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Public libraries are a blessing to every community that has them, but in central Arkansas we are doubly blessed by having a wealth of public libraries and the icing on the cake is all the additional things they do for our community. Central Arkansas Library (or CALS for short) provides so many services besides just loaning books, and today they invited in one of my favorite authors, Greg Iles to speak and talk about his new book which came out yesterday.

The lecture took place at the Ron Robinson theater, a phenomenal library-owned facility which hosts a multitude of lectures, free and fee based movies, and more. Mr. Iles is on a whirlwind book tour across the south and he was speaking in Greenwood, Mississippi later today.

He had a good audience of folks, many of whom bought his book and then stood in line to get them signed. I bought 2, one for me to read then pass on to my son (I had it signed for him) and one for a present. Iles has written 16 other books and a novella and I have read them all. I have loved all of them except for one or two of the earliest ones and they were not my favorites (and ironically not set in the south), but his writing style draws you in. All are suspenseful and rarely do you figure everything out before the end. He was born in Germany where his father was in the military, but he grew up in Natchez, MS where he continues to live. Many of his books are set in his home town or nearby. I often refer to him as John Grisham on steroids. I can't wait to start reading his newest book. His talk was quite entertaining. He shared some personal stories, his take on writing and also his band membership in "The Rock Bottom Remainders" with other literary giants Steven King, Dave Barry, Amy Tan and Mitch Albom to name a few. Between them, they’ve published more than 150 titles, sold more than 350 million books, and been translated into more than 25 language. Band membership changes over the years since the original group debuted in 1992 at a book conference, and now for one week a year, current members come together as rock stars.

Greg Iles talk was an entertaining session. If you are interested in hearing him, he has an overwhelming schedule of events planned in cities all across the country. Visit his website at www.gregiles.com

After he spoke we all lined up to have him sign our books.

If you like to read, then check out Greg Iles, you won't be disappointed. When I find an author I like, I am always on pins and needles waiting for their next installment. Some authors become almost formulaic in their writing when they write a lot of books, but that has not been the case with Greg Iles.

I read a lot. I have had a library card for as long as I can remember. A treasured childhood memory is going to the "big" library or the book-mobile and stocking up on books that we got to keep for 4 weeks. I usually had them read well before the allotted time, but then it was time to go back and check out more. I will have to admit that I rarely check out real books any more, preferring to download them on my iPad, since I usually don't reread too many books once I have read them. When I was working I listened to audio books which helps pass the time when driving. Both online and audio books can be checked out from the library for free! The only downside is that instead of 4 weeks to read them, you only get 2 weeks. Even though I rarely check out real books, my house is loaded with books waiting to be read, and I often buy more (like today). For those of you who need more books, the CALS semi-annual used book sale is this weekend at the main library. Some great finds at amazing prices. I have several box loads from the last one!

The only downside to the main library is limited parking--especially for book sales and popular events. They did build a new parking garage which I used for the first time today--and may not again.

I am not an engineer, but it has a weird layout. When you make the turn from one level to the next the lane is narrow and you have to yield to cars coming down. The parking spots are small and straight, so larger cars (and some smaller ones) seem to have a hard time staying within their lane, which makes less spots. I had to go to the very top to find a spot and I was 30 minutes before the event.

Since I am now a gym goer, I took the stairs down since there was a line for the elevator. I was hoping to ride it back up, but it wasn't working when I came out--so I climbed back up to the 5th level. Got my workout for the day.

Take time to find out what your public library offers. CALS has a website with all types of classes, geneology, workshops, and more. Tomorrow is also 2nd Friday Night Art and the Butler Center (another library property) is one of our favorite stops. If it isn't raining I will be there.

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