The Borrowing of Books

Borrowing instead of buying may just push you to read more.

I’m the kind of person that surrounds himself with books. We have books in damned near every room in our house, which makes me immensely happy. We own a lot, most purchased by me (much to the irritation of my wife).

cycle time

Although lately, I’ve been rethinking my relationship to books. While I love nothing more than running my fingers over the pages of a new book and being engrossed for hours on end, I’m slowly turning my back on owning books.

On top of the financial aspect—which can be significant, especially when talking about tech-related books—buying a bunch of books has begun to weigh on me mentally and emotionally. The more books I buy, the more they pile up, quite literally—there are piles of books next to our bed, (usually) on our coffee table, and in at least three different locations in my office.

More and more, those piles don’t represent mounds of untapped knowledge and adventure. Instead, each is a little (or big) pile of guilt and remorse. I buy books with the best of intentions, but those intentions are rarely fulfilled and what I’m left with is a daily reminder of what I haven’t yet accomplished.

As book lovers, though, our family regularly visits our local library. Weekly trips bring back even more books to add to the piles. But I’ve noticed a trend when it comes to library books: they nearly always get read.

Borrowing books means they must be returned. There’s a due date, a deadline for actually reading the damned things. So they get read.

When I purchase a book, there’s no such deadline. I can put it off indefinitely and, as a master procrastinator, I almost always do.

So, I’m going to put the kibosh on buying any more books for now and stick to borrowing from our library instead. I’m sick of all of the little piles of guilt lining our house. They’re tiresome to think about, and I’m sick of feeling tired all the time. So I’m allowing just one pile of books in my areas of the house. The one on my nightstand, populated with borrowed books, each one removed and returned upon finishing.

It’s a bit less guilt, but I think it’s helpful nonetheless.

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