This weekend our town opened the doors to our new library.  It was a gray-skied, drizzling, winter day, but no matter.  Check out this crowd.

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John Steinbeck lived in our little town for a few important literary years:  he wrote OF MICE AND MEN and THE GRAPES OF WRATH just up the hill from my house.

It seems fitting that his son, Thomas Steinbeck, open our new house of books.  Thom spoke for an hour to a standing-room-only crowd.  He started by documenting the world history of libraries, and told stories about how he often escaped his dysfunctional family and skipped school, hiding out in the local library.

Sound familiar, anyone?

Truant officers, he laughed, didn’t know you weren’t supposed to be in the library.

Thom is a writer.  Imagine following in such iconic footsteps.  He says he doesn’t read novels, he enjoys history and biographies, and he writes his novels based on what he’s learned.  You can find more about his books here.  Like his father, he bases most of his stories in California.  He does not, however, feel like he’s competing.  John Steinbeck won both the Pulitzer and the Nobel.  Who in their right mind, he said, would think they could compete with that?  One of these, he said, was more than enough for one family.

When he was 5 or 6 years old, Thom asked his father what he did for a living.  While his friends’ fathers put on suits and bow ties and carried briefcases out their doors in the morning, his did not.  His father came down for breakfast in his pajamas and went right back up to his room for the day.  He figured he must be permanently out of work.

One day the boy asked, What do you do?

And his father answered, I reconnect people with their humanity.

Indeed.

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