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Ode to a Library (or the value of not owning every book you read)

I always admire pictures of these massive in-home libraries that I come across on pinterest. Visions of first editions and beautiful rows of leather bound books dance in my head as I gaze longingly at the photos. But alas, my reality check comes as my eyes settled on my own home library- a strange collection of paperbacks acquired from library book sales, used from half.com, and friends stacked haphazardly at best on mismatched Ikea bookshelves. While I would like the custom built-ins chock full of beautiful first editions, who would dust them, and really, would I read them or just admire how pretty they are?

I am also realizing as time passes that there is value in not owning every single book I read- collecting more intentionally instead of so haphazardly. Some of it is simply a matter of practicality- if I am being honest, I cannot afford to purchase every book which I desire to read. But even if I could afford them all, would I want them all? Not every book I read is a home run for me. I find at times I will get half way through a book and need to quit reading for varying reasons. Then I am left with a book taking up valuable space on my shelves that I have no intention of finishing which I don’t want to pawn off on someone else for fear they will think I actually recommend it. Thus, the incredible value of the public library.

When I think it through a little, I realize that it is easier and much less expensive to be a faithful patron of the local public library, where I can pick up a book, get a half –way through it, and simply return it and be on my merry way without thought of my own shelf space. I can read a wide variety of books from all genres, and really, there are endless choices. I even have the ability to request a book from another library if my library doesn’t have it.

Yes, at times I have to wait for a best seller. And yes, the book I will read will have been through the hands of many by the time it reaches me, but for two weeks, it is mine to read and enjoy and interact with before I deposit it back at the local library, and I am finding that that is enough.

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5 thoughts on “Ode to a Library (or the value of not owning every book you read)

  1. Yes!!! Exactly the way to look at it. I get books from the library and if they turn out to be not so great I look at how much money I saved by not purchasing it. And those I end up loving enough to want to own I can buy at a later date.

    • Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I nearly always carry a list of books of I am looking to purchase – books I know I want to own so when I hit book sales or good used book stores I know what I am looking for.

  2. I seriously love my library system – and like you said – it would wreak havoc on my budget & cause space issues if I were to bring every book I read into the house. In fact, now I look at the books I buy as part of a collection. I’ve been known to buy a book that’s unavailable at the library and donate it when I’m finished reading it.

  3. I quite agree that there is an upside of collecting with more of an intention. I have learned to pass on books that I can honestly say that I will not read again. Since I do not own a home that allows for a dedicated library, it is practical and it makes the books that I choose to keep more precious to me.

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