The Pile That Never Shrinks


One thing that always endeared me to living in or near New York City is the plethora of used bookstores that still exist there even in these times of high-rent blight. The Strand is more or less here for keeps (I hope); the occasional indie store still manages to keep its torch burning. Where I am now, though, there's nothing like that, and so I've had to compromise.

A major compensation for me is the Open Library, where newly digitized titles are added to the collection all the time. Browsing the "Just Arrived" section there is like hanging out in the discount rack of the Strand, and I use what I find there to add to my list of things to read someday. One of these years I'm just going to have to take the year off from every other project I have cooking and get caught up, but I have the nagging feeling that's a fantasy doomed to remain ephemeral and distant as "when I get my pension"

Too much of the time I'm in love with the idea of reading, or having read, certain books than I am with actually reading them. Keeping such a broad to-do list doesn't provide me with a broader range of choices to satisfy my turns of mood so much as it smothers me in possibilities. Goodreads's "to-read" list left me in much the same position: it was not so much a task list as a bucket list.

Thing is, with the Open Library, I've found I can chisel away at that pile by way of permitting myself to do things I might not otherwise have done. For one, if I can borrow a book for only a few minutes and skim it to see if it stands up to its promises, I can take it off the list if it doesn't look up to snuff, and feel no guilt. It doesn't cost me anything to do this, and if I like what I see, I can always keep the book for the two weeks allotted to me if other patrons are lining up for it.

My interests are wide-ranging and hard for me to satisfy, because so many of them tend only to be addressed by things out of print or available from scholarly (read: expensive) publishers. Open Library helps whittle some of that down, both by letting me taste-test and by keeping me from going broke.


Tags: books  libraries  reading 


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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2019/02/04 17:00.

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