Library obsession

When this all first started, the thing that I found the most difficult to deal with was that the library was closed. And I know that that is a statement that is loaded with privilege.

My office is a block away from a library that is SO GOOD. I had become very accustomed to popping in once or twice a week and casually browsing or collecting holds while dropping off the books that were due back, most read, some unread. And suddenly not only did I not have that experience, I had no way of getting a hold of new free books and I had a lot of free time!

I don’t read electronically and even a pandemic couldn’t induce me to start!

It got expensive pretty quickly, ignoring the 75 or so unread books I still had in my home.

But then, at the beginning of the summer, the library partially reopened. At first they would package up your holds and you made an appointment to collect them. Now you don’t need an appointment but you still can only put books on hold if you want to take any out.

Reader, I have abused the largesse of the library. I currently have 7 books on hold and 13 books out. Two of those holds are ready to collect and it is taking so much willpower not to go back and put more books on hold that I could bring home with me at the same time.

wizard books

This always happens to me – cut me off from books for a period of time and I will go very overboard when the restriction is lifted. Here’s what I have out from the library right now – what do I absolutely have to read?

Akin by Emma Donogue. I have been chasing the love I had for Room through all of her books and so far neither Frog Music nor The Wonder have done it. Maybe Akin will hit the right note?

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen. This is the next book we’re discussing for Literary Wivesat the beginning of September!

Beautiful: The Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Michael Shearer. Earlier this summer I read The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict and I immediately put a hold on a biography of Hedy Lamarr.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Remember what I was saying about reading more Romance than ever before? I keep hearing about this book, I waited for ages for my hold to come in for it and now I keep not reading it.

The Careful Use of Compliments by Alexander McCall Smith. The 4th in the Isabel Dalhousie series because sometimes I really need to spend time in Edinburgh amidst Smith’s philosophical musings on love and life.

How Toddlers Thrive by Tovah P. Klein. I have had this in my possession since MARCH.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell. Here is an author that really delivers every time. It’s always a good idea to have a Lisa Jewell kicking around in case you need to reset your reading mojo.

Lost Girls: An American Mystery by Robert Kolker. I recently read his book Hidden Valley Road about a family of 12 children, six of whom had a form of schizophrenia. I couldn’t pass up the chance to read another book of his in the true crime genre!

Park Avenue Summer by Renee Rosen. I’m actually reading this one right now and let’s just say I’m really glad it’s a library book.

Pride by Ibi Aanu Zoboi. I heard about this one on the Currently Reading podcast and it sounded like something I should read immediately, even though it’s YA and that’s for sure not a genre I read a lot of.

I have a lot of books to get through and since my library has also reinstated due dates, I no longer have the option of keeping these for forever. Not that I want to! But I’m going to have to be strategic about what I read, what to maybe return unread, and what can be renewed.

Have libraries reopened where you are? Or do you actually live in the 21st century and read ebooks?


37 thoughts on “Library obsession

  1. I had a huge moment. I paused ALL of my library holds – except for Harrow the Ninth- because I am only so strong – for a month. I have bought more books during the last 5 mos than I usually do in year. But I am returning 2 books unread – (sob for You Never Forget Your First and Djinn on the Purple Line- I’ll be back for you). But I have 32 items out and probably half of those are for me. I have to take control of my bookshelves! You can go into our libraries but I feel guilty doing so. I’ve just been running in, checking myself out and running out as quickly as I can in my mask. I do miss browsing.

    • I am dying for a good long library browse. I’m impressed with your willpower, pausing all those holds. I’m so afraid they are going to close the libraries again (after being the poster child for how to do things right we’re backsliding in a worrying way) and then I won’t have enough books.
      But you know, you can’t stop bringing in ANY new books. That would be absurd.

  2. Our library has had the drive through pick-up open for a few months. It is also open for browsing with a reservation, but I haven’t done that. I place a ton of holds and am loving having a huge stack of library books in addition to the books I purchased from my local bookstore in spring. They feel like my guarantee of reading material in case things shut down again.

