Thursday, November 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

When the blogging well goes dry for a spell, it's Booking Through Thursday to the rescue! Today's question:

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?


I've always been a book buyer; even as a child I owned a lot of books. If I like a book, I want to own my own copy of it, to re-read anytime I please. As I'm getting older and busier, I tend to re-read fiction less than I used to, but still I like the feeling of knowing that if I want to look up a favorite passage, the book I want is just a few steps away.

Since I started writing historical fiction, it's become important that I have a good collection of nonfiction for research purposes. Though the university library I frequent is excellent, it's a 45-minute drive away, and there's always the risk that some professor might have the book I want checked out and hang on to it for months. So unless the cost is prohibitive, I like to own my research books as well. (And it saves gas!)

Another reason I'm a book buyer is that my tastes are somewhat arcane. I tend to focus more on certain eras and personages than on particular authors, and strangely enough, my local library has the idea that there's no reason for it to have every novel ever written, say, on Edward II. So to find what I'm looking for, I either have to go through inter-library loan or buy it, and if a book I'm interested in can be got for a few dollars, I'd as soon buy it and take a chance on hating it rather than go through the time-consuming process of inter-library loan.

Finally, there's just nothing that matches the sheer sex appeal of a shelf covered in luscious, lovely books. Unless, say, it's Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy standing next to a shelf covered in luscious, lovely books. But you still have to have the books.

7 comments:

Lynn Irwin Stewart said...

I like to own the books I read and I seldom get rid of any of them -- at least not the historical fiction/non-fiction ones. I'm not a "re-reader" but I do sometimes want to go back and read a certain passage or find the answer to a question. The way I look at it is this -- almost everybody collects something. For me it's books.

Anerje said...

When I was in school, and later a uni student, I borrowed from the library all the time - taking fav books out repeatedly. Since I started work, and 'kings and queens' are back in favour, I cannot resist the urge to buy, buy, and buy! I'm really proud of my bookshelves and boxes in the attic. It's great to revisit fav books whenever you want.

Arleigh said...

Good answers :) I saw that Sourcebooks is publishing one of your novels and the cover is beautiful!

gautami tripathy said...

I think I am gonna check out your books. Hope I find them here in India!

Must buy!

Kill Word Verification

MelissaS said...

I have been both a buyer and a borrower.
When I lived at home I had bookcase after bookcase of books that I kept but after moving box after box of books (that I hadn't read since the first time) from house to house it got really old very quickly!
So I kept some of the reference books and some of the fiction books that were my favorites or meant something to me and sold the rest on Ebay.
Now I borrow from the libraries around me (sorry Susan I borrowed your books) Aside from the fact that books are so much more expensive in Australia than they are in the US, I find that, especially with non-fiction books, that there are some that I've started and just have not been able to finish - they are so badly written that they've managed to make a subject that is interesting to me so boring that I just can't read the book... but that's probably a subject for another post :-)

Lady D. said...

Books are my addiction. I used to borrow from libraries when I was a kid but (a) I just can't get the books I want to read from there now - not without an interlibrary loan anyway. And I'm a terror for forgetting to get them renewed! And (b) I just love the smell and feel of a new book. Heaven for me is to go into one of the bog bookshops where they have a Costas as well and inhale the gorgeous scent of fresh-brewed coffee and new books at one time!

Susan Higginbotham said...

Thanks for stopping by, all!

I do go to the library for books that I don't expect to want to read more than once or for popular books with iffy reviews (such as Philippa Gregory's latest--if I read it at all, it'll be a library copy unless it just comes dirt cheap). Sadly, the size of my house doesn't match the size of my library, but I suspect if I had a larger house, I'd soon fill it up with too many books also. Ah, well. The family's used to it.