Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Books: to Borrow or to Buy?


I feel bad for anyone who had to help us move back in June--not only did we have a piano that needed to be moved up a flight of stairs, but we had at least 25-30 boxes of books that had to be hefted up to the new apartment as well. Additionally, some of those boxes probably weighed at least 50-60 pounds and required the combined strength of two individuals to cart them anywhere.

Every person, I believe, has his/her financial kryptonite---for some, it's electronics, for others, it's the home goods section of Target. For Matt and I, it's books. 

I've had a lot of people ask me over the years, "Why don't you just borrow books from the library?" They then usually launch into a monologue that sounds suspiciously like a bragfest about how every week, they take their families to the library and can get everything they ever want--from books to DVD's to magazines--for absolutely no cost at all. And then they usually rush to add that they save so much space in their house as well since their shelves aren't "cluttered" up with books and movies.

I get it. I really do. Ever since participating in my "50 Weeks to Organized" project last year, I REALLY get the argument that books--as great as they are--take up space. (And in our case--lots and LOTS of space.) Plus, when I log into Mint.com and see how much of our paychecks each month usually end up going towards books, I totally get the financial argument as well. (Consider this fact alone: since summer started, I personally have bought over 15 books---in just two months!!)

The argument for borrowing books is a sound one--it saves money and time, plus it teaches accountability and time management (so that you don't get slapped with late fees every two seconds).

But I will probably almost always buy my books rather than borrow them.

Here's why:

*I have this quirk where I can't just read one book at a time--I must be reading at least 3-4 books simultaneously (if not more). This habit assures me that for whatever mood I'm in, there's a book I'm in the middle of that will fit that mood. While you might not see the immediate connection between this habit and my book buying problem, there definitely is one---you see, because I don't focus on one book at a time, it takes me longer to read any single book because I'm in the middle of so many at once. Thus, when I try to borrow books from a library (as I do every few months or so), I inevitably find that I'm usually not able to finish all of them (or even one of them) before the due date. This has led to me having read many halves of library books, but very few wholes.

*I like to mark my books. Some bibliophiles think it's heresy to write in books (or to alter their appearance in any way), but not me--I often read with a pen or highlighter nearby so I can mark passages that I particularly like or that strike me in a powerful way. 

*I hate having to wait to read books that everybody else is talking about. I've discussed before about how I have issues with feeling left out of the current book crazes, so the library just usually doesn't cut it for me. If I want to read The Fault in our Stars, but the waiting list at the library is about 3 months out, there's no way I'm not going to buy that book. Especially if there's a movie out and people might accidentally give away the ending before I've had a chance to get through the book first. (I have read The Fault in our Stars, btw, so have no fear when mentioning the ending around me.)

*I'm kind of a snob when it comes to book quality. I'm mildly obsessed with the smell of new book glue, and I love the look of pristine pages that have not yet been marked with grubby fingers or food stains. Because I generally do not have grubby fingers and have developed the skill of not spilling food when books are present, I don't have to worry about my beautiful books getting dirty. But library books? Gross. I feel like I have to wash my hands every time I pick one up.

*Sometimes, after I've read a book, I want to go back and locate a particular section or passage and re-read it. (Note: I don't actually want to re-read the book, I just want to look at a small piece of it.) In such cases as this, it is invaluable to own the book--not only am I spared the trip to the library, but because it's my copy and I've likely already marked the passage, I will probably find what I'm looking for within ten minutes.

*I like the decorative look of bookshelves. I'm not one to struggle with buying new decorations for my home (in fact, I kind of avoid doing that altogether it seems), but that's one thing I love about books--they are practicality and beauty all in one. Sometimes when I'm having a bad day, I'll just go sit in front of our bookshelves in reverent silence, basking in the glow of the written word. True story.

I'm sure there are many more, but all this talk of books makes me want to go pick one up and read already. 

Are you a buyer or a borrower when it comes to books?


15 comments:

  1. I also love the smell of new books! I always open the book and smell it before I read, which I suppose is really weird. I don't care! Books smell great, and I love buying them as well.

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  2. I love the smell of books too, but I am a borrower through and through. I'm really cheap, and I have a fear of paying for a book that I may hate. I avoid books with profanity so more than once I've borrowed a book, not knowing about the language, and decided to quit. If I'd paid, I might feel guilty for not finishing or feel the beer to finish since I bought it and then feel guilty or uncomfortable because of the profanity...borrowing is for me!

