Let’s Talk Library Holds

I didn’t start using the hold system at the library until this year.

Wow, OK, that feels good to finally say out loud.

I used the library all the time as a kid but I never used the hold system then because the whole thing with the library was going to the library to pick my books. Then I started making my own money and I stopped going to the library and spending all my money on books, a theme that continues to this day if I’m honest.

I came back to the library when I lost my job the first time as an adult. Suddenly aware of a finite amount of money to my name, uncertain about when I’d find a new job but also aware that I still needed fresh reading material, I started taking the bus to the library. That’s when I started reading Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse and finding all sorts of hidden nonfiction gems. But still, never holds. Again, the whole point was the going to the library.

But this year, obviously, has changed the way we do everything. First we were all cut off from our libraries (I’m assuming that was the same for everyone). Sure, I could have started reading the books on my shelves that I’d bought but I’m a mood reader and suffer from FOMO thanks to #bookstagram so I need new books all the time.

Sure, I ordered some from bookstores online but the postal system was kind of flooded with orders so it took a while to get anything. Did I mention that I don’t read ebooks? Audiobooks neither.

Once the library re-opened, they were doing the curbside pick up thing. So if I wanted books, I had to use the hold system.

It was revolutionary.

I could choose the books I wanted to read and the librarians would make sure they were ready for me. I could check online and see how many books were ready and decide if it was worth the trip or if I should wait a few days. I was checking every day, willing there to be a little green number in the corner telling me that my books were ready for me. I started putting more books on hold, up to 15 at a time. Sometimes I was first in line, other times I was 27 on 8 copies.

I started getting too many all at once. I didn’t have time to read them all. I focused on reading library books but then my purchased books would show up and they’d be ones I was excited to read but I had a time constraint on my library books, ones I’d waited to read for weeks. Other people were waiting for them, renewing wasn’t always possible.

Now I’m looking at Nonfiction November, hoarding planning books to read next month. I still have fiction holds coming in but a finite time in which to read them and hold onto them. I have nonfiction books on hold and I’m hoping they are ready as close to November 1st as possible, understanding that I have zero control over the timing.

So, my question to you all is: what’s the secret to streamlining my hold system?

Now that I work from home, my library isn’t right around the corner anymore. I can really only go on the weekends. I want all the books but understand the book limits. I only have a handful of books out right now and my holds list was short and I probably wasn’t going to get anything until December but I went on a hold spree the other night so I’m very much back in the hole.

Tell me all your tips and tricks. I’m a library hold system convert but still very much a novice.


Library Checkout: February 2017

I’m trying not to be an apologist blogger anymore so I won’t apologize for not putting up blog content. I totally feel bad about it and I’m alive. Just…really terrible at putting up blog content!


This is why the library checkout, hosted by Charleen @ It’s a Portable Magic, is so great. We all get content and I don’t have to use my brain too too much. (What is wrong with my brain, you guys? It feels mushy)

Although, really, it’s been a shameful month at the library. You’ll see. I just have so many stacks of books at home and I’m starting to feel really terrible about not reading all of them, all the time. It’s a horrible feeling and I’m hoping it goes away if I focus on my own books for a while. I’m really terrible at that, though. I’m the kind of reader that’s like “OH THAT’S SO SHINY AND NEW, LET ME HAVE IT NOW.” I need to get more in the mindset of “These books aren’t going anywhere. I don’t need to have this book in my possession this instant.”

Even though I know it’s true, it feels like a lie.

Anyway, let’s get to the shame of my month at the library.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante (ohhhh I loved this one! Remember when I was super lukewarm about My Brilliant Friend? I take it back. Give me all the Ferrante books!)
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory (I’m still reading this as I write this. I’m really enjoying it but it’s dense and long and I know someone’s waiting for it so I’m trying to read as fast as I can)

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (I don’t know what happened here – I have loved all of Cleave’s other work. This one felt inauthentic and forced. Since someone was waiting for it, I decided to just send it back)

Returned unread
The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (this is the second time I have returned one of her books to the library unread even though I really enjoyed Eligible!)

Currently out
Hitman Anders and the Meaning Of It All by Jonas Jonasson

On hold
Nothing right now but I’m thinking about putting a hold on the next Elena Ferrante book…maybe Emily Climbs too…


Library ghettoes

I started reading Beatriz Williams for the first time this year. I bought A Hundred Summers and the next time I went to the library, I thought I would go ahead and pick up another one of her books.

When I got to the W section, I couldn’t find any of her books. I assumed that she was incredibly popular and all of her books were currently out. The next time I was in the library, I did the same thing. Still, none of her books were there. I decided to use the computer to see what was going on and learned that Beatriz Williams’ books are considered Romance books and have their own section.