    I switched to a kindle for 3-4 years when my older two kids were babies, but switched back to paper books five years ago and haven’t looked back. I actually thought I’d go back to reading on a kindle when I had a third baby late last year, but even with a seven month old I am happier reading in paper. I keep my kindle paperwhite stashed in my purse with the type of nonfiction book that can be picked up and put down easily for things like kid dentist appointments, where it is easier/lighter to bring the kindle. I do listen to a lot more audio than I used to (still only 5-10 audiobooks a year, but that’s a big increase from the basically zero audiobooks I used to read)

    Lastly, I’ve been meaning to try Lisa Jewell and will add her to my library list!

    • A drive thru pick up option! How genius and fun!
      I thought that maybe having a baby would convince me to get an ereader and there were definitely moments I thought about it (that new mom carpal tunnel gets us all) but I powered through. Audiobooks are another great way to get reading in but I still hate being read to! I tend to use podcasts for chores and walks.

      But I completely agree. I am loving having a stack of reading options so that if/when things get shut down again, I am PREPARED.

  3. The pandemic has definitely made me read way more ebooks this year, which I don’t really love. Libraries have sort of opened in my town but it’s a little awkward! We have to set up appointments to pick up holds and then an employee brings out the books for you. Due dates are SUPER far away now (which is nice!) but things are just so complicated right now that I might just try to prioritize the books that I own!

    • I hear you. I didn’t think I liked the appointment system but now that it’s gone, I miss it! But I’ve basically forgotten about my own books now that I’m so deep in this library life which isn’t great. Good call to focus on what you have. My first batch are due back on the 31st 😬😬

  4. Our library closed from March through July and then opened with an absolute mask requirement. So nice to go in, browse, and feel safe. Then it all went away when some protesters (from out of town!) tried to push their way in with no masks. The library remains closed but does provide curbside. A shelve stroll is dearly missed.

  5. If it makes you feel better, your concept of abusing the library’s largesse would be my version of upsettingly meager rations. But it’s possible your library system may like you more for it than mine does me 🙂

    I’m so lucky that the branch near my house is one of the ones that has reopened for pick up. But it’s also been humbling to realise that the library staff really do know me even though we’ve never officially exchanged names and usually don’t interact (since we have self-checkout): when I go to pick up books, they see me coming and grab my stack from the cart before we even say hello. Take that people who need to show their library cards! This is clearly a sign that I’ve spent a bit too much time in the library over the years but it’s been a wonderful sense of connection in these strange times.

  6. Hi there found your blog via What’s Non-Fiction. I love my library and also missed it during the lockdown here in the UK. I go once a week and cannot believe the great (and often newly published) books I find there. Just scooped up the Mary Trump book. I have a Kindle but really do prefer a book, preferably hardback. Kindles good for reading in bed though as a few times I have fallen asleep and conked myself on nose with a solid tome, not good.

    • Hi!! I think about an ereader often but still haven’t done anything about it. I really want to read that Mary Trump book but do not want that face in my house for any reason. Might be a reason for an ereader after all! 🙂

  7. I’m also lucky enough to have the library be one of the things that’s bothered me most during lockdown. I’ve actually found it harder now that they’re open though. I do read ebooks, so I’ve not been doing without, and I find that going to the library and using their drive-up service means that what’s usually a comforting place is instead a reminder of just how different things are now.

    I’ve not read any of the books you have out, but I’d also be very interested in a Hedy Lamra bio!

  8. I hate reading e-books, but I do it sometimes because it’s convenient. But I, too, was thrilled when my library reopened, but mainly so I could get my toddler something new that I hadn’t read to him a thousand times.

    Re: the books on your list (if you still have them)
    – I never read Room, but Slammerkin (Donoghue’s first novel) will haunt me for the rest of my life.
    – Pride was… ok. The setting and the poetry were great, but I didn’t find the relationship between the characters all that believable.

    PS: If you ever need a romance rec, hit me up.

    • Re-reading the same books to a toddler gets old FAST. But they love it! Specifically to torture us?
      I didn’t even know about Slammerkin! Going to have to look that one up!
      I ended up liking Pride, but more because of the atmosphere and what it said about class systems and gentrification rather than the relationship.

      • Probably to torture us. Seems likely.

        And agreed, Pride was pretty strong when the focus was class and gentrification and the feel of the neighborhood (and how it was changing).

  9. I hear you! I have had a huge stack of library books since it re-opened, and even more books on hold! Let’s hope the libraries never have to close again! 🙂

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