Waiting for a Library Book?

Yesterday, I got an email notification from my library that Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was available. I had put Kang’s book on reserve at the New York Public Library nearly 4 months ago. There were about 45 books available in all the public libraries in the city, and more than 250 holds. I was probably hold number 251. I understood the wait: The Vegetarian had just won the 2016 Man Booker International prize. I was too excited to wait, so I bought the book.

You can imagine my slightly bemused surprise when I got a notification that my four-month wait was over and I could pick up my copy of The Vegetarian. I thought, “When did I put this on hold?” It had been so long that I completely forget. I’m pretty sure I went out and bought the book the second I put it on hold at the library. So I got to thinking, eventually you get the books you put on hold at the library. But what should you do while you wait (possibly for 4+ months)? 

Here are some ideas (I would say hack the library system, but we’re trying to be fair here):

Read it at a bookstore

Go to your local bookstore as often as possible and sit down with that book. Read until they kick you out and then come back the next day. This is an easy way to get bookstore workers agitated with you, but if you can’t wait for your library’s edition of a book and you don’t want to buy it, read as much as you can in the bookstore. That being said, also support your local library. 

Buy it

Which brings me to option two, the easy option. Buy it! I don’t know about you, but I almost never regret buying a book…

Ask around to borrow a copy

Ask everyone you know if they have the book. Post a status on Facebook, tweet it, send out emails, etc… Make sure you openly promise to keep the book in mint condition, and proceed to actually keep it in mint condition or that person will never let you borrow a book again.

Read another book…

This is always an option. In the four months that I did not receive The Vegetarian, I read plenty of other books (granted I bought the book so I also read it while I waited… but that’s besides the point). Reading while you wait is the best possible distraction. One excellent option is to read other books by that author, or similar books. Sometimes you just want to read THAT BOOK and no other book will do, so reading something similar is the best you’ll get. 

Ask for it as a present

GIF courtesy of

Even if it’s not your birthday or some gift-exchanging holiday, if you obsessively talk about it and ask for it, someone just might buy it for you. If not to make you happy, to get you to stop talking about wanting it!

Make up your own story

And pretend that’s the real story.


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