24 June 2005

On Buying Books

The woman that I ride to work with (who hereafter shall be known as Susie Q so I don't have to keep referring to her that way) was kind enough to take me to the library today. I had to pay $19 in overdue fines before I could check out my large stack of books, and this sparked a discussion about buying books. Susie Q mentioned that as a kid, one of the things she looked forward to doing as an adult was owning books rather than buying them from the library. I, on the other hand, had very little desire to own books as long as I had access to them. Between the school library and the local branch, I had plenty of reading material as a young person.

Nowadays I find that I want to buy books more than I did before. I think this attitude shift started with homeschooling. When I taught M, I used a very literature-intensive curriculum called Sonlight. A lot of the books were classics that I had trouble finding at the library; either it wasn't part of the collection or all the copies were checked out because the public school had assigned the same books. After one frustrating year of trying to rearrange the lesson plan to fit the books I had available, I started buying some of them. Now I have several good books on hand for C1, who is a voracious reader.

Another reason for buying books is my taste in reading material. As a teenager, I hated being mainstream so I always read books and magazines that no one else in my peer group had ever heard of. This guaranteed that my choices were always available. Thanks to satellite TV and the internet, my little town isn't the backwater it used to be. When I decided to read the Harry Potter books several years ago (only the first two or three had been published when I first heard of them), I thought that I was ahead of the curve here and wouldn't have any trouble picking them up at the library. How wrong I was! The local library had 15 copies of each book and couldn't keep them on the shelves. By the time the fifth book was on its way, I didn't even bother trying to check it out -- I preordered it! I'm going to preorder the sixth book next week and I will probably buy the three Ann Brashares books because I couldn't get any of them at the library today.

My taste has changed to include more non-fiction, as well. These days I think I read more how-to books than anything else, and those are the kinds of things that you really want to own because you refer to them often. There is a gardening book that I have checked out every spring. One of these days, the library is going to cull that book from their selection and then where would I be? Buying non-fiction can be addictive, though, as any knitter knows. It is easy to want to own every new knitting book that comes out!
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