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Please Don’t Take Away My Book Blogging Credentials!

April 17, 2010

ETA: the proper book blogger part of this post is tongue-in-cheek! I don’t think there are any requirements for being a book blogger, other than having a blog that mentions books. :)

This started out as a different post. I was going to blather on about it being National Library Week here in the US. I was going to insert a gratuitous picture of Neil Gaiman*…oh wait, I can still do that!

But then, as I thought about why I loved my library, one thing kept repeating in my head, more shallow than the whole ‘libraries are the cornerstone of democracy’ thing that I had planned. But I suppose I’m in a frivolous mood, so I’m going to confess a deep, dark secret, one that makes me question if I can even be considered a ‘real’ book blogger.

I’m not overly concerned with actually owning books.

And part of why I love my library is that it stores all of the books for me, just waiting for me to grab one at my convenience.

Don’t get me wrong…I feel like a house without any books would be a sad place. But I don’t need more than a few bookcases worth, and my ideal library is a carefully edited place simply consisting of the works of my very favourite authors, as well as the individual books that I love and adore and gush about regularly*. And if, God forbid, my bedroom burned down tomorrow and all of my books were gone, I wouldn’t be that upset. I’d only miss the books given to me by dear friends, family, and professors and the inscriptions within.

That’s weird, right? Or at least an anomaly amongst book bloggers! I’ve always been that way, though. When I packed for college, moving across the country, I brought exactly three books with me: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and two others that I can’t remember. My mom was surprised, since I’ve always been a big reader, but I simply said: “I’ll be able to get more books than I can read from the library!” And you know what? I was right. Throughout all four years of college, including studying abroad in Russia, I only had 3-5 personally owned, non-school related books with me. When I went to grad school a couple of years ago, I upped things slightly (blogging will do that to you!) and brought as many as I could fit in a standard canvas tote bag (including cookbooks!). But once again, I found the library pretty quickly and began unearthing gems.

I have proof of this attitude! I was going through my archives awhile ago, and came across this post from my first year of blogging, in which I said*:

That’s where I’m different from some bloggers-I don’t feel a need to possess books. At least, not new books. I prefer to read books from the library, or borrow them from friends. Then, if I really like them, I’ll buy a copy for myself. I’m more likely to buy an unread book if it’s by an author that I really, really like or if I’ve seen/heard a lot of positive reviews from people who have similar taste as me. I’m also more likely to buy books that are on sale. :)

I get just as much of a high from checking lots of books out of the library as buying a lot of books.

You know, I went through a phase when I was seduced by the glamour of review copies and became addicted to Bookmooch, and my shelves are still groaning with the results of that. But I’m entering my third year of a book buying/acquiring ban (I’ve adjusted the rules a bit over that time), and I’m a happier person for it. The fact is, I’m just more of a library person! Last year, over 90% of the books I read came from the library, and that’s with an embarrassingly large TBR pile on my own shelves!

Speaking of my bookcases, I have no problem culling books from it. And when I do one of my periodic culls, my basic attitude is “guilty until proven innocent.” A book has to prove its worth to stay on my shelves! The rest, I just bag up and let live in my basement for a week or two (to ensure no regrets), and then they get donated to the library (if shipping was free, I’d send them too all of you wonderful people instead). At the same time, I only cull to the point that my shelves are comfortably full, so I don’t have to be as ruthless with three cases as I used to be when I only owned one.

I’m sure that my lack of interest in owning tons of books stems from my peripatetic* childhood. Because it’s not just books…the idea of owning too much stuff in general gives me the willies. When I buy something, I imagine packing it all into boxes to move, and if it’d really be worth that effort. I don’t have any collections except for clothes and jewelry, which coincidentally are things you can’t borrow from the library! ;)

So, am I still allowed to be a book blogger? I do adore reading, and a big pile of books is lovely. But it’s even more lovely knowing they’ll go back to the library eventually, to be replaced with new books as the whim takes me. For me, borrowing books is the way to go.  But what about y’all?

P.S.: Thanks to everyone who voted for my next read! I’m closing the poll, and despite a last-minute rally by The 13th Element, The Jew in the Lotus squeaked ahead with 14 votes to 13. The fiction ended up in a tie, 19 votes for each, so I’m letting due dates cast the final vote: The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag is due earlier, so that’s the one I’ll be reading first! :)


Footnote One: Does it amuse anyone else that Gaiman is kind of a literary rock star? That phrase just seems so counterintuitive to me. But it’s true!

Footnote Two: Note, that’s my ideal library! Right now, I own more books than I have at any other point in my life, and I find it a touch disorienting.

Footnote Three: Yep. I’m quoting myself. It’s gotten to that level. :p

Footnote Four: Note, that’s my ideal library! Right now, I own more books than I have at any other point in my life, and I find it a touch disorienting.This is one of my favourite words, and I drop it into conversations whenever possible! This often leads to friends and family mocking me, so feel free to mock away. ;)

135 Comments leave one →
  1. April 17, 2010 2:36 pm

    I don’t actively buy books, hoard books, and keep books. In fact, I’m trying to go through my bookshelves and get rid of them! I just don’t like to own books because they sit on the shelves and are never enjoyed as I have too many other books I want to read. There are quite a few I will always want to own (Pride and Prejudice, for example), but I don’t care to own more than two shelves of books.

    I do get quite a few of mine off of PaperBackSwap merely because my college has a pretty pitiful fiction section — two small bookcases. of books people left in their rooms. There’s a book sale at the beginning of the fall semester, but it was pretty slim pickings last time I went through it. There are three floors of nonfiction, which is what I would love to read more of (and should read more of), but the fiction section leaves little to be desired. I would utilize the city’s public library, but it’s difficult to get to on public transportation. I basically have to circle the whole city in order to get there and circle the whole city to get back. (Can’t wait to go home in three weeks and use my library card!)

    Anyways, I don’t think you’re a bad book blogger, Eva, because you don’t like to amass a personal library. And if you are, well, then I’m right there with you.