The problem, for me, is that I’ve long held Romance novels to be the domain of silver haired golden girls. I couldn’t just roll up to the Romance section and have other people see me searching the shelves for a book to read! I strolled past, like I was just passing through, and quickly dipped down to pick one up – luckily the Ws fell at the end of the row.


Me, sneaking into the Romance section

I’ve since returned a couple of times (for more) and every time I get the same feeling. I actually stopped and checked out some of the authors the other day and realized that I had looked for some of these authors in the past but never found them because I never go to the Romance section.

And this got me thinking: why the hell is there a romance section? And how are these decisions made? Jane Fallon, Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella are not Romance but Nora Roberts and Beatriz Williams are?

What about Danielle Steele? I’ve definitely seen her books in the regular fiction section.

The thing is, there are probably loads of readers that have never read work by authors they might really enjoy because they’ve been relegated to this Romance ghetto. I used to bypass the crime fiction/mystery section for the same reason. I thought that those books were only for old people (why am I so ageist?!) and gave them a pass until I started reading Agatha Christie several years ago. Crime fiction is still fiction. Romance novels are still fiction. Fantasy is still fiction.

Graphic novels – those can have their own section, that’s totally fine.

Why can’t they all live together in one big fiction section?

If you know the actual reason, please tell me!


Library Checkout: March 2016


Each month, Shannon @ Rivercity Reading does a library useage rundown and invites all of us to do the same.

I wrote this post. And then I realized that my library use in March was pathetic so I rectified it immediately. It started with wanting to return the books so others could love them and ended with a new pile of 5 books. A conservative stack, really.

Herewith, March, the library and me:

Library Books Read
Jennie Churchill: Winston’s American Mother by Anne Sebba
The Sisters: Babe Mortimer Paley, Betsy Roosevelt Whitney, Minnie Astor Fosburgh: The Lives and Times of the Fabulous Cushing Sisters by David Grafton
The Mathematician’s Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer
In the Woods by Tana French
Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

Checked Out, To be Read
The Slap by Christos Tsoikos
The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johanson
Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea (sounds like Crazy Rich Asians in Saudi Arabia!!)
The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Returned, Unread
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Color Purple by Alica Walker

On Hold
None. When I wrote this before I was like “no holds, I’m boring, sorry.” But now I have all these new books to read and I’m stoked.

What did your library reading look like in March?



Library Checkout: November 2015

We’ve already celebrated Thanksgiving up here in Canada but since this will go up on American Thanksgiving, just wanted to wish all of you celebrating a happy, delicious day with your loved ones.

I know I’m super thankful to Shannon at Rivercity Reading for starting this handy little library love chain letter because it means I don’t have to think about content for a blog post! And of course, I’m so thankful to have such wonderful libraries close to home because they continue to support my love of reading without devastating my bank account.

Let’s get to it!


Library Books Read

Dreams of Joy by Lisa See
Broken Harbour by Tana French
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty
The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

It felt like I had a strong library reading month but actually, I just had a strong library visiting month. I did manage to read these before my crippling inability to CHOOSE a book handcuffed me. (Anyone else feeling this right now? I dread finishing books because I have to DECIDE what I’m going to read next and I don’t want to make the “wrong” choice. As if there’s such a thing.)

Checked Out, To Be Read

The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress by Arial Lawhon
Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra (I thought I had A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Chelsey, but I don’t! This is the one I grabbed)
Carol by Patricia Highsmith

For some reason when it’s time to choose a new book and I look at these books I don’t want to read any of them. But I have the same issue with all the books I have yet to read, the ones I’ve borrowed and my own. What is happening?

Returned Unread

The Bishop’s Man by Linden McIntyre

I started reading it, was looking forward to reading it in fact. But nothing about it hooked me and after 60 pages I decided that actually I wasn’t in the mood to read about the horrible things priests did to kids that the Church did nothing about.

On Hold

Still nothing! I don’t deserve to get to hold anything – I was late returning some of the books and now I owe $0.60.

What did your library month look like? Any tips for healing my choosing paralysis? 



Library Love

It’s October (late October at that, how did this even happen?!) and I’ve managed to read 120 books. OK fine, 119. But I’m reading book 120 right now.

And lest you think this is just a chance for me to brag about that, there is actually a point.

The library.

Of the 120 books this year (yeah I’m rounding up – by the time this goes up, I will be finished with The Library at Mount Char), 26 have come from the library. Now, math has never been my strong suit but that’s 22% of the total. That’s a pretty big chunk.

Last year, when I was planning my wedding, the library became part of my regular routine because it was a free way to get fresh reading material. Once the dust had settled on that event, I went a little insane buying new material. I’ve always been someone who likes to buy books. I enjoy having them, I like lending them (to some people) and I love looking at them. Certain books hold really strong memories too – of when I read them, what was going on in my life at the time, how I reacted to a certain book.

