Guest Post: Why I Love My Library: The Joy of Browsing

Library Month Guest Post

Today we welcome Katie of Doing Dewey!

As a reader, I’ve always adored my local library. Whenever I move, one of the first things I do is get a library card. The library is basically a place where anyone can walk in and receive advanced review copies – free books! There are often wait lists for the very newest books, but personally having the very newest books doesn’t matter to me. To me the only downside of a library book compared to an ARC is that you can’t keep it forever and even that isn’t a problem if you haven’t overscheduled your reading to where you can’t fit library books in between your ARCs. My favorite thing about libraries is what I’m going to talk about today – the ability to browse.

A few others bloggers have already tackled this topic. Aarti at Book Lust talked about the forgotten pleasures of browsing which inspired Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness to experiment with a return to book browsing. Like both of these bloggers, I used to do more browsing than I do now. I’d go to the library and simply wander the shelves. Unless I was in the middle of a series, I went in without any specific books in mind. As a book blogger, I do that much less frequently. I always have had so many good books recommended to me by bloggers I trust, I usually go to the library to pick up something specific. Even if I don’t, there’s my ever-growing goodreads TBR list to turn to once I’m there. However, as both Kim and Aarti pointed out, I think we lose a little something by never browsing.

As book bloggers or people who read book blogs, it’s so easy to stick to the book recommended by others. As a book blogger, it’s very easy to go overboard requesting ARCs and end up constantly following a reading schedule. Browsing is a wonderful way to add some spontaneity and diversity to your reading. I think spontaneity is just pure fun. If a book comes highly recommended, you can start it with impossibly high expectations. A spontaneous pick has none of the pressure, so it’s that much more thrilling when you find a surprising new favorite.

The diversity added to by browsing can be just as important as intentionally reading books by and about diverse people. It’s wonderful to read a book all your blogging friends are reading so you can chat about it, but I think it’s also important for each of us to approach the world from slightly different perspectives. Reading different books is one great way to make sure we each maintain our individuality. And if you do find a great book, you can often be the one to introduce your friends to that hidden gem. So live a little, bloggers! If you feel your reading is missing diversity or spontaneity, some browsing time at your local library might be just what you need.

19 thoughts on “Guest Post: Why I Love My Library: The Joy of Browsing

  1. Krysta says:

    I enjoy browsing for books in the library. Quite often I find hidden gems that I’d never heard of before–but I end up loving them! My library likes to showcase books on the shelves, as well, so that often leads me to pick up something I might not have noticed on my own.

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    • DoingDewey says:

      My library does that too and I think it’s a lot of fun. I love finding new subjects to be interested in when they do themed displays, especially for nonfiction.

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  2. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) says:

    It’s funny you wrote about this now and linked to my post — I’ve been thinking a lot about book browsing the last few weeks. Our library has been closed due to water damage for a couple of weeks now and the thing I miss most is being able to stop over and browse for books whenever I feel like it. In addition to finding unexpected reads, there’s something really soothing about wandering among books.

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    • Krysta says:

      It’s terrible that your library has water damage! But you’re right that it’s soothing to be around books. I don’t even need to wander around them. I just like sitting next to shelves of books! There’s something very homey about it.

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    • DoingDewey says:

      Oh no! That’s too bad. I hope they’re able to get back up and running soon! I agree that there’s something relaxing about just wandering through the library. It’s so nice to be surrounded by books.

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  3. janceewright says:

    For a long time, I would solely read for school or off some sort of reading list or from recommendations. It got to the point that I honestly forgot how to browse. Lately, I have been letting myself just pick up stuff that looks good. And it does turn out to be good. There’s something to be said for discovery. A kind of magic that you don’t get when you only duck in to check the holds shelf.

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    • Krysta says:

      My library likes to display books, so sometimes I end up browsing without even meaning to! But then I get conflicted because, if I’m already checking out five books, should I really be adding another to the pile? 😉

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      • janceewright says:

        Oh, this is such an issue for me as well! I’m holding the ones I picked up from the hold shelf, as well as one or two I intentionally looked for, then a new release or display book just tempts me so badly. I always end up taking it. If not, I might not run into it again.

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  4. Angie@Angela's Anxious Life says:

    I never browse in the library anymore. ESPECIALLY since book blogging. I just know what I want to read.. log in to my library’s website put it on hold and pick it up once a week. It is kind of sad. When I first started going to the library I did walk around and look.

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    • Krysta says:

      While I have a large number of books I want to read (and a lot of books on the hold shelf!), I like to make time, if possible, just to wander around the shelves. If something looks interesting enough, I’m willing to make room for it in my schedule. I figure I have hundreds of books I’d like to read and I probably won’t read them all in this lifetime anyway, so I might as well add some surprises to the list, maybe find a hidden gem.

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    • DoingDewey says:

      I’m doing that a lot myself. Once I have enough books I know I want to read and some reviews scheduled, I find it hard to convince myself to leave the time to take a chance on something unknown.

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  5. Briana says:

    I still browse in my library once in awhile, but I think I have more of an urge now to look up reviews or ratings on Goodreads before really committing to a book. This isn’t a huge issue when borrowing (if I don’t like it, I just give it back!), but it definitely comes into play in bookstores. I’m far more likely to buy a book I’ve heard of around the blogosphere or elsewhere than I am to risk money on an “unknown.”

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    • Krysta says:

      I actually used to enjoy going into the bookstore and trying to find a book I’d never heard of before but that I thought would be really, really good. It was like a mini treasure hunt. Of course, if you go in blind, it’s harder to be disappointed because the book doesn’t have huge expectations to meet.

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    • DoingDewey says:

      I actually almost never buy a book unless I’ve already read it and loved it or if I have opportunity to get it signed by an author I know I like. At the library, I’m a little braver about just picking things up 🙂

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  6. Reno @ Falling Letters says:

    I agree that I do less browsing now, as someone who finds so many intriguing books to read through book blogging. Nowadays I often enter the library with a list of books I plan on borrowing. If I have spare time or I can’t find one of the books I want, I’ll browse. Browsing often guarantees a few more titles to add to the TBR pile that I wouldn’t have come across otherwise. Your last paragraph is spot on! 🙂

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  7. Julie @ Smiling Shelves says:

    This post came at the perfect time, since I’m heading to the library on Wednesday. I used to browse all the time, but that has changed since I started blogging. Now I usually just check out books from my Goodreads TBR shelf. Maybe this time I’ll allow myself the unexpected joy of browsing!

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