How to Find Books During a Pandemic

Who could have anticipated that things would escalate so quickly? Evidently there were a few strident voices, but none of them were given the platform they needed to shout the warning out loud and clear. Even if their voices had been heard before disaster actually struck, would anyone have listened?

Thursday evening a few weeks ago I received an email from the Seattle Public Library that as of Friday evening all branches would shut down for several weeks. I decided I would go down Friday morning and borrow a few books to tide me over. When I got there at about ten-thirty, it was a madhouse. The place was packed with people. Patrons on their way out were groaning under the weight of a dozen books or more each. There were long lines at the digital check-out machines and the desks of the librarians. Some of the shelves, especially those displaying new books, had been stripped bare. It was disconcerting and befuddling. I looked around a bit but I got so confused I couldn’t think. Besides, I had already read that people weren’t supposed to be jammed so closely together. When I heard someone coughing a few aisles away, I left the library without having acquired a single book.

I can’t not have books to read. That is totally unacceptable. Fortunately I had a few hundred pages left of a book I had already borrowed. Since I finished that, I have been reading the stories that are nominated for the Nebula awards in the short story, novelette, and novella categories. Those are digital, though, and I have to read them on my Kindle. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the feel of a paper-bound book in my hands as I read.

So where to turn next for reading materials? Due to my limited budget, I have not been buying books lately; I have been relying mainly on the library for my book fix. Inwardly sighing, I figured that this was an emergency and that I might have to order a few books from Amazon. Two things, though, gave me pause. One is that shipments of non-emergency items have slowed way down, as evidenced by a few household things we ordered that took almost a week to arrive. The other is that they have begun to find warehouse workers that are testing positive for the virus. The risk is low, perhaps, of a packaged book carrying it to our home, but there is a risk, albeit slight.

This is the time that having shelves of books all over the house pays off. We’ve got three shelves in the dining area, one in my bedroom, and one in the other bedroom that my son occupies. There are some titles I have never got around to reading, or I can choose some of my old favorites and read them again.

These are important considerations for those who crave intellectual repast as much as they crave food for their physical bodies. May you find, one way or another, plenty of excellent reading material. Speaking of which, have a look at my available books page for a great selection of exciting novels, short story collections, and memoirs.

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2 Responses to How to Find Books During a Pandemic

  1. Pingback: Rereading On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King | John Walters

  2. Telminha says:

    I also prefer paper! Someone sent me this link with some free books: https://archipelagobooks.org/2020/03/our-free-ebook-library/

    Thanks for the article. Wish you well.

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