Do you have to own the books you love?

11/08/2017 Discussions, Reading 40

Do you have to own the books you love?

There’s nothing better than going to the library, picking up a random book, and then absolutely loving it. I mean, you got to read an amazing book for free! What’s not to love?

Well if you’re me, then there’s plenty about that situation not to love. Mainly the bit where I have to return the amazing book back to the library and feel oddly sad to let it go, and then get the strange urge to go out and buy a copy of the book I just read for free…

Now I very rarely reread books (there’s just too many books on my TBR!) and so if I’ve already read it, then there’s no logical reason why I would need to own it. It isn’t like I have unlimited money to spend on books, so to buy a book I’ve already read, and in all likelihood won’t read again for a long time would be a huge waste of money. Not to mention that if it’s a series I’ve loved, I then feel compelled to buy all of the books, because you can’t just have one lonely series book sitting on its own can you? And that then means spending more money on books I’ve already read…

Take Raymond E. Feist and Janny Wurts’ Empire Trilogy, for example: I got all of them out of the library, absolutely loved them, and now I can’t escape the urge to buy myself a nice copy of all three books, just to gather dust on my shelf. Similarly with Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, I could get every book but the last out of the library, so I’ve had to buy the last one, and now have no choice but to buy the two I’ve already read as well (well…I do have a choice, but I don’t want the last book to be lonely!). But why?

To an extent I can understand wanting to own something you love and that you’re a fan of, even if it isn’t really practical. The thought of having a bookcase that perfectly reflects your little bookworm soul is enough to warm any reader’s heart! In fact, it seriously irks me when I buy a book that I expect to love and it ends up just being OK, because I don’t like to get rid of books, but then it’s just sitting there messing up my perfect bookcase with its’ mediocrity…

It also feels good to buy a book you loved because it’s a nice thought that the author is getting a percentage of the money from you buying it. After all, they’re the inventor of that world and those characters that you loved so much, so it seems like a nice thing to do to support them.

But ultimately unless you’re a big rereader, buying a book you’ve already read is a completely illogical thing to do. So why do I feel so compelled to do it, when I could spend the money on other books I haven’t already read instead?

I’d love to get some thoughts on this! Do you feel the same way, or am I just some kind of crazy bookish hoarder? Do you have to own the books you love?

40 Responses to “Do you have to own the books you love?”

  1. Angela

    I like to own books that I love, but I’m also a big rereader. My sister likes to read but she doesn’t like clutter, so she hardly owns any books – I think it comes down to personal taste. But no, I don’t think you’re a crazy hoarder – I think as book lovers, a lot of us feel the urge to own books, whether we will reread them or not!

    • Laura

      Haha, well I’m glad you think it’s normal! It makes more sense if you’re a big rereader, so maybe one day I’ll justify it by going back to read some of my old favourites.
      It definitely is personal taste though. I think a lot of bookworms just like to have shelves and shelves full of books. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

    • Laura

      It does make so much more sense to just spend your money on something you haven’t read. I’m really going to have to try and be strict with myself and do that too 🙂

  2. Angela @ Angel's Guilty Pleasures

    I like to own books that I love, but I also do reread my favorites. I do the same thing that you do. Borrow from my library and if I fall in love, well then I will end up purchasing the book. I like the options the library gives us to try out an author or book for free and then if we end up loving we can then support the author buy purchasing their work. I like to keep a list of those books I want to buy and when they pop up for sale, I’ll snag them, I also love to shop at my library book shop. They end up having books their I’ve wanted and their are cheep. I don’t think you’re crazy – a lot of us feel that urge to own books, whether we read them or reread them. ^_^

    • Laura

      It’s a really good way to look at it that the library let’s us try authors out, and then we can choose to support them if we like what we read! 🙂
      And that’s a great idea to keep a running list of the books you want to buy and just watch out for them going cheap. I may have to do that too!
      But I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like this! 🙂

  3. Greg

    I like to own favorite books too, just for the sake of having them. Even if I’m not sure I’ll ever re- read it? It was like when I collected comics as a kid- I wanted to HAVE them not just read them lol. Although to be honest there was a lot more re- reading with those! Still, yeah… if I really like a book I definitely want to own it. I’ve even been known to have two copies of particular favorites- you know, a pristine copy and a reading copy ha ha.

    • Laura

      Haha, that’s totally understandable to me, to have a pristine copy and a reading copy. I do get annoyed if I accidentally mess up my copy of one of my favourites. It’s like with the Harry Potter books – I have all my old copies from when I was a kid, but they’re now so battered I really want to go out and buy a full new set, just for display purposes! 🙂

  4. Ria

    hmm… I do have a tendency to buy favourite books, add them to cart, but, in the last moment, I save them for later and buy books I’ve not read before. Have bought two or three favourite books from used bookstore though. Don’t think, I’ll ever be re-reading them since I have many unread books on the shelf.

