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For The Love Of Library Books

Author: Charlotte O'Shea

A few weeks ago Mabel and I officially joined our local library. I say local – it is the nearest “larger” library to us, a mere 2.5 miles away.

I am unsure why it has taken this long to be honest, life as always gets in the way. And there is definitely an element of the immediate availability of online media and the ease of a few clicks in the comfort of your own home for a same-day-delivery bargain book from Amazon, that makes a library membership seem archaic and potentially time consuming.

I love libraries. I love books. I still don’t own a kindle. Admittedly I do berate myself every holiday or weekend trip when a good proportion of my case is taken up by various new releases…yes, sometimes even hard backs (!) but it’s part of who I am and I’ve made my peace with it.

The library we have joined has all sorts of free events and facilities I would perhaps never have considered prior to signing up for membership. On a weekend they offer lego club and “magical story time” in the children’s area – both of which Mabel thoroughly enjoys. For younger children there are rhyme time/sensory classes and for older kids, coding and various craft activities.

There is a mezzanine area with desks and power points for study and work, I’m yet to take advantage of it but I’m looking forward to an alternative outlook to my weather beaten patio. When you work from home, leaving the house for even just a few hours, can have a monumental effect on your motivation and creativity.

For adults there are all sorts of workshops and small gatherings organised by local businesses – a great way to learn new skills and to meet new people, especially if you are new to the area.

But back to books. Because I don’t think there is anything quite like perusing the vast shelves of an established library, if you are a lover of words on paper. I had forgotten what it was like to stumble across titles that I had simply never heard of, to choose to invest my time in uncovering a beautiful story by thoroughly devouring a novel’s synopsis and hovering over a chapter or two, rather than clicking on the Amazon Bestseller list or reading a glowing (albeit brief) recommendation in a magazine or on a blog and hoping for a worthwhile purchase.

The irony of this last statement is not lost on me.

I’m certain I wouldn’t have stumbled across Benjamin Ludwig’s “Ginny Moon” had it not been precariously teetering on the edge of “so used it might be missing a page” (which let’s face it, must be part of the charm). It’s a tale about fostering, adoption and ultimately the journey to discovering where you might “belong”. It’s heart breaking and intelligent and I learnt a lot about the difficulties of placing children diagnosed on the spectrum, in a loving safe environment. I managed to hold it together until the acknowledgements (yes, I usually always read them) where one or two tears accumulated, along with many others I imagine, across the well thumbed pages.

Neither do I think Mabel and I would have read Snow White Sees The Light which we found both hilarious and well illustrated. I am also a huge fan of the Eyes Wide books for littles – I have bought “What do grown-ups do all day” repeatedly as a birthday gift.

Other recent fiction I would recommend: The Betrayals by Fiona Neill and The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann. It feels so good to make the time to read again, I enjoy a Netflix series as much as the next person but there is nothing quite like losing yourself in some excellent writing.

Are you a member of your local library? Please do leave ALL of your recent favourite book recommendations in the comments section below!

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38 thoughts on “For The Love Of Library Books

  1. We’re members of our local library and my children have been since they were about 1. My eldest (5.5) especially loves going and picking books and now has “chapter” books for her bedtime stories. I’m trying not to buy any new books for me this year, just second hand or library. I can reserve any I want online and then pick up, which saves time. I’ve recently read Far From the Madding Crowd (not at all new!) which took me a while to get in to but I ended up loving. Currently reading The Milkman which is interesting but I’m not sure it’ll be a favourite…. I’ve also found the library a good way of testing out cooking books! I hope you and your girls get as much enjoyment from the library as our family does.

      1. Ah yes Sarah I’ve had my eye on Milkman! That sounds like an excellent idea with your eldest, I must encourage Mabel to choose more for bedtime stories x

  2. This is so timely Charlotte as I also recently joined the library (as part of my year of no purchasing – I knew books would be my biggest weakness) I love it! Every time a friend recommends a book I have checked and the library has it! At first I got a bit ambitious and started taking out around 9 books at a time but now I’ve settled for a more manageable four! I’m going through a funny phase because we recently lost our dog so reading some funny pet related books but one book that was recommended to me by my yoga teacher was called Many Lives Many Masters – it’s about reincarnation and past lives but I found it a pretty fascinating read tbh, it’s opened my mind to new ways of thinking!

