Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On Reading

I don't buy books. I never have really. I mean, Ok, so compared to many people I have a largish collection, and when I move more than a few boxes are just books, but in proportion to the amount I have always read, I have a very small book collection.  And since I started actually working in a library I buy even less--1-2 in a year, maybe. When I do buy a book, it's nearly always something I've already read. I only want to own books that are near and dear to my heart, that I will reread for years to come. Otherwise I don't need to own it. I've always been a library user more than a bookstore haunter.  I read at a volume that nothing but the library could keep up with. I read incredibly fast and I would rather read than do most other leisure activites.

I've always been terrible, just terrible, at keeping track of what I read, though I have tried several times.  I've always been a, "Read anything with words--at least once!" kind of reader. No, seriously. My mother was involved with legalizing home birth in Wisconsin, and I have four younger siblings. Guess what kind of books she had in the house--that I read at ten, twelve years old.

In my younger days, overly influenced by all my snobby (said with love!) Lit-major friends, I was embarassed by my all-over-the-place reading habits and didn't want to admit when I was reading something below literary quality (though if I may brag, some of them admitted that I was more well-read then they). I never wanted to study lit because I didn't want to ruin my love of reading.  I felt like all that analysis just got in the way of the living breathing stories I wanted to devour. I definitely recognize and bask in the glory of good writing, but I'm in too in love with the story to limit myself. I'm too interested in too many things to let capital-L Literature guide me.  (so I studied Art/Art History instead...yeah, I know. Let the logic of that sink in...)

Then came library school, and I embraced my populist attitudes towards reading. I mean, I value quality and I haven't read more than six chapters (can two pages be a chapter?) of a Patterson novel yet (Witch and Wizard). I don't like everything, but if I'm curious I'll give it a chance and try it once...or five times (I'm looking at you Margaret Atwood and John Irving). I think it's important to read all over the place, and I let curiousity drive me. Sometimes something random catches my eye, sometimes I just want to know what the hype is about.

All that being said, I don't have as much time to read as I used to. I don't buy the books, and I can't check them out from the library indefinitely, so I need to keep a list. And here's where I'm going to keep it.

Every book its reader. Every reader her book.

Thank goodness for that.


  1. Anna, I'm so much the same and really this a great perspective for a public librarian to have. Different strokes for different folks!

    I've had good luck tracking what I'm reading with Goodreads, especially with the iPhone app. Doing so much better, and it's really helping me out with readers advisory because I'm putting things into categories as I'm reading instead of trying to panic and figure it out when there's a patron in front of me.

  2. I second the Goodreads suggestion. It's SO helpful, and before I worked at a library, I used the app to help me remember what I wanted to look for.

    My reading tastes are all over. I go through phases where I read one genre, then burn out and read another. And yes, I have stopped reading a book because I didn't like it. There are way too many books out there to waste time with something I don't like. :)

  3. Ok ok, I'll check out Goodreads. But I'm not promising anything. (I have no idea where my stubborn resistance to Goodreads stems from, but I recognize that it's there, lol!)

    Thanks ladies.


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