    • Laura

      It’s probably a good compromise to just pick up a copy of a favourite if you see it going cheap somewhere like a used bookstore. Really, your money is probably better spent on books you haven’t read, which is something I have to tell myself all the time when I’m dithering over buying something I’ve already read! 🙂

  5. Tiziana

    I like the idea of buying books that I loved (strictly only the favourites, the inspirational ones). Even though I rarely have time to reread, I want to be able to pick up the book and flip through it and find my favourite bits.
    Actually, my attitude towards book-buying and book-owning has changed. I plan on obtaining a physical copy of the favourites I discovered from the library or via e-books, and I’m trying to get rid of books that I don’t care about anymore. That way, as you said, I can have a bookshelf that represents me and I’m supporting the authors I love. 🙂 I’m also conscious about the money I spend on books, so I’d rather discover new books through borrowing, swapping, or cheap/free e-books, and save money for when I need to buy the favourites. 🙂
    Ah, now your post reminded me of how much I miss going to the library!

    • Laura

      Probably confining your book buying to your absolute favourites is a good idea! It is nice to be able to flick back through them occasionally and spot all the different quotes and scenes you loved, even if you never get time to properly go back and reread them 🙂
      I love that idea as well of reading new books by borrowing and swapping, and saving money to just buy the books you want on your shelves! That’s such a good idea. I may have to try that, so I don’t have to have any of those mediocre books sitting on my shelf anymore 🙂

  6. Molly @ Molly's Book Nook

    I definitely own all the books I loved >.< hahah sometimes I look at them and think "you're just taking up space" but then I'm all heart eyes over it again – but I don't reread either. It's just a pointless collection type hobby at that point hahaha I also own multiple copies of my all-time favorite, Lord of the Rings. So, really, I'm just an illogical person lol. This is a great discussion though because every time I try to get rid of books its even hard for me to get rid of the ones that I really liked but didn't LOVE. I need to learn to let go.

    • Laura

      That’s totally what I always think when I see all my books on the shelf, because I know I’ll probably never reread most of them! They are just taking up space, but I just love having loads of books 🙂
      And I can totally understand having loads of copies of your all-time favourite, even if it is illogical. I actually keep meaning to buy a new copy of Lord of the Rings because mine are so old. They’re the movie tie-in editions from when the films came out, which just goes to show how old they are! 🙂
      I really hate getting rid of books too though, even when I didn’t love them. I really need to learn to let go too! 🙂

  7. Rachel

    LOL I totally relate to this post! I am slightly obsessed with owning the books I love, and cultivating a personal library that reflects my bookish heart, and I regularly purge to remove the mediocre reads. I’m all for it.

    • Laura

      I’m glad it’s not just me then! I’m definitely due to have a purge of all the mediocre reads on my shelf though. I don’t know what it is, I just hate to get rid of books, even if I didn’t love them!

  8. Fariba

    I buy all the books I loved. But I also give away the books I don’t plan to reread. Because I reread a lot, I don’t feel like buying the books I’ve read is a waste of money. If I loved them, I know I will reread them many times.

    • Laura

      It definitely makes more sense to buy books you know you’ll reread! Thats why it feels like such a waste of money for me – I really don’t reread that often.
      I really like the idea of giving away books you don’t plan to reread! It’s probably nice to think of someone else enjoying them, instead of them just gathering dust on your shelf 🙂

  9. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    No, I get this urge all the time and it’s a little illogical as I don’t reread anywhere near as much as I would like but there is a certain sense of power in owning a book you loved and I don’t know why. I had to do the same and buy the final book in a series I loved as my library was being too slow to order it in and now I know I need to buy the rest. It’s the same when I buy books in different formats. I need everything to be the same!

    It is illogical but I love owning books and I like being able to lend these books to others when I’ve loved them rather than having to tell folks to go to the library to get it. I mean, they should but that’s a whole other thing.

    • Laura

      There definitely is a weird sense of power in owning a book you really loved! 🙂
      And that is one of the annoying things about libraries, when you want the next book in a series and can’t get it! Especially if it’s the last book and you want to see how it all ends. That’s the problem I had with the First Law books, and I just couldn’t wait any longer!
      I definitely like that idea though of being able to recommend a book to someone and being able to lend it them instead of telling them to go get it from the library or buy it. I think they’re so much more likely to actually read it if you literally put it in their hand, as opposed to just telling them to go and find it somewhere! 🙂

  10. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    There are a few reasons for owning books you are not going to reread in full … one is to refer back to them for favorite passages or to remind yourself of something (although that would undoubtedly make me want to reread the whole book). Another is to loan it to other people you want to read it, although theoretically they could also get it from the library.

    However, I agree that the main reason for owning books is that you are going to reread them. I’m trying hard to keep only these books on my shelves, but it’s difficult because I like living in a library, surrounded by possibilities.

