Sunday, May 22, 2011

Total Unbookening Fail, Pt. 17

I love reading, and, like most readers, I have a long, loose, and ever-growing mental list of books I would like to read someday. I also love books (related to, but distinct from, loving to read), which makes the aforementined mental list very dangerous. I have trouble walking past a bookstore without stopping to look at the new arrivals, or to see if there are any diamonds in the rough to be found on the remainder rack. Stoop sales are ever worse. As a result, my constant struggle to "unbooken" my apartment, by giving books to my friends, donating books to Housing Works or to my office library, is undermined by my inability to resist paying a dollar for a used copy of Lev Grossman's The Magicians or $5.98 for a hardcover copy of Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land.

In the past two days, I have accumulated seven books. From the Court Street Barnes & Noble, Arthur Phillips' This Song Is You ($5.98), John Hodgman's More Information Than You Require ($4.98), and Francine Prose's, Reading Like A Writer ($4.98). From the Shakespeare & Co. on 69th and Lexington, Terry Gross', All I Did Was Ask ($4.98); Mark Harris', Pictures At A Revolution ($6.98), and, from a pile on Sackett Street that somebody was giving away, two books of short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Basil and Josephine Stories and The Pat Hobby Stories.

Thirty dollars, every couple of months, is not too much to spend on one's favorite hobby, but is it too much to spend when all of those books are available from the public library for free? Is it indulgent? Is it indulgent to ask? Some questions to ponder while I'm reading.


Ellen said...

I mean, it's not objectively too much money, as long as you're actually going to read them (if you haven't already). But it takes less time to buy books than to read them.

Wade Garrett said...

That's a good point; there is an important distinction between "this is a book I actually want to read" and "this is a book that I've heard of/is supposed to be good, and its cheap, so why not?" Weirdly, the books I buy have usually been on my mental "to read" list for quite a while, whereas the books I check out of the library are often signed out on a whim, because, they don't cost anything, so there's no reason not to. Then I feel an obligation to read the book, once I have it out, instead of reading the books already sitting on my shelves. Its kind of a bad habit, but relatively innocuous as these things go.