    • April 19, 2010 3:03 pm

      That’s so neat that there are other bloggers out there like me! :) Too bad your college doesn’t have a better fiction section though…I’d totally use bookmooch/PBS too if I didn’t have a good library.

      • April 21, 2010 12:35 am

        oh Eva, there are plenty like you.

        Somehow I never get around to actually reading books that I own because I want to finish library books first. Plus, I like to read library books, decide if I like the book enough to buy or not.

  2. April 17, 2010 2:36 pm

    Who ever said you have to own books to blog about them? You’re one of the best book bloggers out there!

  3. April 17, 2010 2:48 pm

    I’m kind of the same way (although I would cry if my books were all destroyed). I don’t generally buy a book unless I’ve already read it and loved it (with a few exceptions for series). I guess that is kind of unusual, but I utilize the library for nearly all of my reading needs :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:09 pm

      I guess it’s not as unusual as I thought! :)

  4. April 17, 2010 2:54 pm

    I used to hoard books (and pretty much everything else) a lot more than I do now. Once I moved out of my parents house, all the books I left behind seem less important and are easier to donate or sell when I’m back home. I tend to keep books that have some major impact on me, or are books that I loved enough that I’d want to be able to borrow to someone else. That said, I’ve always wanted to have a library or room entirely filled with books, but probably not until I’m in a house where I don’t anticipate moving for awhile :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:10 pm

      A part of me definitely wants a home library…but I also want to move around my whole life! LOL So moving will probably win. :)

  5. April 17, 2010 3:01 pm

    Well, Neil Gaiman does look like a rockstar :)

    You are definitely a book blogger. I never felt that this whole business of book blogging was just about collecting books. In my case, I don’t get to enjoy libraries because there aren’t any good public ones in our country, and I do love buying and collecting books. They’re pretty objects for me. But even if I lose them all, I wouldn’t cry about it because what matters more is the experience of reading them. That’s somehing that stays.

    Your credentials aren’t revoked because your blog is a celebration of literature :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:11 pm

      I think it’s his hair that gives him that rock star edge. And his preference for black. ;) Thanks for your comment Mark!

  6. April 17, 2010 3:13 pm

    I must confess I am a terrible book hoarder. All my life I have been surrounded by books in my room and feel uncomfortable if they’re not around. As a child I was a regular library user but when I started earning my own money; I decided I could buy books I wanted. Lately my finances have been drastically cut and I have stopped buying books. Well, as many as I did.

    Being a Bookcrosser didn’t help either. Currently I have two bookcases worth of books, at least four towers and two large storage boxes of books under my bed. And that’s not taking into account the boxes still at my parents’ house! This is after a cull I had at Christmas as well.

    However your blog re-inspired my love of libraries. Shockingly I worked in a library last year (though not with books) and didn’t use its facilities too much. I have re-discovered the joy I had when I was child of going to the library and getting books that were mine, all mine! Well for four weeks ;)

    • April 19, 2010 3:12 pm

      I definitely like having books in my room, and a bookless room would be quite sad! But I also like having shelves open for library books. :) That’s exciting that you’re rediscovering the wonder of libraries!

  7. April 17, 2010 3:16 pm

    I’m not much of a book buyer either. I’ve bought a bit more since I became a book blogger, but similar to you, I get a lot of pleasure simply from checking out books from library. Interlibrary loans particularly get me excited. :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:12 pm

      Yay for more bloggers like me! ILLs make me extra-thrilled too. ;)

  8. April 17, 2010 3:16 pm

    I’m so involved in passionate library love this year–working every scheme I can think of to borrow the books I’m desperate to read when I most want to read them. Now there’s a challenge!

    I agree, though, that some books are so deeply personal and so precious that in some cases I find that I simply must buy them!

    Thank heaven for libraries, though, the more the better!

    • April 19, 2010 3:21 pm

      I do sometimes have to have patience, when I’m quite low on the list! But I find that makes it even sweeter when I get the book in my hands. :)

  9. April 17, 2010 3:23 pm

    I had never thought that how you acquire a book or what you do with it has anything to do with book blogging! There’s certainly no rules about it, God!

    It’s funny, because I’ve always felt like an obsessive freak for my possessiveness towards books. I thought I was a bit of an oddity, since it seemed that everyone else could borrow, lend or buy without being bothered either way. I even feel guilty seeing your Library Loot posts – I’m a huge library supporter and they’ve benefited me greatly over the years, and I feel bad for being so greedy and not supporting libraries more by actually using them! I do have a library card though, and I have used it :)

    But my guilt doesn’t last long. And wandering through bookshops is so much better than going through often battered library books that sometimes have a pee smell to them. Plus, books are my friends. I didn’t have much, growing up. I certainly didn’t have many books – and they’re even more expensive now! The few that I had I treasured. In fact, we didn’t have much in general, and life has always been about “getting by”, which is exhausting. The ability to afford some books now and then makes me feel better in that sense too. It’s the only thing I spend money on. And yes, my wardrobe has suffered as a result ;)

    There was a time when I didn’t care either way, though. My love of books has only grown as I have grown, and I’m an unashamed book hoarder and compulsive buyer now!

    • April 19, 2010 3:24 pm

      I think most bloggers prefer to own their books! ;) But you shouldn’t feel guilty! And suddenly I feel very lucky that I’ve never had a library book with odd smells. lol

  10. April 17, 2010 3:32 pm

    Oh, my, I don’t think OWNING the books is a requirement for book blogging! Just loving books.

    In fact, now that I’ve read your post, I’m thinking that I have gone ‘way ’round the bend on the book buying. When I moved three years ago, I had to get rid of some books…so I took the paperbacks to the thrift store.

    Even so, there were several boxes of books and it was a pain to keep the unread books in separate boxes labeled thus so that I wouldn’t inadvertently shelve them as “read,” but I managed somehow. I’m still exhausted thinking about it. And that’s not even counting the other things I collect, which is also kind of a pain! LOL

    See what a pain owning things is? But I’m afraid I’m kind of an obsessive/compulsive collector of stuff, hence the blog named thus (Obsessive Compulsions).