    1. SO sorry to hear about your dog Jess. This book sounds fascinating – my Mum is really into past lives etc so I will mention it to her too! I was so tempted to take out ALL the books (!) but now restrict myself to two x

  3. I often use the library for non fiction / reference books (e.g. on parenting) that I might want to only read a chapter or two of but might find it’s not for me or be unlikely to read again. I don’t tend to read fiction books from the library since with a toddler and a baby I don’t usually manage to finish them in the time they would be due back! My 3 year old loves going to the library every few weeks to choose more stories, it’s a great way to try different books and a bit of free entertainment! I loved the library so much when I was young, it’s great to be supporting and championing them like this Charlotte 😊 xx

    1. Hi Amanda! I have had to extend my book loan – but they seemed ok about it, sometimes I have the best intentions but just don’t quite make enough time. I used to read a lot in bed but mostly I’m just so tired by then. I’m trying to set aside a few hours of a weekend when James is entertaining the girls and I always take a book on the train (I travel to London fairly frequently with work and it’s about an hour 20 mins). It’s lovely when the children can choose from so many books isn’t it x

  4. We love our local library! My almost two year old has great fun choosing books, and likes to think the ones we’ve had previously are already ours! We’ve found some great first baby books for our three month old too. For our house of bookworms it’s a great morning out, and a great time to form fun memories as a family. Our favourite finds so far have been a busy day for birds by Lucy Cousins, every bunny dance by Ellie Sandall and a child of books by Oliver Jeffers, which is absolutely beautiful!

    1. All of these sound wonderful Sarah! I have written then all down to check out next time we visit, thanks for the recommendations xx

  5. I love our local library. I sometimes struggle a little with finding books I’d like to read there, and I think I was a bit snobby about it at first, but I always come away with something. Kids books are great, obviously! But it’s everything else that stands out. During the half term, there were free craft activities on every day. Three of the days they also had free shows and entertainment. Every morning there was a free breakfast club with games and stories. I think it’s an absolute lifeline for all the struggling families. They even had some tech play and building sessions on for older children. The staff and volunteers are always letting us know about any activities coming up and free competitions and raffles we can enter. There are many different clubs and groups on for older people, local history talks, music lessons, yoga sessions, even gigs on an evening! I’ve really come to appreciate our little library with it’s absurdly large mills and boon collection 😄

    1. Your library sounds amazing Jade! And Mills & Boon – my welsh Nan bloody loved those, she literally had STACKS!

      I was really impressed with the free coding sessions our library offers to 8 year olds plus (would really like to join in myself to be honest..) x

  6. One bonus of libraries is that you can usually reserve and order specific books from other libraries in the area – ideal for new releases or specific things you want to read!

    1. Yes our library mentioned that Amy! I’m definitely going to set about making a list of new releases I fancy and seeing if they can get a hold of some x

  7. I am just joining as I am about to go on maternity leave for a second time and many libraries now offer audio books which I thought would be great for all those sleepless hours! However, I am also looking forward to taking the toddler and exploring lots of books! I know he will love it.

    1. He will Jess, the children’s corner in our library is more of a big space with seating and hundreds of books – I was really impressed with it x

  8. I started using libraries again about three years ago when I joined a book club – we have two choices a month for our chosen reads and as I usually read both it soon got expensive buying two books every month! I rarely just go in and peruse the shelves, as I order what I want online via library transfer for 50p a book. I’m a real bookworm (book nerd) and collecting my library books still makes me excited – and it’s great that I have less clutter in the house and only end up owning copies of books that I really love, and it’s good for the environment.

    I find it very sad to hear of library cutbacks as I think libraries still play a massive part of people’s lives.

