Booking Through Thursday — Why Buy?

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?  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?

This BTT question is a pretty interesting and I’m always curious about how people view books in their lives.  It’s actually one thing that the Beloved and I disagree on (I think we’re in détente right now, we’ll see how this evolves…).

I am a book buyer and saver.  I like my books.  I like the idea of having my own library.  When I’m in a room with shelves of my books, I look at them and try to recall things…how old was I when I first read this?  How much did I like it?  How has my opinion of it changed?  Did this book make me try (or not try) other books/authors?….  Because I’ve read fairly steadily my whole life, for me perusing my books is like looking through a very personal photoalbum.  Or seeing old friends or acquaintences.

The Beloved (who reads more books than I do in a year…) believes that we should be more selective and only keep our very most favorite books and PURGE the others – something that is anathema to me.  We are however, running out of room with the current shelving arrangements we have throughout the house.  One thing that she's been angling for is built-ins installed in our spare room – and the lure of having more book space is probably the right way for me to agree with her that we should spring for them.

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29 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday — Why Buy?

  1. I'm with you on this one. I would have retained every book ever purchased had I been given the freedom to do so. But, nooooooooooooo! We have to be "practical!!!!" Hate that word! If you ask me, being surrounded by shelves and shelves of books lends a sense of inexplicable comfort to a room. My $.02

  2. Same here. I love overflowing bookshelves. I'm a re-reader, and a saver (I still have a large portion of the books I had and loved as a child), and I also like to have a number of my non-fiction books on hand for reference. Plus the library doesn't seem to like it when you underline stuff in its books.

  3. I buy books and hoard them. I've started purging some, and it hurts me to do it. There is actual pain involved. (I mostly purge the ones I know I won't re-read or the ones that I have had literally for years and have not read.)
    I hate it.
    Don't purge if there's any way around it.
    Practical is stupid. ;)

  4. I tend to accumulate a lot of books (mostly used from bookstores and Bookins.com), but I do purge once in a while. But like Kelly, I only get rid of books I didn't like enough to re-read or books I've had forever and never plan to read.
    I looooove how bookshelves look when they are overflowing. Stop whatever you're doing and buy you and your wife some built-ins right now!

  5. "I like the idea of having my own library." Me too! As I read most books, I highlight really important parts. I like to look back through them every once in a while to find those parts. I sort of like the feeling of looking at all the books I've read (even if it's only a fraction) — maybe that's vain, but it's my weakness. I also have a dream of someday building a real library in my house (the kind with the rolling ladder and floor to ceiling shelves). I'd love for my future kids to have someplace to go where they can pick out a book on any subject, and learn to love to read. It's one of the most precious treasures in life.
    To be completely honest, I don't even like lending my books. Bad, huh? Actually, I'd love lending them, if people returned them. But it's always a fight to get them back, and most of the time, they haven't even read the book!
    My own beloved is about to spring for some better bookcases to take up an entire wall in the office. I'm very excited. :)

  6. I'm more of a book-buyer than borrower. Like you, I like the idea of a library and being able to go back to books, often years later.
    Someone said something to me once which did make an impression and cause me to think harder about my book purchases: "Remember, a home library is supposed to be a selection, not a collection."

  7. I would love to have built in bookcases! I usually buy but if it's paper back or I didn't love it enough I save it for the used bookstore. Usually if it's hard back I do keep just because it was more then I usually am willing to spend.

  8. I should say that I do own a lot of books (contrary to the way my answer sounded). I do love the way they look so I keep classics, favorites, and cookbooks on a bookshelf my dad made for me in the living room.Dan and I are opposites on this as well. He prefers to keep every book he reads.If you do decide to purge, donate them to the library!

  9. I buy books due to a bad experience with a library when I was a teen, and the fact that I don't like having deadlines for reading them. And I keep 99% of them. But that's about to change. Since I rarely re-read book, or even bother to look at them again (most are blocked by knickknacks on the bookshelves), I plan to donate, or bookcrossing, most of my books by the end of the year.

  10. This is easy. From age 3 to 33, my mom owned a book store. Therefore, I always got new books. I don't like libraries. They're dingy and make me think of researching papers which I dislike even more. So, even now, I buy my books. I don't keep them all as there are few books I like to read more than once. I usually give them away or donate them.
    I do try and take my kids to the library on occasion so they don't get my opinion of them.

  11. I have always wanted my own library, too! It is terribly hard for me to get rid of books – the only exception to that rule would be outdated software development books or crappy fiction (like Dan Brown, IMO).
    Steph and I bit the bullet and signed up for an Amazon Prime membership, and we've used it a lot until recently. Now with money tighter than before, we're using the local library more often (sigh).

  12. I am both a buyer and borrower. I love buying and keeping books and probably have about a thousand at the moment on bookshelves. Sometimes my husband gives me a quizz if we're sitting in there having a drink – who wrote this, what colour is that, who was the main chracter in this. He mind you has never read a single book in his life. But books are very expensive here in Australia – for a new release softcover you're looking at minimum $25 and up to $ 40. So once we had kids and less money, I had to start only buying ones I felt I must have and then borrow the others.

  13. I'm in the middle. I only like to buy and keep books that really made an impact on me. I'm not a pack rat at all and am an avid purger so if it was just a "so-so" book, I usually donate it to the library. When I check out a book at the library, if it really moves me, I usually get on Amazon and order it right up. (Amazon Prime member – free shiping – yeah!) That way when I look at my "library" – it's only the books that really mean something to me.
    Great question and post!

  14. I'm a big book buyer and a big library patron as well. I find nothing as entertaining as wandering around a book store or library. My wife is the same way. That's why we have piles of books lying around waiting to be read. I've been in the middle of a major book (and everything else) purge recently in anticipation of making a move in the next couple of years. Damn, I've got books that I've been hauling around since college, and that was way back in the Dark Ages. But it's hard to part with even those books I haven't touched in decades.I give them to our local library which sells them for fund-raising, so it's a good cause and I might even get to visit them again at the library.

  15. I would have to say that I borrow more than buy, just due to the economics of it. My wife would freak if I bought all the books that I read. I do want to buy them and find it hard to get rid of books. At one point I was under the delusion that I would have a hardcover of everybook that I had read. What was I thinking. Sadly, shelf space is limited in my house and a lot of books get boxed. After that, it is hard to justify keeping them to my wife. I can't keep Watership Down on my shelf. I give this book to practically everyone. I buy a copy anytime I see one at goodwill.

  16. I'm a really hesitant lender too. I lost too many books that I've loved (since those are the ones that you recommend right??) — I've gone back and re-bought books that have been lent-and-lost just so that I'd have them!

  17. We actually have our bookshelves rated by the love of the book. The one in the family room is for the really great books — the office is for the good ones… and then the various ones upstairs get the ohhh-kay ones.

  18. Actually — you touched on something really true — for most of my career, a library (usually the specialized science library) has been about scholarship. I won't lie — there IS something really cool about losing yourself in doing library research — something that has been very much lost in the internet age.

  19. Steph and Jim — the Beloved has your feeling Steph — she tends to want to keep only the really excellent books…. I just have a lower threshold on what I'm willing to keep.

  20. I love walking around a bookstore too. I usually buy music online, but books I like to buy in person (unless it's one that I've been waiting for to come out…) == I like the tactile nature of it. That's one reason I don't think I want a Kindle.

  21. Yeah — there are a couple of book-filled boxes in our garage — sort of left over from the move… they probably have to be evaluated and probably most of them donated. Sigh.

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