Booking Through Thursday: Why buy?

I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?

Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?

If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?

I’ve already explained my library love but just as some people buy shoes or clothes or cars, I buy books. Look, I quit smoking some 16 years ago and it doesn’t take all 10 fingers to count the number of beers or alcoholic beverages I drink each year. A guy’s gotta have at least one vice and my wife says buying books is one she can not only tolerate, she’ll help. (That means she merely tolerates the hockey addiction.)

Besides, no public or university library has an unlimited budget. Given my somewhat eclectic (or odd) tastes, a number of books I’m interested in just aren’t available at the local library, such as the one I’m currently reading. I also lack the patience to hope that in a couple weeks or months a book I’m interested in might end up at the local used bookstore.

Finally, there’s something to be said for calling a book your own. All but two of my Desert Island Books are at the public library. But knowing I have them at home, part of my daily environment, has great albeit intangible importance to me.

Your library is your portrait.

Holbrook Jackson, Maxims on Books and Reading

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