04 August 2013

Sunday Salon: Allowing myself to own books again

For most of my life, I have been a borrower rather than a buyer of books. I've never been truly poor, but choices always have to be made and buying books didn't figure into the budget. There was a brief period as a young adult when I started building up a small collection of my own, mostly consisting of books I found at thrift shops and library book sales. Then I got married to a non-reader who didn't see the value in taking up space with shelves full of books I'd already read, so I got rid of my budding collection and went back to exclusively borrowing books from the library.

Restricting myself to only borrowing shaped my attitude towards books and eventually other belongings. As long as I have access to a book or a TV show or a piece of music, I am fine with not owning it. We are major consumers of streaming services like Spotify and Netflix, and we make weekly trips to the library. My teenagers have become accustomed to getting rid of one old item of clothing for every new item they bring in. We are not minimalists, but we are trying to live a less cluttered life.  And yet . . .

I found myself coveting a book that I borrowed from the library last week: The Knitter's Life List: To Do, To Know, To Explore, To Make. Although it isn't a workbook, it is the type of book that I can see myself scribbling notes in and marking down dates as I complete different tasks. I even imagined passing it down to my daughters and having them show it to their kids, saying, "Your grandmother was a knitter and this is a record of her knitting life." Crazy, I know, but for the first time in a long time I really want to own a book. A brand new book, not a book from the 50-cent table at the library book sale. Even more surprisingly, when I told my husband that I wanted this book for the next gift-giving occasion, he didn't put up a fuss. We've been married so long that we've run out of reasonably-priced gifts to buy each other; I guess he was happy that I gave him a simple idea!

I don't know if I am going to turn into a full-on book buyer after a couple decades of faithful library patronage, but I am realizing that there are books that I would appreciate more over time as part of my personal collection.


Vicki said...

My family needs to adopt your "buy one, get rid of one" rule. We aren't hoarders, but we do have too much. As for books, I suppose I am a bit of a hoarder. But I'm working on it. I have a few boxes full to give away and 6 more shelves to go through. I turned an extra bedroom into a library/office so my hubby is pretty ok with it. If we didn't have another spare bedroom, I bet he wouldn't be though.
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guitarmantoo said...

I use the library often but every once in a while I find a book I want to read but the library doesn't have it so I purchase it.
Once read I take it to the library store and donate it. They get some of their funds from the store.

Dani S said...

If the library doesn't have a book I want to read, I put it on a separate list on my Goodreads account. If it is a novel or a nonfiction book on the bestsellers' list, then it usually shows up at the library eventually. If it doesn't, then I just get over it. We've spent so many years NOT buying media that it rarely bothers me these days. That's why I was so surprised that I really wanted to buy that knitting book.

Bryan G. said...

I rarely buy print books too, but found myself buying one last week, because it was one that had artwork that I didn't think I could get on ebook. I buy ebooks, but only very limited there too.

As I work at a library, I can take donation books home if I find something good. My wife has a similar rule to your "buy one, get rid of one" rule with those books. For every one I bring in, I have to take one that I own out.