In Which I Overcome My Book Envy (or at least try)

I apologize in advance for the somewhat personal and philosophical nature of this post. But, it was screaming to be written.

The buzz from ALA Midwinter is not quite gone. I sat, with many others, in anticipation of the announcement of the award winners.  I read the posts of those who were there, mixing with fellow librarians, listening to new ideas, and best of all, browsing the exhibitions.  

But, when the lucky attendees began listing the "prizes" they came home with, I felt something growing in my heart.  Yes, it was Book Envy. 

For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomenon, let me describe some of the symptoms:

1 - Do you ever find yourself reading a review of a book not yet released and thinking "Man, I need to get a copy of that, because it sounds like exactly something I would like and why hasn't the publisher sent me one too, knowing as I am sure they do that I would love it?"

2 - When you peruse your friendly neighborhood book blogs, do you continually need to wipe drool from your chin, particularly when you find In My Mailbox or Mailbox Monday posts?

3 - Immediately following ALA conferences or BEA or other large book fairs, do you find yourself staring forlornly at posts recapping the goodies they have brought home?

If you have experienced any of the above symptoms, you may be suffering from Book Envy.

Back to ALA Midwinter (the source of my recent illness).  Unfortunately, several factors prevented me from attending.  I will list them, at the risk of sounding very sorry for myself.  (You may skip this section if you desire.)

1 - I am not currently a member of ALA (oh, the shame)

2 - I would like to be a member, but have not yet managed to scrape together the funds required to pay the yearly dues (which, considering how reasonable they are, is really quite sad, but I refer you to #3 for some explanation).

3 - My husband is in school (and plans to be for the next few years).

4 - Considering the implications of #2, it should be obvious that I could not even begin to contemplate the price of attending the conference, let alone the price of a cross-country ticket to Boston. 

Now, ever since reading of the delights of those who attended, I have felt festering in me, this dreadful envy.  I will admit, though I really shouldn't, that this envy is almost exclusively for the lovely stacks of ARCs.  What of networking and continuing my education?  What of expanding my knowledge and gaining insights into new advances in the field?  No, secretly, it is all for the ARCs.  I am already anticipating with equal measures of dread and excitement the delightful recaps of those fortunate enough to attend BEA in NYC this spring.  For obvious reasons (see #3 and #4 above), I will not be going.

And, having looked hopefully ahead to ALA's Annual Conference this summer, I was unhappy enough to realize it would fall prey to the same misfortunes mentioned in #4 above.  There is a remote, though more likely, chance I may be able to scrape out to ALA's 2011 Midwinter Conference in San Diego, but my life is such that planning a year in advance is futile.  

*Drags self out of large pool of pity* 

Now that I have laid before you the guilt in my heart and probably wallowed far too long in my financial woes, let me now expound on how I am dealing with my current and anticipated future Book Envy.

First of all, I must mention that I am very happy to have a job at present.  Really, considering economical situations around the country (and the world), I am quite fortunate.  While the job is not precisely where I would like to be right now, it has provided for our financial needs very well.  

Second, I happen to live in a place that allows me the use of two public libraries.  There is one in my city and one about 15 minutes away in a neighboring city.  Both of these beautiful places have provided me with thousands of free books.  The value of libraries, I think, is vastly underestimated and unappreciated by many people today.  While they may not provide me with copies I can keep or with ARCs, they supply me with the majority of my reading choices and allow a much broader range of tastes and selection than I could ever achieve on my own dime or even with the delights to be found at conferences and book fairs.

Third, which is much less easy to articulate, but rather more personal, is my realization that sometimes I feel entitled to things.  Through no particular merit of my own, I already receive a very small number of ARCs and review copies from publishers and authors who are generous enough to offer them.  Why, then, should I feel like I am being cheated in some way, when I do not get stacks of ARCs? 

Overcoming Book Envy is not an easy process, trust me.  I have found that a healthy dose of appreciating what I do have can lead to real contentment.  Now, when I see those lingering ALA posts, and hopefully when BEA posts start trickling in, I will be able to smile and feel genuinely happy for those fortunate enough to attend.  It is a process, but I will continue to work on it!  (It does not, however, prevent me from entering as many contests for those desirable ARCs as possible :)

Do you suffer from Book Envy?  How do you overcome it?
If you buy through my Amazon linkage,
I will get a very small percentage

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