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03 February 2015

How my reading habits have changed in the past 5 years

At this time 5 years ago, I was packing up and getting ready to move out of my hometown, where I'd lived my entire life up to that point. I'd finally earned my bachelor's just a couple of months before and my husband landed a seemingly-good job in a city nearly 7 hours away. Everything was changing so fast.

At this point I think we had 2 bookshelves. There were a few books and even comics packed away in boxes or randomly strewn about the apartment, true, but most of what I read was actually re-read from our little baby book collection, or it came from the university library. I rarely tried anything new; it was a diet of old favorites, textbooks and academic journals, and mind-numbing magazines.

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Just a few months later, my husband left his actually-not-good job, I'd found clerical work at a library, and I started on my MLIS (the graduate degree required for official librarianship). At this point it seemed like the only constant in our lives was the constant change.

By then, we'd acquired 3 more bookshelves. They were nowhere near full, of course, but I knew that they would be someday. Of course, working in a public library made finding new books to try laughably easy (not to mention cheap-as-free). I was a glutton for printed pages. Worse, my coworkers and friends were fellow addicts and terrible enablers.

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Fast forward a couple of years. I'd walked the stage at my master's ceremony in one of those robes with the funny little long pocket sleeves. My husband found a new job, and I did too. We started making new friends and we found interesting places to see and fun things to do in our new city (well, cities actually). So many big changes in such a short amount of time.

Our bookshelves were filling up. I'd started challenging myself to read X number of books per year, though some semesters had made those goals more difficult than others. There was 1 semester when I think I read maybe 1 or 2 books for pleasure all the way through; everything else was academic. It was a tiny slice of the most lenient circle of hell, but it was worth it, and I made it through. I also started paying more attention to what I was reading during this time, making the effort to write reviews or learn about the authors of my favorite titles.

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Now, we've both moved up our respective career ladders a little bit and things seem like they might have actually steadied for a little while. My job is quite different from what I thought it would be when I was in school, quite different even from what it was when I started. But now that I think I've more or less figured out what I'm doing, that's OK. It's an actually-good job and I know I'm lucky. After the past few years I think I may always feel like there's some unexpected change lurking over the horizon, but I can definitely appreciate that right now things are pretty good.

We've added 2 more bookshelves, 1 in my new sewing room and 1 in the living room, front and center for any visitor to see. I joined the Classics Club and a state library association book list committee, so those things (especially the committee!) have certainly affected what I've been reading recently and inevitably will continue to do so for the near future.

I've started reading more e-books. My mother gifted us a Nook Color a couple of years ago and we just recently obtained a small tablet that works well as an e-reader, too. And since I'm now more or less in charge of my library's "electronic resources" (databases and e-book platforms, essentially), I am much more aware of exactly how much free digital reading material is out there waiting to be discovered. My TBR list has grown beyond all reason because of this.

But I've also become more critical. A crucial lesson that I've learned over the past few years is that some books just aren't worth finishing. Being more judgmental has been freeing, in a way, because I don't feel guilty giving up on a not-for-me title when I know that there are so many books out there that are worth spending time on. Thinking about books instead of just reading + forgetting them also makes me more comfortable sharing my opinion on what I've read with fellow bibliophiles, practicing readers' advisory, and (as evidenced by their slowly increasing frequency on this blog and in the local newspaper) writing reviews.


TexErin said...

Great post! My personal library was crazy about 10 years ago. Now, I'm pretty good about recycling. I'm a regular patron at a couple of book exchanges and secondhand bookstores. Plus, I've returned to the public library. Now, my bookshelves are filled with my "keepers" or my "to read" pile.

Louise said...

Thank you! Maybe someday we'll have built-ins. :-)

Louise said...

That sounds like a good way to do things. You're helping the environment, supporting/engaging with the local community, saving $, and keeping your own home clear of clutter.

Louise said...

Haha, I have that same problem -- there's a bookshop within walking distance of where I work and sometimes I end up spending my lunch money there! Oh, well. Thanks for stopping by :-)

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