John Grisham

John Grisham on the Value of Libraries and Librarians

"Libraries are more important than ever - to teach kids the value of spending hours lost in a great book."

Well, I spent a lot of time in libraries when I was a kid. I lived in small towns all over the South. There wasn't a whole lot to do at times, and my mother did not believe in television.

I had a bunch of brothers and sisters and we would go to the library and check out "the max," whatever the max was. And we would go home with just a pile of books and read. We just grew up surrounded by books from the library.

We used to love to go on Saturday mornings, go to the library for shows or readings, kid's books, or whatever. It was a very big part of my childhood.

One recent story, after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, my wife and I went down, took a bunch of volunteers down, to to help with the clean up, help with the rebuilding and realized that libraries were not getting a lot of attention. Other types of groups were working housing and businesses and churches and all that. We went to the library Biloxi, Mississippi. and a couple of other libraries.

At the time we were raising, what turned out to be a lot of money. We were able to raise almost 9 million dollars. Most of it went for individuals for housing and needs, but we were able to earmark a lot of the money for libraries on the Gulf Coast, because obviously we are very close to books and love to see libraries prosper.

A lot of my books in the early days, early days...20 years ago now, with the first few books I published, there was a lot of word of mouth, especially with "The Firm." It came out in 1991.

It became a word of mouth best-seller because of two groups independent book stores and librarians. The book was passed around. Librarians ordered the book, they recommended the book. They kept it on the shelves and they bought more and more copies.

And over the years, I've had people saying, "Your new book is out. I'm number 142 on the list at the library." And always say, "Go tell your librarian to buy some more books, OK?" Let's get the shelves full. There no sense waiting that long. I know there's a lot of traffic with the books at the library.

[The importance of librarians]

Well it's even more important today because we worry about kids reading less, there are so many alternatives, diversions, so many things kids can do. I worry about how many children read. The numbers don't look good overall, for all of us. We buy fewer books, read fewer books.

I think libraries are more important today then when I was a kid. to teach kids value of spending hours lost in a great book.

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Book Title: 

The Firm