I’ve always been one to resist authority and obligation. I hate being told I have to do something, or feeling like I have to. Immediately all the fun is sucked out of it. This is even true of self-imposed obligations.
For example, I seriously doubt my ability to be a productive member of a book club. Even if it was a book I really wanted to read, just knowing that there was a certain date I’d have to read it by would ruin everything and get my rebellious juices going. If I did manage to get it read, I can guarantee you it was reluctantly—no matter how good the book was.
Personally, I have hundreds, if not thousands, of books on my TBR. Am I going to read all these? No. But I like having them there. It makes me happy to look at them. Granted, not all of them are physically on a TBR pile. However, I do have at least a couple hundred that are.
I know that there are many people who are intent on getting there TBR pile down and #readingtheirowndamnbooks, and good for them, but that has never been my way. I need to feel a certain connection in that moment to a book if I’m going to hunker down and read it.
This is usually an effort of trial and error in which I scan my shelves/the shelves in a bookstore/the shelves at the library, and read the first page of several different books that attract my attention. Sometimes this process goes rather quickly, and sometimes it takes quite a while. Generally, it ends when I come to a book and don’t want to put it down just yet. I want to read the next page. And the next. And then that’s the book that I’m reading.
I was telling this to a woman I work with the other day. She gave me a bit of a guffaw and didn’t understand how I could possibly operate that way. She said that she always has a stack of books that she is waiting to get to and always reads the one that’s next in line. I’m sure that works for her, and probably others. But I know that if I tried to read that way, I would be in a major reading slump half the time. I really need to connect to a book and be really interested in it in that moment. I know that might sound a little hokey, but I’ll admit it: I’m a fickle reader.
This is something that, especially when it comes to the library, does not always work in my favor. My funds are not endless (obviously), and in an effort to save space and those dolla dolla bills y’all, I try to make use of my library when I can (which is always, because I work there). But this doesn’t always go according to plan. If the book I want to read has a holds list, chances are by the time it comes in for me, I won’t be in the mood for it any more.
Honestly, I’m basically the worst library book reader. Not only is it the holds list issue, it’s the also the due date issue. Remember my dislike of obligation? I hate having that time limit. Do I take into consideration that it rarely takes me the allotted three weeks to read a book? No. Do I consider the possibility of renewing the title? No. Do I consider the fact that because I work there, there is really no repercussions if I return it a bit late? No. Just knowing that there is some kind of restriction placed on me ruffles my feathers.
And even considering all of these things and knowing this about myself, does that stop me from borrowing all the books? No! I’m a huge book gluten and can’t resist taking home those beautiful, shiny books. They just happen to come home, sit there for a while, and then go back to the library unread. Shrugs. I guess I just like to go where the wind takes me or whatever.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.