by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Create rules that work for your purchasing habits. One print book in/one print book out; use the library instead of buying print books; buy one book a month - whatever works for you.
At one point in my life, I had so many books that I asked my brother to build me bookshelves. When he saw the many many boxes of books, he built a structure so sturdy he could lay down on one of the shelves. I thought the piece was oversized, but, when I loaded up the shelves, I was piling books in front of other piles of books.
I was afraid the thing was going to go through the floor.
Whenever I moved, there were more boxes of books than of clothing. I learned that I could carry a banker’s box full of books (and, bonus, those boxes had handles).
I had a vision in my head of someday owning a room filled with shelves of books. A personal library that would speak to my interest in varied topics.
However, this interest didn’t always translate into knowledge. There were months when I bought more books than I read. I had scores of books I’d never opened. I didn’t really own those books. I owned the paper and glue and stitching they were made of, but I hadn’t appreciated the authors’ insights into human emotion through the trials of their fictional characters; I learned no new facts that could intertwine with my knowledge and experiences and expand my intellect.
The books sat on the shelves until I moved and couldn’t taken the behemoth bookshelves my brother had built to my new apartment. So, I stacked books on the floor when I ran out of space on my new Ikea bookshelves.
One year, I saw that my town library was having a book sale and was seeking donations. I filled boxes that filled my car’s trunk. I did the same the next year. After that, I got in the regular habit of culling my books once or twice a year.
When I upgraded to a smartphone, my favorite apps were Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Amazon’s Kindle. I could buy eBooks that I’d always have with me! Squeeeee! And, they were a couple of dollars cheaper than paperbacks.
But, I didn’t have a tablet, I used a smartphone, so the digital reading experience wasn’t particularly appealing. And, then, I realized that if I wanted to pass along the book to a friend whom I thought would enjoy it, I couldn’t.
Also, I realized I disliked cluttering my digital library with books I wouldn’t have held onto if I had them in physical form. And, although I could hit ‘delete,’ somehow that felt like more of a waste than passing along an unwanted book.
And, so, I’ve decided that when I do buy a book (because books are my weakness and, yes, I’m working on that), I’ll buy it as a paperback or hardcover over an eBook because I can give them to someone else to read. However, I am giving myself rules:
Do you have a weakness for books? Have you curated – or started to curate – your collection? Have you given yourself rules about buying or keeping books? Add your story about books to the comments below.
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