    I should have massive giveaways, huh? Of course, that would then mean shipping them.

    I am going to be having a giveaway of ARCs (about ten of them) and other books that I don’t want to add to my already overflowing shelves. Watch for that one later this month at my Creations blog here:

    • April 19, 2010 3:24 pm

      I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty/self-conscious for owning tons of books! I think that’s just as marvelous, in a different way. :)

  11. April 17, 2010 3:34 pm

    Oh, Eva! I suppose I *will* let you continue blogging, since you asked nicely, but it’s a close run thing ;-)

    My Mum would like you – she’s always told me that there’s no need to own a book to enjoy it. I’m the opposite – if I borrow a book, then I’ll buy it when I see it cheaply even if I have no intention of ever reading it again. And I love buying and owning books as a pleasure entirely separate to the reading of them. Which is why I’m finding Project24 so very, very difficult…

    • April 19, 2010 3:26 pm

      You’re too kind Simon! ;) It’s interesting how some readers are more possessive than others! I don’t mean that in a negative sense, though. I do think that they’re too different pleasures, and I admire you for your project, since it goes against all your wishes!

  12. April 17, 2010 3:41 pm

    I too love love love the library, most of the books I read I get from it. I just love that I can enter in pretty much any book title and if my local branch doesn’t have it, it will just magically appear on my branch’s “hold” shelves with my lovely name on it! I especially now have a hard time buying books when I think well, I can just get it from the library for free and if I can’t live without it after reading I’ll go ahead and buy it for my collection! I do have quite a few books in my small apartment but I’ve been thinking about going through them. I will always definitely own books, probably more than a lot of people but my heart is with the library and the infinite possibilities it holds!

    See, you’re far from the only one out there that doesn’t hoard books :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:27 pm

      I think the holds shelf is magical too! :) I’ll definitely always own books too, and I suppose compared to non-readers, I have quite a few! Your whole comment made me smile.

  13. winstonsdad permalink
    April 17, 2010 3:48 pm

    i love my library and am lucky to have the fifth largest lending library in the uk in my town ,well that is what they say ,have a great on line service to order books so if there is something that graps me and i want it can get it sent to smaller library in my part of town usually in couple of days , i still buy books but not as many as i use to as space is restricted at moment and agree with point about moving as i had to two years ago and most of things moved was book lol ,warmest stu

    • April 19, 2010 3:28 pm

      Hi Stu! Moving takes a bit of the magic out of books, doesn’t it? ;) My library has a great online service too; I feel really lucky for that!

  14. April 17, 2010 3:50 pm

    Oh you are definitely still one of my favorite book bloggers. I am so impressed with your habits! I have recently (actually, since I started blogging… odd!) become a bit better at culling my collection as well. I am pondering a big move and know that I won’t be able to take everything with me. I have to admit that I am horrible at visiting the library but it is something that I need to start doing more often. You are an inspiration!

    • April 19, 2010 3:29 pm

      Thanks so much Amy! You’ve made me blush. :)

  15. April 17, 2010 4:18 pm

    In that case I’m not a real book blogger either (but I didn’t even know that a lot of books bloggers are all about owning books… I guess I am a bit on the fringe of this community)! I hardly ever buy books and I absolutely love the library. I like to own books – I like to be surrounded by them and I can’t imagine a house without them, but I don’t like buying them. I am not very materialistic and I only like to own the ones that really spoke to me in some way or that I think I might want to read again. Most books I only read once so I don’t see any point in buying them all when I can get them for free at the library! I will admit that I loved to get books as presents when I was growing up, but even so I still got most of my books from the library then as well. Public libraries are a wonderful invention – indeed a “cornerstone of democracy.” :)

    • April 19, 2010 3:29 pm

      That was more a joke Sarah! I’ve just noticed that most bloggers seem to have a hard time culling their collections, lol.

      >>I like to own books – I like to be surrounded by them and I can’t imagine a house without them, but I don’t like buying them. I am not very materialistic and I only like to own the ones that really spoke to me in some way or that I think I might want to read again.

      Ditto to everything you said! :)

  16. April 17, 2010 4:25 pm

    One, I love Gaiman. I simply adore him and he is most definitely a rock star. As for the owning of books, I envy your position. I am practically obsessed with owning books to the point that my husband thinks it’s a sickness and I need professional help. I have eight bookshelves in my house, and a closet of books, with approximately 2000 or so books total. I’ve been trying to weed out, donating about 200 books to my local library last month, and going on a book buying ban that hasn’t been too too badly violated yet this year. I applaud your view.

    • April 19, 2010 3:31 pm

      Wow! I can’t imagine even trying to keep track of 2,000 books. :) On the plus side, you’re totally prepared for the apocalypse!

  17. April 17, 2010 4:29 pm

    The books I own are the special ones and after a recent move there are few now. I hardly ever buy books and have no desire at all to amass shelves full of them. Books need to be read, to be held, loved and enjoyed and not sit languishing alone , ignored and gathering dust. I adore libraries, I’m an ex-librarian and the highlight of my week is the visit/s there and the joy of selection and carrying home the new pile .

    Guess I’m not a proper book blogger, either! :-(

    • April 19, 2010 3:31 pm

      You’re definitely a proper book blogger! :) I love getting a fresh pile of books from the library too.

  18. April 17, 2010 4:50 pm

    Normally I’m a library person (in fact, almost all of my bloggy friends get 99% of their books from the library, so you aren’t all that odd, lol), but ever since we moved to a different state a few years ago and I went on my “no way am I spending an entire day at the DMV for a new driver’s license-kick” I’m persona non grata at our local library. So picky about the local driver’s license thing and I guess until I voluntarily give up my DMV-strike, I’m stuck with the books on my shelves.

    But I’m totally with you re: books have to earn a spot on my shelves. I’d say 90% of the books on my shelves are waiting to be read. Once I’ve read them, they had better be darned good or away they go….I’m picky about permanent books around here.

