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Weekend Assignment: Adventures in Library Browsing, or Lack Thereof

May 18, 2010

Today’s Weekend Assignment entry asks:

Have you ever checked out a library book and forgot to return it? Tell us about your experiences with checking out, returning, or forgetting to return, books to the library.

Extra Credit: Tell us about the last book you checked out of the library.

For myself… I can’t remember the last time I checked out a book from the library, personally.  My Dear Wife, on the other hand, has been a very active patron of our local library.  (She mostly checks out books on knitting, but I believe she also read the first two books in the Twilight series on loan from the Library, and a couple other books in that way.)   Of course, Dear Wife always returns books on time, so we dont’ pay late fees.

What is of interest, with regards to our local library, is the wait time to get a book you want.  Our local library is small, and it doesn’t have a particularly large collection.  So, if you want a given book, chances are good you’ll have to wait for it to come, interlibrary, from one of the other libraries in the system.  And if it’s a book worth reading, chances are also good there’s someone in line in front of you waiting to read the book first.  (Dear Wife has even had to wait her turn to check out knitting books and cookbooks.)

As for myself, the last book I read that was checked out from the library (on my wife’s recommendation) was Eragon.  But in reality, I only got through about halfway.  And I didn’t check the book out, myself.  Dear Wife checked it out.  But, as above, there was a wait on the book, and we had to return it before I finished it, without an opportunity to recheck it out immediately, because there was someone in line behind us.  I still haven’t had a chance to finish that book.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. May 19, 2010 1:12 am

    Mmm. That sounds like a far from ideal situation, particularly for a book as thick as
    Eragon!

    • May 19, 2010 9:04 am

      I know! By the time I have time to finish reading it, I’ll have no idea where in the book I left off…

  2. May 19, 2010 11:15 am

    I never read Eragon because even the blurb didn’t appeal; saw the film and was glad I didn’t read the book.
    Our library is small and a threee mile walk away; I seldom go as I am terrified of late fees, too. Biggest fine= £28, twelve years ago.

    • May 19, 2010 11:32 am

      Oh yes, I saw the movie, and it was fairly awful. But, as an avowed consumer of Fantasy fiction, I consider it my duty to read these books, or die trying.

      I’ll be honest, while Dear Wife recommended Eragon as being good, while I was reading it I couldn’t help but think “Wow, this is barely as good as that last draft of the book I’ve been working on since forever that I scrapped in favor of a total rewrite from scratch because that draft was unpublishable.” Or, in other words, “I can do better” – a sentiment I’ve really rarely had (instead I usually express the sentiment “I hope I can do better, but I really rather doubt it”, but in Eragon’s case I really think I can do at least as good and probably better).

      That said, I do intend to finish it at some point… because even if it’s not great, I think there’s something to be learned in it based on its general popularity at the time. Not an enduring classic, perhaps, but something worth learning.

      • fedwickagency permalink
        May 19, 2010 1:44 pm

        Last I checked, Mr. Paolini was making beaucoup bucks, had built an extension onto his family’s house in a scenic valley, and was entertaining himself with drawings of dragons while listening to iTunesU on his iPod…or something like that. Maybe it was badly written but it worked out well for him I guess. 🙂

        -J. P. Cabit
        Editor-In-Chief, Fedwick Agency

      • May 19, 2010 1:59 pm

        That’s partly my point. My general assessment of the quality of Eragon doesn’t much matter, now. But it was popular, and even if it was badly written, there’s something to be learned from a book that was popular. Something that, possibly, may be replicable. And I don’t mean copying plots and characters, but copying something more fundamental and deeper – if I can find it.

  3. May 19, 2010 11:38 am

    Hmmm.
    I saw a tweet from someone I know slightly advising writers to study what is on the best sellers list and themn write more of the same. Horrified me, both as a writer and a reader. Based on “general popularity at the time” isn’t a real accolade of quality. I confess I enjoyed the Da Vinci code, largely because I had a long weekend away from usual duties and spent it vegging out on a friend’s new sofa and her local beach, and consumed half a shelf full of books; like a holiday pizza, it was what I wanted at that moment. I don’t think that even with its immense popularity or with the myriad(not a word I use often) spin offs and copycats, anyone would declare it a great book(except Mr Brown) Taking a leaf out of your recent book(comment wise) I wrote better when I was 14!
    But it gives us all hope.
    keep at it and maybe one day I can say “Oh, I met Stephen before he was famous for X!”

    • May 19, 2010 12:56 pm

      I don’t mean to suggest that I suscribe to the “write whatever’s popular” philosophy, nor that “it was popular” is a measure of quality. What I do mean is that I think it’s useful to understand why something is popular. And I think there’s usually a good reason. Maybe it’s something I can use, and maybe it’s something I can’t, but it will be instructive just the same.

  4. claredragonfly permalink
    May 20, 2010 11:08 pm

    Oh, I feel your pain on the small selection! My library is also tiny. True, there’s a much bigger branch (the second biggest in the city, actually) only a little farther away from me than my regular branch… but it’s on a much busier street, and it’s not on the way to anything, except the mall, which I avoid nowadays anyway. I also put a lot on hold. Though unlike your experience, I’ve only had to wait in line for one book. However, I do have two seasons of my favorite TV show on hold, and I have a line for them! That really surprised me since there are two channels that re-run them.

    • May 21, 2010 8:42 am

      I guess that’s part of the challenge for Libraries: in a world where you can go online and order books (either phyiscal books or virtual books) and have them delivered directly to you, the idea of schlepping down to an out-of-the-way and not-terribly-well-stocked library is kind of more than a little inconvenient.

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