Friday, February 20, 2009


People speaking or writing about the joys and/or importance of reading often start off talking about how full of books their houses are.

Yet it is not necessary to own something to enjoy it.

Our library district appears over-funded. I'm presently carrying around two books that they did not previously own but purchased on my request. I feel a little spoiled but am glad for their generosity. By the time my three weeks are up I'll return these riches to their shelves so others can enjoy them too.

My basic rule (though I bend it some) is to avoid buying anything I haven't read at least a good chunk of, at least once. That won't make sense to those of you who only read things once, but I seldom read good books less than two or three times.

When considering buying a book I see for sale in a bookstore (or advertised) I frequently think, "I'll wait until it comes out in paperback."

I'm rethinking that policy. Sure, it saves money. But a lot of what I like about owning books is wrapped up in their paper, design, and pleasantness to handle. And sometimes the hardbacks are just better. There's something that's really satisfying and superior about a nice hard-cover book, old or new. If I'm going to give a book a semi-permanent space in my life, I want it to be high quality.

I mention this because I recently found myself in possession of two books in hardback which I'd intended to acquire in paperback, and am glad at the mistake. One I bought used from Amazon; the other a family member picked off my wish list. Both Mike Mason's Champagne for the Soul (about which I've blogged previously, and may again) and Phillip Yancey's Prayer (ditto) are books I'm glad to now own in sturdy editions.

What things are best in paperback? Maybe those one wishes to carry on a trip, wherein weight becomes a factor.

Last week my suitcase weighed in at 50.5 pounds on the way to Indiana. Yikes. The airline didn't charge me for overweight luggage, but they could have. I came home 20 pounds lighter, having sold all the books I brought for that purpose. Now each of those customers who bought my books (or those to whom they gave them) has to ask, is this book worth space on my shelf?

What about you, what things do you love enough to be choosy about?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Libraries are one of my most favorite places in the world. I miss them dearly.

I am married to a choosy man. When it comes to material things I am quite juxtaposed with my dear hubby. Sometimes I wish I were more choosy. Ah well.