Get Thee to a Library

I don’t know if you’ve been to the library lately or not, but if you haven’t, you better get your butt in gear and go. To be "well read" or even to isolate yourself into one genre, one of the best places to do this is in between the stacks of the library. Also, for anyone to be a “good” writer (good being a relative term) they have to be a “good” reader (good meaning to read at least a book or two a month). If you buy all of your books at full price in hardcover you’re looking at spending anywhere from $300 to $360 a year on books. This could be more if you read more than one book a month. This is equivalent to buying 120 lattes or doing something that is actually meaningful with that money.
My point is that the library would be more than happy to let you keep all of that money in your pocket and you can read as much as you want and check out as many books as you want for FREE. (Yes, I caps locked it because I want you to get just how serious of a price difference this is.) Even if you think you don't need the library because, "nah, I read ebooks," well psst, they have them available, too. And again, for free.

The library is a great place to find fiction and non-fiction books by the thousands. Before we get too close, I must admit, I am a library whore. I frequent six different libraries in my own city following books around as I need them, and enjoying the various aspect each library branch has to offer. I know where to find the "Hot Pick" books which aren't checked out, who carries the most new movies, which library holds the best supply of graphic novels, and where to go if you want to grab a coffee while you read.

Because I spend so much time there I’m also quite familiar with the disgusting sense of order known as the Dewey decimal system and I’m about to tell you all you need to know for every library.

Once you know your way around Dewey, you can get to any book you want.

For me, I first memorized 808: the writing books. This is where I head when I need a little pick me up and inspiration. I avoid the 808 trap of “You can write...” or “How to write...” or “So you want to write...” type books, since they are the fillers of the section. But what's there are books like “Bird By Bird” by Anne Lamott or “Thunder and Lightening” by Natalie Goldberg, and the fantastic "On Writing" by Stephen King. This is where the good stuff is (good meaning the real deep honest stuff).

I also surf the fiction aisles in my library to see what catches my eye, and keep myself up to date on the latest releases. For me, since I am a writer, this means hitting the "comparable books" too. That means stuff that's similar to Burning Spirit so I can determine how we differ and how we're the same. There's never not a library book on my nightstand or on my Kindle.

Once you get used to the layout of your library you’ll be ready to research anything from blindness to Montana (true story) or just pick up lots of fiction titles you wouldn’t have otherwise experienced. Besides, if you don’t get into the flow of using the library now, what are you going to do when the zombie apocalypse happens, social media and the Internet have collapsed, and the only way to learn about mechanics, construction, self-sufficiency and weapons is inside that building.

Get thee to a library, I say. Your community needs you, and you need it more than you realize.

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