How the Library Has Changed My Reading Habits {Amanda’s Discussion}

Posted 30 January, 2015 by Amanda / 23 Comments


When I started reading historical romances again (see: summer of 2013), I had to change the way I procured books. Previously, I’d been gorging on paranormal books that I’d been buying.

But a book habit,  especially as a book blogger and voracious reader, is difficult to support, and I couldn’t (and still can’t) afford to continue buying books. So what do you do when you can’t buy books and you still want to read?

Hint: It’s not request galleys or ARCs.

I rediscovered the library.

The library has a special place in my heart, and I’ve sung my library’s praises on Felicia’s blog during her Love My Library Card event in September 2014. But after I graduated high school, my reading dropped off and I forgot what an awesome place the library is until the Great Historical Romance Bender began (we won’t mention how many years between those events).

Unlike buying books, going to the library offers me certain advantages. You know, besides the whole money thing, which, I think, is pretty obvious. Here’s how the library has changed my reading habits:

1. I’m no longer afraid (or feel guilty) to DNF books.

Because all it costs me to visit the library is the gas for my car, I’m not really out any money if I don’t like the book I’m reading (Note: I rarely go to the library for a single book; I’m often picking up multiples or dropping some off so it’s not a wasted visit). And because my time is precious, I don’t want to waste it on books that don’t hold my interest.

So if a book makes me tweet weird quotes or has me finding other activities to occupy my time, I’m okay with throwing it back to the library gods.

2. I read more.

I read 186 books in 2014 — and that’s more than I’ve ever recorded reading before. Because I don’t have to carefully monitor how many books I’m buying (Note: I only use gift cards I’ve received for Christmas or my birthday to purchase books throughout the year), I can read however much I want.

And apparently that’s a lot. A lot of historical romances. But that’s okay — the library has entire shelves devoted to romances.

3. I lost my obsession for new releases.

When you’ve got the majority of an author’s backlist readily available, new releases stop being so important. They still are, mind you, because I still have favorite authors I must have, but I can also leisurely read my way through an author’s entire backlist.

Don’t get me wrong, I love newly released books. But there’s something relaxing and freeing to not be waiting constantly for the next book in the series to come out. Like when I read through an entire series in one go. I read whatever strikes my fancy, and that means there’s less pressure about my reading choices. (Also see #1.)

4. I mix up book formats.

When I first bought my Kindle, I went through an ebook stage. Then I went through an “I MUST HAVE ALL THE PHYSICAL BOOKS” stage, especially after my boyfriend’s family bought me a bookcase. Each format has its advantages: ebooks are most often less expensive, physical books are tactile and look pretty on the shelves.

But with the library, it doesn’t really matter. If I’m at the library and find something I like? I grab the physical copy. If I’m sick or it’s too freaking cold outside (the latter a sad possibility in Minnesota), I hop on my library’s website and borrow a few ebooks. What matters is having a book to read, not which format it’s in.

5. I see books differently.

This just means… the value of books has changed. Part of using the library is to save money. But it’s also about making books available to people who might not otherwise be able to read. Books are more than something I read and place on my shelf (or virtual shelf).

I’ve donated books to my library — but I’ve also gone to bookstores and sold my books back. Because sometimes there are people who can appreciate my books more than me. And I’d rather have that than a bunch of unread or unloved books sitting on my shelves.

Do you use the library? How has it changed your reading habits?

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23 Responses to “How the Library Has Changed My Reading Habits {Amanda’s Discussion}”

  1. Will be back when it is not 3 in the morning to see people responses but for me yes/no. The library allows me to embrace my mood reader more which is what my reading habits used to be. It did change it from the couple of years where I got caught up in hype reading and spending money on books ultimately I couldn’t afford. Now I only use gift cards and get the rest from the library. I quit Netgalley because libraries don’t come with a finish percentage box. My mood can change, I can return the book, and then later check it out again if I decide to give it another whirl.
    Felicia The Geeky Blogger recently posted…#FitReaders: Weekly Check-in Jan 30 2015My Profile

  2. I LOVE using the library! It saves me so much money and I just love going there. I think one of the great parts is that I can add books to a hold list and they notify me when they come to my branch, which is awesome because they list books that aren’t out yet. I only buy the series that I have to have. :)
    Kelsey recently posted…Question: Blogging RoutineMy Profile

  3. There is no I way I could afford to read like I do if I had to buy the books. I’m a library junkie. Last week, I had a lot of books already here that I needed to finish so I made myself skip my weekly browsing visit. It felt so wrong! I request a lot of books to be sent to a small branch on my way to work so I can run in and pick them up quickly too.
    Heather recently posted…Station Eleven by Emily St. John MandelMy Profile

  4. Oh, I do love the library. Actually, I’ve been using my high school’s library, just because they do have a lot of the new releases (which happens when the school is less than three years old). While I do enjoy owning the books, I wind up giving away more books than I keep and, if I loved the book I borrowed, I can always buy it. Or check it out again. And YES to the no-guilty DNF. I hate DNFing books that I’ve requested or that a publisher sent me. Catholic guilt, I guess.
    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted…Mini-Swarm Reviews: It’s a mystery!My Profile

  5. I use the library frequently; it’s my hometown library and I basically grew up there. I get most of the bestsellers, best-of-the-year, and books from recommendation lists at the library.
    I started to read more of those, (bestsellers, etc.), because of the library’s facebook informing me they were there. My library habits haven’t changed so much as the library’s habits have changed- and it is awesome. Knowing what’s new at the library via social media helps and keeps me informed on events. I live in a very rural town, so everything is community driven, and having that faster communication has been fantastic.

  6. I love this, Amanda! Love it! I’m a public librarian, so anytime anyone is celebrating the library makes me happy. I feel the same way about everything you’ve said. Certainly I think there is something wonderful about how you can focus on backlist items at a library. New releases are great, but they aren’t new for long. And yes to the library sharing books with everyone!

    I’m so glad to see how much you love the library.
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Book Haul #85My Profile

  7. I just got a library card last month but I had to pay for it so I’m going to keep track of my borrowing to see if it ends up being worth it to renew next year. Unfortunately it’s not quite as packed with books that I want to read as I thought it would be, but I’m planning to look into their ebook and audiobook selections so maybe that will have some better offerings. I can also use my card at other libraries in the area — although this is the largest of them — so I’ll be traveling around to see what else is out there.
    Jenna @ Rather Be Reading YA recently posted…Weekly Rewind: January 25-31My Profile

  8. Yey all the library love! I’m trying hard this year not to buy books I haven’t read (only buying books that I have read and loved and want to look pretty on my shelf) so I’ve been loving my library. It makes it so much easier to get over ARC jealousy when I instead request my library purchase a copy or put a hold in and am generally first on the list when publishing day comes. I haven’t delved into backlists as much as I’d like to yet, but that’s mostly because I use audiobooks to get to backlist books and my library has a painfully limited selection of those :(. But once I read through my own shelves, I’m sure I’ll be diving into my libraries backlist!
    Anya recently posted…Updates from the Lair 2/1/15My Profile

    • Yes! I’ve placed not-yet-released books on my hold list and gotten them close to release day. (Not day of, unfortunately, but close enough!) It’s great.

  9. Every time I read a library post like this one, I end up feeling equal parts shame and determination, LOL. I doubt I’ll ever completely lose my obsession with New Releases, but the library is such a good option for all the other books that aren’t OMG-I-must-have-them-NOW. Plus, eventually I will run out of shelf space, and I’d rather fill it with books I’ll read again, then books I’ll stare at in disgust (for either myself or the book itself, depending ;) ).

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