It was a hot day in early June when I walked over to the nearest library to my first apartment in Chicago to get a library card. By contrast, last month I biked over to the big public library here in Madison on a cool, breezy evening to apply for a card. Since then, riding to the library has become a weekly tradition: dropping off old reads, picking up holds, browsing the rotating displays. It’s easier to get to the library here than it was in Chicago, so my reading habits have shifted away from using a Kindle back to picking up a stack of physical books. The routine reminds me of childhood summer days spent on the floor of our nearest library, selecting the Babysitters’ Club books that I hadn’t yet read – and the Laura Ingalls Wilder books I’d read a million times - and lugging home a basket almost too heavy for me to carry.
As a prodigious reader and a serial re-reader, buying books is something that I’ll always make space for, even as I try to limit clothes-buying and homegoods-buying to just the essentials. Yet to keep myself in enough books is an expensive habit, not to mention space- and resource-intensive, so leaning more heavily on the library lately has been a revelation.
While as a child I was content to plop down and explore what several favorite sections had to offer, as an adult I’ve become a bit more methodical about finding books to check out. I keep a Google document with lists of books I’d like to read, adding to it anytime I see or hear of a book that sounds enticing. (It helps keep the slightly stressful feelings of “Now what was that book?” at bay). Before a trip to the library, I log into the catalog at home and pick a few books from my list that I’d like to read that week. I place holds for any that aren’t available at my nearest branch, and for ones that are, I jot down the shelf numbers so I can find them easily. I only ever pick out a few beforehand, as lately my best reads have come from browsing the curated displays and certain favorite sections.
I still find it magical that I can get any book I want, anytime, for free. Sure, some come with long wait lists, but while patiently biding my time there are always plenty of other books to read, too. When I used to rely primarily on library reads checked out on my Kindle, I felt more constricted as to the choices available: often, I couldn’t access a particular e-book and had to choose between buying it or not reading it at all. But now that I use the physical library exclusively, a whole new world has opened up. I can find any book, and it I can’t, chances are another library has it. It’s a beautiful thing.
Other sources of library inspiration:
(Some of the links below are affiliate links, which means Litterless may make a small commission if you choose to purchase a book linked below. Of course, use your library first!)
-My friend Laura is a library maven, and seeing the stacks of checked-out books she shares on her Instagram account always induces me to add a few new titles to my own list.
-Favorite books that have aided in my quest to fight food waste, here.
-A few inspiring sustainability books of late: A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button, Give a Sh*t by my friend Ashlee Piper, The Unsettlers by Mark Sundeen (magical and inspiring), and I’m looking forward to Christine Liu’s upcoming Sustainable Home and Katrina Rodabaugh’s Mending Matters, too.
Favorite reads to recommend lately? Other library love stories to share?
More posts on going zero waste without buying anything new, here.