So you all know that I love to read. And that I read a lot. I read on my Kindle Paperwhite. I love that thing. I read hardback and paperback books. I love them, too. I love both formats, actually. The feel of a book in my hands, the smell of the paper, the experience of turning the pages -- yes, great. But the ease of the Kindle! Being able to carry 500 novels at any one time, all in one tiny 5x7" little case! Having a well-lit page in a dark bedroom, outside in the bright sunlight, in a dim car... Being able to hold the kindle and turn pages, all with one hand (I'm an expert at holding with my left hand and flipping pages with my left thumb while doing something else -- like eating -- with my right hand). Being able to highlight a word and get an instant definition. All of those are true, delightful conveniences that make my reading experiences even better. And I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Fry:
But what I really wanted to say today is that I LOVE my library. Actually, I love all public libraries. The idea that there are shelves and shelves of books available to anyone in the community who wants to come in, get a card, and borrow them -- for FREE -- is downright astonishing when you think about it.
I have my mom to thank for showing us kids the value of the library. As kids, we went every two weeks to check out a stack of books. She gave us the freedom (within wide boundaries, I suppose) to choose whatever we wanted to read. As a result, the local public library has always been an anchor in my life. When I was in college and in law school, I used the local public library (which other student friends thought was weird) because it was a link to "regular life" outside of the insular campus world. When I've moved to a new town, finding the local library and getting a library card was always one of the very first things I did. It's an essential in my life.
I know that at any time I can stroll in, check out the new book shelf to see what's just arrived, check out the novels waiting to be shelved to see what others have been reading most recently -- and funnily enough, it has often happened that I'll pull a book off of that shelf, mention it to my sister, and she'll say that it was on that shelf because she'd just returned it! We have similar taste in books so that shouldn't surprise me any more, but it always delights me.
And here's another way I love using the library. I love that my library's catalog is available online, so I can search for books, request them to be brought from other libraries, and put them on hold when there's a waiting list.
I do try to support my local bookstores. And I can't resist buying from Amazon, especially when Bookbub.com alerts me that a great ebook has just gone on sale for $1.99. But I'd be dead broke if I bought all of the books I read! So, often I'll read about a book somewhere -- a blog, a magazine, a friend -- and I'll go to Amazon and put in on my Amazon wishlist. Then, when I've got time and am sitting in front of the tv with my Ipad, I'll go through my Amazon wishlist, open my library catalog in another window, and see if I can find and reserve any of the wishlist books at the library. I'm usually not in any hurry to read any particular book at any particular time, so whenever it lands at the library and my name works up to the top of the list is fine with me. It's kind of the best of all worlds, really.
But wait! There's more! My library uses a site called Overdrive that allows me to borrow ebooks and download to my kindle! It's astonishing and easy. The library lends the book for 2 weeks, and once that time is done, the book is deactivated. You can electronically return it sooner than that, too, which then allows you to borrow another.
There are just no end to the ways the library makes me happy.