Book addicts

My name is Elizabeth and I’m a book addict.

The vast majority of the books I read are from the library.  I have cards from two library systems — the city I live in, and the larger nearby county.  Both libraries have online catalogs, where you can search for books you want, and put holds on them if they’re out, or at a different branch.  So there’s usually a stack of books waiting for me every time I go.  The problem is that it’s easy to get carried away — I currently have 10 books checked out from one library, and 21 from the other.  (Yes, some of them are for the boys, who don’t have their own cards yet, but most of them are mine.) 

You can renew books online too, but only if no one else has put a hold on them, and there’s no way to check whether that’s the case in advance.  So it turns out I’ve got about 4 books that I haven’t started which are due this weekend and can’t be renewed.  So I’ve got to either return them unread, suck up the late fees, or sit up all night to finish them.  Probably some combination of the above.  (Even with the late fees, it’s much cheaper than buying the books, but I feel guilty about having overdue books, especially when I know someone else is waiting for them.)

If neither of the libraries that I use has a book, and I really want to read it, I’ll try to get it used, either from Powells or Amazon marketplace.   Powell’s has free shipping if you order $50 a time, which just encourages me to buy even more books.  And then I feel like I need to read the books I have out from the library first, so the ones I buy tend to sit around for a long time before I get to them.  One year I vowed not to buy any books until I read everything I owned that I hadn’t read.  I didn’t make it through the year, but I did catch up a bit.

I almost never buy new books for myself, but they’re my favorite thing to give as a gift, so I feel like I’m doing my share to keep the publishing industry afloat. 

12 Responses to “Book addicts”

  1. Jody Says:

    Well, you only have to look at the librarything widgets on my blog to know I share your problem. Luckily (??), our library charges a $1 fee for reserving books, and until recently, that was too great an impediment to me. It introduced too much pressure into the proceedings: having paid something to borrow the book, I had to read it.
    We don’t have any adult bookshelf space available right now (all but my dissertation and history books are packed away, in fact) so I am very reluctant to buy books. This dovetails nicely with my recent (10 years+) inability to take a chance on new writers. I’m not sure when or how that happened, but I’ve had quite a few disappointments and have never found a truly reliable reviewer. I suppose it’s impossible to hope for someone perfectly in keeping with my book tastes, but I’ve had too many utter disasters. And I simply don’t have time to slog through books for the sake of finishing them. So I’ve stopped buying, for fear of the unlikeable, uncompleted book on my shelf.
    On the other hand, I’m completely insanely willing to buy books for the kids. Scholastic book clubs have proven to be particular dangerous — we’re up to at least 84 books in this academic year alone, partially on the strength of boxed sets of chapter books I’m storing away for later (or reading now). I’m not sure if my adventurous spirit for children’s books reflects their better quality overall (I’ve encountered very few disasters so far) or just their affordable price. We tend to borrow only 10-13 books at a time but that’s as much a reflection of the depth of the library the kids own as it is our demand for library books. I find myself anxious about the day when the kids outgrow picture books, because it’s clear that there’s far more quality and quantity in that section than in any other area of the chidlren’s wing.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    I share your addiction, and I admire your restraint in not buying new books. Although I keep looking at your example of someone who uses a library properly and thinking I must make time in my week for it, instead of dropping into a bookshop whenever I’ve had a particularly annoying day at work.

  3. Maggie Says:

    I have those same two library cards. The thing I hate is that you need to pick up the books within 5 days of reserving them – with my work schedule, that often doesn’t work, and then I get all stressed because I don’t have something waiting for me at the library that I’ve already thought about, and if I go I might end up with some bad book. I, like Jody, live in fear of the rotten writer – and I know no one will be surprised by this, but the People magazine book reviews are crap :). I want the option of a 9 day waiting period! And I’d pay a dollar for it!
    I’ve actually had luck with the city library where, if they don’t have a book I’d like to read, I request that they purchase it. They’ve done it every time I’ve asked.

  4. Elizabeth Says:

    Maggie, that’s one of the perks of having an at-home partner — I can send T and the boys to pick up my books for me.

  5. Beanie Baby Says:

    Another book addict here. There were times in University where I had only $20/week to spend on food, but somehow managed to spend hundreds of dollars a month on books. I still can’t walk into a bookstore without picking up at least $150 worth to carry around with me, even if I don’t end up buying it.
    I’m trying to become a library person instead of a new book person because I really don’t have the money to support my habit right now, but dammit, it’s hard.
    I’ve read six books in the last 2 1/2 weeks…. But as long as I’m not spending money on it it’s ok, right?

  6. landismom Says:

    I’ve become less and less of a library person in recent years (if only they were open on Sunday!), largely because I hate having overdue books, and yet I’m not always ready to read books from the library when I think I’m going to be. But now that our financial situation is changing drastically, I’m going to have to seriously curtail my personal book buying in favor of the library once more. I joined the alumni association of my university, so that I can have access to the campus library a few towns away, ’cause it’s so much better than our local library. No kids’ books, though.

  7. Sandy Says:

    Another one here with library cards and request lists from two systems. I also go to one library’s once a month book sale, where they sell all kinds of books for less than $1, which makes it all too easy to buy a bagful.
    I’ve been selling some of the more popular ones on ebay’s half.com (much like amazon’s marketplace, but with a commission arrangement instead of a “store” fee), and that makes it even easier for me to justify buying something that I’m interested in. Problem is, I never list a book for sale until I’ve read it – and I now have a couple of boxes of “to be read books” in addition to my library request list.
    Anyway, I do recommend http://www.half.ebay.com/ in addition to amazon & http://used.addall.com/ for used books.

  8. Kate Says:

    Oh, I am so much the same (except that I only have the one library card). So many books piled up, and even more so since I spent two weeks on The Peabody Sisters. (Thank goodness I managed not to brain the baby reading that one while nursing him).
    I highly recommend Abebooks.com as a source for used books. They have everything, and all SO cheap!

  9. Liz Says:

    I’m a book addict as well. I try, try to go to the library, but there is just something about buying books. I recommend bookcloseouts.com Limited selection, but usually dirt cheap. They have sales, too, and lots of times you can get kids’ books for .99 – 1.99. Just finished Haven Kimmel’s latest. Very good.

  10. mamabalaya Says:

    Ohh.. I’m bad… I buy *way* too many books from Amazon — it’s just too easy. But I really shouldn’t since the building I work in has a library branch in it. I can order the books through the ocunty system and they come to the library branch on the first floor. It’s actually faster than Amazon… but I just like buying books (so I can read them in bathtub or whatever..)

  11. Michael G. Richard Says:

    Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a book addict too.
    Heh, I know the feeling of having too many books on my “to read” list. Sometimes I think that half the fun is actually researching what to read next and add them to the list.

  12. Devra Says:

    I’m a book addict too! I just found out there is a book program very similar to Netflix and I am thinking about trying it out.
    Hey, I don’t know where you live in DC, but I’ll be doing a couple of talks in the area in March and April. One is even at a library! Patrick Henry, in Vienna, VA April 18th 7PM!
    I love libraries, I hope they always exist. I was so upset to read a couple of school systems are getting rid of text books in favor of using laptop computers! HORRORS!

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