I only know her by the last six digits of her library card number. And maybe it’s a him. But in my imagination it’s a her.
I pull my own large pile of picture books off the hold shelf at the library to check them out, and I can’t resist glancing down to the right to see what she’s got on hold this week. Most people have one or two books on hold, but like me, she usually has 15 or 20 picture books. Without fail, there are a couple of books I read just last week and a couple more that I’ve got on my hold list too. She’ll check them out, read them, return them, and then they will go directly from her shelf to mine. I’m guessing that sometimes the books travel in the other direction, from my hold shelf to hers.
Like me, she reads a little of everything. Early readers, wordless picture books, crowd-pleasers, bestsellers, obscure philosophical translated titles, Caldecott honors from the 1940s, it’s all there.
It’s my own reading life arranged on another library patron’s shelf.
I can’t help but wonder who she is.
Is she a professor of children’s literature like I am? Maybe an elementary teacher? A writer or illustrator seeking mentor texts? A mom raising exceptionally voracious readers? Who else might read 20+ picture books a week?
I want to leave a note in one of the books on her hold shelf, but I don’t know what I’d say that wouldn’t sound stalkerish.
“Hi, reading twin! We read all the same books and I think we should meet. Don’t be scared. I’m really nice. Not the least bit weird. We’ll just talk books. I promise.”
I wonder if she’s ever happened to glance up to the left as she’s pulling her own pile of picture books off the shelf, noticed a few of the books she read last week on my shelf, and wondered about her reading twin.