Exploring the Unknown Novel

There are a lot of times that I love being able to look books up online. I’ve become slightly addicted to Goodreads, and my “To Read” shelf is always growing – but I love that I can throw a book on my shelf and don’t have to remember that title because I can just look it up later. Pretty much any time a friend recommends a book I try to put it on Goodreads so that I can check it out when I get a chance.

I’m also reading more and more book reviews online. What I love about these is I get to see what the book is about and what one opinion of it is. Any time I read a book synopsis that sounds interesting, it ends up on my Goodreads. And let’s not lie, sometimes when a reviewer absolutely hates on a book, I’ll sometimes save that one – I just have to think, it can’t be that bad, right? So I want to read it myself and find out!

But I’ve realized lately that my online book habits are translating to the real world in an interesting way. At some point while I was looking at book reviews, I started searching online at the local library for books that I wanted to read – which isn’t a bad thing. It was quite helpful to see which book I was looking at online that was actually accessible to me. But then, because the branch that I go to is quite small, the majority of books that I want to read I have to order to my branch. I don’t have to go anywhere – they just come to me! It’s quite nice – I just have to stroll in to the hold shelf, pick up the ones that have my name on them, and sign them out. I can be in and out of the library in 2 minutes.

So maybe you’re sitting there thinking, how is this a bad thing? I get to look up books from the comfort of my own couch, pick out the ones I want to read, have them delivered to my local branch and I just have to go and pick them up. And yes, it’s pretty awesome and convenient – one of the things I love about a library system.

But today I realized that’s not all I love about libraries. I happened to stop by my branch, but I didn’t have any books to pick up. Instead I wandered around the library looking for a book and all I could think was: I missed this. I missed looking around at the these books. I missed picking up random novels, not knowing anything about it, and simply reading the back to determine whether or not I wanted to take it home. No star ratings, no reviews, no recommendations, just me and a room full of books. I missed exploring the unknown novel.

Obviously I’m still going to explore books online. I hear about so many books that way, and it introduces me to books that I probably wouldn’t pick out myself. But I’m definitely going to make a point of going into the library and wandering around for a book I haven’t heard of before. While recommended books are awesome, I really do love that feeling of discovering a treasure of a novel, and finding it all on my own. So if you’re a person who just puts books on hold, the next time you’re in the library don’t beeline for the hold shelf – take a chance at the unknown novel!


10 comments on “Exploring the Unknown Novel

  1. I love this little article. It is so true. I used to spend a LOT of time wandering in the library, but as life got more complicated I started simply ordering the books online and snatching them up when I got a minute. I just sat here and thought, ya know, that is right! I don’t spend nearly enough time in the library any more!

    I will still order online for pickup – that just works better with my little branch. But the next time I go in to pick up, I will spend some time browsing too. Such a small thing to bring such pleasure.

    Of course, like you, I spend a lot of time marking up books in Goodreads. It is great when I want to remember a book that I have already read also. Sometimes my voracious reading habits mean that I fly through a book, but then later I want to go back and read it slowly. The thing is, if I don’t mark it in Goodreads (I read a LOT of electronic media) I may remember what it was about, but not what it was called, or even who wrote it! duh…

    • Yes, ordering online is just too convenient to give it up completely! But we’ll just have to figure out a way to combine our Goodreads with venturing into the library more often. :)

  2. Charleen says:

    Yes! Browsing through physical books is a wonderful thing!

    • I know! Even on days when I can’t find a book that really grabs my attention, I just love looking through them. Especially in used book stores – the atmosphere, the smell – so good!

      • I know – used book stores are my favorite. New book stores, like B&N, are nice, but there is so much history in a used book store. Like you, I love the atmosphere and smell. But I also like the history. Who owned this book before? What were they like? Did they like the book? That sort of thing. Some of the books have scents, some good some not so good (patchouli STILL smells like dirty socks!)

      • You know what I love to look at in used books stores? Bibles. Because in the front cover, people usually write in family names or who they were giving the Bible to. With older ones you can get 5 or six different family names. I absolutely love how much history is inside that one cover, and I’ve always thought it would be such a cool project to do research on where that book has been.

      • What a cool idea! But how sad . . . family bibles relegated to used book stores. Did the family die out? Did someone inherit the bible and just not care? Sad sad sad.

      • I know, it’s sad to think they ended up there. There’s got to be some interesting stories behind some of them, I’m sure!

  3. Great point! I too throw everything on my Goodreads page and then place holds online whenever I end up feeling like reading that book. While its quick and convenient, it’s not the same as browsing the shelves and picking up books that I never planned on reading! Sometimes I find too that when I place a book on hold and it finally arrives at work, I’m no longer in the mood to read it. So browsing the shelves is a great way to find a book that suits my current reading mood. :)

    • I know exactly what you mean about not being in the mood to read anymore – I’ve totally just taken my hold books and slipped them into the return bin. I just put myself back on the list and hope I’ll want to read it later!

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