I have a confession to make.
While I consider myself to be a major reader, up until about three weeks ago, I had not frequented a library in almost 2 years.
Before you judge,I had a good reason (or at least I thought). Life was getting hectic and I have no impulse control. I was checking out 3 to 4 books at a time, only to get through about a quarter of one of them.
Then there came the hassle of remembering to take the damn things back days after their due-dates, scolding myself for not being a more proactive reader, only to rinse and repeat forever and ever until the end of time.
Eventually, I stopped going altogether.
I would buy my books from now on, I decided. Why would I subject myself to all these steps when I could just cut out the middle man? This way I could keep a book as long as I wanted, treat it in any condition I chose, and discard it at my leisure (or leave it to languish on my bookshelf until I die).
I had some good memories of the library. I recognized its importance not only to readers, but the welfare of their respective communities at large.
But I was over it.
I had Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Half-Price Books, and any number of privately owned bookstores all with books that I could have all to myself.
It wasn’t until the Christmas season encroached that I considered frequenting the old haunts. My desire for reading had not been hampered, but my pocketbook–after buying present upon present for immediate family, in-laws, friends, this Dirty Santa and that Dirty Santa–was crying.
And so I went.
I had forgotten what it was like to step into a library.
From the get-go there are just rows upon rows of titles calling out for your attention. Old books, new books, classics, commercial fiction, biographies and histories. There are endless possibilities.
And the best part is you get to enjoy them for free.
While this sounds like a small consolation, it really adds up. Not only are you able to indulge in your habit, you are free to explore other genres. When you are expected to pay for something it is easy to become miserly. You aren’t sure if you’ll like something and so you tend to stick to what you know. How many of us have gone to restaurants only to order the same meal every time for fear of not liking the newer option?
However, if there is no penalty for branching out, you are more likely to give something new a chance. Even if it isn’t something you would normally chose.
This allows you to discover even more writers and stories and broaden your perspective on whatever subject you choose.
To me this is one of the greatest gifts a library gives: A chance to explore.
As of this writing, I have about four books checked out and I hope to read every one of them.