    • April 18, 2010 8:38 am

      Too funny. But you guys have two of the best library systems (SPL and Kings) in the country.

    • April 19, 2010 3:34 pm

      LOL My library didn’t require a local driver’s license, just a bill or other important mail w/ my local address on it! Otherwise, there definitely would have been a problem!

  19. April 17, 2010 4:55 pm

    I have a few old favorite books which I can’t give up. At any one time you would say I have a lot books, but I recycle. I buy them at library book sales or get them through Bookmooch. Sometimes, impatiently, I acquire through Amazon or eBay. That’s mostly when I need a book for my book group or for a course I’m preparing. So why not the library? I love the library, but I’m like the sugar addict who has to have some candy in the house. I need to have the books here, waiting for me and that moment when I can begin to read. Then, when we are through with each other, they find their way out through Bookmooch or the Goodwill or the next library sale.

    • April 19, 2010 3:37 pm

      The sugar analogy makes sense to me! :) I definitely have a lot of TBR books thanks to Bookmooch and library sales…I just tend to ignore them for my library piles. Eek!

  20. April 17, 2010 4:59 pm

    When I lived in a city I used the library regularly. It was up to date, comfortable, and filled with all sorts of books, new and old. They sold great paperbacks for .50 cents and hardbacks for 1.00. Here in my small town the library is severely limited and the hours have cut back due to budget cuts. So sad. I love to own books but was spending like crazy a couple years ago! I buy the occasional book now but never leave the store with a bagfull like before.

    • April 19, 2010 3:41 pm

      Aww; that’s too bad about small town libraries. :( I’m very lucky to have a large, well-stocked library system.

  21. April 17, 2010 5:27 pm

    I used to be terribly out of control when it came to buying books. Most of the time I would convince myself that it was okay because I generally bought used books instead of new ones, but then I realized: who was I kidding? I tried decluttering using Book Mooch, and it ended up costing me more than I could get back in points or books, but it was still worth it. Now I use the library, and, like you, am trying only to buy books for myself when I know I want to read something a second time because I liked it so much.

    • April 19, 2010 3:42 pm

      Yeah; my stockpile of TBR books from my bookmooch days makes me a bit stressed! lol

  22. April 17, 2010 5:53 pm

    I definitely don’t think that owning books is a prerequisite to be a book blogger. I used to have a library of over 4,000 books until I found myself spending more time buying books and inventorying them than I did reading them. I sold some, donated a ton to my local library, and felt “cleansed’. Now I have just a few hundred books. I have to really love a book to keep it on my shelf permanently. Otherwise I donate it or give it to a friend when I am done reading it. I am a big library person now. I love that I have access to millions of books. I’d rather spend my money traveling to the places I read about rather than collecting all the books.

    • April 19, 2010 3:42 pm

      You owned 4,000 books?! That’s incredible! I agree; I’d rather spend my money travelling than on books. :)

  23. April 17, 2010 5:55 pm

    I absolutely agree with you! I don’t feel the need to own every book – and I’m totally up for giving them away if I don’t like them. I love my library!

  24. April 17, 2010 6:10 pm

    I think this was the perfect post for National Library Week! Buying a book is an anomaly for me, too–I get to spend most of my days in the library, surrounded by them (I work there–but I still get excited to be surrounded by books all the time!). I’m even terrible about books my partner wants to buy–I tell her she has to try it out at the library first (unless she’s completing a series that she HAS to own all of). The books I do buy/own, I hope to be a legacy–to give the ya to my nices & nephews when they’re old enough, to share the right book with the right person at the right time. There are books that I’ll reread over and over, and those will stay. Long live libraries and people who use them!

    • April 19, 2010 3:43 pm

      What a fun comment Becker! You know…I don’t know anyone who would buy a DVD w/o seeing the movie first. So why is it different w/ books?

  25. April 17, 2010 6:38 pm

    *dies because of how much we are the same person* I only buy books that I’ve read and know are fantastic, and I only buy them so’s I can lend them to other people. Also, ditto everything else you said.

    • April 19, 2010 3:49 pm

      Is it geeky that I’m thrilled whenever we find new things in common? ;)

  26. April 17, 2010 6:52 pm

    I have no interest in owning books either. The only books I ever buy are gifts for other people, or cookbooks. And even cookbooks I don’t buy unless I’ve checked them out of the library first and tried out a few recipes.

    • April 19, 2010 3:50 pm

      I like test driving cookbooks from the library too! :)

  27. April 17, 2010 7:52 pm

    I am working to not buy as many books as I used to. Working in a high school library has certainly made that much easier as I can just peruse the shelves and take what I want. Talk about heaven!

    • April 19, 2010 3:59 pm

      Libraries are a definitely a kind of heaven! :)

  28. April 17, 2010 8:13 pm

    I wonder if this all depends on your access to a good library? I’ve stopped buying so many cookbooks because I now live near a really great library (one requirement when I bought my house that had my realtor scratching his head). Thanks to the first 21 years of my life being far from a really great library, I think I’d already developed that mad obsession with owning and being surrounded by books. No worries how you get them though. You still love books, and get them in piles, so what’s not to love?!? :)

    • April 19, 2010 4:02 pm

      That makes sense! Since I was a teen, I’ve always had access to good libraries (if not great ones at college!), so I think that helps in my attitude. lmao @ your realtor!

  29. April 17, 2010 8:38 pm

    I would love to make better use of libraries, to be more of a library person, especially as I currently see the library as the perfect work environment for my future self…but as it is, books are the only things I’m really materialistic and possessive about. I even have a hard time borrowing books from friends, knowing that I’ll be pressured to give them back. Also, I just love to be surrounded by them all the time, and feel more comfortable and at home with lots of them around me. Luckily I live in a city with lots of great, cheap used book stores, so my hoarding is, right now, pretty affordable.

