When Your Library Doesn’t Have It

So I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m trying really hard not to buy books that I can access for free, especially this year. I’m trying to curb my book junky-ism by being really selective about what I decide to buy, and I’ve been using my local library a lot since January.

This is good for several reasons, but the most important reasons are:

  1. I’m not spending money on books I may not want to keep (which leaves more money for french fries…or my savings account), and
  2. I’m supporting my local libraries.

Libraries are really cool, and if you ever had to grow up without available discretionary funds to buy all your books, you may know how important libraries are for providing access to information. Also, they have lots of programs for people of all ages, and if you don’t see something you like, you can always suggest it (maybe even volunteer to teach a class?).

So! I’ve been using my local library system for all the books I’ve read so far this year. If one branch didn’t have a particular book, I’d request it from another branch through ILL (Inter-Library Loan), and that worked out really well for the first half of my reading list (I even rearranged the order of my reading list so I was reading the books available at my library first).

However, none of the books on the second half of my reading list are available through my local library system. So what’s a girl to do??

Well, if you’re in a similar situation, I’ve got some suggestions that may, or may not, work for you.

  1. Check the Library’s OverDrive (or other online library app) account. It might be a long shot, but they have digital books that aren’t necessarily in the physical collection and you may find what you’re looking for (you can also suggest your library purchase the book, which would be helpful to someone else in the future).
  2. Check a neighboring county library system. If they have what you’re looking for, ask a friend or family member to borrow it for you. Just make sure you return it to them in the same condition you received it and on time so they don’t get charged any fees!
  3. Clear your schedule for a day and read the book at a neighboring county library. You can still use a lot of services at a library even if you don’t qualify to get a card because you live in a different area of town.
  4. Ask around! Maybe someone you know has a copy that you can borrow.
  5. Revise your reading list. Find a title that is available at your local library until you can access the book you’re looking for.
  6. If you really want it, and you really can’t find it anywhere (or you just really want it), then buy it.

Unfortunately for me, the people I know who live in the next county do not have library cards (it really is a shame), so I had to resort to the last option. So far, I’ve only bought two books, and they are two that I’m definitely going to read and definitely going to keep (at least that’s what I told myself when I confirmed my order).

As for the rest of the books on my list…they are still pending. A former co-worker and her daughter decided to join me on my reading journey, so we’re revising my original reading list to add things they want to read as well. It’s possible some of the books they add to the list will be available at my local library and I won’t have to buy many more. If that’s the case, then we’re winning!

Now you have some ideas on how to access books your local library doesn’t carry. I hope this has helped you a little (or a lot!). And if you have more suggestions to add, please leave them in the comments. Learning all the ways to access free books is really helpful for a lot of people.

If you don’t have a library card, I encourage you to get one. If you have children, I encourage you to get them library cards as well. Teach them how to appreciate and use the resources libraries have available to them, and lead by example. The more they see you do it, the more they’ll want to do it too!

Speaking from experience, it makes a world of difference!

Happy reading!


Reading Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Happy Monday all!

Answer me this: what is your favorite genre to read?

I asked myself this question the other day, and I couldn’t really answer it definitively. I really enjoy Science Fiction, but I mostly just like reading multicultural literature regardless of the specific genre.

This started in college. All throughout middle school and high school my reading habits were very…umm…pale? mainstream? Let’s be real here. My reading habits were very White for a large portion of my childhood and teenage years. Access to minority books wasn’t nearly as great as it is now, and I read what was available to me. But that’s not to say I felt deprived, or that it was a bad thing. It wasn’t.

I loved to read, I still love to read, and if what I picked up looked like a good book I didn’t care about the race of the author. It wasn’t until college, however, that I was exposed to a broad range of multicultural literature. It broadened my scope and led me to my favorite author—Octavia Butler.

I still read a lot of books by non-minority writers, but this year I wanted my entire reading list to consist of books by Black authors, preferably Black female authors, and so far I have really enjoyed the perspectives in what’s I’ve been reading. Maybe next year I’ll read only Latino authors, or only Graphic Novels, or only Memoirs. The possibilities….

Have you decided on your favorite genre yet? What was the last piece of writing you read that was in a genre other than your favorite? Did you like it?

Now, I can’t say I’ll ever be into Westerns, and I certainly don’t do Horror, but reading outside of my comfort zone has extended my love for reading beyond most boundaries. Just like I will watch almost any movie (including really bad, cheaply made movies that my cousins will hate), I will read almost anything as long as it looks and sounds interesting. Of course, if I hate it, I hate it, and if it’s really bad I won’t finish it, but that rarely happens.

