Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Me Versus The Library

I've been thinking of swearing off checking out books from the library, because it's interfering too much with my reading.

You see, the library is a very dangerous place. It is packed to the gills with books, and while it often doesn't have the particular book that I'm looking for, it does often have a number of interesting looking books. So I'll go in there looking for some book that I really want to ready, find that they don't have it, and think, "Well, if I really want to read that, I'll have to get it from Amazon." Then as I wander the stacks a bit (MrsDarwin and I take turns going upstairs to the adult section while the other watches the small fry.) I'll find one or two books that do look interesting and check them out. The barrier to entry with library books is simply so low. You don't have to pay for them, you don't have to wait for them, and you can check out up to 15 at a time, so you don't even have to decide which one to get, you can get all the ones that look interesting.

Of course, at this point, I'll set aside the books I'm already reading that I own, and read the library books first. Because, you know, the library books have to go back in three weeks. And then, after finishing those library books, I'll find myself wanting to look up a couple other books, which are referred to by the first ones. And these lead to more books. And more. And the next thing you know, the book which you bought because you really were quite urgent to read it has been sitting around unfinished for three or four months.

In the end, it's just not fair to the books you own to give the library books a chance. Even as a rather excessive book buyer, my books are vastly outnumbered by the library books. And, of course, the library books are hardened veterans, having already conquered dozens of readers.

So I know that I need to lay off the library books. I could read for years just working through books that we own that I haven't read yet and want to read. And yet it's hard to stop. One always imagines that one is strong enough to check out just one or two library books. It's just a book, after all. I don't have to go check out more. I don't have to set my current books aside. I can stop any time.

10 comments:

bearing said...

Can't you use an online catalogue to simplify the process?

BettyDuffy said...

LIbrary is an EVENT around here. Ranks only slightly higher than a visit to the grocery store. And we have the same problem. Regardless of the four books I HAVE to read by the end of the month, I checked out three more that I would like to read, in my spare time, which I don't have because I'm using it to read your blog right now.

PLus, we ruin books. I can't allow library books upstairs, or they will never again see the light of day, which makes the library more costly than just buying the dumb things.

Anonymous said...

This posting is an example of why I don't think I'll ever really understand literary types. I read, indeed I read a lot, I usually have 2-3 books going at any given time, but libraries just don't suck me in like this. Not even close.

Joel (natural born engineer)

Claire said...

I feel the same way about libraries! I've had to stop going for a while and try to catch up on all the books I bought and haven't read yet.

Emily J. said...

You could always give up the library for Lent, but then again why? You might miss something really good.

The problem I have is that in between libraries, library sales (At $1/bag, who cares if you've never heard of it before?), and used books online, I have a hard time shelling out real money for books that I really want to read. While I wait for it to show up on the used market, there's plenty else to read. Only by then, everyone is done talking about it.

Jim Janknegt said...

It's even worse if you can check out books from the U.T. library. As a staff member I can check out books for a semester at a time and there is no limit to how many I can check out. And to make matters worse, I can renew books for another semester online. Life is really hard!!

My solution was to stop buying books. The only downside to that is you can't write in library books.

Elizabeth M said...

I second the suggestion to use the online catalog. When we hear of a book we'd like to read, we go online and request it through the library. We've even had success in having the county system BUY books we suggested. Then we get an email when our requested books are ready for us. So sometimes a visit to the library doesn't get past the circulation desk -- drop off returning items, pick up items on hold! We get exactly the books we want to read (and music and movies) -- or those we want the kids to try!

Of course other times we do a visit and browse, with or without the kids. And we've found some surprises that way. But you don't have to go cold turkey -- you can begin to control your library habit with some online help!

nathan said...

I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one with this problem. The library has been wreaking havoc with the "books that I resolved to read" list.

mrsdarwin said...

You've never been seduced by the library, Joel?

cliff said...

Something for you two to look forward to - as your children get older, they can stay home so mom & dad go to the library, out to eat, movies, country drive...