my copy of “The Family”: Thanks for making the trek out to Northfield, Illinois, to spend some time with me. Maybe I’ll stick a postcard with you to take on your way back to the west coast.


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