Yesterday my son and I went to our local library, the one in the county in which we live, not the one in the next county over, where I work. I like to take him to the library and let him pick out some things himself, as opposed to me bringing home items from my workplace library (which I do regularly.) He chooses books and dvds rather quickly, almost haphazardly, although occasionally he will plop right down in the floor in front of the stacks and read a book to himself. (That brings me no end of delight, as you can imagine.)
My husband asked me to choose a book or two for him. He’s a reader, but not voracious (obsessive?) like I am. He’ll read a book over a couple of weeks, and when he’s finished he may not pick up another book for a month or more. (I know, it’s hard for me to fathom!) He doesn’t read fiction (!) but instead enjoys biography, memoir, history, and sports books. It’s hard to find a book about baseball that the man hasn’t read.
While I was looking for a biography for him, I kept finding things that appealed to me. And I was struck by a feeling of nostalgia for something that I hadn’t even realized that I was missing. I miss browsing. I almost never browse anymore. Between my library holds list, my massive TBR, and the books I own but haven’t yet read, I don’t make time to wander the stacks and choose a book on a whim.
I realize that part of this may stem from the fact that I often have a busy and impatient five year-old with me, but I don’t blame it on him. It’s my own fault entirely that I’ve let browsing go by the wayside. Years ago, I didn’t have a massive TBR list. I didn’t keep 15 items on my library hold list and constantly fiddle with it in order to ensure that they don’t all come in at one time. I allowed myself the pleasure (and the risk) of selecting books based on the jacket copy and my mood.
I’ve found myself thinking about my reading goals for next year, and chief among them is making room for browsing and random picks. I have even considered erasing my Goodreads TBR, but I can’t quite do it yet. ( I have this fear that I’ll forget about these great sounding books and then where will I be?? Oh wait, I’ll be browsing. I’ve got to ponder this further.) But I was thinking that I could set a goal to read a random whim pick once a month. Wait – that sounds funny. Set a goal to be more random! Clearly, I’ve got control issues, but I didn’t even realize how it extended to my reading life. You can see why I’ve not yet let myself request ARCs. I’ve got enough issues already!
Do you browse libraries or bookstores regularly and select items based on mood? Or have you forgotten that you used to enjoy it, like me? Can you imagine getting rid of your TBR list, or does the thought make you panic a little bit? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.