On Sunday, my husband and I went to the new Central Library in Calgary. Although this branch of the public library is considered “state of the art” and has been open for more than a year, we had yet to visit since it’s not in our immediate neighborhood. Since we arrived an hour before closing time, there weren’t any tours scheduled for the rest of the day. Nevertheless, we walked around a little bit – skimmed the surface really – admiring the variety of spaces available to library patrons, including a play area for children and a gallery of local art by Indigenous artists.
Even though we couldn’t get a guided tour of the library, I was able to do something I used to do before the internet, smartphones or apps: browse the shelves for books. Admittedly, I only looked at books whose covers were facing out on the shelves, but that was enough given the short time I had to search for books. Browsing the shelves is how I discovered many beloved authors whose books I still read to this day. I was reminded of how I used to find new books to read because of a twitter thread that asked tweeters if they second-guessed themselves if they didn’t like a book that others were raving about.
My response was that, yes that has happened to me, but that I choose to trust my opinion over those of critics. And, I realize now, how much easier it was to do that without the barrage of social media posts about new books. Recently, I started reading a book that put me in a dark mood – not what I needed at the moment. So, I abandoned the book even though it seemed as if everyone on social media was praising it. Not for me, I decided and returned it to the library. This is not to say that I haven’t gotten some great book recommendations on social media. Quite the contrary. However, I love discovering books on my own just by bumping into them on the shelves of the library or a bookstore.
So, on Sunday I happily roamed the stacks. And, I discovered many new titles by authors I had not heard of before. Also, when I looked through the pile of books I planned to borrow (to add to the growing stack at home), I realized that many of the authors were POC; I was pleased that my public library chose to showcase these on the shelves.
How did you find books to read before social media began to dominate our reading lives?
Cross posted to The Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Tuesday Challenge.