The Cambrian

She took books out, now she puts them in

Above, Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of ‘Pay It Forward,’ smiles as a fan takes her picture during a book signing at the San Luis Obispo City/County Library in 2006.
Above, Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of ‘Pay It Forward,’ smiles as a fan takes her picture during a book signing at the San Luis Obispo City/County Library in 2006. CAMBRIAN FILE PHOTO

Longtime Cambrian Catherine Ryan Hyde, now a celebrated author, will help make it possible for present and future readers to enjoy resources that helped make her success possible.

Ryan Hyde is the author of: “Jumpstart the World,” “Second Hand Heart,” “When I Found You,” “Diary of a Witness,” “The Day I Killed James,” “Chasing Windmills,” “The Year of my Miraculous Reappearance,” “Love in the Present Tense,” “Becoming Chloe,” “Walter’s Purple Heart,” “Electric God,” “Pay It Forward,” “Earthquake Weather,” “Funerals for Horses,” and the forthcoming novels “Second Hand Heart” and “Jumpstart the World.” In addition, a new edition of “Pay It Forward” has recently been released.

The Friends of the Cambria Library will host an afternoon with Ryan Hyde from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 26, at the site of the future Cambria Library, 1043 Main St.

Cookies and punch will be served. There is no admission charge, but donations of any amount may be made to the library building fund.

Donors will receive an autographed copy of each of Ryan Hyde’s first three published books, and also be entered in a drawing for a complete set of 12 autographed works.

Earlier this week, Ryan Hyde answered questions from The Cambrian about the value of libraries and what she’ll talk about Saturday:

The Cambrian: Have you found the Cambria Library a useful resource through the years?

Ryan Hyde: I could never have lived without it in my “starving artist” years. Well, I could have lived. But I wouldn’t have achieved what I was trying to achieve. I couldn’t afford short story prize collections, Literary Market books, the books that were making news in the fiction niche I was trying to crack. But even now I’m sitting here with two library books next to my chair. I still can’t afford to buy everything I’d like to read.

The Cambrian: Before your work was published, did you ever think your books would be on the library’s shelves?

Ryan Hyde: In a word, no. I dreamed it. But I wouldn’t have bet on it.

The Cambrian: What can libraries do for individuals?

Ryan Hyde: It can educate them. Literally. If used properly, it can serve as a free substitute for a formal education. It can make readers out of them, even if they’ve forgotten how that feels. And this is such a wired world. And we think everybody has a computer. We forget there are still those who can’t afford to be online. So the library is their “great equalizer.”

The Cambrian: What can libraries do for communities?

Ryan Hyde: I think they can smooth the edges of the social distinctions between “haves” and “have nots.” Because everybody with a library card is equal in that world.

The Cambrian: What you like to see The Cambria library become?

Ryan Hyde: Bigger. I’d like to see it spread its elbows and become what it just doesn’t have room to become now.

The Cambrian: Finally, can you offer a bit more about what your topic Saturday — “Actual fiction, literature and something more for readers”—will be about?

Ryan Hyde:… I was asked, by e-mail, what I’d like to talk about… It wasn’t meant to be a final answer. … Here’s what I meant.

I’m not going to talk about movies. Or foundations. Or concepts. Or changing the world with kindness. I’m celebrating the release this fall of my 13th and 14th published book, and I have no more patience with being held back in the one that came out a decade ago. Mainly because most of the people who are interested in “Pay It Forward” don’t even tie it in with reading. And I want to talk about books and reading. And libraries.

So my final answer is that I’m going to talk about books and libraries, and where they fit in a rapidly changing landscape. I’m giving away copies of my three earliest books, so in a way I’m going back in time. But I want to talk about all that has changed since I started on this road, and all that has stayed the same, and how reading still has an important place, and how important the people are who still value books.

For more on Ryan Hyde, visit her new website at For more information about the event, call Dora Lane at 927-0459.