I’ve shared before that I can’t afford library books. I love to read, and I was born frugal/cheap, so I should be a fan of anything that provides an endless supply of reading material for free.
Except that library books aren’t free for me.
I have tried so many times to get a system going. I have sworn I’d change my non-returning-in-a-timely-manner ways again and again.
But alas, by the third go ’round of books checked out on a new routine that I’m sure will finally work, my TPAD flares and I suddenly realize that “something came up” multiple times and I find myself in dread of figuring out how much cash I’ll need to make things right at my local library.
It’s truly a matter of much angst in my life.
My solution over the years has been to just buy books. First, I bought them at garage sales or used book sales. 25 to 50 cents apiece was much cheaper than realizing it had been six months since I checked out my limit.
Probably seven or eight years ago, I bought a Kindle. I wanted one because I’d started using the elliptical machine at the gym and it was hard to turn pages on a real book in the midst of the sweating and huffing and puffing. I was jealous as I watched my friend “turn pages” on her Kindle with a single tap.
I didn’t realize how much I’d fall in love with my Kindle. I love watching for Kindle sales, and that became my alternative to finding books at garage sales (since I didn’t need to be going to garage sales anyway).
But every time I mentioned my library angst here on the blog, some of you would suggest that I check out Kindle books from my local library.
When I finally did check this out, I leaned I couldn’t have any unpaid fines on any of my family members’ cards to get started.
When I finally got all those fines paid off . . . I found that my small town library’s e-book system didn’t have many books I wanted to read. Really. It didn’t have ANY of the titles I searched.
I was rather disappointed.
I checked into my library’s e-book offerings a few years later as I was paying off fines from another failed I-think-I’m-different-now moment.
Things had changed. There were so many books I’d been wanting to read! And I could check them out for free!!!
And . . . they would return themselves!!!
I was so excited and immediately put my absolute top five (that’s the limit) want-to-read books on hold. I checked out a few that didn’t have a waiting list.
I was thrilled to be reading for free. The wait times on the books I had on hold varied. One was supposed to be available in a month, one in two, another in three, and two were going to take at least six months.
And then one day, I got an email that a book I’d placed on hold was available. I was thrilled and downloaded it immediately. I also put another book on hold to take that fifth available hold spot within my limit.
The next day, I got another email. Another book was available sooner than expected.
Then I got three more emails that ALL THE BOOKS I’D HAD ON HOLD were available.
At the same time.
Each with the same two week limit before they’d disappear from my Kindle. And it was kind of a busy week.
But being obsessively frugal, I quit reading the previously purchased book I was in the middle of, read like crazy for two weeks and finished all but one before they were automatically disappeared from my Kindle.
I got back on the waiting list for the one I didn’t finish.
It was stressful, and I wasn’t crazy about that stress. Reading is my number one stress-reliever, and I’m not a fan of adding a stressful element to it.
I’ve been doing this now for six months, and I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with borrowing library books on my Kindle.
The good (what I love):
I love that I’ve been able to read several books that were on my want-to-read list for a very long time but that had never gone on sale. (I’m sharing my affiliate links to the Kindle books on Amazon, though you should look them up on your library’s e-book system.) The Hate U Give, What Alice Forgot, Station Eleven, Educated, Little Fires Everywhere and Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine were some of my favorites.
My library uses the “Libby” app, and I love looking at the “What’s Popular?” category because it helps me remember books I’ve been wanting to read. I can sort the list to see only what’s available now without a hold for those times when I don’t have anything else to read.
When I don’t have any hold spots available in my account, I can hit “tag” and mark a book so I have a list to choose from when I do have a spot available on my holds list.
The bad (what I don’t love):
I don’t love adding an element of “pressure” to my reading. Life is busier some weeks than others. While I might plow through an 800 page novel in a four days some weeks, I’m good to get two or three pages in before I fall asleep other weeks. That’s fine with purchased books, but is frustrating with books I’d like to keep reading but can’t finish in the two weeks allowed.
My last two weeks were bananas, and of course . . . two books with VERY long waiting lists were automatically checked out to me and automatically returned without me ever downloading them. Now I have to get on their waiting lists again.
I have learned to adjust my expectations and decide it’s okay to let a hold go if I’m not going to get to it. But I don’t like having to think maturely and rationally about something that has always been pure pleasure to me. I have to think rationally about dishes and laundry, but books are supposed to be magical.
I’d love to hear your Kindle library borrowing tips and adventures!
Also, MANY libraries have my books (How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind and Decluttering at the Speed of Life) available as paperbacks, ebooks and audiobooks. Check them out or ask your library to get them!