How the Library Has Changed My Reading Habits

This year I started relying on the library for all of my books, and it’s changed my reading habits in ways I never expected.

I’ve always been a voracious reader, and for most of my life, I’ve kept bookshelves filled with books.

Although I wasn’t a stranger to libraries, the majority of the books I read came from used bookstores. There was something about actually owning the book that I really enjoyed.

Over the past few years, I’ve moved states twice, and suddenly having a large collection of books became a lot less appealing. I sold off a lot of the books I already owned and decided to try to stop accumulating so many.

Instead, this year, I’ve been relying on my local library for almost all of my reading needs.

I knew that using the library would help me reduce clutter and save money, but it’s surprised me by also having a major effect on my reading habits.

Reading More Books

The biggest change that I’ve noticed is that the amount that I’ve read this year has skyrocketed. Last year, I averaged just under a book each week. This year, I’ve been reading close to two books every week.

How did using the library cause my book count to double?

Due dates.

My local library has very short, two week due dates. Renewing is an option, but I try to avoid the hassle.

The effect of these due dates is that every book I read now has a built-in deadline. I’ve formed a habit of getting four books from the library at a time, and the due date “forces” me to actually finish reading them soon after I get them.

It’s a big change from my days of buying used books and letting them sit on a shelf for years.

Discovering New Authors

Using the library has also helped me discover a lot of new authors.

In bookstores, it was always a bit of a risk to buy a book from an author I had never heard of. If I ended up hating it, it felt like throwing money down the drain.

At the library, there’s no risk whatsoever in taking home a book simply because the cover caught my eye.

This has encouraged me to be more daring with what I read. I’ve checked out books from authors I’ve never heard of and in genres I don’t typically read.

Sometimes, I’ll end up hating the book and giving up on it after a few pages. But in that case, there’s no money wasted and no harm done. Much more often, I’ve ended up loving the new authors I’ve read.

I’ve even discovered two authors this year (Octavia Butler and Richard Powers) who are quickly becoming some of my favorite authors of all-time.

Reading Newer Books

Finally, switching to the library has shifted my reading towards more recently published books.

Since I normally went to used bookstores, most of the books were already fairly old by the time I read them. Now that I’m using the library more often, many of the books that I’m reading are published within just the past few years.

It’s not that I have anything against the classics, but it has been an eye-opening experience to read some newer novels as well.

As just one example, before this year, I hadn’t realized what an interesting role social media and the internet, in general, had started taking in modern literary fiction.

It’s also been interesting to read fiction taking place during recent political events, including a novel written so recently that it already addressed the Trump presidency.

I don’t know if I’ll continue to rely on the library so heavily forever, but I’m certainly grateful that I made the decision to do so this year.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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