Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sunday Salon: How I consume my books

When you have as many books as I do, the second question you usually hear from people is "You know you can use the library, right?" (The first is "Have you read all of these?") The answer to that question is that of course I know about libraries. In fact, I still have my very first, much treasured library card from my childhood in a memento box. I spent many lovely hours during indoor recess (and sometimes even when it wasn't raining) in the school library. I was even one of two students invited to my elementary school librarian's wedding. But somewhere along the line, I stopped using the library (don‘t throw stones, I have reasons I‘ll list below). And that has led to my house being its own sort of library, which makes me happier than you can ever imagine. I did take my children to the library a lot when they were small for story time or to check their own books out. Now that they are grown, they are like me though. They buy books (well, I buy them books--in fact my college child texted me pictures of books she wanted knowing full well that they'd be waiting for her here at home when she came home for the summer, and they were). Oh, and the answer to the first question? No, I haven't read all the books I own. In fact, I haven't read the majority of them. It wouldn't be as satisfying to have all of these books if I had. And now, before my librarian friends get too worked up with me, my reasons for not using the library as an adult:

Reason #1: Libraries have this irrational interest in having their books returned. Even if I'm not finished. I mean, doesn't everyone set a book down and come back to it 8 months later?

Reason #2: Libraries want me to read a book when it‘s available rather than when the mood strikes me 4 years from now. And did you know they purge books from their collection? I mean, what if I want to read an obscure book twenty years after I heard about it and no one else has ever checked it out in that time frame? Gone from their shelves but not from mine.

Reason #3: Working in the industry means I often get books long before the library.

Reason #4: In theory I‘m reading from my own out of control library and don‘t need another source of temptation.

Reason #5: The last time I checked a book out, it was on the boat I sank so I very shamefacedly had to fess up to ruining their lovely, new hardback book and pay for it. Library bound copies are more expensive than regular books so I would have come out ahead by not borrowing it. They would have come out ahead too by not having boneheaded me flood their book. Did I mention it was the newest in a series of books that have a pretty extensive fan base? Yeah, I'm really sorry to the librarian who had to tell them that the library was waiting for a replacement copy to arrive and be processed. :-/

Reason #6: If I lost a library book in this house, I‘d never find it again. And given the book state of my house, I lose books with shocking regularity. (See above on cost of library books.) I can't tell you how many children's books over the years led to very extensive scavenger hunts through the house. And that seriously cuts into my reading time.

This probably helps to explain my insane book acquisitions this past week. And no, I'm not 'fessing up to how many books came in versus how many headed out. No one needs that kind of negativity in their life.

I started and set aside a bunch of books this week but I'm diligently trying to finish the latest one, which has me in Europe during WWII with female photographers and correspondents. What have you been reading this week (from the library or from your own personal collection)?


  1. You know you are my hero as the only other person I know who keeps thousands of books available in your house. This post is absolutely wonderful and I agree with each and every point. As far as what I'm reading, I just finished Prairie Fever by Michael Parker and I'm reading The Grey Bastards by Jonathan French.

  2. I think these are all very good reasons for choosing to buy books over reading library books. Another reason you didn't list is that buying books helps authors earn money, and when authors earn money, it allows them to continue writing books. I want authors to continue writing books.

    For the majority of children, a school library is the only opportunity they may have to read books. I'm a huge advocate of school libraries, and I encourage school libraries to reduce or avoid fines and penalties. Generally the children who have parents that can't (or won't) pay for lost or damaged books are the children who have the least access to books.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about book buying and book borrowing. They both have their place in my life.

  3. You just described me! Thanks, I thought I was the only one.

  4. My collection of print books is in the thousands, but I still use the library, so do my kids..there is no way I can afford my reading habit. I’d be looking at $100 or more a week and unfortunately my budget doesn’t stretch to that.


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