I have always loved books, and though I had a healthy collection growing up, I checked many things out of the library. The best was when I worked in a bookstore during high school and college where I could “check out” any book in the store. After college, when I started having a little extra money, I started buying first editions of Newbery and Caldecott award winners. Most weren’t too too expensive to buy every now and again. Since this was *cough cough* before Amazon.com and the internet, I found a lady in Michigan who sold books out of her house. She would type up a list of her new inventory each month, copy the list and mail it out. She also would look for requested titles. Can you imagine? I would pore over her newsletter every month, hoping there would be something I
wanted needed for my collection that I could afford. Though I haven’t added to my collection in a while, I still have it.
One of my good friends thought paperbacks were ratty, so she only bought hardbacks. She didn’t have a lot of money growing up, so now that she’s all grown up with plenty of money, her pride and joy is her book collection she’s been putting together as an adult. I adopted that same sensibility (ah, the days before significant others and children), so I bought hardbacks for years. Even when I was in a book club for a long time, unless it was something that only came in paperback, hardback is what I bought. You have to admit, they do look nice, all lined up on a shelf. Plus those mass market paperbacks just don’t hold up.
I never sold or got rid of ANY books until a few years ago. We moved, and I was putting some books on away and I thought: “I never liked that book. Why do I still have it and keep moving it whenever I move?” I found a few others that I just didn’t care for and sold them at Half Price Books. Husband kept all of his books. He is that rare beast that re-reads his books over and over. His poor, sad, shredded copy of Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72…at least it still has all its pages. I assume. I, on the other hand, keep (mostly) everything and re-read a few things. There are just too many new books coming out all of the time that I can barely keep up with those. I can’t wait for my yearly reading of Pride and Prejudice, though. And I hope to re-read Harry Potter again soon. It’s been two freakin’ years since I read all seven books aloud to my daughter, starting on her eleventh birthday.
Now I’ve come full circle, reserving many, many books at our awesome library. I still buy books, but usually try to get first editions. Who knows? Maybe I will eventually have an jaw-dropping collection to hand down to future readers in the family or, more realistically, to sell when it’s time for the kid to go to college. It might cover her gas money for a couple of semesters.
So, honestly, other than the occasional sale of a book that I don’t want to have around, I rarely purge any from my library. I am about to start a project where I catalog all of my books (do let me know if you can recommend some software or an app for this) so I can keep track of autographed copies and first editions that we have. So what do I do when finished? I display the books on the shelf (hardbacks and collectibles on the nicer shelves in the living room, paperbacks in the family room, language and travel books in the master, work-y books in my office, TBR pile on the bedside table, and the remainder of non-fiction upstairs in the guest room). I have learned the hard way not to loan books to people (with very few exceptions) unless you never want to see the book again. Which I do. I just might not ever read it again.