Tuesday, December 27, 2016

For the Love of Books, Books, and More Books

For those of you who love to read my book reviews and look forward to them each Tuesday, I promise you they will be back next week. The new year will bring some changes to the Watercooler. Some will be gradual, while others will be much more drastic. Please give us a chance to show off the new Watercooler in 2017. Expect to see much more George Root in the new year -- even if I have to continuously post photos of him. In the meantime, I want to talk about the Lockport Library and my reading habits.

As you all know, I read a lot of books. At last count, 2016 was down just slightly with 105 books read up to December 26th. I may be able to squeeze in another two books for the year, but I will definitely get in one more. These numbers are down from my all-time high of 250 in 2000, but I almost always break 100 each year.

I keep track of the books I’ve read in a book journal. I’ve been keeping that journal since 1995. In the 22 years that I’ve been keeping track, I’ve only missed breaking the 100 mark five times. Most of those times were in the early days and around the times the kids were born, especially the twins. My focus was elsewhere at those times and not as much reading got done. Still, the lightest year I’ve ever had was 64 books. I believe that still qualifies as a pretty good year.

So, where do all these books come from? When I was working at TR Services and Adelphia, the books came directly from Barnes & Nobles and Waldenbooks. That meant I had a huge pile of books in the house. I still have a huge pile of books, but I am slowly going through them and donating the ones I no longer need to the Friends of the Library. Other people should get some enjoyment out of those books. They’re not really made to sit forgotten on a shelf. It took me a long time to get to that point, but I am arriving at that station now.

After I was laid off and took jobs that were either part-time or paid less than those awesome phone jobs, I had to drastically lessen my desire to have every new book on the shelf at the bookstore, and instead rely on that fantastic resource in downtown Lockport. The Lockport Library has virtually been my second home since 2004. I’m easily there three or four times a week. Sometimes, it’s more than that.

I love to roam the stacks looking for the next great book to read. That is the biggest reason that I far prefer the library to Amazon. When you’re at the bookstore or library, you can see other books by lesser-known authors who may pique your interest. You lose that in the Amazon marketplace. Sure, they give you the titles that other people looked at while looking at the one book you’re interested in, but something is lost when you don’t see all those other books on the shelves.

I spend a lot of time at the “New Releases” shelves. I like to read the latest and greatest offerings from all my favorite authors. The one thing I’ve noticed lately is that books that interest me from those shelves seem to be getting harder to find. So, I find myself in the stacks looking for some old favorites, or some older books I may have missed the first time around. There are so many books. I’ll never run out of any to read.

I try to keep a list of the books that I want to read. Despite getting books from that list at every opportunity, the list never seems to shrink. In fact, it gets bigger all the time. Sometimes, I go to the bookstore and check out the shelves for books, especially in the New Releases. I take a lot of photos and add those books to my list. If there is a book that really, really grabs my attention, I immediately go to the library and see if they have it. If it’s not on the shelf, I check to make sure it’s in the system and place a hold on it. I am almost never disappointed.

I take many recommendations into account when I craft my book list. Librarians, friends, and book reviews are all taken into consideration. Most of the time I love the choices. Occasionally, I do not. I find that the best recommendations come from the people who read the most. They have a higher standard since they read so much, so when they suggest a book, I grab it as soon as I can.

I love the Lockport Library and the entire NIOGA system. It allows me to get my fix of books. Like the title of a Douglas Adams’ book, my fixation with reading is Mostly Harmless. Sometimes there are moments I should be doing something else, but instead I have my nose stuck in a book. It’s relaxing, and sometimes we need books for a quick getaway.

This was just a quick column put together as a lead-in to the new, improved book reviews starting next week. I am always taking recommendations for books. Serious choices only, please. If you have an idea for a book, please feel free to leave a title in the comments along with a little synopsis. No spoilers. Enjoy your reading. That’s what I’ll be doing soon.

Craig Bacon is a bibliophile. He will read anything except romance and technical manuals. He’s read enough tech manuals to never want to read another one, and why read romance when you live it? He hopes you enjoy his reviews.