My Kind of Book Lover

There are, it appears, two kinds of book lovers in this world: the folks who love the library and the folks who don’t. I’m in the latter camp.

Other book lovers seem to have a phobia of libraries. They want to own their own books. Besides, librarians are sadists who are just looking for an excuse to slap you with hundreds of dollars in fines! Who can keep track of when books have to be returned? Who can figure out all this online renewal and hold stuff? It’s frightening. Not to mention all that Dewey craziness. And the library doesn’t have Starbucks.

Am I afraid of Libraries? Probably not. I’m more disappointed in them. In my adult life I’ve only visited them for specialized information and left confused. Where were the greats in the field I was searching in? Granted, I have no idea how to properly search for books in the library, but still. Aren’t libraries supposed to to be a repository for the best of our civilization? It make me wonder: has God decided to flood the world again then? Only this time in worn Tom Clancy paperbacks? Perhaps, I’m just a low-rent elitist or, maybe, a sucker for nobility.

I used to hang out in the local library as a kid, though. On Saturday afternoons I would ride my bike down there, check out a stack of books, find a table, read them and then return them. I repeated this strange cycle for a few hours, then left with one or two books. Yes, the librarians laughed at me. Who wouldn’t? Check the books out then go home to read them, kid.

I’m sure I read a few hundred books that way but only two stick out in my mind: The novelization of Jaws 3 and a novelized sequel to E.T.. That and a short sci-fi story about a man who was cursed to remember everything, never forgetting a face or a moment, who, of course, winds up an amnesiac in the end, never realizing what he has to be grateful for. I have slightly better taste now.

I would just rather own my own books. I’m sure you would too. Think about how you feel when you lend out a book. It’s not the loss of an investment that pains you when it doesn’t come back. It’s the feeling you lost a friend. Even if you never read that book again you can still recall the time you had together when you pick the thing up off the shelf. You form an intimate association with it. Checking a book out of the library is more like a conjugal visit – it just gets the job done.

And I’m not sure about the appeal of Starbucks – the book stores I frequent usually have people outside looking for change for a coffee but never a coffee shop.

How do you feel about the library?

19 responses to “My Kind of Book Lover”

  1. OK, you got me – you don’t fit my bigoted library hater stereotype at all! Oh well.

    Used bookstore lovers are just as cool as library lovers, IMHO. 🙂

  2. I love university libraries. The wonders they hold are endless.

    Public libraries, meh, not so much, although I do appreciate the romance paperbacks (or did).

  3. Don’t worry, Elliot, I’m still a stereotypical bigoted paperback romance novel hater! Man, I can’t stand those things. I…

    Oh, Imani, hi there. I, um, I, uh … Sorry, I read a Jaws 3 novelization. I can’t complain about anyone reading anything ever.

    Further embarrassment: I’ve never been in a university library. Ever.

  4. That’s it! We’re getting you drunk, and then taking you to the U of M library!!

    Er… Or maybe the other way around.

  5. That reminds me of two amusing stories – only one of which I will reveal on this site. Not because it’s dirty or anything, it’s just that only one story has anything to do with bookish things. The other has to do with fighting on a front lawn with my best friend. Not so bookish.

    I digress. Elliot, I take your comment as a threat and an affront to my tenuous sobriety. Know this: I will not back down from your challenge! Name the time and place in an email and we shall see what we shall see.

  6. University libraries are indeed a different thing altogether. Mine was housed in two buildings totaling 12 stories. If it was within driving distance, there would still be days they would find me walking the aisles salivating at all the books I’ll never get to. Sob!

  7. Ian – have Elliot reverse the order of his challenge. Or maybe do both.

    I think the thing about the library is directly related to what the Book represents to you. I read a lot, a great deal of it for my work, and I have little interest in keeping the books. They are not icons. Readers like you seem to feel differently. The actual artifact is important. Read “Club Dumas” for a great little mystery involving people who feel the why you do!

    I simply could not live and work without libraries. If I attempted to own the books I read, even if only the books I read for pleasure, I would be bankrupt and could not afford the huge house I would need to store them all in.

    And I am a cheapskate.

  8. Wow, EegahInc, two buildings and twelve stories? I can hardly imagine it.

    Sometimes, Clemens, I wish people could have houses as big as their ideas instead of as big as their budget. Maybe you could live in EegahInc’s university Library.

  9. A good university library is a wonder to behold. I’ve worked on both sides of the desk in them. I’d love to have a little efficiency apartment in one.

  10. I wonder….. Why would anyone spend $$$ on a book that you will only read once, epecially with little disposable income. Do you “borrow” music online or purchase the CD? It’s kinda the same thing I think. The library search system is so easy to use by the way. It’s not 1987 anymore, and you only have to be somewhat responsible in order to avoid the late fees. You can read so much for free by borrowing from the library! Don’t get me wrong I understand its nice to lend a good book out to friend, and I do own books that I have read more than once, (and that is the reason I own them). I can think of muc Maybe I’m just cheap, cuz I also think Starbucks is way overpriced and overrated, not to mention their coffee tastes like shit.

  11. that was supposed to say, I can think of much better ways to invest my $. I do know how to write/type……..really.

  12. Dearest Cool Sister (my actual sister – or so my parents claim),

    I try and buy only books that I’ll read more than once, right? So that kind of makes it okay to blow my pocket change on them.

    And to carry your music analogy farther: I am the same guy who listened to your CDs before I gave them to you as presents. Don’t worry, I’m getting my money’s worth out of these things.

    Yer Bruther.

  13. Dear brother,

    You have a point I suppose, I can only speak for myself I guess. I am amused by the memory of recieving used birthday gifts from you. I do think you should support your local library though, instead of lending books out to your “so called” friends that may not be returned, you should give back to the community and donate to the library. There is no need to keep pretending you will reread your Hardy Boys collection, and you will give such underpriveleged kids like myself a chance to enjoy your second hand treasures.

  14. At least you’re amused by my cheapskatedness but I don’t think giving Hardy Boys back to the community would be much of a service. Remember Friday the 13th the TV series where they had that locked vault of evil relics that they kept safe from the world? Well that’s what my basement is like, only for books.

  15. […] from Upper Fort Stewart has a good post about how he doesn’t love the library, and asks how others feel about this venerable […]

  16. Great post! I am a lifelong library lover but I can certainly see your point. I posted a pretty lengthy response on my blog…

  17. Thanks, Annie!

  18. […] that bad. But let’s recap with a glance at what I’ve said in the recent past about libraries. I’m … disappointed in them. In my adult life I’ve only visited them for specialized […]

  19. Here in Oregon we love our libraries. In fact the downtown Portland one does have a Starbucks! All this rain and snow just go with a nice warm latte. And we have one of the biggest book stores, Powell’s Books, which buys back books — something I’ve done often to clean out my book shelves and make way for the new.

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