I realized this as I reviewed the books I'd read this summer. In May, Stellar Four listed the novels we planned to dive into over the upcoming months. I came up way short. I only read the first book of Seanan McGuire's October Daye series, and I didn't even glance at any of Mike Carey's Felix Caster series. I had other plans, too, to pick up some Ray Bradbury. A bit of Ian M. Banks. A little Isaac Asmiov.
I failed. And it's the library's fault.
Those tricksy purveyors of literature kept knocking me off of my reading schedule by providing me with excellent alternate reading options. You see, I'm not a buyer of hardbacks. If a good-looking read comes out in hardback, my first stop is the public library's website to request it.* There's no predicting how long the wait will be for a popular book, and renewing books with a waitlist isn't allowed. So when I get the text message** that a book I've been waiting for is in, I've got to pick it up and read it without much foot-dragging.
What this means is that all summer, I'd decide that, say, the first Felix Caster book was on deck as my next read, and then I'd get the notification that a book I requested from the library a month ago was finally available, which meant I had to get it, read it, and get it returned. Lather, rinse, repeat, all summer long.
|I'll read you someday, Ilona Andrews.|
Even the advent of e-readers hasn't eased the tyranny of the waitlist. Libraries have slowly but surely increased the number of digital books they offer for checkout, but as with physical books, e-books can only be checked out one at a time. This means the digital waitlist can be just as long and just as unpredictable as the list for physical copies, as a recent New York Times article pointed out.
You offer too much goodness, library. I can't keep up with you.
All of these complaints are in jest, of course. Public libraries across the country are vital to the education and entertainment of millions of people, and I will never stop being grateful for that. I've gotten hours of enjoyment from the books the library has provided for me, all for a reasonable cut of my property taxes. But the element of unpredictability when it comes to book availability makes it a challenge for a book nerd like me who prefers to know what her next read will be.
It's cool, though. I'll race to get on the waitlist for The Casual Vacancy as soon as my local library opens it up.
*Exceptions: The Harry Potter series, GRRM's A Song of Ice and Fire series and the Hunger Games series are the only hardback books I bought new the day they were released.
**Text message! We're living in the future, people!
***I recommend five of those eight books, by the way.