I am a nonstop reader and have been since I was very little. I have no way to afford all the books I read each year, so I rely heavily on the local library. We are fortunate to live in a small state with many town libraries, each housing different collections depending on the tastes of the librarian. Interlibrary loan allows me to have books sent to my library from all over the state. I can place holds on popular books and just wait for an email alerting me that I can come pick them up. Our own town’s library has an excellent selection of new books, both fiction and nonfiction. My tastes seem to align more with the librarian than with many of my neighbors, and I can often check out a book just after I have read a review of it in The New York Times.
As I wrote last fall, I have also become a devotee of Riverbend Books in the adjoining town. This independent shop has an eclectic assortment of volumes and introduces me to many I would otherwise miss. I buy books here when they look worth owning. Because I read fiction so quickly, I rarely buy fiction, but do purchase history and social science offerings there.
Enter the pandemic. The library has been closed since mid-March. Riverbend Books has been closed since mid-March. Nothing here will open before May 20. The bookstore may be able to have a couple of customers at a time wearing masks. The library will likely remain closed much longer. While I know that many readily have changed to e-books, I cannot stand them. I need the physical book in my hands. With such a reduced availability of books, I have really had to come up with a Covid-19 reading strategy. Sadly, no strategy has been able to duplicate in any way my normally abundant reading life.
Forget getting a haircut. Forget going to the movies. I need to go to a bookstore! I need the library!