Why I love library wandering (and you should, too)

Library audio books


I love library wandering.

Once upon a time, I didn’t show up at my local branch without a game plan . . . or, more specifically, a hold plan. When I heard about a book I had to get my grubby little paws on, it was off to the library’s website to request it. Then I’d pull my hair out with impatience waiting for that “your book is on hold!” email, at which point I’d break the speed limit getting over there before they closed after work.

I’ll be totally honest: I’m a little too reliant on instant gratification to request popular traditional books from the library, but I do adore audios for the car. With my recent move came a work commute increase to a whole 15 minutes each way (gasp!), so that’s 30 minutes of interrupted listening I can get done each day. Considering what a lousy reading year I’ve had (wedding planning and all that), audios make up a major part of my literary diet. I need them.

But I don’t want to pay for them. And you know what’s great about the library? You don’t have to pay for anything. You show up, flash your pass (ahem — card) and walk out with anything your heart desires.

And I love not knowing what that is until I get there. In the past few months, I’ve found myself looking forward to my aimless library ambles every other week. I’ve gotten more spontaneous with the materials I chose, leaning more heavily into non-fiction audio books than ever before. I don’t plan, don’t pre-track. When I read about an appealing story on a book blog or beyond, I make a mental note . . . and that’s it.

Living in the moment.

As a reader, there’s something magical about meandering through the library stacks until I find The One. It reminds me of my pre-blogging days — back when I was a bookseller. I never read reviews, didn’t troll Goodreads or Amazon. It was enough to simply pace through Borders’ literature/fiction section until a novel “spoke” to me.

My ears are still perked at the library — with the added benefit that everything is free to us. So do it! Explore! Some of my favorite recent reads were stories I would have worried about shelling out my hard-earned dough to buy; I would be debate whether I’d really like it enough to pay $20 and own it forever and ever (or until donating it). But the library is an investment-free way to break out and do something daring. To get crazy! Wild!

Well, as wild as a group of unruly bookworms can get it.

But let’s not sell ourselves short.


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20 thoughts on “Why I love library wandering (and you should, too)

  1. I don’t wander at mine as often as I used to…I rarely have that chunk of time where I don’t need to be anywhere. But hello! I “shop” on my library website ALL TIME. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day. And audios are my saving grace, since I’m always DOING something. I just do it with my earbuds in.

  2. Definitely. It’s nice to remember how magical libraries are (especially since I’ve been using my university library mainly as a place where I sit and write my dissertation!).

  3. Just discovered your blog, and I wanted to say that I love this post! I have loved wandering the library since I was a little kid. It’s nice to see others who have the same love for it. 🙂

  4. Going to the library alone is my equivalent of a vacation – the smell relaxes me, the sounds envelope me with comfort, and just knowing I am among books serves as a muse. Love, love, love your blog!!!!

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  6. I have to admit, I like wandering the stacks, too – sometimes I do it in the middle of the day as a therapeutic break (as much for the quiet). With my schedule as frantic as it is, I don’t get to wander, or read books for that matter, that much anymore.
    I do have to disagree about one thing, though. Ordering a book does set me up for a nice surprise sometimes. Plus, it’s an excuse to go pick up what I ordered! And I take the kids, and since I’m there anyway, wander some more…

  7. I miss library wandering! I used to do it a lot, especially for audio books, but since I moved to a small town library I haven’t as much. The selection at our branch is pretty limited, so I end up doing a lot of browsing online and then picking up books at our branch.

  8. My library has been under major construction so the library has been in a interim location (a very terrible interim location) so I’ve really only been putting books on hold to pick up because the selection in the interim location is terrible. The new library should be open in January so I will be able to get back to library browsing then! I’m excited 🙂

  9. My home library, and the public library are my two favorite places to be. For me, the library is an alternative world of imagination, information and peace–bound between the hard and soft covers of books. WORD!

  10. I love the library too, particularly in this day when bookstore-browsing is fast becoming a bygone thing. Thanks for the reminder that there are still places to get lost in books.

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