  30. April 17, 2010 8:44 pm

    This is a great post, and I agree with you totally! I don’t think it makes you any less of a book blogger. I very rarely buy books myself anymore either. I do the same thing-read mostly from the library, or buy books from known favorite authors or the occasional chance purchase, and then buy things that become favorites. I do occasionally ask for books for gifts but only if it’s something I definitely know I want.

    I did actually purchase several books today from my library’s yearly book sale, so that’s a way for me to give back to them and feel like I am helping them out.

    Thanks for sharing the Neil Gaiman love, he’s definitely my favorite author!

    • April 19, 2010 4:06 pm

      Isn’t the library sale marvelous? And Gaiman is wonderful! :)

  31. April 17, 2010 9:37 pm

    I am such a book hoarder. It is pretty bad and I am sure Matt would love it if I went through my books and got rid of a few hundred. Granted, there are quite a few I will probably never read again, but I almost have a panic attack at the thought of giving them up. To my own credit, however, I have made huge steps in my book buying habit. I rarely buy anything new now, unless it is something I really, really want by an author I already love. I have also been making some trips to the library and that has calmed me down some (although, my library is horribly understocked and I have a difficult time finding things I am interested in. For example, they did not have any copies of the Sherlock Holmes short stories, so they had to get them from another library).

    Anyway, inspiring post. I know there are a couple hundred books in my collection I should part with, so perhaps I need to go through them!

    • April 19, 2010 4:10 pm

      Boo to understocked libraries! I’d definitely be a book hoarder if I didn’t know I had a library to fall back on. :)

  32. April 17, 2010 9:57 pm

    No, I don’t need to own every book that I read, either, though it is also true that I tend to blog about the books I own because it has become a great excuse to “read down” the pile. And it is about the reading, isn’t it?

  33. April 17, 2010 10:30 pm

    And this is why we love you, Eva … because you do things your own way! I’m half-way to becoming a library person. I went to the public library weekly when I was a kid and then somehow, after college, got into the 100% buying phase instead. Then, when I quit working to stay home with Z, I realized I had no more book money and have switched back to the library for the most part. Unfortunately, I also discovered Half Price Books at the same time! Still, I’ve been trying to let go of clutter in ALL areas of my life and books are included. I think I only regret a handful that I’ve gotten rid of and wish I had back. Oh well … I can always get them from the library if I want to read them, right? :)

    • April 19, 2010 4:11 pm

      Being unemployed has definitely given a boost to my library love. :D I lurved Half Price in high school! In the fall, I’m moving back to a region that has one, and I’m sure that’ll be tempting!

  34. April 17, 2010 11:29 pm

    I would say I buy about 5 books a year. I much prefer the library for my reading material. If I bought every book I read I would never have a place to sit and I don’t think I would read as much. If I bought a book I didn’t like I would have hard time going back to get another one without feeling bad about the one at home.

    • April 19, 2010 4:12 pm

      I wouldn’t have a place to sit either! lol

  35. April 18, 2010 1:48 am

    I’m a hoarder though I don’t have space for all the books I have ever owned so many have been sent out into the world to find new homes. I hate getting rid of books and I rarely use the library however I do think it’s a superb resource.

    • April 19, 2010 4:14 pm

      Interesting! I’m the opposite of a hoarder…sometimes, I get into purge manias and get rid of stuff that I later regret.

  36. April 18, 2010 3:01 am

    I’m such a hoarder I can only imagine the care free life of someone who doesn’t own much stuff. Your libraries must be great for you to find all the wonderful stuff you read through them, but then we all already know that because of your library loot posts.

    • April 19, 2010 4:15 pm

      I’m moving later this year, and I can’t wait to halve my belongings! lol In my ideal world, I’d live in a tiny house with just enough stuff to keep my comfy. :)

  37. April 18, 2010 5:24 am

    Eva, I have you up there on a pedestal with all the other wonderful book bloggers I love and I don’t give a hoot if you own them or not. I would like to be more like you and just borrow rather than buy, although I do try to only buy new if I have money given to me. I think my biggest problems is charity shops, they sell books off far too cheap and I can’t keep away.

    • April 19, 2010 4:15 pm

      Thank you for the kind words Vivienne! :)

  38. April 18, 2010 6:11 am

    Until recently I had a strong and somewhat unhealthy attachment to the ownership of books. It all stemmed from the fact that as a lonely young girl living in the middle of nowhere books are what brought me adventure, took away my loneliness and my love of reading differentiated my mediocre mind from the other kids my age to teachers (attention that I craved). As an adult I continued to find peace and stave off loneliness through the purchase and ownership of books. After the loss of my Mom and a divorce I found myself surrounding myself with those talismans from my youth to try to shield me from the creeping loneliness and sadness. Recently I’ve started on a deeper path of self discovery and searching for my authentic self and one of the realizations that I have found for myself is that I’m truly a minimalist and the less that I have the more rich I feel. I’ve brought more books than you could imagine to Goodwill, a few to the used bookstore and my next drop off will be the library for a book sale. Then my next goal is to actually read through all of the TBR books in boxes and then release them into the world. What good is a book sitting in my basement or on a shelf when it can be lovingly found and read. This approach to my books has so far brought me more peace in my reading life.

    • April 19, 2010 4:16 pm

      I’m glad you’ve found more peave. :)

  39. April 18, 2010 6:12 am

    You are not the only one. I don’t feel the need to own books either. In fact, I don’t feel the need to own material objects at all. I put that down to moving a lot and backpacking my way round the world. Objects just weigh you down.

    Plus, now I’m settled in London, I simply do not have the room to keep books. My collection totals about 100.

    After I have bought books and read them, I give them away – either to family, friends or charity shops. Why hold onto books when other people could gain a lot of enjoyment from them?

    • April 19, 2010 4:16 pm

      I’m so jealous of you backpacking around the world! That’s one of my dreams. :) It sounds like we’re quite similar!

