Monday, January 14, 2008

What is January for you?

I don't typically ask my readers to answer questions and enter into a conversation--although I always welcome participation through comments and emails--but I've been thinking recently about the month of January. (Thinking can be dangerous I know). The new year can bring many things with it. A few weeks of *hoping* those resolutions will stick, along with the fear that backsliding right back into bad habits is just a few days--or a few weeks away.

But January for me is something altogether different. If I were to proclaim January with a title like "National fill-in-the-blank month." January would be--at least for me--Overwhelm Yourself At the Library Month. Now it's true, Overwhelm Yourself At the Library Month could technically belong to any or all of the twelve months depending on your habits. But for me, January has typically spelled T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Why? Maybe because my appetite for books is at an all-time high. December is usually a slow month for me as far as visiting the library is concerned. When given the choice of going Christmas shopping or staying home and baking cookies or wrapping presents--or attending Christmas services and pageants and such--the library takes a backseat to the holiday festivities. So much so that I become over-eager come January to visit the library.

Last year, I ended up checking out over seventy books in one month. I got into a library debt--not actually debt but more of a guilty obligation--because of the number of books out on my card. It became a vicious cycle of renewing books week after week. Hoping against all hope that I could get all the books read. I began to *hate* the library. (Not really. I could never hate the library for a long period of time.) But you have to admit that when you have to renew books by telephone listening to the bar codes of sixty or seventy books read by computer digit by will make you a bit cranky. (And not prone to repeat the insanity.)

So knowing the dangers the month can bring, what did I do? Three guesses anyone??? Yes, I went to the library. I now have 32 books checked out. Of the 32, 6 aren't mine. (5 for mom and 1 for dad.) But even still 26 books is a lot. This is just the starting point. If I can *restrain* myself, maybe just maybe I can avoid the slippery slope of being overwhelmed by library books. (Am I even capable of restraint?) But my philosophy tends to push the extremes. (Have you noticed???) The only thing that stops me from checking out books is when I reach my capacity for carrying books. And since I go in a bunch--three people--that is three sets of arms that I can weigh down if I need to! Though I typically try to limit it to what I can personally carry.

Another reason January lends itself well to being "Overwhelm Yourself At the Library" month is that it is awards and best-of season. All the tantalizing titles that are suddenly proclaimed the best of the best and true must-reads. Fortunately, this year I have some of the award-winners at home to keep me busy. I'll just have to hunt down a few books in the upcoming weeks.

So, what does January mean to you?


soleil said...

to me january means fresh starts, time for reflecting, evaluating, inner work. i usually feel very optimistic in january and see the new year as a cluster of empty white boxes, full of potential and possibility.
and i can relate to the library thing. although i haven't checked out quite that many since i got my new card i have been quite greedy. am trying to scale back now so that i don't resent the big stack. :)

Renay said...

Wow, your book addiction must legendary. 70 BOOKS? I bow down to your library card for not SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUSTING. I think the most I've ever had out from the library was six. I go into spasms imagining having just three out at a time. I would have a nervous breakdown if I broke ten.

January, to me, means things like GIFTS (since my birthday is on the 2nd) and this January in particular is kind of crazy because I'm doing a writing project in order to train myself for my novel -- getting in the habit of writing 1000 - 5000 words every day. This is harder than it looks. So I guess it's about beginnings and fresh starts -- I always overwhelm myself with fandom projects around this time. Trying to juggle reading and fandom and work is a recipe for BONKERS, I swear.

On that note, be sure not to put that library card near any flammable objects. January still has a way to go. ;)

MotherReader said...

January is a big catch-up month since December is so crazy. Catch-up on cleaning, email, and of course, reading.

Working at the library I can be a book hog myself. There have been times that I've accumulated seventy books at home checking out five or so at a time. Now those do include picture books for the kids and programs, but still. Too much to manage, not to mention read.

I'm trying to be better about it this year, but once the awards come out I tend to go into gotta-read-it mode.

heather (errantdreams) said...

Heh, good luck keeping up with the books. November and December end up being my overwhelming months, because that of course is when all the publishers want their books reviewed before Christmas if possible.

Carl V. Anderson said...

January is certainly the month of Staring Everything for me. I get that sense of it being a new beginning and my mind reals with mental lists of art projects I'd like to try, home projects I want to get accomplished for the year, books I want to read, etc.

As you know January is certainly science fiction month for me. That new beginning feeling brings to the surface all my nostalgia for the genre that is my first love and I compile lists and piles of books that I want to read, knowing full well that the piles I put together in January constitue a full years' reading, not just one or two months!

My desire to use the library is at an all time high every January as well. It goes hand in hand with plans to spend less money on books. It meets with varying degrees of success, though I am determined this year to be better about it.

As for the library, I used to check out more than I would ever read in the time frame (never 70 books though! Never over 8-10!) ;) But now I am going in to get just what I can read right now. If I don't plan to start it within a few days of taking it home, it can wait. It will always be there (barring a million people signing up for it). I have read two library books and returned them already and have a new sci fi one lined up for February (my goal is to read at least one library book each month). Mostly I am using the library for DVDs and videos of British television series.

Pretty much every interest I have: reading, book collecting, art, creativity in general, home projects, career goals, comics, film, etc. has a rebirth every January. That sense of starting again really does pervade each and every part of my mood and lasts well into Feb. Usually by then I have that let down, realizing a month or two has already passed and I haven't accomplished nearly what I have wanted. This year I'm on a good roll, though so hopefully I won't have the drop off.

Best of luck on exhibiting a little more control at the library. ;)

Melissa said...

Bah. Hang control at the library. I'm always amazed at people who can walk into the library and only walk out with two or three books (one per kid). What?! They're *free*, get as many as you can, so what if you don't finish them! (But by all means, try!)

January, for me, means survival. Making it through the 31 days of dark, cold, and nothing until February (and holidays, light and warmth) comes. I hate January.