The Appeal of Library Books

I know last week I promised a post about how and why we started A Page of Heaven and blogging in general but after much thought and the niggling feeling of déjà vu, I realized that’s something I’ve already shared in our blogoversary post. So if you’re curious, just go check it out!

This week, I will be discussing about the appeal of library books instead. I’m not sure about you guys, but I have the tendency and extremely bad habit of choosing to read books I borrowed from the library (which is actually where I get most of the books I read) over those that I’d bought. I know there is a bunch of readers who actually avoid library books because they are unhygienic, in bad condition or their local library simply do not have the type of books they read. However, I personally love library books. Sometimes, maybe even more than my own. Why?

Firstly, books from the library are free. I live in Singapore (a tiny Southeast Asian country that is not part of China, contrary to popular belief of people I’ve interacted with online) and the price of books here is simply appalling—especially when compared to that of the US and online bookstores. Converted into USD, paperbacks would usually cost $15 and hardcovers $24. Moreover, as a student I honestly can’t afford to purchase every single novel on my TBR so of course, I turn to this wondrous place called the library: land of free books.

The libraries here are also pretty updated and usually have the latest YA novels on shelves within a month or so and… they are everywhere. No, I’m not exaggerating. There is a library a 10-minute walk from my place and another one an MRT (what we call our metro/subway) station away. In total, the tiny island of Singapore have about 26 public libraries and each library usually have one to two copies of a book… I think you get the gist of it. When a library system is both convenient and updated, booknerds like me can’t resist the pull of free books.

Map of the libraries in Singapore.
Map of the libraries in Singapore. Yes, those tinier red dots are libraries too.

Secondly, part of why I pick library books over my own is because I’m utterly terrified of any harm coming to my own novels. Have you ever had something terrible happen to your own books? Spilt water on it, dropped it, accidentally dumped it in your bag hastily, had sweaty hands while reading it? That’s all happened to me before and trust me, the feelings that come with are not something I would ever wish on any booknerd. Sometimes I just want to leave my books in the safe cradle of my shelf and never, ever expose them to the cruel outside world.

Which is where library books come in. Library books are nicely wrapped up (or well, the hardcovers are) and completely ready for adventures with you outside of home. From this point on, the perks I mention will be in regards to library hardcovers (paperbacks are still just as fragile). With library books here, you never have to worry about the cover getting contaminated in any way because they have a protective plastic wrapping. Moreover, we get charged quite a lot for damaging library books so the only sort of damage you usually see are wear-and-tear defects from being read numerous times.

Plastic wrapping for hardcovers.
This is 2-year-old book from the library, by the way.

I will, however, be truthful and say I’ve heard of people using ear pickers as bookmarks and leaving them inside the books after returning them. I have yet to experience that with any of the books I’ve borrowed though, probably because I tend to stick with the new releases.

Thirdly, this one was something JZ pointed out, library books have a due date and some of us just read better under pressure. With the due date—and the paranoid notion that other readers will immediately snatch the books I return, preventing me from ever finding them again—hanging overhead, I feel like I simply must read the books I’ve borrowed from the library and hence prioritize them over my own books. Leading to my books being unread for ages. There are some books I’d bought a year ago and still have not read, yet I can’t stop borrowing more new releases from the library. Have I mentioned my self-control is nonexistent?

In hindsight, if the library system in Singapore did not have an arsenal of new releases like they currently do, I might have ended up one of those people who only visits the library occasionally too. Have I also mentioned my love for all things shiny and new?

That about sums up the explanation for my preference for library books. Are you attracted to library books too, like me? Or do you avoid them like the Plague? Feel free to share away in the comments below!


5 thoughts on “The Appeal of Library Books

  1. I found your post through Saturday Situation. I became an avid reader thanks to my school librarian. And the first of the books that I ever read were borrowed from my school library. Although the library wasn’t updated but I liked to read old books. I agree with what you have said about the due dates. The due dates help you keep your reading schedule in order.

    Kero @ KBB


  2. Fantastic post! I also love reading library books more than my own sometimes, I have no idea why, but I just do! Books in South Africa are also quite expensive but unfortunately the libraries here hardly ever get new releases :(


    1. Have you tried ordering online via The Book Depository? They ship internationally for free to most countries and their books are reasonably priced too, or at least cheaper than those I usually see in book stores. Thanks for commenting! :)


  3. Pingback: Armchair BEA Day 1 – Nice to Meet You, Where You Been? | A Page of Heaven


Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s