The house of books?

Free books?

Like a library?

Ok, I know, it’s a pretty disgraceful state of affairs that I hadn’t signed up to the library before now, but all I can do is apologise about that and say that now I’m a fully fledged member, I’ve borrowed books, and I’m just popping in here to remind y’all that you should be less like me.

You should join your local library a lot sooner than I did.

And it only took me about 6 years.

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Living in Birmingham means that I’ve got access to all of the libraries dotted across the scrawling city. If you’re not familiar with the main one, the aptly named Library of Birmingham looks a bit like a cross between a mouldy Battenberg cake and an Easter bonnet made by your grandma. I’m not sure what the brief was, but I guess it’s kind of effective – at the moment it certainly stands out from the mountains of debris spewed up by the building works currently burying Birmingham.

Walking through libraries is like walking through a time machine. One that smells of books and tempts you with aisles of wordage – pick a genre and you’re there. Run your fingers across the spines and pick yourself an adventure. I remember sitting in my local library as a kid and it was a safe space. A space where you could breathe. A space where you could hang out with your friends so long as you didn’t cause too much of a ruckus.

And we might have caused a ruckus.

But we also got let back in again afterwards.

And even if you can’t get into the library in person, you can now download ebooks and audiobooks without even setting foot in the building. This mildly BLEW MY MIND. Digital wordage for free from your local library? YES PLEASE.

So far I’ve taken advantage of paper, ebook and audiobooks and it’s encouraged me to try authors I’ve not read before, and enabled me to read releases from authors when I’m not in a position to buy the book just yet.

The fact you can get access to ebooks is the biggest difference from when I used to go to a library as a kid – the app only works on my tablet rather than on my kindle which is a real shame, but as it turns out reading on my tablet isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I needed to tweak the display settings to make it more comfortable (too much glare makes for an angry reading experience), but once that was sorted it wasn’t far off my kindle experience. I heartily recommend you getting a blue-light app for your reading implement – it massively saves on eye strain and meant I forgot I was reading on a screen for most of the time.

So, libraries are the same as they used to be, and a little bit more on top of that. And they’re still the best places in the world.

I hope you enjoy yours.

And if you don’t already visit it, give it a go.

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