One of my Challenges for 2019 is to read and enjoy the books that I already own. To support that goal I vowed to celebrate every five books I read of my own by purchasing a new book. Theoretically, I would get ahead.
One of my other challenges was to use the library more. This one has been easy since I love my library. They have a great option where you can request books online and they put them aside for you. And, because I live in one of the best library systems in the United States, the selection is unbelievable.
In January I read sixteen books. But, only four of them were from my own shelf. I read wonderful books and listened to even better stories as audiobooks from my library. Still, the experience was not as satisfying as usual. The rest of the year has followed in a similar pattern.
Today is independent book store day. Walking around these wonderful stores is one of my favorite things to do. But today it made me sad. I know I have a lot of books. It is something people comment on (usually derogatorily) when they come into my home. I felt like I shouldn’t buy any more. It felt like being surrounding by people that I knew couldn’t talk to me. It was the unique feeling of being utterly alone while simultaneously surrounding by people.
I’m done with not buying books.
Owning books means that I have them in my home. I can flip to the middle and just read one little section again. If I want to relive how Neville got those last 10 points for Griffendor, I can. I can pile them up in front of me on a Saturday night and feel the excitement of the night in front of me. I can call on them at any time and they never ever tell me they are too busy. If I put them aside, they wait for me. Always. I can pick up a book and travel to the moment it first became precious to me. Unread, but owned books, are the promise of adventure.
Some people see books as unnecessary. Countless studies tell us how important it is for children to own books and have them in their home. Dolly Parton has given away more than one million books in an effort to give kids the same feeling I have when I see my books lined up on the shelf. Finding an adult that opposes putting books in the hands of kids is difficult. But once you are grown suddenly owning books is clutter.
It is undeniably a privilege to be able to buy books when I don’t need to do so. But why is book buying so different than owning a basement of wine or a closetful of shoes? Is it because I keep them out in the open? A privilege is a privilege. Just because it’s not your interest doesn’t mean that it is hoarding.
Books are my friends. They are my memory keepers. I can remember where I bought a book, when I bought a book, and sometimes, more importantly, why I purchased a new book. I have books from my childhood that I can remember my Mom or Dad buying for me. I buy books as souvenirs on vacation and they are tangible evidence of my history. I get books for presents. They bring me joy.
And I know I need to read the books I buy and not just lovingly store them on a shelf. That is akin to buying art and not framing it or displaying it. Still, the more I promise NOT to buy books, the more I want them. Perhaps this, like a diet, needs to just have a more healthy approach than this all-or-nothing that I have tried in the past.
In the end, the world feels like a mess right now. Some people are prepping for a disaster by stockpiling food. I’m going to go ahead and do the same with books that I love. If something bad happens, come on over. I’ll be here reading and I’m happy to share.
Tell me, please!
How do you feel about buying books? Is it important to you to own your favorites?