Discussion: I Miss Libraries
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings blogged about Instant Book Gratification, and her post made me think. She talks about how as a blogger, she doesn’t experience the awesomeness of immediately starting a book after buying it any more. Although I do miss that, I realised I missed getting books from the library way more.
I’ve been going to the library for as long as I can remember, and I had almost no criteria for picking a book. Our library had genre marks on the backs of the books, so I knew I loved those with ghosts on the back, and should stay away from those with hearts on it, but I didn’t know anything about the book except the title. Through this random selection I found dozens of my favourites, and read a lot of books I wouldn’t have picked up if I had known what they were about.
When I had filled my bag with the allowed six books, I couldn’t wait to get home. The moment the door opened, I’d run to the couch, settle down and open that first book. I’d just start reading, and usually wouldn’t stop until I had to have dinner. It was awesome.
Getting books from the library was exciting for several reasons. First of all, getting books was free. I could read as many books as I had time for, and their selection seemed limitless. Of course, when I was 12 I didn’t nearly have as many things to do as I have now at 19. Where I could just sit down with a book for a few hours without any consequences then, I now have to justify it to myself against more pressing occupations. But the biggest attraction of getting library books was going into a book without knowing anything about it. Unless it was a book from an author I had read before, the story would be a complete mystery. And there was no risk at all – getting books was free, and bringing them back unread was easy and guilt-free.
As book blogger, it’s almost impossible to go into a book without knowing about it. Almost all popular authors get page time on blogs and Goodreads, and all those voices are impossible to forget. I consciously stay away from reviews close before I start a book, so I won’t get influenced by what someone else thought of the book. Book blogging, and especially accepting books for review, makes it hard to find the time and patience to read a library book. There is a constant pressure to finish review copies, to read shorter books so you can reach your weekly/monthly quota of reviews, or to simply get ahead of your Goodreads Reading Challenge.
My bookshelves are so full of unread books, that I don’t feel I can justify borrowing books from the library. Those from the library barely cost anything, while I paid money for those on my shelves. This summer I’m going to try reading a huge chunk of my unread books, and continuing cleaning out shelves and giving books away. My shelves will be for favourites, while for exploratory reading I’m going to resort to libraries and ebooks.
And who knows, maybe I’ll find the time and peace again to bring a stack of library books with me that I’ve never heard about online, and won’t stop reading until dinner.