"Dilemmas of a Book Nerd" Tag

Some time ago, Ruth at A Great Book Study posted this Dilemmas of a Book Nerd "Tag."  It turned out to be something that started in the book vlogging world, of which I know nothing, but here you go: the video! by Lindsey's Little Library.

I wrote most of this post back then, and then I forgot about it for a while.  Here it is, updated for Covid-19....why not write your own version and let me know?

   Storage: How do you store and organize your books?

I have a lot of bookcases.

In the office/Room 4 as we sometimes call it, I have the largest set of bookcases, which hold literature, history, science, and various smaller categories like medieval lit, mythology, chess, housekeeping, classical ed, and so on.  Fancy sets live here too, like my Yale Shakespeare and Durants' Story of Civilization (which I am totally going to read someday, for reals).

The living room has only one large bookshelf, which holds religion, older children's literature, and a whole lot of library books.  I have two laden shelves for my library TBR.  (This is what happens with faculty privileges.)

My bedroom has only one large bookcase, for SF/F, mysteries, various random things, and the shelves of TBR books.  It's a very full bookcase.

Oldest child's room contains three and bookshelves of children's and YA with a good deal of SF/F mixed in, plus my sewing/embroidery books next to my machine, in my new sewing area that I fixed up in January.

Younger child's room contains three bookshelves, for more children's and YA of her own choice.

We've all seen this photo lately! 
Poll: do you think some of the covers have been Photoshopped? 
Because I rather suspect they have.

    Tracking: How do you keep track of what books you read and what books you own?

What books I read: I keep a list on Goodreads of what I'm reading.  I like that yearly reading goal; I was pretty late to it but I've done it since 2015.  My want-to-read list is really not on Goodreads, though; I have a wishlist on Amazon, and also a spreadsheet at work that is really a list of books I've ordered for the library, but there's an extra column marking which ones of those I'd like to read.  Plus there's my Classics Club list.  None of these three lists have a whole lot of overlap; my want-to-read list can charitably be described as messy.

What books I own are tracked by my rather unreliable brain.  I cannot face the amount of work it would take to scan (or worse, type) them in to any app or spreadsheet, and that will never ever happen.  It would be far too much work for a fairly small return and I can't see the point, especially since quite a few predate barcodes on the back cover.

    Borrow: Do you lend your books out?

Sometimes; it depends on the book and the borrower.  Quite often, I don't care if I get the book back or not, so I don't mind.  But there are plenty of books I wouldn't lend out at all.  You pretty much can't ever count on getting a book back, and I've usually been sorry when I've lent a book I wanted to keep. 

    Buying: How do you buy or acquire your books?

I'm a librarian, so I believe in using the library!  I try to only purchase books I want to keep forever, or that I cannot get any other way (with the joys of ILL, that's not very many books).  I would say that most of the books I read come from the library, one way or another.  Since I work at a community college library, I can and do check out as many books as I want.  I also use my friendly neighborhood public library quite a lot.

I purchase some books for myself, frequently used.  I've been purchasing favorite kids'/YA authors lately; they're so inexpensive on Abebooks, and they're disappearing from the libraries, so I need to have them.  These are authors like William Sleator, Alex Garner, and Joan Aiken, as well as quite nerdy things like the Red Dwarf books.  I got all the Garner books I wanted for something like $10 total, so why not make that investment?

I try not to buy new very often, but it happens sometimes.  Usually from Amazon, because we only have a B&N and they practically never have what I want; I hardly ever want the latest bestseller or the kind of thing they stock -- sometimes there's good stuff in the history section.   So there's no local independent bookseller to support or order from when it comes to new books.  I do enjoy the local independent used bookstore, which is a great place to go and everybody should support it, especially right now.  They're now offering online shopping; check out their Facebook page.

In normal times, I get quite a few books from the donation table at the public library; I have a volunteer gig sorting the books once a week, and we can take home whatever we like within reason.  If something is valuable, we pay for it.  Most of the time, I take the donation books back when I'm done with them, but I keep a few.  I couldn't possibly keep them all; we already have too many books!  Right now, of course, I'm reading through the pile I've collected...

    How do you respond to "How do you read so much" and other similar comments?

"I read while I work around the house, while I cook, while I eat my lunch, and while I brush my teeth."    This is delivered completely straight.  So, I just tell the truth and they can deal, heh.

My friend got a laugh the day she drove by my house and spotted me taking the trash out to the bin while also reading a book.  She has never quite let me forget that one, but how else could I get anything read?

What my house will look like soon if I'm not careful

    Next book: How do you choose your next read?

80% whim, 20% "here is the next book I need to read."  The whim is mostly within the piles of books waiting for me, but certainly not always.

    Travel: How do you pick which book to take on vacay with you?

I usually pack at least four books: a fluffy, fun one; a more serious one, a non-fiction, etc.  Plus I have a zillion books on my tablet and phone.   It would be terrible to be caught with only one book; what if I'm not in the mood for that one??   I do have a rule that I can't take library books on trips, so I leave those behind.

    Annotate: Do you write in or mark up your books in any way?

Never.  I use those little post-it-esque tabs if I want to go back to something or quote it.

    New or back list: Which do you prefer?

Mostly older books.  By the time I get to a newer book, it's on the backlist!

    Sequels: Do you read books as they are released or do you wait for an entire series to be released?

As above, by the time I get to a new series it usually already has at least a few books in it.  For example, I really like the Invisible Library books by Genevieve Cogman.  By the time I read it, it had two volumes.  I was happy when the third was published soon afterwards, and then I forgot all about it until 4 and 5 were out.  Then I did it again until I realized 6 was out.

I don't wait for a whole series to be done; I'd just forget it existed.  And what if I spent five years waiting to read a series, only to find that I didn't care for it anyway?


  1. So fun to read the questions and your responses.

  2. Oh, wow...this was from August 2019. Felt like a lifetime ago. (This CV19 thing has aged us so.)

    You are super dedicated and talented to read while taking out the trash.

    And you are blessed to work at a library. That's where I get most of my used books for keeps, too.


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