To Buy or Not to Buy… That is the Question…

img_6614Actually, even though the title of the post is to buy or not, that’s not really the question.  The question is whether to keep them once bought.

I’m a little bit of a hoarder.  I know people who change out their wardrobes seasonally, and have no trouble getting rid of old clothes, but I figure that if I buy it, I should keep it.

That’s why I have thousands of books.  Literally, thousands.

I try not to buy books.  I really try.  I use my local library for both ebooks and paper books.  But when I buy a book, I prefer to have the physical copy.

When I was attempting to shelve my huge collection, I started giving a lot of thought to clutter, and how much I hate it.  I started to really think about why I own so many books.  I haven’t read all of them.  Some of them were given to me by people who know I like books.  Some of them are well-loved books I’ve read a million times or might read again.  So, how do I decide which stay and which ones go?  I’ve made up a few rules.

If it has sentimental value.  My grandfather didn’t read many books, but he read and loved Marley and Me.  I enjoyed that book too, but even if I didn’t, I’d still own a copy.  It always makes me think of him.  And fairy tales make me think of my grandma.

If I’m going to re-read it.  I’ve read Watership Down more times than I can count.  So much so that I recently had to buy a new copy, as my old one was falling apart.  I love books that bear those kinds of marks of how well-loved they are.  My copy of Pride and Prejudice has post-it flags stuck in my favorite parts, so if I’m having a bad day, I can visit my favorite parts of the story and get a quick mood boost.

If it’s a classic.  I’m working my way through many of the classics, and even the ones I didn’t like, I’m keeping on my shelf.  I figure that it it’s stood up that much over the years, I may want to revisit it at a different point in my life.  I tried reading 1984 for the first time a few years ago, and though I recognized that it was a good book and I should like it, I just couldn’t stay interested.  Two years later, I picked it up and sped through it.  What’s going on in my life absolutely affects what I read and how I perceive it.

If it’s a “reference” book.  This is kind of a tricky one.  I write speculative fiction, so having books full of ghost stories, myths and legends, on my shelves is good practice.  I never know where I might find inspiration.

I haven’t read it yet, but I plan to.  I’m a sucker for used bookstores.  Sometimes I just have to pick something up because it looks good, but then I don’t get to it for awhile.  I’m okay with that.  But there are some books that I’ll probably never get to, and I need to learn to let them go.

These rules are flexible and subject to change.  But I’ve already taken two boxes of books to my local Half-Price books, and it feels good to know I’m reducing some of the clutter.

Do you buy books or get them from the library?  How do you decide which to keep and which to get rid of?