  40. April 18, 2010 6:12 am

    Hehe, that´s quite admirable. I love owning books, I don´t buy too many, but i want to own books that I know I´m going to reread. They are a comfort in my room :)

    I just read The Weed That Strings the Hangman´s Bag and loved loved it, so have fun with that! :)

    • April 19, 2010 4:18 pm

      I definitely want to own books as a comfort too! Just not a ton of them. :)

  41. April 18, 2010 8:18 am

    Interesting, you say moving a lot in your past keeps you from collecting too many books because of the bother of moving them. I’ve moved a lot growing up as well, but never owned very many of my own books, my parents almost never bought us any (I only started tentatively buying them for myself in my mid 20s and only those I deemed very useful!) I always went to the library instead and in university, tried my best to promote it amongst my friends (they didn’t even know where the public library was!) Since I worked in a bookstore a few years ago and got the deadly 30% discount (!!), I’ve become addicted to book buying! It’s silly, but when I buy myself a book, I feel like I’m making up for all the times in childhood when my parents wouldn’t buy me books and simply let me to go to the library alone. It’s probably also, as someone else here mentioned, a way to reaffirm that I’m different from other people, that I invest in a bookish lifestyle! (It’s also helpful to justify it by remembering that I’m supporting an industry that’s under economic strain, I do want bookstores to be around for a long time, after all. On the other hand, borrowing books from the library is more environmentally friendly…)

    I have pulled back on that somewhat in the last year or two because I work at a library now. I’m always telling my husband, we can get that at the library, because he would buy tons more books than me… at least I try to buy only what seems worth it. The library is a great way to experiment with books, esp. nonfiction if you just need a bit of help in cooking or how to dress well or use a computer or whatever. I also use it to check up on books I’m not sure about or that I only want for a quick fun read and don’t feel the need to spend money on. I take out stacks of books that I intend to read and then often don’t… The fact that it’s free means I sometimes get a bit out of control when I’m sitting at the information desk, putting holds on all kinds of books that sound interesting or were written about in the Guardian! Then I start to feel panicky having stacks of library books lying around that can’t go on the shelves and just guilt me for not reading them all within 3 weeks. :( Maybe I need to reassess my library habits… I’m hoping having reading challenges and the whole book blogging thing, the pleasure of reviewing a book once I’m finished it, will keep me more focused in my reading and not so scattered.

    But for the classics that I really do want to read someday, I like to buy a nice relatively inexpensive copy so I can have it on my shelves handy for whenever I suddenly want to read it. It works sometimes and I like my solid little permanent collection.

    • April 19, 2010 4:19 pm

      That’s interesting! My parents bought me plenty of books growing up, and I received them as presents from a lot of friends and family, so I don’t have that issue. ;) I’m definitely more likely to buy classics than contemporary fiction!

  42. April 18, 2010 8:22 am

    LOL, I’m a mix of both. I am a big library person. Most of my reads are from the library. But I sometimes buy loads of books. I think that’s like an impulsive eater behavior in me. I usually buy when I’m going through some sever blues. Now though, I’m staring at my shelf and moaning about when I’ll get to them! :P

    • April 19, 2010 4:19 pm

      lol! My retail therapy is in the clothes & fancy food departments. ;)

  43. April 18, 2010 8:33 am

    I love books, and ever since I can remember, books given to me were mine – i’d lend them to trusted friends and family, but they had to come back to me! I am a proud book buyer – I echo your commentator who says that buying books supports the industry, and the writer, which it does. That said, libraries are wonderful places to discover new authors, to read books I’m not sure about – because if I really enjoy a book, I will want to reread it again one day. I know that about myself. I’ve mentioned this before, that one way I feel rich is to be able to buy books when I want, at the very least, every pay cheque. So, I do. And I love it!!

    I do love your post, and think there are all kinds of wonderful ways to love books out there. I’m at one end of the spectrum – I must surround myself with books! – and you’re at the other end, only a choice few books get to remain in your house. Both are lovely ways to be with books, don’t you think? :-D and so is everything in between – so long as we love books, and reading, because that’s what counts.

    • April 19, 2010 4:21 pm

      I love this comment Susan! I definitely think there are lots of ways to love and own books, and your reasons for buying them are great ones!

  44. April 18, 2010 8:39 am

    If only I could read books in the time frame required by the library, then I’d use it even more than I do now. But I like to have my choices around me at all times — so I buy.

  45. April 18, 2010 8:42 am

    There is no such thing as a gratuitous photograph of Neil Gaiman!

    I find it interesting that he is such an advocate for libraries when he has such a huge personal one (you saw those photos, right?) Of course, we are very much capable of being advocates for both and are allowed to read books from wherever we acquire them, as long as they get read ;)

    If you weren’t “allowed” to blog by the blogging powers-that-be then I wouldn’t want to be a blogger either. Your penchant for devouring books and boundless enthusiasm for them -whether they be owned, borrowed or stolen- is a beautiful thing.

    I think we have discussed this in the past, when I posted about culling my collection, but I always used to feel compelled to own books; I have always wanted to have my own library (an extra room in the house devoted to books with bookcases here and there everywhere else) but I fight against that compulsion now. Moving cities, living with less space, having to physically move those books, can’t help but change my outlook towards owning too many. Maybe one day I’ll have that dream house but until then I do *try* an limit the book intake. Besides, owning so many unread books depresses me; it is a constant and overwhelming reminder of having too many books to physically read.

    • April 19, 2010 4:22 pm

      I have seen his personal library. :) I definitely think we can support both public and private libraries! :)

      I really think moving is the fastest way to end a book buying habit. LOL

  46. April 18, 2010 9:28 am

    I try to borrow more from the library than I buy but it doesn’t always work out that way. I admire you for being able to do that! :-)

  47. April 18, 2010 9:42 am

    I admire your attitude! I can’t help hording books, although I’ve been able to keep it down to four bookcases filled only with the books I love and want to read over and over (someday). I know my husband would be happier if I had less books in the house, and I’d like to patronize my library more… but sometimes I just can’t help myself at those really inexpensive book sales and bring armfuls home.

    • April 19, 2010 4:25 pm

      I usually break once a year and go crazy at a library sale! lol

  48. April 18, 2010 10:23 am

    I admit I love owning books (many are used, though), but I have never considered whether a blog was worth reading because the blogger owns or mainly borrows ;-), and judging from the number of readers you have, I know many of us don’t care.

