Wednesday, March 21, 2018

How to Read All the Best Books and Not Go Broke: A Cheapskate Bookworm's Guide to the Library

You guys know I love to read, right?  And I think you also know that I spend exactly zero dollars on books, yes? (Although I am over claiming this because I am starting a book club-- we have had 2 excellent meetings-- and I always buy that book).  Well, you can, too.  It just takes a little bit of planning and a little curation of your library holds list.

The first thing you need to do is figure out which branch of your local library is best for you.  I spent a good 10 months going to a library that is both further away from my house and has way fewer copies of new release books simply because I am an idiot. Once I realized there's a place like 5 miles away that has an enormous section of free, brand-new, walk-in fiction and non fiction titles (the other library charged $2 a week for the walk-in new books), my reading life got SO MUCH BETTER.

Next, figure out how your library works.  Mine has an excellent website, powered by LinkCat, which also has an excellent app. I can do all of my curating online, either on my computer or on my phone.  But!  First I needed to talk to an actual librarian and set up a PIN to use with the barcode on my card. This took just a few seconds, but it's something to consider.

Know that books are released on Tuesday, so if something is coming out that you really want to read but forgot to put on hold, you should go to the library on Tuesday morning and fight off the blue hairs to get it.

I find new books 3 ways:

1. Read "best of" lists and put stuff on hold that way.  I steer clear of Goodreads for this purpose because that site is awesome for helping me manage my own titles, but I don't really care what every other idiot using it thinks I should read, you know?  I find the best books in Entertainment Weekly (these also look good), Harpers Bazaar, Publisher's Weekly,  Pop Sugar, Elle,  The New York Times, The New Yorker, Redbook, and Cosmo. You have to read these lists critically, though, and realize that all of these editors are getting the same info from publishers and are shilling the same books by the same set of authors, generally.  These lists-- especially the EW, NY, PW, and NYT ones are super white man heavy.  So, I make it a point to also read Ms,, Bustle, and Bitch as well since I am committed to reading (mostly) books by women.  I google best books at all of these places every couple of months and keep my holds list fresh.  My library has all of these fancy ways to manage your holds, like putting a stop on new books when you have too many, etc. But I just get them whenever they come in and if there are too many to deal with I just READ FASTER or re-request them if I absolutely must.  You can generally request a book about a month to 6 weeks before it comes out (at least you can at my library-- this will vary depending how new books come into our system), so if you are super slick with your requests, you can actually get a book the day it releases.  My library is populated by huge dorks like me, though, so brand new books are hard to come by-- by the time I have heard of a title, I am generally like 50th on the list.

2.  Go to the library and be a total mouth-breather in front of the new release section.  At my library, it's right inside the front door, and my favorite thing to do is stand there with my mouth open, reading each shelf with that special library head tilt.  Dorothy likes this part, too, and she hands me the books with all the best covers.

3.  Go to Barnes and Noble and take pics of all the books that looks awesome so you can request them at your library (or use your library app which has made this method a million times easier).  I say B&N because it's a soulless big box chain and you won't feel guilty walking around and NOT BUYING anything like you would at your favorite local bookstore.  Also it is a million times easer to browse than the library and has ALL OF THE NEW BOOKS.  Pro tip:  DO NOT take your kids with you, especially if they are used to the library because they will try to buy 600 books and freak out when you say no and what kind of monster says no to books??

Once you have figured out how you're going to find books to read, you need to make the library part of your life.  When Dorothy only went to school 3 mornings a week, this was really easy because she and I always went for story time.  Now that she's in school every morning, though, I had to get more creative, which ultimately benefitted everyone because now all 5 of us go together.  The kids LOVE to hit up the library, and we try to go Friday afternoons or over the weekend.  Sometimes, though, a book is only going to be waiting for me for like another day and I have to make an emergency run-- and the kids are ALWAYS up for it.  Total win.

If you want to take it up a notch, you can start using your library for its special programming, too.  Our has tons of cool stuff-- movie nights, movie afternoons, stuffed animal slumber parties, themed story times for all ages with character visits, parties, parades, 5ks, reindeer, mammoth bones, fossils-- I even saw the UW marching band entering from behind the reference desk, section by section like the wedding in Love Actually.

Harry and Jack, enjoying some library programming


Story time craft-- aways glue! She loves glue!

Not just books!


1 comment:

  1. I love this! I’m a huge library nerd. Our local library has free 3d printing and a library of things, which is awesome! I would also add that you can get almost anything as an ebook through most libraries too. My e-hold list is always fuller than my hard copy list. Great tips on the “best of” lists and I had no idea that books come out on Tuesdays! Now to add to my holds...