And I did it again … (Book Buying 2013 – part 4)

It’s not like I don’t own enough books. I already have more than 200 books on my to-read list – and this is books I own (we’re not talking about my wish list in this post, that’s even more out of control). Anyway, even though I clearly have more than enough books on the shelves in my living room, I simply can’t resist a good bookstore. And recently, I’ve visited three good bookstores so of course, I had to get something. And I’m actually proud of myself for only buying 5 books. That’s less than 2 books per store so really, I can spin this so I deserve a pad on the back!

So here’s what I bought:

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  • Kate Atkinson: Life After Life. This is one of this year’s new releases that I’m really excited about. A baby is born in 1910 and dies before she can take her first breath. But in 1910, the same baby is born and lives on. How exciting does that sound? And the cover on this edition is gorgeous! And I love this quote on the back cover: What if you had the chance to live your life again and again, until you finally got it right?
  • Adam Johnson: The Orphan Master’s Son. So this is one of last year’s most exciting releases. I’ve been curious about this book ever since I heard about it for the first time. A book taking place in North Korea with a main character who is a rival to Kim Jong II – it is simply not possible not to be excited about this one! And since it has gone on to win the Pulitzer this year. So I’m really looking forward to reading this one!
  • Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird. I read this one back in 2010 and really loved it. I knew that I wanted to get my own copy of it at some point and that this book has the potential to become a favorite of mine. When I saw this 50th Anniversary Edition, I just thought this would be as good a time as any to pick it up.
  • Wilkie Collins: The Moonstone. I read The Woman in White last year and absolute loved it. I also read Dan Simmons’ novel Drood where Wilkie Collins is the main character and among other things talks about the inspiration for The Moonstone. I really want to read this book so couldn’t resist this one either.
  • Julian Barnes: Arthur & George. I have this on my list of books I want to read after having read Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books. And I have been wanted to read something by Julian Barnes ever since he won the Man Booker for The Sense of an Ending. I haven’t seen this book in the stores before so I grasped it as soon as I saw it.

So that end’s this latest book buying spree. And it brings my to-read list to 208. And it means that I have bought 24 books this year. I’ve read 6 of them so far so I need to get moving on reading more of them especially since I have a goal of having less books on my to-read list when the year ends than when it began – and I’m not doing so good on this goal…

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So it’s really okay to just buy books?

 I even started to sell books, which once would have seemed inconceivable. Not that this slowed my rate of acquisition: I still buy books faster than I can read them. But again, this feels completely normal: how weird it would be to have around you only as many books as you have time to read in the rest of your life.

Julian Barnes (Source)

In an excellent essay in The Guardian published on June 29th this year, Julian Barnes wrote about his life as a bibliophile. While the essay in it’s entirety is a fascinating account of Julian Barnes’ life in books, how he used to frequent second hand book stores and as a completist, bought a lot of books, not all being very wise deals, one detail stuck out to me.

How even though he has started selling some of the books he bought, he hasn’t stopped buying books – and he still buys more books than he reads. Because – and here’s where lightning hit – ‘how weird it would be to have around you only as many books as you have time to read in the rest of your life.’ Wow!

I have for several years been feeling guilty about buying more books than I read. So bad, that this year I’ve even added it as one of my reading goals – I have to read more books than I buy. But why? It’s funny, I don’t think I’ve ever asked myself this question. Really asked myself why I have to read more books than I buy. Yes, I buy books because I would like to read them – but I also enjoy just owning them. I love looking at my giant book case and seeing all my pretty books, nicely lined up. I love having a great selection to choose from when I’ve finished a book and am ready for another one.

Julian Barnes’ essay sort of gave me the okay to feel this way. He even said it would be weird only to have as many books as you could read. I am a bit of a collector/hoarder at heart – as is my entire family. So having someone say that it’s okay to just buy books and not worry if you will ever read them, means a lot to me. Even though it is a bit weird that I have to get someone’s permission for it.

What does this mean now? Will I go crazy buying books? Probably not more than I do now. Will I ignore my goal to read more than I buy this year? Definitely not. Will I have the same goal for next year? I don’t know … but I’m so glad to have someone given me the go-ahead for book buying.

But go read the entire essay by Julian Barnes – it’s a really great piece.

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