On a library shelf, in a far country

Dear kind reader,

I’m think I just received my first official piece of fan mail.

This morning I received an email from a gentleman in Norway who read my debut The Snow Child, which was released there last month. He is a retired school teacher and an author himself. He borrowed the Norwegian translation of Snøbarnet from his neighborhood library.

He went on to say how much he enjoyed the story and hopes I write another book.

It probably goes without saying that this is incredibly thrilling. To have a complete stranger, from another country, take the time to write to me and share his feelings about my book!

What added to my delight, however, was the fact that he had checked it out from a local library. From a purely pragmatic viewpoint, library loans don’t earn money or boost placement on the bestseller list. However, as a reader and a book lover, the thought of my novel passing across a library check-out counter is incredible.

As I read his email, I thought of all the books I’ve discovered at our local libraries. When I was a little girl, the Palmer Public Library was in a cramped corner of City Hall. The library didn’t fine you if you turned in a book late, but there was a jar on the counter where you could, if compelled by guilt, donate some spare change. On afternoons, the librarian would sit on a chair and school children would gather around to hear her read a storybook.

Over the years at various public and school libraries I have found unexpected treasures, books I had never heard of but have stayed with me forever. My own daughters love stopping at the Sutton Public Library to check out books and visit with librarian Nancy Bertels. It is a warm, welcoming place.

And it fills me with joy to know that my novel has found such a home, on a shelf in a neighborhood library where, maybe, someone will stumble upon it and decide to take it home for a time.







  • Melissa Behnke says:

    This is so cool, Eowyn! I feel like I practically grew up in the Wasilla public library, since my mom was a volunteer librarian. I spent hours upon hours there, even before I knew how to read. The school didn’t have a library then, so classes would take turns walking over to the library to check out books. My first summer job was working there. I don’t think there would be a Fireside Books in Palmer if it weren’t for the love of books that was so ingrained in me in the library!

  • Sue Mathis says:

    My mom was an avid reader and would take me with her to the public library back on Long Island in New York. The library was a tiny little store front in the neighborhood strip mall. I remember sitting on the floor looking at the dozens of books I took from the shelves as my mom decided which books she was interested in reading. It seemed she never went there with any particular book in mind, she would just wander the aisles and if a title looked good to her, she’d pick it up. I go to the library now, usually looking for a particular title, but end up doing as my mom did. I’ve read some great books this way, most of which I had never heard of, but the titles caught my eye.

  • I loved this, Eowyn. I too have fond memories of local libraries in the places I grew up. And I love the idea of one’s reader also being a library patron, and of the book sitting patiently on the shelf waiting for someone to take it home.

  • Mr. Baer says:

    We have the most wonderful library in Sutton, soon to be even more wonderful with the new building, not to mention the smiling welcoming librarians. Yeah, I’m a suck up. There are many fond memories from the small original one. With its smallness, I have overheard many interesting off the wall conversations, as I stretched out on the carpet along the bookshelves finding many new titles appear before my eyes in the bottom rows. When I was young, we would go every other Saturday to a large library located in Bellville, Illinois, as my parents were avid readers. When I was small it appeared huge to me from the grand bookshelves to the large cement steps leading up to the building.

  • Excuse me?!!!??
    First Official fan mail?

    Are we,
    the comment’ers to your wonderful blog,
    not fans?

    We are official fans. I’ll even make myself a button that states:
    I am an official fan of Eowyn Ivey!
    (and wear it!)

    • Sue Mathis says:

      I would like a fan button!!! I’ll be proud to wear it. I’ll pass on the snowball, though, Eowyn!

  • Eowyn Ivey says:

    These are great library stories everyone! It makes me realize that, like books from our childhood, libraries play such an important role in the lives of readers. They are the seeds that lead to future bookstores and book clubs and families of readers. And Chickaloon Jenny — if you show up at the next neighborhood party with a fan button, so help me God I’ll get you with a snow ball 🙂

  • Bring it on!

    I have started the creation of the fan button!
    Now all we need is a snowball’able amount of ammunition!
    I’m certain you’ll call.