Sunday, January 9, 2011

Library Addict

I am a library addict. 

I have upwards of 40 books, mostly children's books, checked out right now and approximately the same number on hold, despite the fact that the number of books you can reserve is limited to 15.  A ridiculously small number in my opinion.  But that's per card.  And so, I reserve books on my card, my husband's card, and my daughter's card.  And as soon as I get her one, my other daughter's card. 

One day my husband made a sign that said "NYPL [our street] Branch" and hung it over the spot where we keep our tottering stack of library books and left if for me to find without saying a word.  (He's much better at keeping secrets than I am and waited patiently until I found it.  He also makes a mean vegetable soup.)  He's right - we could almost open our own branch!  As a kid, I actually wanted to lend out my own books in an official way.  I even started making up checkout cards for my books, although I lacked the persistence necessary to follow through.  My older daughter recently asked to do the same, with similar results.

My husband asked how often we read each of these library books.  Some only once, some many, many times.  Which is exactly the point.  A single reading is all you need sometimes to know the book is not for you.  And the ones we return to over and over - well, those are the ones I invest in when birthdays and holidays come around.  For example, we currently have Gyo Fujikawa's A to Z Picture Book, reviewed in the prior post. from the library, but it's definitely made it to my "to buy" list.  My older daughter just spent some time poring over it by herself and then asked me to do exactly that.

I live in a 950 square foot apartment and I have to be very judicious about which books I will permanently bring into it.  And of course, purchasing books on the same scale at which I borrow them from the library would bankrupt us.  The only books I buy anymore are children's books and cookbooks (which they also have at the library - yay!).  Regular adult reading NEVER makes the cut.

I have my original New York Public Library (NYPL) library card, which dates back to 3rd grade.  That strikes me as oddly late given my own mother's library addiction (we currently have "competing" holds on a book of Julia Child's correspondence with her friend Avis DeVoto, As Always, Julia).  My name is signed on the back in the careful cursive which I had just learned.  The card is white, with the NYPL logo on it in maroon (current cards are either the reverse or blue).  It is held together with tape.  The bar code is rubbing off.  I hope they never make me get a new one. 

Next up: books about books and libraries and reading.


  1. I too was once a library junkie. Until I moved to a neighborhood where the nearest branch--although a very nice one--is just a bit out of the way... Sigh. If they let me bring the dog in, I'd be there every week! It's on a nice dog-walking route, just not convenient to any other errands. (Maybe I can disguise her as a service dog?;-) So now my compromise is to buy mostly used. I keep a wish list on and regularly check to see which of my picks are available used for $1 or $2 (which is surprisingly often)--even with the per-book shipping it's not too bad. And it's kind of fun to get books in the mail from random used bookstores all over the country. :)

    Fun blog! Congratulations on the launch.

  2. What a heartwarming ode to libraries! I too, usually have 40 or more library books out at a time, but I am a librarian, and temptation (new books) are so easily available for me.

    I was unpacking/cleaning/organizing my office space a while ago and ran across my first library card and blogged about it here.

    It seemed so "high-tech" to me at the time, and so old-fashioned to me now! But of course, this was back in the days when the card catalog was a solid set of wooden drawers with tiny handtyped cards in them.

  3. I feel like I could have written this exact same post! We have 3 cards and regularly reach the BPL's 100 book limit on all 3 of them! Just yesterday I thought I should dig out my old NYPL card and start trekking into Manhattan to get more books but then realized perhaps being limited to 300 library books is a good thing, esp. since we only have 650 sq. feet. Thank goodness for online renewal.

  4. I am also a library addict. Borrowing fourty books is fun - paying fines on those books (even one day late) is not quite as fun. This year I'm going to make sure I bring my books back on time!

  5. What a cute post! I love the library too, as do my three children. We don't rent as many books as we should (I'm a terrible book buyer and hand-downer) but we all love to cuddle up in the children's section and read, especially when Chicago weather is just not cooperating:) I stopped by from the comment challenge and have enjoyed your blog!

  6. Like Storied Cities said I too feel like your words could have come from my mouth. Just today I cycled back from the library with my basket packed full and weighed down heavy with many new finds. Glad to hear you've a weakness for cookbooks :-) What's your current favourite? I cooked my first recipe out of my newest one last night - a basic coq au vin from The French Menu Cookbook: The Food and Wine of France - Season by Delicious Season by Richard Olney. Very delicious!

  7. My son and I love the library too. And I do pretty much what you do - if we take out a book that gets reread a lot while it's out, it goes onto my to-buy list, for the next book shopping trip. Luckily, the library is just down the street, plus it has a great website, making it easy to put holds. We have a much higher limit on holds, though - I've never actually hit the limit!

  8. @ Playing by the book: I haven't cooked anything from it but I've been enjoying perusing The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser. It's a curated compilation of recipes that the newspaper has published over the past 150 years. The only downside is it's an enormous book, making getting it home and back good exercise.

    I really love baking and my latest attempt was the raspberry-buttercream-filled macarons in Bon Appetit magazine. Let's just say it was a challenge, but in the end a yummy one.

  9. The fact you still have your childhood library card is the most charming thing I have heard in a while. Or maybe your hubby's sign is. Either way, this is a wonderful post, and I am so glad to have found it.

    While I don't usually do this, I'd like to share a poem I wrote with you - about the library -

    Happy 2011!


  10. I'm a huge library fan too, although mine is kinder and lets me have 25 books on hold. I try to have the rule that you only check out as many as your age, although this is the first year I've come close to making that. We go every week, so now that I'm in my 40s you'd think I could handle it...

  11. Oh Rachel, such a shame macarons don't post well - they sound *delicious*!

  12. Dear R
    Thank you thank you thank you for posting such lovely words. Though I already knew most the personal "factual" info in this post, the story about your decades old library card turned you into an HBO worthy character! As a mother of two young newly suburban readers (hello New Jersey!) its inspiring to be reminded about the virtues of going to the library. Keep on writing dear friend - you have a true talent...