Sometimes I feel sorry for my books. Not because they aren’t all awesome (all of my books are awesome) but because I don’t re-read them all over and over.
I’ve recently been spending more time at the library, choosing piles of free books in favour of protecting my bank account from further hemorrhaging. I’m normally all about buying new books but I haven’t worked in 2 months (don’t worry, I start my new job this week! Yay me!) and book buying is an easy expense to eliminate. In theory. It was actually really hard to get out of the habit of walking out of bookstores without a pile of new books!
There’s a great library in my area so I started going there. Nothing beats the feeling of choosing as many books as you want to take home with you for FREE. It can be such a high (for book nerds like myself)!
But it kind of made me sad for my own books. I was looking over the library copy of Brideshead Revisited, marvelling at the amount of times it’s been checked out and (ostensibly) read. (Did you know that the marker dots on the bottom are how many times a book’s been checked out?) If you believe, as Carlos Ruiz Zafon and I do, that
Every book […] has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens
then it’s almost a crime not to read one’s books over and over. Libraries clearly understand the souls of books and open their doors to anyone to come in and help the books out.
But I? I selfishly hoard my books and display them after reading them once (with a few notable exceptions that I re-read often). That’s not to say that I never loan out my books. I do. And I get great joy from choosing volumes from my collection for other people, in the hopes that they will love them like I did. But that joy turns to anxiety when those books aren’t returned to me in a timely manner. There are two volumes in particular that I’m not sure I will ever get back and it makes me crazy!
Will those books be loved like they should be in their foster homes?
I’m sure they will. But book hoarder that I am, I want them back with me to look at and rearrange. But am I doing the books any favours? Would my books be happier as library books? Even at the risk that they will never be looked at a second time? Brideshead Revisited has been read over and over, but what about those books that aren’t? The ones that are doomed to stay on the shelves gathering dust? There are some pretty obscure books languishing on library shelves. They would definitely be better off sitting on my shelves in all their glory.
I guess it’s a toss up. No clear winner.
Except me really.