“The only thing you absolutely have to know is the location of the library.” – Albert Einstein
How can I best portray my reading/library habits? I tend to check out far more than I can read, but that’s by design. Being a selective reader (defined here as impatient with writers who fluff it up, or content trying to sell before tell, or less-than-readable writing), I have to over-borrow to sate my appetite for constantly having something good to read at hand. Like many, I’m swayed by a nice cover, punchy subtitle, and powerful must-read encouragements on the dust jacket flaps. But the truth is most my picks come via references from other sources, recommendations, reviews, etc. If I wanted to fathom a guess, I’d say 1/3rd I fully read, 1/3rd I skim, and the rest leave me convinced the editor and/or writer was asleep on the job.
At this point, you might be curious on what I mean by “check out far more than I can read.” I submit the list below as evidence, your honor, of my addiction to both books of the library persuasion and interests steeped in the eclectic:
- Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder – Nassim Taleb
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened – Jenny Lawson
- Wabi-sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers – Leonard Koren
- Clockwork Angels – Kevin Anderson / Neal Peart
- Life Sentences: Literary Judgments and Accounts – William Gass
- Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition – Michael Mauboussin
- Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data – Charles Wheelan
- The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World’s Most Consequential Trivia – David McCandless (visual journalism)
Owned and on the reading pile — but waiting silently for their turn:
- The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? – Seth Godin
- Whatcha Gonna Do With That Duck? And Other Provocations, 2006-2012 – Seth Godin
- The Sketchnote Handbook – Mike Rohde
- Workarounds That Work: How to Conquer Anything That Stands in Your Way at Work – Russell Bishop
- Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies – Charlene Li, Josh Bernoff
- The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking – Oliver Burkeman
- The Impact Equation – Chris Brogan, Julien Smith
- Wired for Story – Lisa Cron
On the Kindle — also patiently waiting for a trip or excuse to Kindle-away some idle time:
- APE: Author, Publishers, Entrepreneur – Guy Kawasaki
- Cook Ding’s Kitchen: A Kung Fu Carry out (Practical Taoism in Everyday Life) – Rick Matz
- Drawing on the Power of Resonance in Writing – David Farland
- Under the Dome: A Novel – Stephen King
Now before my published friends get wrinkly noses about my ratio of purchased-to-borrowed, I frequently use a library checkout to test drive before buying, an approach that’s been both a money saver and the bane of my overloaded bookshelves. The power of this approach is magnified by my local library’s ability to serve up books from ANY library in Ohio, and for those it cannot, an inter-library loan request will tap the vast beyond.
Back in my Houston days, I would frequent Rice University’s wondrous Fondren Library. When public library channels failed, I could nearly always find the book at Fondren, or more often than not, a dozen or so related titles I didn’t know existed. An amazing library where just strolling the book stacks invites serendipity, with open access to books hundreds of years old. I let myself get intentionally lost in the stacks on many a rainy Saturday back in the 90s. And I still remember wandering through the maze of stacks and happening upon a tiny study carrel tucked in a nook replete with a studying or sleeping student. I believed at the time that without much effort, one could stay in there and not be seen for days. I think at one time I pondered testing the theory, or perhaps in retrospect wished I had. Fondren remains my favorite library, although not the awe-inspiring temple of a literate mind the Boston Public Library (Bolyston) is, but that’s a tale for another day.
All these memories of time well-spent in libraries makes for a desire to add visiting significant libraries to my bucket list, assuming I ever make one! In the meantime, I’ll continue leveraging the tried-and-true method of surfing the library site to select and walking to the library to collect. A nice combination to keep my mental pantry full of tasty treats.