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?