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.

‘With her nose stuck in a book,’ Belle is a kindred spirit

Every little girl has a penchant for a certain Disney princess. Maybe it’s Ariel, the redheaded and adventurous heroine of “The Little Mermaid” who is sick of living “under the sea” with singing crabs and fat blue-and-yellow fish. Or perhaps Jasmine, the sultan’s gorgeous daughter who is eventually won over by an enterprising street urchin in “Aladdin.”

I definitely had a soft spot for Ariel growing up, even contemplated naming my firstborn daughter “Marielle” in tribute. (In fact, I still may. We’ll see how things go down.) When I was the tender age of four and wanted to watch our VHS copy of “The Little Mermaid” for the seventh or eighth time in a single day, my dad would tell me the tape needed to “cool down” before playing it again. And if you ask Dad to belt out “Part Of Your World,” he’d probably oblige. (And as a total non-coincidence, that tune became my go-to song when auditioning for musicals in high school. I never got any leads; I don’t exactly have an Ariel-quality silver voice.)

But Belle, our beauty from “Beauty And The Beast?” Girlfriend is a total bibliophile, friends. And since I watched that movie approximately 1,876 times as a child and recently again with the movie’s re-release on DVD, I’m guessing that Belle became my subconscious role model. She’s lovely, first of all, with long, flowing dark hair she often pulls back in a ponytail. (I’ve been known to rock that look a few times.) Though she’s described as “odd” and “peculiar” by the townsfolk in her French village, she’s still respected for her intelligence and devotion to her scientist father — and is an object of lust for eligible bachelor Gaston, a strapping and bullish dude who prances through the countryside with a baffoonish sidekick and musket. And really awesome hair.

Belle has read everything in the town bookshop — and one book, “her favorite,” is actually given to her by the kindly clerk. Since nothing new seems to be coming in and Belle is relegated to her “provincial life,” she loses herself in the fantasy of novel after novel, a hobby no one seems to understand.

But the Beast.

Um, anyone recall the Beast’s library? If an old beggar woman showed up at my door and I acted like a selfish jerk, prompting her to turn me into a big ol’ monster-animal-thing, you know what? I think I’d be moderately okay with that. If I had a room full of a billion and one books, a talking teapot to bring me beverages and some light to read by, I could spend all day climbing those gorgeous staircases. And staring at that massive globe. (I’m all about the geography bee and am a two-time Geography Bee champion, friends. Fourth and fifth grade. Don’t hate.)

Oh, and anyone else fantasize about having a home with tall ladders that allow you to scale bookshelves? They look so fun. Though we totally had them at Borders and actually, they scared me. When I worked there, I always begged my coworkers to haul stacks of books up for me so I wouldn’t have a full-scale freak-out over my fear of heights in front of friends, customers and God himself. But, you know. I still fantasize about it.

In fact, I fantasize about many bookish things. And since I’m also fiercely loyal to my family, hate pig-headed dudes who try to blackmail me into loving them and talk to inanimate objects from time to time, I’ve taken to calling myself a Modern-Day Belle.

Only, you know, not in public. Because then I’d sound like a weirdo. I keep things that make me look and sound like a weirdo for the blog. And my column.

I’m all about embarrassing myself in the name of a good post.

Who is your favorite Disney princess? Would you totally fight me for access to the Beast’s library? Do you occasionally find yourself talking to luminaries and clocks, or singing “Be Our Guest” in your sleep? I’m all ears!

Musing Mondays: Library time

musing_mondays Last Monday of February! Here’s this week’s question:

How often do you visit the library? Do you have a scheduled library day/time, or do you go whenever? Do you go alone, or take people with you?

You’ll hardly ever find me in a library — for a variety of reasons! But first let me state firmly that I have absolutely nothing against libraries. Libraries are great. They’re an excellent resource for students and readers of all ages, and it’s awesome we have an organized system in place to spread knowledge and entertainment to the masses. For free!

