The Library is Basically Running My Life

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A couple of years ago, to save ourselves space, sanity, and money, I made an important decision—

I was only going to let myself buy books that fit one of the following three criteria:

A) Books I have read and loved and planned to reread again (usually nonfiction, since there are very few fiction titles I reread nowadays),

B) Books that I want my children to have ready access to, both picture books for now and YA novels for later (either books I’ve read myself or books that are award-winners or that look interesting and age-appropriate)

C) Books I haven’t read (once again, probably nonfiction) that I have perused enough to know that I will love and will want to have on hand for reference (and want to make notes in)

Furthermore, last October I did a little inventory/budgeting exercise wherein I discovered some pretty shocking numbers when it came to our spending habits (one of those categories being books). I’d already been drastically cutting down the amount we were spending on books from what it used to be, but when I realized we literally own hundreds of books that I haven’t read yet (but that I want to), I basically put a blanket ban on buying books for myself unless it was with gift money.

All of this is to say that since we’ve been drastically cutting down on our book buying, I have been dramatically INCREASING my use of our public library (since I apparently am unable to just stick with reading only the books we own).

When I first moved to this town almost twelve years ago (!), I was a freshman just starting college as an English major, and since I was already assigned to read around 1,000 pages a week anyway for class (no exaggeration—some weeks/semesters I averaged closer to 2,000), I hardly had time to read anything for pleasure, and thus saw no real need for a library card (and was buying any books I really was interested in reading someday, anyway).

After getting married, my non-library-using, book-buying habits were pretty ingrained in me by that point, so with a new husband who loved reading (nearly) as much as I do, we only fueled that particular bookwormish fire to buy, buy, buy as many books as we could readily find for decent prices, which led to us needing to acquire a new bookshelf about once a year (seriously).

After the epiphany I had a few years back where I decided that I really didn’t want (or need) to be buying so many books when we already had soooooo many to take care of and store and organize, however, I finally buckled down and got myself a library card, but I didn’t use it much. (In fact, there were a couple years there where I mostly just went to the library a few times a year for the movies and to thumb through the magazines they had that I didn’t currently subscribe to).

Then I made another life-changing decision (although I didn’t realize at the time how drastically it would alter my life until later)—

I decided to just let myself read whatever the heck I wanted, instead of worrying about books that were off of recommended reading lists or that would in some way make me more literate/productive/wise/artsy/etc.

Couple that newfound decision with my obsession with the podcast What Should I Read Next?, and you’ve got my current formula for some serious library dependence.

The problem is, I don’t have a very good system for putting books on hold at the library. Basically, if I hear about something I’m interested in (usually from the podcast or from that same woman’s website, Modern Mrs. Darcy), I immediately go online to see if our library has the item. If they do, I put it on  hold.

This wouldn’t be a problem, say, if this newfound literary freedom I feel to read whatever I wanted was limited by the fact that I wasn’t interested in much…

But that’s not how I roll.

After years of reading only what was “literary” or a little more on the “intellectual” side, I’m feeling the need to play a little catch-up with all those titles that everyone else has been talking about forever but that I never tried.

Plus, I’ve always had a rather wide net of interests, so anytime I hear anything under one of those categories I’m interested in, it’s off to the library website I go. (You know you have a problem when you have your library card number memorized. Never mind that I don’t have any of my credit or debit card numbers memorized and have to double check with my husband every time what his social security number is, I KNOW MY LIBRARY CARD NUMBER, dangit!)

This was all working just fine for me up until about a month ago, when ALLLLLLL the books started coming in all at once (from the ones I’d been waiting for for literally months and months to the ones I’d just reserved a few days before).

I’m currently in the middle of reading 4 library books, which are due back to the library at varying points within the next 2.5 weeks. I actually had to get out the calculator when I picked up the last couple to calculate the rate I’d need to read at in order to be able to finish them all before they’re all due back (for the record, it was about 70 pages a day).

Well, I wasn’t freaking out too bad at that point—I mean, I usually do about 50 pages a day without trying too hard, so 20 more didn’t seem like such a big deal…

UNTIL I JUST FOUND OUT THAT TWO MORE BOOKS CAME IN.

So, friends, I might have finally reached the point where I am forced to behave as a rational human being and STOP PUTTING BOOKS ON HOLD ALREADY.

Anywho, you will likely find me spending massive amounts of time with my butt on the couch (or in bed) this week, my nose burrowed into the pages of a book, and with the slightly frantic expression of one who just doesn’t know when to quit.

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