    One problem I have with borrowing library books is that I don’t always get to it in time before it has to be returned. Sometimes I bring it home, then realize I’m not in the mood for it after all.

    Also some of us are lucky enough to have fantastic library systems ( I think ours is good), others are just sad.

    • April 19, 2010 4:26 pm

      It’s funny…I like having due dates at the library, because it’s like an extra incentive to pick a book up. That’s weird, right?! I love our library system. :)

  49. April 18, 2010 11:08 am

    I usually buy books because it’s more convenient. And while I do love libraries, it’s not the same love that I have for bookstores. I just have this immense love for bookstores. There is no place I’d rather be than in a bookstore surrounded by books and journals and other loveliness.

  50. April 18, 2010 11:56 am

    I might feel differently if I had a big lovely library in my house, but I’m with you — I really only want to buy books that I *know* I am going to want to read and reread. I like having books around and believe me, we have plenty, but I go through books pretty fast (nothing like you, however!) and so it would really be impractical to keep all the books. I actually prefer library books — I love the community of library users, how every book has been read by multiple people. What did they all think of the book? Where did they read it? Etc. I am a HUGE fan of libraries and really only buy a few books a year and am quite happy about that, although I do feel guilty because I’m not contributing financially to the authors… but if Neil Gaiman says it’s okay for me to use my library almost exclusively for my reading, then that’s good enough for me.

    • April 19, 2010 4:27 pm

      I worry about contributing to authors too…but I tell my library to buy books by new authors, so I figure that’s my way of giving back! :)

  51. April 18, 2010 2:16 pm

    I, too, hardly buy books. I’d say over 90% of what I read is from the library. I do have three bookcases full as well, most of which were acquired between the ages of 16-20 when I had a job, but no substantial bills. Still, they were mostly purchased at various used bookstores. I love finding markings and notes in them.

    Also.. SQUEE!! I went to a Neil Gaiman reading yesterday. Recap is over at my blog :D

    • April 19, 2010 4:31 pm

      Yay for you going to a Gaiman reading! :) I love finding random bookmarks in used books!

  52. April 18, 2010 2:19 pm

    I don’t buy, even if I do, I buy a pre-owned copy, so that when it comes to letting go one day, I’ll donate it back to charity shops.

    I inspire not to own books, so far I am doing ok! Glad I am not the only one. But that’s what great libraries are for to store most books!

    • April 19, 2010 4:33 pm

      That is what great libraries are for! :)

  53. April 18, 2010 6:17 pm

    Owning a book I could borrow is like this: so my sister has a great pair of shoes. And she’ll let me borrow them whenever I want. But what if those shoes were in MY closet? And on MY feet to walk around the house in just to admire their beauty? I borrow incessantly from my library. I always have book stacks with various due dates. However, I am a huge sucker for used books that come cheap from Salvation Armys and the like. Buying a book gives me a rush. It’s weird. It’s an addiction – one I try to handle with self-imposed detoxes (i.e. not buying books for a month). I rarely buy new books, mostly just at X-mas. One of my fav. past times is arranging my bookshelves. My husband finds it strange but it makes me happy. BTW, I’m new to your blog and love it!

    • April 19, 2010 4:34 pm

      lol! I don’t think that’s weird to get a rush from buying books. :) And thanks for stopping by and leaving such a nice comment!

  54. April 18, 2010 6:43 pm

    While I do love to buy books, I also don’t keep them, so I can relate to not feeling attached. If my public library was better I’d borrow books, but I’ve been disappointed so many times I rarely bother to visit. :-(

  55. April 19, 2010 3:30 am

    I got used to bypassing the library because it had a poor selection and buying/borrowing the books I wanted, however I visited recently and found a book on my wanting-to-read list and am considering going there for it. I figure I can buy it if I end up really liking it.

    • April 19, 2010 4:39 pm

      Libraries w/ poor selections are so frustrating!

  56. April 19, 2010 4:09 am

    I wish I was like you and had more restraint, but I just like being surrounded by books! However, on a recent trip home, we culled over half our books (partly because of space and partly because of the humid weather which destroys books) so I’m getting used to periodically giving away books (except for the ones I can’t live without).

    And no, I don’t think owning lots of books is a criteria for being a book blogger or a book lover. Just that most of us can’t seem to stop ourselves!

    • April 19, 2010 4:39 pm

      There are definitely some books I can’t imagine giving away! :)

  57. April 19, 2010 7:07 am

    I think nobody would call you less of a bookblogger because you have no bookbuying addiction. Actually, I have a feeling most bookbloggers would love to be able to buy less ;-). Your blog is I think overall the most admired all around, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

    I’ve been trying to be less clingy to the books I own, but it’s hard for me. Also, I try not to buy as much, but that’s also hard since it’s the nly way to read most recommendations. I think book-buying style depends on the access you have to a good library. Sure, I am a member of my universities library, but they don’t have a lot of fiction. My local library doesn’t carry that many English titles, although I am looking into joining. I just have to be sure that the money to join would be worth it.

    • April 19, 2010 4:41 pm

      Aww-thanks Iris! :) I definitely think access to a good library affects book buying!

  58. April 19, 2010 7:11 am

    I’m not a book hoarder myself. I mean I own a lot of books, but I find it pretty easy to cull books from my shelves to make room for new ones. I think of it as refining my collection. But I can’t imagine going off to a new place with only three books. I’d die in the time between arriving and getting a library card! I use the library a LOT though, and definitely exercise judgment and caution in buying new books. I have to be pretty positive I’ll want a book forever to buy it new.

    • April 19, 2010 4:42 pm

      Well, it was college, so I immediately received my student id card aka my library card! And then got a job at the library. lol

  59. April 19, 2010 7:47 am

    I’m starting to make that transition from person who needs to own her books to using the library. I think that I’ve finally realized that it makes much more financial sense to use the library instead of purchasing books. Plus, like you said, if I really love a book I can always buy a copy for myself.

