It was a big deal, getting my first library card. I was about seven and could just sign my name, sort of. My ugly scrawl wasn’t good enough for the library card, and embarrassed, I knew it. I treasured the card anyway.
Dad took me to the little library every week on Tuesday or Wednesday for many, many years. I always had a stack of things to pick up. Some of them were icky, smelly books, but I saw stories inside them. I had to go the library every week. And when a closer branch opened up, I said I’d never go to that library because it wasn’t my library…
Fast-forward to the present. I only go to the library if I absolutely have to (late materials and items to pick up), and I just stop by the closest branch (yeah, that one I said I’d never go to). One reason is the local libraries are very small, and I read far fewer books per month than I used to. Also, Overdrive and Project Gutenberg now cover most of the books I read, plus those sites cut down the wait time significantly. I can also afford to buy new books anytime, too, which up till recent years was hardly possible. Nevertheless, I sort of miss going to the library every week and probably should get back into it.
Something I have started in the last couple of years is buying second-hand books… a hybrid of the above options, I guess. At Value Village (aka Savers), I scour the shelves for gently used, cast-off college assignments. There’s also a local bookstore, which, in spite of its not-too-subtle political agenda, has a pretty decent selection of used classics. It’s an exercise in self-control, and fortunately I have limited space at home. I enjoy just browsing, in any case, because there’s the element of surprise that I might stumble upon a gold mine.
Do you have any bookish or reading rituals in your life?