I have too many books.
I know, I know. Can you have too many books? No, probably not.
But there comes a time when you (I) can’t fit them on the bookshelves anymore and might actually have to buy another house, just for books. (And I’m exaggerating, but wouldn’t that be awesome?)
A couple of years ago, I made a commitment to only buy books that I wanted to reread. I read 80-100 books a year, and while many of those are “new” books (as in, new to me), many of them are rereads. I stuck with that commitment for a year or two. When I moved, I did really well at reading exclusively on my Kindle.
Now, I like my Kindle. I like the convenience of it. I like that it’s light, and that I only need one hand to “turn” a page. I like that it lays flat so that I can put it down and read hands-free. I also like having lots of books with me, but not having to carry the physical weight of real books.
I really like highlighting and writing in books.
When I was a kid, I hated that. Even when we were supposed to highlight, like in books for college, it drove me crazy. It felt destructive. Now, I think that books are improved by highlighting and writing. I love when I go to the used bookstore and find a gem that’s been written in. It ties me to whoever had that book before me, like that 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon game, except that I won’t know who had the book before me and I’m not famous.
When I read The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern, I really liked the book, but it jumps around in the timeline, going back and forth. I read it on my Kindle, and it drove be crazy because it’s not easy to go back and glance at the chapter before to see “when” that one takes place. I ended up buying the book twice because I want to reread it in physical form. I feel like I missed things in my first reading because of the issues with timeline.
This is not the only book I’ve purchased twice for this reason. Some books, I purchase multiple times on purpose. I have three copies of Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen, including one on my Kindle. Why? I’ve read this book many, many times. It’s one of my favorites, and I can pick up a copy, start reading anywhere and pass the time happily.
What about the library? you ask.
Another great question.
I love the library. Love it. My favorite use of the library is to read new books, during those times I can’t wait for the paperback. Dean Koontz and JD Robb come to mind.
I discovered several great book series that way (Matched, Divergent, and The Mortal Instruments come to mind). However, when I realized I wanted to own two out of those three series, I put it off, feeling guilty about making the purchase.
And then one weekend (I’m a moody reader), I suddenly HAD TO read the Divergent series again. No other book would do. Because I developed this insatiable craving at night, I ended up purchasing the Kindle version. Which was great, but I’m still going to purchase the physical book.
I read an article by a man who asked “What’s the point of reading a book that you don’t want to own?”
I don’t have to own every book I read. I enjoy trashy romance novels at times, and I don’t feel the need to own every one I’ve ever read. However, I do think there’s something to be said for owning books. I get sentimental about my books, and I like to be able to browse my own shelves and come up with a book I’ve enjoyed. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to look on the shelf for something I haven’t read before, and know that it’s there because I thought I’d like it.
So how about you? Do you like to own your books or borrow them?