Book me … for owning a book outright…

April 24, 2010 § 17 Comments

Even at the work table in my “office”, books seem to litter themselves around the “work space.” Gotta love ’em.

At the Missouri Writers Guild conference last weekend, one of the speakers said (and this is blasphemy so the sqeamish among you, please cover your ears!): ” Only purchase books that you are going to read more than once.”

It was like the lights went out. The volume muted. Vision blurred. I groped for my pen and paper seated there at the round table, the grounding aspect of that particular workshop session. I tried to look normal. Mind racing, I wondered in a nanosecond how much I’ve actually spent over the years on books. (My Gran always said it wasn’t polite to count. I was never really sure what she meant, but at this moment, with her words resonating in my head, I decided she meant I didn’t have to total $$$ spent on books.)

What? I shouldn’t buy books?
OMG, even my mom never said “no.”
Neither does HM, an avid reader himself.

No one in the workshop noticed my momentary swoon and within moments, I collected myself, turning my back on yet another “should” encountered in the world of real worldness.

WHAT?
Own only what I’ll read more than once? How can I know in advance?
Egads, more than half the books on my shelves I’ve only read once.

WHAT?
I mean, I know I’m supposed to go to the library, and I do.

But I love the stories in books AND the book  itself AND the paper AND the experience of having the book on the shelves AND knowing I have time to look at it, annotate it, etc. any time, AND I love sharing them with my family and friends.
No, really, how am I to know if I’m going to read a book more than once at first approach?

Horrified, I am.

(The conference was great, though, and more to tell and share on that!)

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§ 17 Responses to Book me … for owning a book outright…

  • In the words of the French – sacrebleu!!

    I so do not abide by this ‘should’. I have been cutting down on buying books this year – partially due to an aggressive budget and partially because I am so so so out of room in my teeny tiny condo.

    So I have cut down, but I would never abide by this rule. My favorite thing to do is going on a little book buying spree at B&N. I like to take risks and buy books that I have never heard of but was attracted to by the cover or the blurb on the back. I am just too impatient to request it from the library & then buy it if I loved it.

    There are very few books that I have re-read. I just don’t do that. Too many books, too little time. My to-read list seems to grow exponentially, so re-reading just doesn’t work these days!

    See, this whole ‘not owning books’ thing is why I refuse to buy an e-reader of any sort. Yes they are trending and ‘cool’ but I like the feel of a book in my hand.

    obviously I am tish passionate about books. 😉

    The beginnging of your post reminds me about the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie starts to calculate how much she has spent on shoes and says something like, “I am literally going to be the little old lady who lived in her shoes” because she realizes the money spent on shoes = a downpayment for her appt… I don’t even want to think of how much I’ve spent on books. But they were a better investment than this dang condo! 😉

    Alright, this is probably the longest, ramblingest comment EVER. Happy Saturday!

    • oh says:

      Lisa – That’s a priceless quote: “I don’t even want to think of how much I’ve spent on books. But they were a better investment than this dang condo!” OMG, great stuff.

      I do remember that episode of SATC – Carrie had something like $42K worth of shoes! At least books don’t go out of style, exactly. You, too, have a fine weekend.

  • typehype says:

    “How can one know in advance?”…that you’re going to read a book more than once. Good question.

    At the very least, buying a book supports the author. And if you’re a book lover, it’s comforting to be surrounded by books you’ve read. They feel like old friends, don’t they?

    Good for you for calling her on it. What a dopey thing to say at a writers conference.

  • mandy says:

    That is pure craziness. I never know if I’m going to read a book more than once, I love buying books and do so often. I can’t tell you how many I own that I’ve never read, but someday I will. I like to surround myself with things I love. I use the library a lot, but noting beats an afternoon at the bookstore (especially if its a used bookstore).

    • oh says:

      Mandy – how true and how lovely to surround oneself wtih things one loves…and afternoons at (used) bookstores!!!! If you come here, we will shop (and do a bookstore tour!)

  • CLo says:

    Ha, I have tons of books I have yet to read at all. That speaker would slap me.

    Hell, what if you can’t stand the book?

    • oh says:

      I’m not sure what the speaker was going for in that workshop…others would agree…she was a Hollywood writer. Perhaps they have a different view somehow, a little more clinical.

  • Becca says:

    I just think that’s silly. I don’t buy nearly as many as I once did, and there are many reasons for that, but when I buy a book it’s because something about it calls out to me and I just feel it needs to belong to me.

    • oh says:

      Becca – Yes! You’ve hit it right on the head: that a book calls out in some way and feels like it needs to belong to you. Oh, such a lovely (reciprocal) feeling that is, too, between book and bookbuyer.

  • Heather says:

    Please, please say it isn’t so…now reading…Queen Victoria Demon Hunter? Really? You’ve crossed over to the dark side (steam punk!).

    • oh says:

      Yes! It’s true! I am reading steam punk thanks to HM who purchased it for me…for fun. I have to say this one is well written and historical and though vivid when it comes to certain zombie scenes, it is also done tongue in cheek. Thankfully. I’m reading it to see what on earth can happen and where it can go. Stay tuned…

  • seachanges says:

    Like you, I’m a book hoarder. Who says you cannot own books? My room would not look like my room, my sitting room, my kitchen, my…. well, wherever you go it would just not look right! When I moved continents I had to give up so many of my books (you cannot really justify sending crates of paperbacks across the oceans, can you?!), but once more settled I simply re-bought… Oh my. No – I’m not counting either. I keep telling myself that once I retire I will read them all a second time. How’s that? 🙂

    • oh says:

      Dear Sea – I can’t think of a better thing to do in one’s retirement (or “down” time, either) than read and re-read. And it’s lovely, isn’t it, to have a house that is part library?

  • jeanie says:

    That person is nuts…period. Of COURSE you don’t know if you’ll read it more than once. If it’s really, really good, maybe — if you have time! And if it’s bad, you may still refer to it. And you might want to pass it along. But good grief — that person doesn’t have a life. (Or probably a budget.) My two cents!!!

    • oh says:

      Ha! We ALL agree. The speaker was off base. In fact, I’m going upstairs now in search of a particular book and might just riffle through my TBR stack! Readers, unite!

  • ds says:

    She cannot have been serious. Okay, so I have more books lying on the floor (don’t ask) in here than I can possibly read in my lifetime: I still need them.
    I’ve had to limit purchases to the ones I really really really really am going to read RIGHT NOW, but for the rest there’s the library. Hallelujah!
    Keep up the good fight.

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