I want to challenge you this week to pick up something outside of your reading comfort zone and give it a go. Who knows, you may find something entirely fantastic.

Happy Reading!


Childhood Crush

10. Write about a dangerous obsession.

He was my obsession. My first love, if you can call an eleven year-old’s crush love. I followed him around the playground, and called him on weekends, and was seriously hurt when he started “dating” another eighth grader. He was mine, even if I was the only one who knew it.

Then he left school.

And I left school too.

What did I expect? I wasn’t in control of my own fate. I didn’t get a say in where I lived or what I ate or what school I was shipped off to. I just went with it because that’s what children who are not in control of their lives do. But I missed him so much. I wouldn’t know until more than fifteen years later what longing for someone actually felt like, but my young self thought my heart was breaking. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t.

I remember the first time I saw his adult face online. Still beautifully chocolate. Soft eyes, inviting lips. The way childhood feelings could, in an instant, grow and morph into something fully adult. I wanted him. I couldn’t tell him that, of course, I wasn’t insane. So I just watched. I looked through all of his photos—parties, graduations, promotions, girlfriends, funerals—and I read all his posts. I sent hearts and thumbs up. I let him know I was there without trying too hard to make him see me.

The first time I saw him….I was invited to a dinner party. Somebody in the group suggested we go to open mic night at a local coffee shop. I had to work the next day and really wanted to take a hot shower and get in bed, but they begged me to go out with them. I had a habit of ending my nights early, and I liked it that way, but I obliged and went to the coffee shop.

We arrived early enough to get a table close to the makeshift stage, and ordered tea and desserts. I was two bites into my passion fruit cheesecake when he walked by me. He was too close to my chair and knocked my purse off the wooden arm. Kneeling to pick up my bag, he apologized for not seeing it there. He looked up, our eyes met, my mouth went dry. I couldn’t find words. He must’ve said my name two or three times before I heard his “it’s good to see you again”. I let him pull me from my seat into a hug and for a second I couldn’t feel my toes. He smelled like the Dogwood & Ginger fragrance oil that I loved scenting my pillows with—warm, woodsy, cozy like sitting in front of a fireplace with hot chocolate in a cabin surrounded by a foot of snow.

Eventually he rejoined his group of friends at the table they picked on the other side of the narrow room. I really tried to pay attention to the poets and singers throughout the night, but my eyes kept drifting to the back of his head, the square of his shoulders, the way he leaned back in his chair when he laughed. I couldn’t let another twenty years go by without seeing him again, but I also couldn’t walk up to him at a table full of men I did not know and say…anything.

I wasn’t in a hurry to get to my car after the last poet of the night sat down. I lingered in the parking lot, saying slow goodbyes to the other girls and making brunch plans for the following week with a couple of them. My breath caught in my chest when I saw him walk out of the coffee shop and turn in our direction. I said my last goodbyes as he strolled across the parking lot, and turned to face him as he leaned on the side of my car next to me. I don’t remember much of what he said, but I agreed to spend a little more time out with him despite the fact that I’d be totally exhausted the next morning.

I let him drive. The muscles in his arms tensed and pushed against the snug fabric of his shirt sleeve as he controlled my car with one hand on the wheel. I had no idea where we were going, and I didn’t care. The love of my childhood was sitting next to me, taking me on an adventure. I could use the navigation system to get back home if I needed to. I just watched him, and every so often he’d turn to me and stretch those sexy honey-coated lips into a smile.

I don’t remember much after the first drink—if you call Peach Sangria a drink. I only remember staring at the strawberries at the bottom of the wine glass, how each of the little seeds had a tiny bubble on top of them. Even after everything went dark, I just kept seeing those tiny little bubbles. I imagined there being a while tiny little world in each of those little bubbles. A world where I was sitting at a table with a centerpiece of pink and yellow tulips, eating brunch with my best friends. A world where my wrists weren’t tied and I wasn’t locked in this room with no sunlight or fresh air. A world where my puppy wasn’t at home crying for his mommy like I’m sure he’s been doing for the past…hours? days? I should’ve gone home. When the girls asked me to go to open mic night. Or when everyone else began leaving. I should’ve gone too. I should’ve left that childhood love in the past where he belonged. I didn’t know he’d take my future from me.