I’m a reader. Most of you reading this are probably also dedicated readers, the sort to keep a particular shelf full with books queued up to read. But lately I’ve been thinking about how many of the books I’ve bought over the years have been ones I’ve returned to, compared to the number which get read once or even less than once and then sit on the shelf. It’s not that high but it’s probably higher than it needs to be, and it’s probably reasonable to say that I’ve spent thousands in the last decade or so on books that I’ve only read once.

And then there’s magazines. I don’t subscribe to many because of laziness, but I likes my magazines, I do. I regularly read the Atlantic, Esquire, GQ, Details, Fortune, Business 2.0, Road and Track, Magnet, Men’s Health, Dwell, the Economist, Geist, Maisonneuve, Scientific American, Seed… You get the idea.

This strategy is inefficient.

And somehow I managed to forget about libraries until a few months ago. Even then I was just taking out books that I knew I didn’t need to own until very recently.

So I’ve got a new process: Books that I want to read go on my “bookmarks” list in the Ottawa Public Library’s OPAC, unless there’s a giant request queue for them, in which case I request them right away to get my place in line. After I’ve read it, I decide whether or not it’s worth owning a copy. I suspect for a lot of them I still will want to own a copy, but it’ll let me screen out the rest.

For some books the request queue is ridiculous, so those ones I’ll just have to decide whether to buy or wait.

One lunch-hour later, and I’ve got eight requests in and another thirty or so books bookmarked. I feel silly for having waited this long to figure this out!

(I’m not sure how to solve the similar problem with magazines. One step would be to subscribe to the ones I buy monthly, but that feels like a step in the wrong direction somehow.)

Comments 9