Thursday, August 21, 2008

Other people's books

This week, in the midst of a whole lot of other on-campus stuff, I did the book check. You know the book check: you go to the bookstore and see whether your students will have books to buy for the semester. I used to think this was kind of useless until a couple of semesters ago when the bookstore gods ordered no books at all for any of my courses. I'd ordered the books in plenty of time, and I probably wouldn't have found out why they didn't order the books even if they'd returned any of my phone calls.

The books are indeed in, but my favorite part is walking around the shelves and looking at other people's books--not the ones they've written, but the ones they've ordered for classes. There's an internal monologue that goes with this, and it sounds something like this:
  • "Wow, I've always wanted to read that. . . and that . . . and that. If I buy that copy, though, there won't be enough for Z's students. Better put it back."
  • "Uh, oh--I was planning on using that novel next semester in my class, but X is teaching it this semester. Oh, well."
  • "Are the students really going to buy, let alone read, all 12 of those books for an undergrad class? Really? I wonder how that'll work."
  • "If I were back in grad school/undergrad, I would totally want to take this class."
It's exciting to see all those classes, or a part of them anyway, lying there waiting for the semester to begin. Or am I the only book geek who looks at the book shelves and thinks this?


Bardiac said...

I love seeing what other folks are ordering for their classes, too. When I used to have time, I'd even pick up books for reading. Remember reading?

Unknown said...

You are absolutely not alone. I think the first week or so of the semester is the best time of the year. Each book (and class) has such potential.

Professor Zero said...

I'm worse - I do it at OTHER SCHOOLS.
Originally I was amazed to hear the students did that, to make sure they were up to snuff and were being assigned similar things to what was assigned in similar courses at the Big 10, the UC system, etc. Now even I do it. It is a sign of acculturation I am not sure I am happy with.

Chaser said...


undine said...

Bardiac, I actually did that, or rather I ordered one of the books just for reading. I didn't want to buy it in case a student would miss buying it.

It really is the potential, kris. I read somewhere that a know-it-all pundit was giving some daft advice to parents about saving money by not taking the kids to buy school supplies. School supplies are all about potential, and so are new books.

Professor Zero, I hadn't heard of that being done by students and am embarrassed to admit that I thought "what a cool idea."

So there are at least four of us in the other people's book-gazing club.