    1. Claire I was so excited taking my first collection of library books “out” – it felt like such a treat. And you are right, I was embarrassed by how many books I had to essentially donate to charity when we moved house, it seemed like such a waste x

  9. We are very lucky as our local library is only 10 minutes walk away. It’s not huge, but anything they don’t have there we could order from the county service. We joined about 18 months ago when looking for variety among the books for the very young, and for things we could do for free on rainy days when my daughter was spending more time at home with me!

    These days it’s mostly her dad that takes her every few weeks to kill some time on a Friday, and she enjoys picking a few different books to put into the mix at bedtime. I don’t take myself there as much as I probably ought to, given the lengthy ‘want to read’ list I’m developing.

    1. Our library is opposite a park and near shops/restaurants so it does make it easier for us to go as we make a “trip” of it. I also have a long long list now – more so after this post I’m sure!

  10. I joined my local library years ago and never used it then last summer actually started going. I’m lucky that the small local branch to me (literally 2 minuted walk from my house) is still open (the council have shut the other 2 small branches in our area) and we still have the main one which is only 2 miles away.

    I mainly use it for ordering reference books (potty training was the main one last summer!) which I can do online and get delivered to the local branch from any library in our council.

    I’ve not taken out nay actual ‘reading books’ for me yet but when I was a child and teen I had ALL the books (including ones I knew my parents wouldn’t let me buy -Judy Bloom Forever was one of them!).

    It was also a lifesaver when our printer gave up on us in summer and we desperately needed to print out legal documents.

    We can also rent ebooks apparently!

    No recommendations at the minute I’m afraid unless you’d like a potty training book or how guides on how to look after a 3 year old and imminent newborn!

    1. Judy Bloom Forever! Wow. That brings back memories. Potty training will be just around the corner for us Vicky, Iris turns 1 at the weekend, I just can’t believe how quickly time flies x

  11. I love going to the library. Ours offers ebooks through an app too, so you can still get that immediate fix. I’ve never been one for buying books as I rarely reread things and in my flat we didn’t have much space, so have always been an avid library fan. It’s also the ultimate bargain!
    I’ve just finished the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, and currently reading The 7 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle. I usually reserve books I really want and browse for others when I’m picking up my reservations.
    I take my son and daughter to the bookbug singing and story seasons which they love, and I really hope they grow up with my love of libraries.

    1. Linsey I feel I really need to embrace audio books – certainly for long journeys (I can’t read in the car as it makes me feel dizzy). I’m not sure if our library has an app as such but I’ll investigate! I’ve not heard of the novels you mention so I’m off to investigate x

      1. Charlotte, I would be very surprised if your local library did not have an app for free access to e-books and audio books. Almost all do so please do ask them.

  12. Charlotte I’m one of the older fans of Rock my Style . I’ve always loved reading I love words and the smell and feel of books. Weird I know. My kids were both members of the library and now I take my grandchildren there too and they love it. I order my books online that I want to read and they email me when they’re in. My favourite at the moment is Jojo Moyes ‘ Still me ‘ . Also my favourite authors are Lianne Moriarty author of Big Little Lies , the book is better than the series but that was great too. Paula Daly is another great writer. She’s based in the Lake District and her books are set in her local and surrounding areas. The library has great stuff to do with the kids in the holidays which as you know costs a fortune these days keeping kids happy xx

    1. Hi Lorraine! SO lovely to hear from you. My husband actually bought me the latest Lianne Moriarty – I’m kind of saving it for some reason (not entirely sure why!) and I enjoyed the Big Little Lies series so much. I’ll have a butchers at Paula Daly – thanks so much for the recommendation x

  13. We joined the local library as soon as we moved to the area and whilst I do prefer to read on my kindle on the commute, I love discovering random books that I would have not come across otherwise – and all for free! We take the toddler once a week for a library trip and he loves it, too. He even has his very own First Library card!

    I remember the excitement as a child when I got a whole stack of books out and I really wanted our children to have that, too. Libraries are such great and important community centres and quite often really undervalued!

