I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?
Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?
If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?
A variation of this came up for me in the Musing Monday that I posted on Tuesday. Probably from the time I was in high school, and had disposable income, I have quite literally bought books with the notion that one day I was going to have a house with a room in it that was going to be my library. I also had a dream of running a B&B, so of course it would need a library or a bookstore, and writing when I wasn’t busy with my guests. So basically I have always fantasized about being surrounded by books. Lots and lots of books and lots and lots of paper and pens and pencils (until recently, my other obsession was stationery and all its attendant accoutrements). I also like to make people read books I have read and talk about them with me. That is a whole lot easier when I don’t have those pesky library fines and due dates to worry about.
Sometime last year I put down whatever it was I was smoking, looked around and realized that I do not live in a sprawling old Victorian home, was not sitting cozily before the fire reading books and greeting guests, but was indeed in a 700-sq-ft apt in NYC and not particularly liking clutter. Something had to give and that something was books that I didn’t like, wouldn’t recommend and knew for sure I wouldn’t ever lend out or read again myself. I gave away hundreds of books and was left with 300 books, 85% of which I hadn’t read and the other 15% I really enjoyed. The goal this year was to save money, not buy anymore books, and carefully cull my collection to books I really enjoy. I am probably back up to about 400 books (this brings me to my next point), you know why, because buying books is a compulsion, and it is addictive. I can’t help it. I guess I would rather be afflicted with this than many other vices, but I have never been able to go into a book store and just buy one book which I read, and then go and treat myself to something else. I go in and buy 5-10, con myself into thinking I will read them all before I go back to the book store, start reading several, finish one and then off I go back to the book store. Rinse, wash, repeat.
This year I have been pretty good about not buying books. Enter blogging and writing about books in July. Technically I haven’t bought anything but I still get to satisfy my compulsion for new books. Like I said. Rinse, wash, repeat.