But libraries aren’t for me. Our local library in my hometown really doesn’t have much to look at, and it’s old and I just . . . don’t like it. It’s not inviting. I do like the library in another part of the county, but I don’t usually feel like driving all the way over there to check out some books. Plus, I just like to own my books — I like knowing they’re mine. Even if I’ve Mooched them or gotten them as ARCs, they’re still here in my hot little hands — and all mine! I don’t have to worry about how long I have to read them, and when they’re due back. Although, when I think about it, having deadlines like that might help me sift through some of the books I keep in stacks for far too long, continuously picking up the newest books I bring into the house to read . . .

I have gone to the library recently, though — and that was to buy books! The library in a neighboring town sponsors a Saturday book sale, and I got four quality paperbacks and a mass market paperback for $2.36! My boyfriend and I are both avid readers, so we went together to look for some different and maybe hard-to-find titles. I was crazy excited with what I got! So the library does come through for me in the end!

Musing Mondays: Borrowing books

musing_mondaysAfter an entire weekend stranded on my couch with the flu, I’m still sticking around the house today . . . trying to make sure I have my strength back before I head to work. But what a bummer of a free weekend! I guess I should just be glad I’m somewhat vertical and keeping down food.

But down to business! Here’s this week’s question:

Do you have a system for borrowing out books from the library? Do you know what you’re going to borrow before you get there? How often do you borrow out books?

I hate to admit it, but I actually haven’t borrowed anything from the public library in a solid . . . ten years? When I was in college, I took out texts and novels from the university library but since those weren’t for fun, they probably don’t count for this question.

So since I really don’t borrow books, my answer to this question is incredibly dull! I do procure books through BookMooch, which feels a bit like “borrowing” since I’m getting my novels from someone else. But obviously I keep them — or send them back on their journey with another Moocher. Maybe I could resolve to borrow more this year? It would certainly save me money!

Musing Mondays: What to do with all these books?

musing_mondaysIt’s another Musing Monday! I missed last week — I was out going crazy Christmas shopping. Here’s this week’s question:

If you keep your books, where do you keep them? And, if you give them away, who do you give them to? Do you participate in Bookcrossing, BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, or the like? Do you give your old books to family and friends, or donate them? Are any of your books in storage due to not having enough space for them all? Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has their own “library”? Feel free to share pictures, if you have them!


Well, this is a really complicated set-up for me. As with many of the things I own, I have a tendency to “pack-rat” — I find it very hard to give things away. My books are no exception. I always think that eventually my sister or a friend will be looking for a certain title and, with tremendous gusto, I’ll be able to whip that one off my shelf and drop it into their excited hands.

That being said, I have a very small room — and a small bookcase. I have two white ones around my room filled to the brim with paperbacks and hardcovers, and I have another shelf nailed up to the wall with some of my favorite titles from childhood and high school. In the living room, my sister and I share a small wooden bookcase that belonged to my grandfather — and that also holds my childhood favorites, as well as many on our collective “TBR” list. I had a tendency to stick ARCs from the bookstore there and still shove new ones in occasionally, too.

Just a few weeks ago I started swapping out some of my older titles on Book Mooch and I’ve had a ton of success! To date, I’ve sent out 13 books and received eight in return. I absolutely love going on to check if anything on my wishlist is available, and everyone loves getting mail that doesn’t consist of bills and requests for your money! I do give plenty of books to my family and friends, too. My sister and I usually pass good books between the two of us, and I wouldn’t list any of mine on Book Mooch without checking to see if she’s interested in them first. I’ve donated tons and tons of books in the past — I shutter to think how many I gave away just this spring! — and I’m sure I will again.

I don’t have any in storage — that would seem a bit much. Even though most of the books next up on my “to be read” list are in piles around the house, I’m keeping them all on site! For the moment, anyway. No photos of my bookshelves yet — I’ll work on that soon!