At the end of last year, I was on a weekly library trip with my daughter to pick up my humongous pile of holds and interlibrary loans. While we were there, I went to look through the sale shelf where you can buy books for $1 and I picked up three titles – a fiction and two nonfiction books – and then I thought to myself: I have a ridiculous amount of books at home, around 300+ unread, so why am I buying more books? Why am I even thinking about buying more books?
Even the library sale books, which are a great deal, add more heft to my collection and while it’s great to collect books, I think I’ve been doing it wrong; instead of keeping those books that I love and want to reread, I’ve been keeping anything and everything.
Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’ve gone through at least two BIG book purges over the last 8 years and have gotten rid of hundreds of books, some bought at full price and others for cheap or free. But as I get older, I feel like I’m growing with my reading and my ultimate goal isn’t just to read all the books that interest me, but to also revisit the ones that were my favourites in the past.
I haven’t always been a rereader. One year I maybe reread one book, the next year none, and, in the case of this past year, I reread 6 books. My reason for not rereading in the past has always been that there are so many books released every year – why would I waste time on rereading? But then I wondered why I was even buying books in the first place. We buy DVDs and CDs and watch and listen to them many times – I’ve even worn out DVDs and CDs from use – but I buy books to be something like a trophy on my shelf, kept in pristine condition, never to be touched again.
I was inspired after watching Helene’s vlog on the books that she reread over 2017. It made me wonder why I’m buying books I don’t even know that I’ll love or not, when I could get them from the library and then maybe buy a copy if it’s something that I want to read again in the future, a book that I read and completely adored. Looking through my shelves, I noticed that I still have copies of books that I hated and books that were just okay, and definitely books that I can’t see myself rereading at all. Going through my shelves at the end of the year, I found a couple that I gave just one star to, books I absolutely despised – why was I even keeping these?
On top of that, I was pulling books off my shelves that I want to reread in 2018 and I noticed that some of the titles I wanted to revisit I no longer owned. Or maybe I read them and loved them, but borrowed them from the library, but still don’t own a copy. Just going through my 5-star books on Goodreads had me marking at least 50 of them as books I would love to reread and maybe own on my shelf.
Thinking about all of this, it made me want to set a goal to not buy books in 2018. I know that we all say that we’re not going to buy books and then we all buy anywhere from 5 to 100+ books. But I feel like I actually mean it. Yes, there are some books that I want to keep for my kids, especially some of the middle grade and YA books or series that I loved, but I don’t necessarily need to keep them all. I’d rather have my kids go through my home library seeing books that I loved, rather than what they could see at the regular library. Am I striving to make my home library the same as what you could get at any city library, or do I want to make my home library into something special, full of books that I loved and could read over and over?
I choose the latter.
In 2017, as I had mentioned, I was crazy with buying books. I bought way too many books and will admit it. I have enough books in my collection to last years and I don’t want to say that I’ll never buy books again because of that, but thinking about rereading made me want to do a few things:
- Try to make a big effort to reread more in the year. Books are expensive, so why am I buying them just to read once? We buy a DVD and can watch it lots, but why read a book just once?
- If I read a book and hate it, and definitely can’t see myself rereading it, put it away. I did this with maybe 70 books from my bookshelves and didn’t automatically put them in a donation box, but put them in a closet I never go into. I decided to follow the same idea of turning all of the clothes hangers in your closet around and getting rid of anything that hasn’t been put back the correct way by the year’s end. If I don’t think of these books or go after them for a reread, I should take them to a used bookstore or donate them.
- Instead of buying books, make a list of the books that I want to own – take a look at the library books I’m getting and list the ones that I loved, write them down, and then go to book sales where I can get books for $1-2 and buy some there. Obviously I don’t have to get ALL the books I love at once, but get some and reread them! I’d really love to do this over the year and then go to more library sales in 2019 and get the ones I’d love to reread and own, rather than a bunch of books for the sake of their cheapness.
I know that making a statement that I’m not going to buy any books is a big statement to make, but I feel like just making it is a step towards something good. And those books that I saw in the sale section? I promptly put them back because I didn’t need to add more books to my collection – especially books that I could end up hating. Not only are they then a waste of money but a waste of shelf space.
Already I’m using places like Netgalley and the library to put books I’m looking forward to on hold and I hope to continue that over the year. And maybe I’ll share my list of books with you as the year goes on – like I said, I made a list of nearly 50 books that I’ve read over the last 10 years that I’d like to own copies of to reread. I think I’ll check some of them out at the library for a reread and if I still love them, maybe then I’ll buy a copy for my shelves. Until then, I think I’m going to try to form a habit of trying first, buying later.
Are you a big rereader? Do you buy lots of books and keep them whether you loved them or not? Or do you only buy books that you loved? Do you “test drive” books at the library to gauge if you will like them or not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!