    • Laura

      I love your reasons for buying them when you don’t plan to reread them! That makes me feel better about all those books I own that I know I’m probably not going to get back round to. It definitely is nice to be able to refer back to favourite passages, and I think people are so much more likely to actually read books that you recommend if you can just hand them the book, as opposed to them having to go and search for it themselves at the library or a bookshop.
      I love the feeling of living in a library too! There’s literally books everywhere in my house now, and although I feel bad because it’s kind of cluttered, I do just like being surrounded by books 🙂

  11. Pamela

    This is a wonderful post! I think I main aspect here is accesibility. For example, if I first acquired a book through let’s say kindle, in my case, and happened to absolutely love it, it’ll be very, very tough for me to find the will to buy the physical copy. But each time either a)my mom sends me books from the US, b) I find a miraculous copy in my local bookstore or c) I travel to the US and buy as many books as possible, I still can get only a limited quantity.

    So I see my faves on their shelves, right THERE. But there are these other books I haven’t read yet… This happened to me on March. I fully intended to finally have the complete Starbound trilogy on my own shelves because of the beautiful covers, but I ended up deciding to get other books instead.

    • Laura

      I’m the same if I get a book on Kindle – if I loved it, I then want to buy the physical copy too 🙂
      Well done for resisting with the Starbound trilogy though! It always seems like a much better idea to spend the money on books you haven’t read, but it’s so tempting, especially with favourites that happen to have beautiful covers 🙂

      • Pamela

        It’s so tricky though! Because when I get physical copies I have to be absolutely sure I will enjoy them, otherwise I feel crushed, because I feel like I’ve wasted money and an opportunity for another book I might have enjoyed.

        • Laura

          That’s true! I hate it when I’ve bought a physical book and then don’t end up enjoying it. Because then you have to have it lying around, reminding you that you wasted money on it 🙁

  12. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I rarely go out and buy books I loved, but there are a FEW instances where I’ve done this (the Unwind Series comes to mind—I bought it twice!!). I’ve especially done it if I can justify it to myself by telling myself that my kids will read it, either now or eventually. 🙂

    • Laura

      That’s definitely good grounds for buying a favourite if your kids will read it! I’ll maybe have to buy some of my old childhood favourites so that my nephew can read them when he’s a bit older (or that’s what I’m going to say anyway!) 🙂

  13. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I feel the same way, you’re not crazy lol. In fact, most of the physical books I buy are ones I’ve already read even though I know I probably won’t read them again. I’d rather spend the money on books I already know are worth it. But I know that logically it doesn’t make a lot of sense. But if nothing else, like you said, it does help the authors we love and who totally deserve the money!

    • Laura

      When you say it like that – ‘I’d rather spend the money on books I already know are worth it’ – buying books you’ve already read does actually seem logical! So I think I’m going to go with that as my future justification! 🙂
      But definitely giving the authors money is probably the best reason.

  14. Rachel @ Chocolate and Chapters

    This is exactly me with this subject! I borrow books from the library and if I love them, I want to have the physical copy. I feel like I want to own the book so that it’s always there for rereading, if I so choose. But like you, I rarely reread. All those unread books on my shelves won’t really let me. haha 😀 But still, I totally understand this internal debate. I’ve decided to keep a list in my Goodreads of “Christmas Ideas” and then ask for those books from my family for Christmas.

    • Laura

      I love the whole ‘Christmas ideas’ thing! That’s a good way of getting books you’ve already read but want a copy of, without having to feel bad for spending money on them that you could have spent on books you haven’t read. I may have to do that too! 🙂

  15. Gill Edwards

    I’m totally with you Laura on this one. I dont tend to use the library much now but when i did i loved getting all the latest releases when they came in, i would bring 3 or 4 home with me excited to read. I’d begin one book and be so enjoying it i just had to ‘own it’ so eventually i ended up taking the books back to the library and buying them instead. Crazy i know!
    I guess i am a book collector as well as reader plus i never liked the pressure of knowing i had a limited time to read these books before they had to go back.

    • Laura

      I’m the same in that I hate the time limit you have on books from the library. Sometimes I’ll get out a load of books I really want to read, but then not feel like reading them for ages, and end up taking them back unread.
      I’m definitely a book collector too though, and I guess classifying it as a ‘collection’ kind of gets us off the hook about buying stuff we’ve already read. It’s not to read, it’s to collect! 🙂

  16. Reach

    Great points! I’d much rather get a book knowing I love it already than to buy a book that I’ve looked forward to for so long only to find out it was meh…, which happens one too many times.

    • Laura

      Yeah, I hate it when that happens, and you buy a book you’ve wanted to read for ages and it turns out to not be as good as you expected. It’s a much safer bet to buy a book you know and love!

  17. Shanti

    I tooootallly get this. There are some books which I really like which I just don’t own, like Michelle Cooper’s glorious Montmaray books. But in my case I do reread them, like once a year actually. I’d like to think that all the books I own are ones I’d like to read again because otherwise, what’s the point? Why do we own books? Usually I actually but books I’ve read already from the library and know I love. I guess one good thing about owning books you love is that you can lend them to friends which I do quite often.

    • Laura

      That’s so true: if we don’t intend to reread books, then technically there’s no point owning them. I haven’t actually reread anything for quite awhile now, but I always justify keeping all my books because I intend to at some point…it just never happens! 🙂
      You make a good point about lending them to friends too though. That’s definitely an upside to owning books you love! 🙂

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