I’m a reforming book collector. If I had actually read all of the books I’ve purchased, you wouldn’t even be able to tolerate a conversation with me, I’d be so smart and exceedingly well rounded. Not to mention the fact that I’d never have time for you because I’d be reading 24-7. Still, I continue to buy books as if I will read them. It’s so justifiable, too. Who questions the virtue of books? Fascists? Inbreds?
In recent years, though, I’ve needed to gain some discipline.
First of all we’ve sort of run out of square footage. Literally. Any time we consider purchasing anything new, we have to decide what we’re going to give to Good Will in order to make room. This isn’t a bad approach to all purchasing for all people regardless of their square footage situation. A lot has been said about Stuff with a capital S.
Second of all, this is a season of saving rather than spending. I’m 40 with the 401(k) the size of a 30 year old’s. My grand parents taught me better than this. Then again, my grand parents couldn’t have imagined the world we live in now. But that’s all for another post.
Maintaining discipline has required, well, discipline. Because book shopping is fun, isn’t it? Nice place to browse while brunch is digesting. A shelter in which we can wait out the pre-movie moments. And even though I’m an amazon junkie, there’s nothing like (a) being present in a local book selling establishment supporting book-loving business owners and (b) putting your hands on the things – cradling the spines, supporting the heaviness, touching the texture of the pages, breathing the ink, seeing the pictures, skimming the preludes, forwards, intros and my personal favorite, first lines.
Now the best solution is THE LIBRARY. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it. Libraries are Holy places. Not to be taken for granted. Put visiting the Library of Congress on your bucket list. If you don’t feel the palpable sacredness while standing in that Great Hall or The Main Reading Room, then don’t tell me or I’ll think less of you. I will. And then I’ll feel guilty for being judgmental, but deep down, underneath my shame for knowing I shouldn’t judge, I’ll consider you inferior and I’ll never be able to understand what makes you tick. Because The Library of Congress makes me tick hard.
My love of that sweet hallowed institution spreads to all libraries, the way we can’t help but love the grandchildren of our wisest mentors. And lately, when I do visit my local library and check out books, something strange has been occurring. I read them. I do.
Still, libraries aren’t wedged into every 14th city block the way the big blockbuster bookmarts are. So I’ve come up with a great solution for those times when I find myself getting the urge to purchase books. After lovingly mauling them with hands, eyes and nose, I whip out my phone and snap a picture. Instant Wishlist. The hunger to buy is truncated 90% of the time.
I think I’ve photographed 20 books this month alone.
I came really close to buying that Claudette Colvin book. Man, I can’t wait to learn more about her. Inspiring.
All right alright, here’s the confession I promised. Hear me reader for I have sinned. I bought a book two days ago. It had been only 12 days since my previous book purchase, but I really really needed this one.