But something shifted with me this year. I don’t know if it’s because books are quite literally taking over my home, if it’s that I’m getting older and am starting to shift away from having stuff or if maybe I’m starting to read faster and I can’t keep up with the need for new material (can you imagine finishing a book and having nothing on hand to start on?) but I’ve needed my library in a way that I didn’t before.

I LOVE my library.


I love that there’s one around the corner from my office. It has completely removed that old obstacle of returning books on time. When I finish a book, I bring it to work and it sits on my desk until a day when I have enough of them and I walk over to bring them back. And usually walk out with a new stack.

I love the selection at my library. I love that I can walk in and out with fresh new reads with very little effort. If I have more time, I can wander. I will probably never run out of great mysteries to read there. I love that they take their recommendations so seriously – those librarians know their stuff.

I love how quiet it is in the library. I find being around people exhausting. Partially, I mostly hate other people but I also tend to take on other people’s emotions so just being around people drains me. I’m physically exhausted from being social. The library lays no claims to me this way. It allows me to exist, quietly, whispering great titles at me, knowing just what I need.

I love that there’s no judgment. Taking a stack of 8-10 books? Good for you. Reading about the Nazis? It’s important not to forget! Is that a pile of Maeve Binchy/Jane Green/other author people roll their eyes at? We all have our favourites!

I love the idea that when I return a book I love, someone else has the opportunity to find it.

Makes you want to go to your library doesn’t it? Libraries are one of the best things in life – the chance to read widely and freely (literally) is completely underrated. I have two library due dates right now but once that first one passes, you better believe I will be in there looking for another stack.


Library Checkout: September 2015

Shannon at Rivercity Reading is doing a little Library Checkout link-up thingy and since I can’t seem to stop myself from going to the library and picking up more books, I thought I might as well put my book insatiability to work!


Library Books Read
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh

Checked Out, To Be Read
Girl at War by Sara Novic
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith
The Woman Who Stole My Life
(I realize we’ve covered this before)
Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

Returned Unread
Nothing yet!

On Hold
Nothing anymore – I went to pick up The Weight of Blood and came home with two more! It’s looking like I’m going to have to quit my job or something just so I can actually read all these books in this lifetime.

Care to join us?


Book Gluttony: The Library Trip

I did it again. I ignored the piles of unread books in my own house to take a trip to the library and bring home another pile of books to read.

I could take the time to unpack what is wrong with me that I can’t seem to be happy with the riches already in my home and insist on making my reading life that much more chaotic (to say nothing of the physical piles of chaos I’ve created in our home…) but who wants to do that?

Want to hear about the bookish treasure I took home instead?

That’s what I thought. Read on, book lovers!

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I’ve been wanting and meaning to read this book ever since it came out but for whatever reason, every time I pick it up in a bookstore, I’ve put it down again. But hey, I work in communications, it might not be a bad idea to finally read this book about the “renaissance of public shaming” via social media.

Girl at War by Sara Novic. I keep seeing this book and reading about it and it kind of jumped out at me at the library so I brought it home. This book about the war in Yugoslavia and it’s aftermath on our heroine, Ana Juric holds a personal connection for me: my father was a peacekeeper in that conflict. I’m not sure that I’ve ever read any fiction about this area and I’m glad for the opportunity to remedy that.

Friends, Lovers, Chocolate by Alexander McCall Smith. I can’t seem to quit him. And after reading the most recent Isabel Dalhousie novel (The Novel Habits of Happiness) I decided that I’d been harsh on this series based on the first book. This is the second book in the series and I’m excited to potentially have another mystery series to love.

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes. I LOVE Marian Keyes. I’m pretty sure I own all of her books. I meant to buy this one. But every time I almost did it, I stopped myself. When I saw it at the library, I thought to myself why do I need to own this book? Why not just take it home now? So that’s exactly what I did.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Earlier this year I read and LOVED China Dolls. I’m hoping that Shanghai Girls is more of the same. Shanghai in the 1930s always seems like the most elegant place, until it all falls to sh*t of course.

Well there you have it. Are you marvelling at my self restraint? I only brought home FIVE books, guys. I can totally get through a pile of five books. I was actually incredibly selective when I went this time. I spent a lot of time in non-fiction but there was nothing there that I had to read immediately. Actually it just made me feel bad that I had books by A.N. Wilson and Judith Flanders already sitting at home since I glanced at some of their other work and almost brought them home too…

Also. There’s a teachers weekend at one of the big bookstores up here, the weekend of the 26th and I’ve already had one of the teachers in my book club offer to take advantage of that on my behalf so the book gluttony isn’t slowing down any time soon…


Somebody Stop Me

 I have tons of unread books at home. When I finish the book I’m currently reading I could read Lady Anna by Anthony Trollope or Philippa Gregory’s The King’s Curse or Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I could dip my toes into the world of Victorian sensationalist journalism with The Invention of Murder or spend some time with my favourite, Maeve Binchy (I still have two copies of Scarlet Feather. For real, does anyone want one?). I recently bought a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird, intending on re-reading that soon, I could read that.

