I used to work near Green Apple Books in SF, a fabulous new/used bookstore. At the same time, I lived near Black Oak Books in Berkeley, another fabulous new/used bookstore. I love books. I've always dreamed of having a library - one of those book-lined rooms that are always in upper-class NY apartments. I spent so much money on books in my 20's and 30's I'm scared to even try to estimate it.
Then I discovered this place where they'll let you borrow any books you need for free, you just have to bring it back when you're done. Who knew? I am now a HUGE fan of the library. I visit with the boys about once a week, and on my own at least a couple times a month. We belong to our friendly neighborhood library, where they know us by name, and also to the city-across-the-bay's library, which is better funded but more impersonal.
I also signed up for library alerts via Wowbrary. I get an e-mail alerting me to recent acquisitions and I can go to the library's website immediately and put the items on hold. I just did that with an e-mail, today, in fact, and discovered that the books I was interested in, like the one below, were on-line and I could access them immediately! Cool! No driving, no checking out, no late fees!
The other way I keep track of my book reading is through Goodreads.com. It's a social networking site all about books. I can see my friend's reading lists, see what they thought of a certain book, and get recommendations. I have a friend who shares my fascination with the fundamentalist LDS crowd, so we alert each other when we find another book/memoir on that subject.
My favorite part of Goodreads, though, is the "to-read" shelf. Here's where I keep track of books I read or hear about and want to read. If I have time, I take the Sunday book section, note which books interest me, then add them to Goodreads. I can also log onto my library website and see if any are available to be put on hold. My neighborhood library is pretty small, but I can request any book from anywhere in the county and they'll deliver it to my library for free. Right now I have the second book in the Twilight series waiting for me. Don't judge.
I don't miss being able to keep the book for reference as much as I thought I would. There are a couple cookbooks that I keep taking out over and over, so someday I might invest in those to keep. But actually, it's kind of nice to turn the books back in and not have to find room for them on my shelf.
And, the boys get exposure to way more books than I could ever buy for them for free. Sometimes we hang out there and the boys do jigsaw puzzles or find other kids to play with. I see lots of kids who probably don't have computers at home using them at the library. I've come to see the library as an important community resource, and if I was a philanthropist, the underfunded libraries would be top on my list of organizations to support.