God, books are expensive. I mean, like really expensive. Especially if you’re like me and you really really really love books. Love owning them and displaying them on bookshelves and, yes, even smelling their new pages. I can’t seem to get out of a bookstore for less than $50; double or quadruple that when I’m in a badass bookstore like Powell’s or Elliot Bay (PS – what’s the deal with California having some shitty fucking independent bookstores?).
So last year I broke down and got a library card. Normally I don’t like libraries because they take the fun out of reading, what with the no talking and all the return dates and rules rules rules. Which I understand because every time I loan out a book I do so with the stipulation that they be returned to me in the exact condition they were loaned out in and if they are not then they owe me a new book (true story, a friend of mine actually bought me a new copy after she dropped a splash of soy sauce on mine). I’m doubly enforcing that rule because I lost a lot of books that I gave to another friend who then left them in Africa while she was there. Not cool.
Also, have you seen this library in person? 7 floors of scary. There’s so much space and quiet in there that I was always afraid of being murdered in the stairwell. But I was also wary of getting on the elevator with strangers (did I mention I’m a little dramatic?). So after years of studying and gathering information in the Scariest Library Ever I was just over libraries all together. Why rent it when I can own it? I thought. All the books I read are right at my fingertips if I need to find a passage or just want to read it again.
But then, last year, I decided to read 100 books. And, man, that shit got expensive. For the first six months I read everything on my book shelf (almost) that I hadn’t read before. And then I supplemented that with some other material. But by July I was running out of things I already owned and, newly jobless, regular trips to the bookstore just weren’t possible.
And that’s how I ended up at the Huntington Beach Public Library to get my very own library card. The first public library card I’d held since living in Boise that didn’t have to do with my education. And you know what? It’s not half bad. Yeah, it’s old looking. And it doesn’t have an exclamation mark (which has totally grown on me and I know think is awesome). But it’s well lit and open and easy to find things. There’s even a cafe (I think, but I’ve never been there so I could absolutely be making that up). Outside there is a large park and lovely fountain and if it fit into my schedule I would probably spend a lot time reading over there.
So I’m a convert. Especially down here where the only independent bookstores I’ve found are used ones that carry things like this. Sure I like watching it, but I’m not paying money – even $2 – to read it.
The best part about libraries? You don’t end up owning the shit books you read. In my possession I have two Nicholas Sparks novels and The Shack. I could punch myself in the face for being dumb enough to buy those. From now on, I’ll go to the library to get the books I don’t want people to know I read.