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"As my whimsy takes me."

January 26, 2010 by PatLeach

I've been thinking lately about how we all make reading choices. In the library, we realize that a LOT of our circulation comes from the items that we have out on display. Those book jackets that are displayed face-out provide all kinds of enticement and advertisement. Several people have mentioned to me that they seldom get beyond the displays and into the stacks (librarian lingo for shelves).

Earlier this month, though, I found myself in the fiction area, deep into those shelves because I had a yen to re-read an old favorite author, Dorothy L. Sayers.  I took home "Strong Poison," which is when Lord Peter Wimsey falls for his true love, the wrongly accused Harriet Vane, and "Murder Must Advertise," which I remembered enjoying some time ago. These are classics of the mystery genre. Lord Peter is an amateur detective, a high-class Lord with stellar upbringing, kind heart, and impeccable manners. His experience of the world leaves him never completely surprised.

These stories were written in the 1930's, and that era combined with their British setting creates some excellent escapist reading.

Dorothy L. Sayers wrote so well. Many selections deserve to be read aloud just to savor her rich vocabulary and sense of the droll. As I've confessed before, I seldom try to work out a mystery as I read, but I had a strong sense of her weaving a web of clues and red herrings.

I noticed that the copies of these books that I checked out were added to the Lincoln City Libraries collection in 1968. I find myself wondering who else has read these copies, wondering what was happening in our world at that time, and pondering the timelessness of this excellent writing.

As the saying goes, "So many books, so little time!"  For many of us, those displays at the front of the library are all we need, and may be all we have time for. However, my happy reacquaintance with Lord Peter reminds me to remind you to consider what gems may be awaiting  you just a little farther into the library.

Tagged in: Dorothy L. Sayers, Lord Peter Wimsey, mysteries,

Comments 3

Barbara Rixstine said:
I, too, love Lord Peter and always wanted to see Peter O'Toole play the part. "Murder Must Advertise" is my favorite of the Wimseys and I try to re-read it every couple of years. Good choice!
Jodene said:
Thanks for the tip, Pat. Mysteries are one of my favorite genres. Right now I find myself getting more into turn of the century period books, so this is outside that time frame but still sounds right up my alley. I'll add Sayers to my list.
Liz Bracken said:
I love to dive into the stacks and see what I come out clutching. Sometimes I'll hunt down a favorite author and stand there gazing at the shelves, wondering what I haven't read yet. (Carol Shields, Collected Stories.) Or sometimes I take a chance on a "should've" author, as in, should've read this book a long time ago. I tend to rotate my reading along the "something old, something new" schedule. A classic, then something new. Unless those display shelves snare me before I can make it back into the stacks!

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