"Wear the old coat and buy the new book."

~ Austin Phelps

February 3, 2002

Welcome to Wyndspirit Dreams! I spent three hours and $25 at Barnes and Noble today, and I started wondering, why? There are several perfectly good libraries in town where I could read the books for nothing. Why do I keep on buying books?

I have six full bookcases, and a dozen boxes of books in my storage room. Every time I move, I swear I am going to get rid of a bunch of them, and sometimes I actually do get rid of a few. Mostly, though, I just pack them in smaller boxes than I did for the previous move. (Books are heavy!) Most of them I will never re-read--some of them I have read several times. The thing is, most of them I don't need to read again. I glance at the cover and the memories come flooding back.

The worst are the battered rummage sale gothics from my teen years. They were not in great shape when I got them twenty-some years ago, and by now they are completely disintegrating. I know I should toss them, but I just can't. I will never read them again--the pages fall out if they are even opened. But the memories…! I grew up on a farm twenty miles from the nearest town, with no access to a library all summer long, so every summer I re-read pretty much every book on the tower bookcase Mom built for me in a corner of my little room. I used to paraphrase Victoria Holt's Mistress of Mellyn and Bride of Pendorric for my younger siblings and their friends as ghost stories. I would haul an old raincoat out to the granary to sit on while I read and cuddled the latest batch of kittens. I re-webbed an old lawn chair that had belonged to my grandpa and I would sit in the shade of the shelterbelt trees behind our house and read. I would bring a book along when it was my turn to fill the water tubs for the sheep. I had a pair of old couch cushions that I would pile on a chest by my bedroom window for a window seat, and I probably read there most of all. Those were happy times for me, and even handling those battered books brings back good memories.

Fast-forward to when I left home and went out on my own. My bookworm roommate and I did our best with the little town library, but soon gave up and began frequenting Waldenbooks. And the books began building up. Fortunately, we liked the same books, so we could share, and have twice the reading material for our money, and we introduced each other to different writers, as well. And the books continued to pile up. About a year ago I went through all the books from those days, planning to see what I could discard. Of course, I couldn't discard any of them. I'd pick up a book, thinking, it was such a good book, I will definitely want to read it again…

The problem is, a good book is like a dear friend to me. It tears me apart to have to return it to a library where I will never see it again. I don't mind returning books I didn't care for, but I won't read a book in the first place unless I think it's going to be good, so the majority of the time I end up wishing I had purchased the book instead of borrowing it. On the other hand, after I read a good book that I have purchased, I place it reverently in my bookcase and admire it and remember how good it was every time I go through my books. And I go through my books frequently. I sort them by read and unread, new and old, by series, genre, author… I arrange them and rearrange them. I play with my books. Sometimes I even re-read them. And that is why I keep buying books. Hmm… I wonder if I could squeeze in another bookcase over there by the couch?

Wyndspirit Dreams