    • April 19, 2010 4:43 pm

      Being unemployed has really helped my attitude towards spending money! lol

  60. April 19, 2010 1:57 pm

    You are into your third year of a book buying ban?! Wow, I’m impressed. I love the library but I also love to own books. But, I don’t have a problem weeding the shelves every few months. I love to give books away to friends/library/bookmooch, etc.

    • April 19, 2010 4:44 pm

      Unemployment helps book buying bans! ;) Now, though, if I’m being honest even when I have money (i.e. birthday/Christmas presents), I don’t really feel the urge to buy books.

  61. April 19, 2010 4:34 pm

    I do not think you are in danger of losing your blogging credentials. As I was reading the post, I got a very zen vibe. It sounds like you are very grounded and methodical with your approach to books. I need to release my pack rat status, but I continue to struggle with it!

    • April 19, 2010 4:44 pm

      Aww thanks! Moving a lot helps eliminate pack rat-ness. ;)

  62. April 19, 2010 9:08 pm

    I’ve become a bit of a book hoarder over the last few months, but I think it has partly to do with the long, out-of-the-way drive it is to get to the closest library. :( I’ve been lamenting the fact that we have no branches in our part of town. I used to visit much more often when I lived closer (and didn’t live so close to a used bookstore). I have also accumulated a bunch of books through book trade sites (bookmooch and paperback swap). Hubby doesn’t care for my collection, so I need to seriously read a lot of it down this summer and try not to accumulate so many so quickly.

  63. April 20, 2010 7:17 am

    I completely understand. I go through mooching phases, though, when I really want to own books. And then I get okay with the library again. I have a personal library dream but have no money for it so I am trying to let go and not care. REally, it doesn’t matter. Moving across the world (to Australia) helped me see how unimportant THINGS are.

  64. April 20, 2010 7:37 am

    Eva, that’s SO admirable! A few years ago I lived in a city with an amazing library so I was able to read everything I wanted. Our current library, however, is very disappointing. They do not carry most of the books I want to read. :(

    I absolutely love owning books, but only ones I couldn’t live without (which is still so many), but I don’t like owning other things. Only books and artwork. That’s about it. But I cull a LOT because I’ve a thing about clutter.. I HATE clutter. So every once in a while I donate books to keep my personal library down to just favourites. This way, I surround myself with things I love only. :D

  65. Sam permalink
    April 20, 2010 10:15 am

    I’m slowly transitioning from buying most of my books to getting them from the library. What caused the change for me was getting married and moving out of my parents’ house. I don’t have the room and I have learned that married money disappears faster than single money so I can’t afford the weekly bookstore trips anymore. Lucky for me I work at our local library so due dates don’t apply (I still feel guilty after 2 weeks so they come back), but it is frustrating when other patrons don’t bring stuff back in good condition.

  66. April 20, 2010 10:22 am

    Ah, you apparently hit a book blogger nerve! I’m currently experiencing a shift in how I view the whole own versus borrow thing. I got myself into a bit of a spot over the years by acquiring books faster than I could read them. When I entered my collection into LibraryThing and could see just how many books I owned I was stunned. Many of those books are in my nifty storage system, so it was easy to be unaware of the quantity since I couldn’t actually see them. What really struck me (and is rather embarrassing) was seeing how many of the books I’d cataloged were in the TBR category! Anyway, I’ve set up an accountability system for myself in order keep the numbers of books “going out” greater than the number of books “coming in.” It seems to be working and is actually kind of fun in a challenging sort of way!

  67. April 20, 2010 10:38 am

    I used to have to save them all, but after joining I found it easier and easier to get rid of them. Now that I have kids, clutter is killing me, so more and more go. I’m down to a couple shelves in the main living area, on unread, one read, one kids and classics. In the basement I have TONS of other stuff, but it’s all going soon as well. More and more I love the library. I love to walk the aisles and pick up anything I want for FREE. If I fall in love with one I can buy my own later.

  68. April 21, 2010 5:57 am

    I hoarded…er…collected books long before I started blogging. I’ve always loved surrounding myself with books, and now that my daughter is coveting my collection, I keep telling myself I actually have something useful to pass on to her. LOL Even so, I don’t think owning books is as important as reading and loving books. And the library is one of my all-time favorite places to be!

  69. April 22, 2010 3:32 am

    I think yours is a great attitude to have about books. I’m a total greedy hoarder, to the point where if my mum lends me a book and I read it and like it I’ll be trying to get out of giving it back to her so I can keep it on my shelf!

    Libraries rule though! I should use them more often.

  70. April 22, 2010 10:42 am

    Gaiman is a literary rock star. That’s a hilarious way to describe him, but it’s so true. He spoke in my city on Friday (I blogged about it) and it did feel like seeing a rock star. But how fantastic is it that there are authors like that. And amen to your words on libraries!

  71. callista83 permalink
    April 24, 2010 4:11 pm

    I’m behind in reading blog posts and I wish I had seen this before the other 130 comments.

    Every time you post something thoughtful (other than a review or challenge) I feel like we’re alike. We’re two of the few who read mostly nonfiction. Here’s another way we are alike and I wonder if it has to do with liking so much nonfiction.

    I don’t have over 500 TBR books on my shelves. Most of the ones I do have are review books but after reviewing them, I give most of them away. I only keep nonfiction that I will be referring back to (like parenting books, cookbooks etc..) and a few select fiction that I really like.

    I’ve always felt a little out of the book blogger loop because is seems like everyone else is always talking about hoarding books and having overflowing TBR piles. I love the library! If the library doesn’t have a book I want to read, I submit it as a book they may want to get and if they still don’t have it later, I keep an eye out for it at used book stores. When I had money for shipping I used BookMooch.

    I just don’t see the point in owning that many books. As it is I barely read my TBR books because I keep getting new review books or library books. Why have books I’m not reading that someone else could be enjoying?


  1. Bookshelves: The Fiction Edition « Amy Reads

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