Eight years ago I checked out a book from my city's public library. I read the book for research, referenced it in my paper, cited it appropriately, and then returned the book to the library, via the drop box. A while later, I received a notice in the mail saying that I had an overdue book. I thought, well maybe I didn't return that one with the rest. So I looked around my room, the living room, the family room, the family room, the kitchen, the bathrooms (yup, even there), the basement...EVERYWHERE! It was not in the house, and I thought to myself, I KNOW I returned that book! I could remember putting it in the drop box. The library must've lost it...so crazy. I promptly forgot about it and did what all teenage senior girls did: focused on the Prom.
A short time later I returned to my public library to check out a book, but was told that until I paid the amount of the book that I "had never returned" I would not be allowed to check out a book. SO BOGUS! I left the library, and have not returned since. Mainly because I'm afraid they'll deny me again. Also, I have a fear of being escorted out by the grandpa library security man.
So I began to buy my books. Which turned out to be quite nice. There's nothing better than opening a book for the very first time. No one has ripped a page, or written in it, or folded down the corners yet. No one has smudged the pages with their Cheet-o fingers. Everything is crisp and fresh and new. No gross library smell...just the scent of new pages yearning to be read.
Being an English major, it made sense for me to buy my books, because as my mom said, I needed to build my OWN library! So that is what I began to do. Friends will come over and peruse what I have and then ask to borrow one (or two or three...LINDSEY! haha! Just kidding!!). I feel great when people read the books that I've chosen and they say "Wow! I really loved that book! I couldn't put it down!"
My fabulous friend Meredith recently moved to Texas, and in order to do so, she and her husband had to sell most of they owned, including her books. She is a fellow lit major and book snob, and it broke her heart to have to get rid of her books. She kept some, but got rid of most. I don't know if most of you realize this or not, but giving up books is probably harder to do than selling your house, pet, or child. It's a heartwrenching process. You need someone strong by your side to ask you three important questions (as Meredith had to do):
1. When's the last time you read this book?
2. Did you enjoy reading it?
3. Would you read it again?
If you can answer NO to any one of those questions, you should sell the book, or give it to your local Salvation Army. I would suggest the library, but they've left a fairly sour taste in my mouth...
The thing about Meredith and I, is that we probably only read half of the books that we own. However, one day when our husbands build us libraries with comfy oversized chairs to sit in, and couches to lay on, and fireplaces to turn on (that's right, TURN ON!! Where's the power button?! Give me simple over having to follow fire safety anyday...that is so BORING!), we will have 3 walls full of books (only 3 because we'll need a wall for the windows, door, and fireplace...we're clearly still in the planning process here) and people will come over and they will say, "holy cow! You have so many books! Have you read of all these?" and we can proudly say "YES. Yes I have." Because whether we bought them and they were duds, or we bought them and they were fabulous, or we bought them for a class and never picked them up again, we still read them. Sometimes more than once.
The important thing about having books that professors made me read is this: If I only had books that I chose to read, I would have the world's largest collection of Chick-Lit ever in one room, save for Barnes & Noble. And women who only have Chick-Lit are never taken as seriously as someone who has a wide variety. Sure, I'd prefer to read Confessions of a Shopaholic every month rather than pick up Pride and Prejudice once, but my houseguest doesn't need to know that! They just need to be impressed! And who knows, maybe someday I really will pick up Aloft or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and reread it...just maybe I will...