Instead, I found my feet carrying me to the library. It started innocently enough. I looked at my TBR Pile Challenge list and saw that most of the books still on it are books that I don’t own. So I logged into my account at the library and placed a hold on a couple of them. Because my library is awesome (shout out to the Metrotown branch of the Burnaby Public Library!) they were ready the same day.

I was just going to quickly pick them up and leave again. Then I got there and thought I would just quickly see what books they had displayed at the front. Five seconds later I already had two books in hand so I decided that I might as well meander over to the Mystery and Fiction sections and see what they had.

I left with eight books.

Here’s what I brought home:

Confessions of a Fairy’s Daughter: Growing Up with a Gay Dad by Alison Wearing. This was one of the books I had put a hold on, one of the reasons I went in the first place. This book has been on my list forever and I can’t wait to read it.

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon Self-Control, and My Other Experiments in Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin. This was the other reason for my going to the library. The Happiness Project really changed the way I looked at my own happiness and for various reasons I’m kind of in the mood to revisit that whole idea.

Twisted Sisters by Jen Lancaster. Although I haven’t had much luck with Lancaster’s fiction attempts in the past, I’m a sucker for punishment and couldn’t help myself. Maybe this one will sting less if I don’t like it because it’s from the library? Or maybe Lancaster has finally found her fiction stride.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I was in the bookstore the other day and read a little of this book and decided that I was interested (ha) in reading it after all. I can’t remember why I was suddenly drawn to it – I think I read about it somewhere here…

Us by David Nicholls. I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out. I liked reading One Day (it was one of our first book club books!) but I LOVED the movie. That doesn’t happen very often. I watched the movie alone the first time and loved it so much I pretended I hadn’t watched it and watched it again the same day with my husband. Still there was enough about One Day that I liked that I’ve been wanting to read Nicholls’ follow up.

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby. I’ve never actually read anything of Hornby’s but I guess I have to start somewhere. The idea of a book set in 1960s London is kind of enough for me right now!

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. Every review of this book I’ve seen has made me want to read this more. I looked for it when I was at the bookstore the other day and they didn’t have it. At the library? Jackpot. I’m finally going to read this. More domestic noir? Bring it!

Love Over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith. It’s been a while since I’ve visited my friends at 44 Scotland Street. I’m pretty hardcore about reading this series in order and Love Over Scotland was the next one. This was the first time it was actually at the library so naturally I wasted exactly zero seconds tucking it under my arm.

Have you read any of these? Where should I start? (OK full disclosure, I started reading Happier at Home outside the library already but I’m still in the middle of Renee Knight’s Disclaimer and I’m quite enjoying that too!) When exactly does book hoarding become an issue?


2015 TBR Pile Challenge Fail

Last year when I made my list to join the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge, as hosted by Roof Beam Reader, I was thrilled to get to add some titles that had been haunting me for years. The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman was one of those books. I think that I first heard about this on one of Jen Lancaster’s blog posts about books that she loved that other people should read. She hadn’t steered me wrong yet so this one went on my list, where it was promptly ignored for the next three years.

The Teleportation Accident is a debut novel that was long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. Beauman wasn’t even thirty when he wrote it and it was supposed to be wickedly funny and irreverent and great.

Well I tried to read it and after slogging through 30 pages, I decided to stop reading it.

In terms of the challenge, I guess this means that one of my alternates is going to have to step up and be counted. In terms of my reading life, making the decision to DNF The Teleportation Accident feels like the right one.

Finishing every book that I started used to be a point of pride with me. How could I know how I felt about a book if I didn’t finish it? What if it got really good and I didn’t finish it so I never knew that?


I’m finally at the point where I say that life is too short to force yourself to read. When I had The Teleportation Accident on deck, I did almost everything I could to avoid reading (my apartment is clean, the laundry was done and I even made dinner – I’m not the cook in the family). And I’m someone who LOVES to read. I read all the time – on the bus, on the couch, during sports, in the sun, before bed, at lunch, at the lake, on the road etc. Avoiding reading is not my forte. The Teleportation Accident was supposed to be funny and irreverent – I found it stuffy and self-indulgent. As far as I could tell, the main character just wants to get laid, doesn’t really give a shit about his work and has horrible friends. The book starts out in 1931 in Germany and the significance of the time probably does become something but there were no hints as to what that something would be and I wasn’t invested enough in anything else to take the time to find out.

No, The Teleportation Accident will be returned to the library unread and I will find another book to help me complete the TBR Pile Challenge.

Anyone else have trouble getting through self-prescribed reading?