Libraries vs. Bookstores

For the next week, I’m going to have a handful of lovely people standing in for me while I’m away on holiday, and today I am so happy to have one of my favourite girls guest posting, Stephany. We’re so alike in many ways and she has a determination to get out there, to write, and to achieve her goals that’s nothing short of admirable. She’s a kind spirit and a genuine friend, and I’m happy to have her helping to hold down the fort today!

First of all, let me start off by saying that I’m so excited Emily asked me to guest post for her! I was honored to be asked. She has been such a great friend and close confidant in the past few months and I don’t know what I would do without her! Thanks, Emily!

I want to talk about books today, more specifically borrowing books versus buying books. I like to say that I grew up in libraries. Ever since I was young, the library was a place I coveted and loved. I felt at home in these special places with rows and rows of books. I absolutely adored the special places libraries created for children with our own special books, computers, and places to read. Being a shy child, I didn’t much interact with the kids who were there, and my sole purpose was to find more books to read. The maximum number of books allowed to be checked out from the children’s section was 12. Every Saturday, I would hop in the car with my mom, zip off to the library, and peruse the stacks of books until I had accumulated my 12 books. I would go home, read the first chapter of each book, organize them alphabetically, and begin the process of reading. I would finish all 12 books by my next visit the following Saturday. In short, I was a bookworm.

I had no limit to the books I would read. I was a fan of popular series books, such as The Baby-Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley Twins. I loved mysteries and books that made me laugh. I loved to read the books on the special Sunshine State booklist that came out once a year, because they always gave me something more than an ordinary series book could give me. Books were my passion, my life’s blood.

As I grew older, I eventually wandered over to the teen section. It felt weird being there, because by the time I hit middle school, it wasn’t cool to love to read. Magazines, yes. Books? Not so much. Every Saturday, I would pray hard that there was nobody lounging on the couches in the teen area so I could browse the rows of books at my leisure, without worrying that someone from my school would find me there. Yes, at age twelve, I was majorly concerned with appearances. I ventured into the more racy books about love and romance, such as Love Stories and Sweet Valley High. I was majorly enthralled with Nancy Drew and all her adventures. And you couldn’t tear me away from the Christian-based series, Christy Miller. I loved books, all books.

I’m not reading 12 books a week any more. Still, I read about 1-2 books a week and there’s never been a time I have not had a book to read on hand. I am always caught up in some sort of adventure in another world. And I still use the library. I don’t browse as much at the library itself anymore, thanks to the wonders of Amazon, author’s websites, and the online library system my county  offers. At my old library, I could even pick up my books and pay fines at a drive-thru window!

This brings me to my debate: bookstores. I’ve never been big on bookstores. Don’t get me wrong, show me a Borders and I’m all over it like white on rice. I love the smell of bookstores, the feel of bookstores, and the atmosphere. I love being in a bookstore, where it’s quiet and calm, and filled with readers just like myself. There are so many options to choose from, so many rows of books to browse. When I was away at college for a year (which I affectionately call The Year From Hell), the college bookstore was my safe zone. I would spend many afternoons and nights, escaping from roommate drama and loneliness, in this place, curled up on a couch, reading anything I could get my hands on.

One of my favourite places in the world, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

The problem I have with bookstores is this: why buy when you can borrow? I’ve always been on a very limited budget and I read too much to buy everything I read. The few times I’ve encountered my library not having the books I want, I buy them. But, for the most part, I don’t have a huge collection of books. I’ve been using the library for so long that whenever I need a book, I look there first. There are some authors that I love so dearly that I do buy their books when they come out with new ones, but it doesn’t happen often. The library system I use is so big and vast that I can borrow just about any book and have it at my (library’s) doorstep within the week.

To end this guest blog, I’m a library geek. I’ve been one since I was little and I’ll remain one for life. I just find something special about them. I find something special about opening up a used book, and knowing it has touched someone else’s life right before it will touch mine.

So let me ask you, which do you prefer: libraries or bookstores? I’d love to hear your thoughts!