Thursday, 2 September 2010

I Love Libraries

Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve loved books. I remember going to the local library and taking out stacks of books. I loved the building, the quiet, and all those books. I would have taken out the entire library, if I could. I still would.

Nothing has changed since that long-ago time. In whatever town I’ve moved to, the first thing I did was get a library card. I’ve read lots of things. I’ve always liked fiction (real life is such a drag), but I read some non-fiction, too, mainly science books. As for the fiction, I read science fiction and fantasy for a while before I turned to romance.

The first romances I read were by Barbara Cartland. I loved her books. She introduced me to historicals, and I found my home in the past. Ms. Cartland wrote in several eras and I loved all her stories, but most of her novels were set in the Regency.

When I finally overdosed on Barbara Cartland (she wrote hundreds of books), I investigated other Regency authors. One of the first I found, and one who remains one of the best, is Mary Balogh. She’s still a superstar. Then there are the other stars--Mary Jo Putney and Loretta Chase.

My tastes have branched out in the past few years. I always read these three authors, but about five years ago, I went on a romance reading binge. I went to the library twice a week. I tried out author after author. Some I liked then and still like, some I’ve tired of.

Libraries are great places to vet romances. Like everyone else, I have limited time and money, and don’t want to waste either on books I don’t like. I just recently bought a loser based on the blurb and interview. Great blurbs and interviews can hide a clunker.

Here’s my system, starting at the bottom:

Level 5--After reading a few pages at the library, I decide the book isn't to my taste and return it to the shelves.
Level 4--These books' back cover blurb and excerpt interest me, so I take them home. But I don't like them and don’t finish them. Back to the library.
Level 3--Books I finished but shouldn't have. I just read one like this. The novel was all right, but I’ll never read another one by that author. New author. Hey, you gotta give 'em a try.
Level 2--I'll read this author again, but only the library copy.
Level 1--How wonderful to find a Level One. With these books, I read a few pages and run to the bookstore to buy my own copy and the author’s backlist. Some Regency finds in this category are Patricia Rice, Anne Gracie and Nicola Cornick. Authors like these are the ones who make me glad I suffered through those clunkers.

Now, when I was living at the library, I didn’t know e-books existed. So how to vet them? My system won’t work with e-books because my library has only a few e-book novels. I’m sorry they don’t have more. There are tons of great books available in e-format only, mine included (Shameless Promotion here).

So, for e-books, I read blurbs and excerpts. But e-books are the future, and when my library catches up, I'll be there online, again finding new authors and books.

Thank you all,
Enter My World of Historical Hilarity
Picture is the reading room at the Library of Congress from Wikipedia


Adelle Laudan said...

I don't think anything can match the feel of a library filled with book upon book. I do however feel the face of library's in the future will be vastly different, it's already happening as we speak.
It's sad and exciting all in the same breath.
Great post!

Lindsay Townsend said...

I agree, Linda and Adelle!

I can't wait for libraries to catch up with ebooks - even more choice!!

Super post, Linda!

Celia Yeary said...

LINDA--Your system of how you choose a book is ingenious. I could have written that, because that's exactly what happens to me when I go to the library. I go about once a week, check out anywhere between two and six books, read maybe one. Like you, I think I should try something new, but my complaint? I become angry if I read a rather intriguing book, but it ends in some tragedy. So, that's why I go back to romance--I do not need to hear any more tragic tales. Thanks for this article you did a superb job. Cleia

Linda Banche said...

Thanks, all. Lindsay and Adelle, I agree, with ebooks a-coming, the libraries we remember will be a thing of the past. But there will be tons of more books to read, and when you come right down to it, that's what a library is for.

Celia, you're reading for entertainment, so read whatever you like. I'm with you. I want to read something happy. There's enough miserable stuff in the newspapers.

Savanna Kougar said...

Linda, fabulous post. There have been times in my life when the library was one of my best friends. As a kid, especially, I checked out tons of books.
The library is a great place to explore for new authors, and those authors you've missed like you talked about.
Yes, libraries do need to ADD ebooks at some point. But, how? If the e-pirates can get our books now, how much easier/cheaper through a library?
Print books also represent a record of a book. That is, if like Google wants, every book goes digital... well, how easy is it to CHANGE said book.
Whereas if there are PRINT RECORDS or print copies of the book all over in libraries, it would be much more difficult to pull off CHANGING books.
Throughout history books and records of events have been CHANGED to benefit those in power. I contend these times are no different. Would I trust Google to be the library of world like they want to do? ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!
So, I say, long live the library as a sacred place for print books.

Sherry Gloag said...

am ashamed to say, I have no idea whether my local library deals in ebooks. I do know they spend thousands of pounds on building facelifts (not structurally necessary) and are cutting back on the number of books they stock.
But I love the way you grade your choice of books.

StephB said...

Linda, I love how you choose your books! ingenious. I remember when I was a teenager going to the Manchester library, I was hooked on VC Andrews and that was the first thing I would check for to see if there were any new releases from her.


Linda Banche said...

Hi Savanna, and thanks. I agree with you about print books, and I don't trust Google, either. As for e-books, the way I understand it, libraries will lend ebooks by putting a license on them. If you take out an e-book for 2 weeks, the license expires in two weeks, and you can't access the book anymore. And maybe I'm wrong.

Thanks, Sherry. Libraries all over the world are cutting back on the number of books they buy. Apparently, having a pretty building is more important that being educated.

Thanks, Steph. I did the same thing as you. I always checked on my favorites first. I still do.

LK Hunsaker said...

Interesting method, Linda! I most often use the library for finding classics and older reads, as well as for some recommendations I'm not sure about. For newer books, I take my chances at a bookstore's clearance section so it's not much risk and I'm not on a time limit.

As for ebooks, pirating has been around much, much longer than have ebooks and can be done with prints as well. There are buyers and non-buyers, no matter what we do about it.