Inspiration From The Distant Past

Inspiration From The Distant Past
Found note in an old book... warms the cockles of my bookish heart...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Heron Island Library

Can you imagine an island with NO INTERNET CONNECTION, NO MOBILE PHONE RECEPTION AND NO TV'S IN THE ROOMS? Hubby, my beautiful mother and I took five girls, our Aussie/American daughters and our American nieces, to Heron Island. Some expressed a bit of angst at the thought of such deprivation, but the truth is that they are great girls and great readers. I knew they would be fine.

Most people come here for the amazing sea and bird life, but personally I was also interested in the library. Guests can take and leave their books, and I was looking forward to seeing what choices people made. Have you seen other 'swapsies' collections? I have seen them in motels, hotels and other resorts, and I was keen to see what people were leaving behind in a beautiful place which mostly relied on reading for leisure-time entertainment.

The library itself is housed in the Whitstari Lounge, above the bar with a big TV and some family games. Below people might be having cocktails or playing pool, but above a book lover can be exploring another world.

First surprise was the amount of Dutch and German books. Hubby said we'd be right if only we read one of those languages.

I did find a couple of books in the other languages I speak; a copy of The Long Goodbye in Italian and Nelson Demille's Le deshonneur d'Anne Campbell in French. It's a recount of the investigation of the rape and murder of a General's daughter. With no dictionaries and no internet connection to speak of (online translators are so handy!), I have been forced to underline in pencil the words new to me and save them for later. I consider my languages other than English books to be text books, and therefore don't mind 'defacing' them in this way. Do you agree?

I took this book, which is actually in English, and a wonderful novel. More on it later!

There were naturally lots of family saga and block-busters. One that interested me was the Endless Forest by Sara Donati. It says it is a historical romance by a best-selling author. I loved the cover.

There was a well-thumbed classic, a copy of Arizona Justice by Gordon D. Shirreffs. The blurb inside says, 'Gunsmoke Showdown: A gun blossomed orange flame in the centre of the smoke. Rowan rolled to one side, ripped his Colt loose and pumped two shots into the belly of the man who had hurdled the fallen door and thrust a six-gun toward him. The man hit hard, smashed against Rowan and lay still. ' Wow, what an exciting read for lounging on a tropical island!

Hubby left a copy of Ivory by Tony Park, which I had not read, and he took Sidney Sheldon's Mistress Games. He had found Ivory amusing in a not so flattering way, reading out some particularly corny lines to me. He expects Mistress Games to be about the same.

Probably the least appealing tome in the collection is a 2009 copy of the Coletanea de Legislacao Administrative Constitulcao
Federal from Brazil. Looks to me like the laws of the country. I can just imagine a Brazilian lawyer arriving with full intention of studying, then abandoning the profession to become a dive instructor or cleaner just to stay on the island. This book probably was found on the pool deck.

What treasures have you found in a 'swapsies' library?


  1. its funny, in our hotel in Italy they did this and it was mostly German books. I did spy one Russian one also.

  2. +JMJ+

    Oh, wow! I've never heard of a swapsies library before, but now I'd like to see one. The idea sounds so . . . serendipitious!

    Being a confirmed bibliomaniac, I don't think I could ever leave one of my own books behind, unless it were truly awful--in which case I wouldn't want to inflict it on anyone else, either! =P So if I had been in your place, I would probably have read the books in the hotel and then left them there, as if the swapsies library had been a regular lending service.

    However, if I ever hear in advance that I will be staying in a hotel with a swapsies library, I'll probably buy some random used books just to take along and leave behind! =P

  3. Jessica, I think Germans are particularly comfortable with swapsies libraries. Can you just imagine leaving on a holiday with only one book, swapping as you go along, content to accept what you can find?
    En, I did have a problem being generous. I took more than I left! Shameful!

  4. Hi DeLynne,

    I've found louts of swapsie libraries all over Asia - even right near Everest Base Camp (Nepal) at a place called Gorak Shep, 5000m above sea level.

    I left a book in a swapsie library at Ubud (central Bali) earlier this year One Hundred Years of Solitude. It gave me a headache just trying to keep up with the genealogy. Hopefully, it's making someone else happy.

  5. How lucky you are, Amanda, to have travelled to all those places!

  6. Great post! I have a favorite hotel in Santa Barbara that I stay in twice a year. It's not fancy but it has the best book cabinet...same rules, just leave one and take one. And actually, if you didn't leave one no one would mind. I love the titles. I discovered Malcolm Gladwell there. There are also usually German or Scandinavian titles. Lots of lonely planet guides! Of course, quite a few Harlequins...

    Your trip sounded great, even the dirty pickup book!

  7. Hi, Amy! I hope you aren't dising Harlequins. They are great for bath books. ;)

    Yes, it was a great trip, and there are more posts to come.

  8. What a great post! It looks like a wonderful, peaceful place to be!

  9. Bibi, If you are ever in our neighbourhood, look us up!

  10. The owners of the Oak Court fishing cabins near Roaring River State Park in Missouri are readers. They have a three shelf 'swapsie' library in the gameroom. The books are mainly political intrigue thrillers, novels, romances and non-fiction. I usually have library books with me so can't leave any books-- but I do usually take a couple from the swapsie shelf... shhhhh...


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