The last article Ray Bradbury wrote was about libraries, and how important the public library was to him as a boy growing up in Waukegan, Illinois.

Looking back now on all those years, to when I first discovered books at the library, I see that I was simply falling in love. Day, after day, after glorious day, I was falling in love with books.

His essay is the introduction to The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, a book which gathers the best in stories, essays and cartoons from the previous year.

I clearly remember checking out books on physiology, books that described what human beings were like, what their bodies were like, what the veins were like, what the feet were like, what the head was like, what the heart was like. So I learned about the physiology of humans from books when I was just a child. And I was curious about all the animals of the world, too. I couldnโ€™t believe that God had created so many species. Of course, in many ways, one of the most miraculous creatures of all is the butterfly. They fascinated me as a child. When I read about butterflies, I realized that they are a metaphor for the totality of the universe. How is any of this possible? How did any of this happen? From the formation of a galaxy to the wings of a monarch! No one truly knows the answers. It is all such a great mystery.

The books I brought home from the library caused me to think about the origins of life and the universe. How did it start? Where does it end?

I pondered all of these things because of books. I asked big questions because of books. I dreamed because of books. I started to write because of books. I read everything from comic strips, to history books, to the fantastic tales of L. Frank Baum, Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, and many others. None of this reading was required, mind you. I just did it.

So do it. Be like Ray Bradbury: read a book, write a book.ย  Love books, and love your public library.

Posted by Nancy, who loves Ray Bradbury’s books.