    1. Absolutely agree on the under valued status Maike, it’s so lovely to hear so many of you utilise your local libraries – I don’t “know” many folks that do really. Mabel also has her very own library card! x

  14. We love our local library too. Although I have to admit we haven’t been since Finn was born. I’ve now got it in my diary to go back this week! I struggle with the push/pull between my love of a library and my love of full bookshelves in my house.

    I listen to a few minimalism podcasts and one of them suggested getting rid of all of your books in favour of a kindle and a library card. He may as well have told me to get rid of my children.

    1. I have some firm favourites that I hope to always have in the house Naomi. And my biggest regret – a set of really old Shakespeare in blue linen, they were essentially an antique and really expensive, but I wish I’d made the investment! I kick myself whenever I think about not buying them 🙁

  15. I love our library. We’re very lucky as the council removed funding for a lot of Sheffield’s libraries a few years ago, but many stayed open as volunteer run libraries. Ours is one of those and it is fantastic! They do a monthly playgroup for pre-schoolers, they run an after school reading club for older children, plus the coding sessions you mention too! They also put on films (both for an adult audience and family friendly) and they are usually pretty recent ones. They also have frequent used toy sales, farmers markets etc. Bookswise, they have access to the full Sheffield library catalogue (so you can still borrow from other libraries) but also have their own books that have mostly been donated. Other libraries near us have amazing toys as well as books so if I’m feeling lazy I take my toddler son to one for a change of scene/“new” toys!

    1. Katie this sounds fantastic! I love the idea of toy sales and farmers markets. On the subject of films, quite a few local village halls put them on – tickets are a few quid and it sounds like fun. I must make the effort to go x

  16. I have serious book weakness! A diagnosed sickness I think! Kids books are my weakness but all 3 of ours are signed up library members and I find it’s a great half term activity. Our local libraries are all quite small but my biggest two (6 and 5) love the non-fiction books which I don’t tend to buy as many of and are also generally a bit more pricey so the library is perfect for those.

    I don’t tend to take many out for myself as I have a kindle but I do use it for browsing purposes- turns out I DO judge a book by its cover and therefore buying books on a kindle I’ve always found tricky! You’ve inspired me to look into the activities that are on offer at our slightly bigger library options now though- the coding club sounds amazing!!

    1. Ah me too Rachel – so many beautiful childrens books, have you ever looked at Eyes Wide? We have so many titles and they make perfect gifts. I am so tempted to try coding myself, I’ve picked up bits and pieces along the way due to my job but never in any detail – I’m going to look into what they do for adults x

  17. My first Saturday job was at our local library (after completing my Year 10 work experience there) and it was a great job. I loved the clunk of the date stamp. I got a slightly better hourly rate then my friends working in shops (and better looked after) and I could take on as many extra shifts to cover holiday and sickness as I wanted (not pressured to either; unlike my friends in the shops!) It gave me a great financial cushion for university. I knew I’d probably end up in a related field and I ended up being an Archivist but the credit crunch and subsequent recoession put paid to that (no way you can get a good mortgage on a fixed term contract!)

    It breaks my heart that since 2010, the number of libraries closing has dramtically increased only to be re-opened under volunteers! Not saying that volunteering isn’t useful but there’s a time and a place for it and these services need paid and epxerienced staff running them.

    It’s great to see such an influential blog and brand supporting local libraries – use them or lose them!

  18. Love this! I’ve recently fallen back in love with reading and the library and read so many great books this year! How to stop time, The Lido, Louis and Louise, The Queen of Bloody Everything…all reserved and collected within days. Great service. Gorgeous children’s books too – Billy and the Beast is a recent favourite!
    Our library has some great free events from baby bounce and rhyme to fab craft sessions. They’re starting a Lego club soon too! Would urge everyone to check out their local library…such precious resources, which if not used will be lost. Lovely to see a post on this!

  19. I’ve moved around for work and joining the local library is something that helps me feel at home in a new place. I just read The Library Book by Susan Orlean and I highly recommend it for book lovers- it’s a mix of investigation into the Los Angeles library fire and love letter to libraries in general 🙂

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