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  3. That should say "feel the need," not "feel the beer." ;)

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    1. Ha ha---one of the most hilarious typos I've come across yet! I have definitely made the mistake of buying books that had too much profanity/explicit sex for my tastes, so what I do is sell them to a used bookstore and then use the credit to buy other books :) I'm sure I lose some money in the process, but I don't mind too much! I think that's a good reason to borrow instead of buy though.

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    2. Haha! I typed it on my phone and just couldn't bear the thought of re-typing it. I hadn't really thought of the option of selling them to a used bookstore. Nashville has a pretty decent one. I definitely struggle some times with having 3-4 books from the library at once because of the timing of the holds, and I can't always finish which is definitely a bummer!

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  4. Definitely a buyer! And I can agree with most of the reasons you listed above. I just can't read more books at the same time, not exactly sure why. And we have a big problem with all my books, because our apartment is very small so there is not a lot place for my bookshelves. I would have to buy a few more if I want a place to store all my books - this moment, a lot of them are just sitting on top of one another on our radiators. I know, not the best place ...:)

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    1. Our apartment's kind of small too, so we just ended up using our second bedroom as a "library." I don't know how we'd even function if we were just in a one-bedroom place...we would be overrun!

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  5. I'm a kindle-er. I got a kindle paperwhite for free as a perk from my summer job last year, never thinking I would get into it, but here I am, obsessed. it's my favorite thing ever! the e-ink is just as easy to read outside as a printed book, there's a subtle built-in backlight for late night reading, it's so small and light and easy to hold with one hand, and the best part is, I can get any book instantly with just a few taps. I also really like being able to find stuff to read by browsing through the library and looking for the highest-rated books. also, ebooks on amazon are usually way cheaper than their printed counterparts. plus I get one free every month because I have Amazon prime. but I'm just a big ol' technology junkie. sometimes I prefer to own the actual printed copy of a book because of things like book smell and writing in it, but honestly, when it comes down to it, when I just want to straight-up READ, the kindle is the best thing for the job. it's not for everyone, though, I guess. :)

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    1. I've tried to get on the e-book reader train, but I just don't think I can give up real books. Turning pages and holding the actual hardback in my hand is just so ingrained into my being that I feel like a piece of me is missing without it. I totally get the argument though! Financially and space-wise, your way definitely makes more sense!

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  6. seriously, I could have written this post word for word (minus the marking up the book part, sorry I am one of those who cannot do that!). I only get books from the library to screen for the teen book club I run, only because 1. I would be poorer than poor if I bought every book I screened for the club, 2. sometimes the books aren't appropriate for the club so I don't finish them, 3. sometimes the teens pick books I have no interest in so I don't really want to own it. my dream is to one day have a room dedicated to nothing but books, so I can have my own personal library.

    oh! and speaking of the smell of books, one time I was going through a rough time and I made my husband stop at barnes and nobles just so I could pick up a book I wanted and smell it. i'm glad i'm not the only one that loves the smell of a new book. I hate old book smells and I hate the dirty feeling I get holding a particularly old one.

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  7. I am definitely a buyer. In addition to all of the reason you've listed, I also reread all of my books. I have had many friends and family members try to tell me to donate or sell my books, but I just can't because I know I will want to read those books again. My roommates think I'm insane and always laugh when they enter my room and see the two walls worth full of books.

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    1. I used to be a big re-reader, but then I realized I'd never be able to read all the books I want to in my lifetime if I kept re-reading at the rate I'd been going. So I rarely read a whole book again. But like I said in the post, I definitely reference excerpts! It's a valid reason for buying books though for most people!

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  8. I hate to buy before I read. But once I read a good book I love buying it. If I get a really good recommendation from a credible source, then I'll buy before I read. I'm one of those that mark up books and like to come back again and again.

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  9. We moved from Florida to VA two months ago and that is when my husband and I truly realized how many books we have combined. I like to write in my books as well.

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  10. Ha ha I never buy books, because I have you. Not many people have their own personal library with amazing books hand picked for them. Thanks friend! I love your book buying :)

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment! I love reading your thoughts :)

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