Often times when I state the fact that I’ve been reading since I was a kid, people tend to assume I have a great library back home. When I mumble something about e-books and using the library as a schoolgirl, I find that I myself am not convinced. I see bookworms on YouTube, the blogosphere, Twitter and Instagram (which I’m not involved in, but I see pictures shared elsewhere) and I start to feel incredibly guilty (also jealous) that I don’t have beautiful hardcover books (plus props, great backgrounds, lighting and an excellent camera) to share with the world. This post is all about me grappling with those feelings and coming to terms with being the kind of book lover who doesn’t own a ton of books.
The problems of having a book buying habit in India are several. First and foremost is the sheer cost of books. Any decent hardcover book is available from Rs. 1000 upwards. (Let me give my foreign friends a minute to digest that.) Second, many of the easily available books abroad are either hard or impossible to find here, unless they happen to be extremely popular. That means most of the books I want are imported editions and I may have to ask people living in the UK or US to get them for me (I say that as if I don’t painfully shy away from doing so, but you get the idea). Third, and possibly what is the most saddening of all, is that Book Depository does not ship to India. I’m not sure why because I got to know that they used to before. This also means I’m automatically ruled out from so many amazing giveaways and it just breaks my bookish heart. Another problem that is specific to me is that I like to buy brand new books and have a collection of my own rather than go to second-hand bookshops even though that is a cheaper option. With all these constraints in mind, let me take you through my relationship with buying books.
I didn’t realise I had a book buying addict inside me till I was introduced to the world of book blogging and BookTube. I was quite content with a bare minimum shelf which had some textbooks in one corner and a few books that I had read (mostly bought by my parents). My own grandmother, on the other hand, had (and still does have) a small room upstairs filled with a big bookshelf overflowing with books from her era. I don’t know why that didn’t spur me into action immediately. There was no habit of getting pocket money when I was a child, and we almost never went out to a bookstore, so I think I didn’t get the urge to spend all my fortune on it. Also, I perhaps internalised the thought that collecting books meant getting old, musty tomes and stacking them up while considering retirement. Never have I been so wrong in my entire life!
With all the benefits that come with a new job, I suddenly found I had more money than I had ever dreamed of spending. Which is why I promptly went on two shopping sprees on Amazon and got myself a few of my favourites that had discounts on them (some as less as 2%, but let’s gloss over that and also pretend my mom didn’t scowl at me when the packages arrived). This growing habit is becoming quite difficult to rein in because every time I see a pretty book, my brain automatically goes, “You need that book in your life.” But I know from watching several unhauls that doing so will make me run out of bookshelf space very soon. Since I’ve never had the habit of buying everything in sight, I’m capable of controlling my impulsive self, but it only works sometimes. So, as is to be expected from me, I have a plan worked out.
The way it works is that I’m first going to buy all my childhood favourites and books I’ve read and absolutely loved (i. e. no less than 4.5 stars) in hardcover (more priority if the cover is pretty). When I strike those off my list, I’ll seek out every book written by my favourite authors regardless of whether I’ve read them previously and I’m also considering collecting different editions. (Hmm, I don’t know, like Tolkien?) Then I plan to buy the classics I enjoyed in gorgeous new editions because I feel no bookshelf is complete without them and, since most are now available in public domain, I can read them to decide which ones I like before splurging on them. Since I’m a very loyal reader, I’m simultaneously going to buy books to support the authors whose works I feel deserve more attention or some of my friends from the blogosphere and elsewhere who will get published some day. Oh, but do note that I do not permit borrowing because I want my darlings to be in pristine condition and I don’t trust anyone but me to handle them properly.
With that glowing compliment from Dr. Watson, let me wrap this up. What do you make of my plan? Do you have a plan for buying books or is your style more impulsive? How much space is available on your shelves? Let me know all of that and more in the comments section below. Have a lovely weekend, readers! 🙂